At Proffitt & Cox, we understand that being involved in a car accident can be a terrifying and disorienting experience. Amid the confusion, it’s critical to remember that your actions and words following the incident can significantly affect any subsequent personal injury claim you might pursue. One interaction that holds substantial weight in this process is your communication with law enforcement officers at the scene.
It’s essential to cooperate fully with police officers; however, understanding what to say and what to avoid can help ensure that your rights are protected. Here are some pointers:
First and foremost, after an accident, ensure that you and others involved are safe. If necessary, move to a secure location and call 911 immediately. Reporting the accident promptly allows the police to arrive at the scene and create an accident report, which can be instrumental in any potential lawsuit.
When the police arrive, provide an accurate account of the incident. However, make sure to stick strictly to the facts. There’s a natural tendency to speculate or guess about things you’re not sure of, particularly in high-stress situations. Avoid this. If you’re uncertain about specific details, it’s perfectly acceptable to say that you don’t know.
While it’s important to cooperate with law enforcement, avoid making any statements that could be interpreted as an admission of fault, even if you believe you may have contributed to the accident. Remember, determining liability involves intricate nuances of traffic laws and professional accident reconstruction — it’s not something for you to declare at the scene.
Apart from official statements, be mindful of casual conversations at the scene with anyone — including the police. Offhand comments can sometimes be misinterpreted or taken out of context, potentially affecting your claim.
In the immediate aftermath of a collision, adrenaline might mask the pain of injuries. If an officer asks if you’re hurt and you’re not sure, it’s better to say you don’t know rather than a definitive no. It’s also advisable to seek medical attention immediately following the accident, as some injuries may not manifest until later.
In South Carolina, the officer who investigates an accident prepares a form called an FR-10 which includes information such as the names and contact information for the drivers, details regarding the vehicles and the owners of the vehicles, the insurance companies for each driver, and whether each driver is believed to have contributed to causing the collision.
The FR-10 form is essentially a proof of insurance form that needs to be completed and returned to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 15 days from the date of the accident. You should immediately contact your insurance company and let them know about the accident. Provide them with the FR-10 form so that they can fill out their portion of the form. After your insurer has completed their portion of the FR-10 form, you must return it to the South Carolina DMV within the 15-day time limit. Failure to do so can result in the suspension of your driving privileges. Typically, your insurance company will submit the completed form to the DMV on your behalf.
The investigating officer will also prepare a more detailed Traffic Collision Report. This report is prepared back at the officer’s department and might be completed for several days after the accident. It includes information similar to that on the FR-10 but also additional information such as the identity of all passengers in the vehicles, estimated speeds of the vehicles, and diagram and description of the officer’s conclusion regarding how the accident occurred.
The officer’s conclusions as reflected in the Traffic Collision Report are not binding on either the courts or insurance companies, but they often carry substantial weight with insurance adjusters who are making decisions regarding liability for the collision. You will not receive the collision report automatically, but it is available from the South Carolina DMV.
As soon as possible following the accident, contact a personal injury lawyer. An attorney can provide advice tailored to your specific situation, guide you through interactions with law enforcement, insurance companies, and other involved parties, and ensure that your rights are preserved.
The trauma of a car wreck can be overwhelming. Remember, you don’t have to navigate the aftermath alone. At Proffitt & Cox, we’re committed to supporting accident victims, helping you understand your rights, and fighting to get you the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been in a car accident, reach out to us today.
If you suffered an injury from a serious auto accident, you may be facing significant medical bills. You may also be struggling to pay for your expenses because of an inability to work while you recover from your injuries. However, help is available to those who suffered injuries due to the negligence of others as well as for the families of fatal accident victims.
For years, our Columbia injury lawyers have worked on behalf of the people of South Carolina to gain them compensation for their motor vehicle accident injuries. We may be able to provide personal and effective legal support for you as well. Call the attorneys at Proffitt & Cox, LLP today at 803-834-7097 for a free consultation. You can also call the firm toll free at (877) 276-0533 or by filling out the contact form on our site.
We offer free initial consultations for all injury cases. We handle injury cases on a contingency fee basis which means that our fees are a percentage of what we recover for you. You will not owe us any attorney’s fees in such cases unless we are successful in obtaining compensation on your behalf.
Our South Carolina accident attorneys have recovered over $30 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients. These claims involved automobile accidents, trucking accidents, harmful prescription drugs, medical malpractice, product liability, slip and fall accidents and class action cases. Review our representative cases to see some of our past successes and review our client testimonials to see what some of our clients have to say about us.