Charleston, SC Car Accident Lawyer

Car crashes happen all the time. Drivers make mistakes and act carelessly, vehicles break down, and roads are left in states of disrepair. All these things can lead to car accidents, leaving victims seriously injured and facing hefty medical bills and a lengthy recovery.

If you were hurt in a car crash and do not know what you should do next, call us. Our lawyers have quite literally handled hundreds of car accident and personal injury cases. We have the knowledge, professionalism, and determination to build you a strong case and fight for your rights so that you can focus on taking care of yourself after a car crash.

Chat with Rice, Murtha & Psroas’s car accident attorneys about your claim when you call our office at (803) 219-4906.

Steps to Take After a Car Crash in Charleston, SC

There are important things you should do right after a car crash. Understandably, not everyone will be able to do each and every one of these steps, as every car crash is different, and what may be possible for one individual is not going to be doable for another person under different circumstances. Regardless, doing some or all of the things explained below can improve your chances of success in a car accident lawsuit, and our car accident lawyers can help fill in any gaps and strengthen your case in other ways.

Get Help

The first and most important thing to do after a car crash is to make sure that you get help and medical care. If no one else has done so, call 911 or instruct someone else to do so. If you need to be immediately worked on and taken to a hospital, then that is going to happen, and you do not need to worry about doing anything else. However, even if you do not think you are severely hurt, you should listen to first responders and follow all of their instructions.

Additionally, it is a good idea to get follow-up medical care after your accident. Car crashes often lead to adrenaline rushes, which can hide serious injuries at the moment, and other injuries may take a couple of days to reveal themselves. For those reasons, ensuring that you get appropriate medical care is a crucial step you need to take.

Gather Information

If first responders clear you to stick around after the crash, you should do so and try to get as much information as you possibly can. Take photos and videos of the crash and the surrounding area, talk to eyewitnesses and record their statements, and get the name, license plate number, and insurance information of anyone else involved in the crash. These details can help our lawyers track down potential defendants and witnesses who may be able to testify in your case.

Also, be sure to talk to any police officers who responded to the scene and give your side of the story. That information will be included in their police report, which can be obtained later for use in your car accident lawsuit.

Call Our Lawyers

Finally, be sure to get in contact with our lawyers as soon as you can. Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530, you have three years to file your claim. These laws are called “statutes of limitations.” Once the statutory period has passed, you will lose your right to sue, and you will not be able to get damages for your injuries.

When you take into account the time needed to recover from injuries and get a case ready to be filed, three years can go by in a flash, so it is very important to start the legal process as quickly as you can.

What Do You Need to Prove in Charleston, SC Car Accident Lawsuits

In a car accident lawsuit, you need to demonstrate to the court that another party was negligent. In law, “negligence” means that another party screwed up by being careless. What constitutes “carelessness” will be different for every case, but in each instance, you will need to demonstrate negligence by establishing four “elements” in your claim: duty, breach, causation, and injury.


A “duty” is an obligation one party has to another. Often, duty refers to things laid out in contracts, but in the case of car accidents, duty refers to the obligations drivers have both under the laws of the land and otherwise. For example, drivers must follow all traffic laws, like speed limits. However, they also have to drive how a reasonable person would under the circumstances.


Breach refers to a party’s failure to uphold their duty. For a driver, this means failing to uphold their duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians. For example, if a motorist breaks a traffic law by driving drunk, they have breached their duty to follow traffic laws. Whether a driver breaches their duty by acting unreasonably is a fluctuating thing that will be decided by the jury depending on the unique facts and circumstances of your case.


Establishing causation means proving that the defendant caused your injuries. In law, you must prove not only that the defendant actually caused your injuries but that they were the “proximate cause” of them. A “proximate cause” is a cause closely related to your injuries. For example, suppose someone takes their car to a repair shop, and the mechanic there does a bad job installing the brakes. Later, that person gets in their car and starts driving at twice the speed limit, ultimately hitting you despite their attempt to hit the brakes. Later, evidence shows that, even if the brakes had been working properly, the driver would not have been able to slow down in time to not hit you.

In that case, the driver would be the proximate cause of your injuries because, even though the mechanic did a bad job installing the brakes, the driver’s conduct – driving way too fast – is what led to your accident, not the bad repair job.

Causation is often a hotly contested issue in personal injury cases, so our lawyers will work hard to show that the defendant is the one who caused your injuries.


Proving the injury element simply means that you show that you were, in fact, injured. After all, if you were fine after the crash, there is not really a reason to file a time-consuming and costly lawsuit. You can prove that you were injured through various sources of evidence, including photographs, medical records, eyewitness testimony, your own testimony, or even your physical condition at the time of trial.

Damages You Can Get in Charleston, SC Car Accident Lawsuits

If the jury finds the defendant liable in your claim, you will be awarded damages by the court. “Damages” are the legal system’s way of attempting to put the plaintiff back in the physical and financial state they were in before the accident took place. Of course, a plaintiff can never truly be put back exactly as they were before a car crash, so financial compensation is used as the next best thing.

When you ask for damages in your claim, you base them off of your condition and experiences. It helps to explain to the court why you are requesting a certain amount in damages. One way to do this is to categorize them as economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are things with easily representable monetary value – at least when compared to other things you may bring up in court. Items that will fall under this category include your medical bills, damage to your car or other property, and lost wages. “lost wages” can mean a lot of different things. First, if you have to step away from your job and are not earning any money while recovering from injuries, you can get damages stemming from the money you would have earned during that time. Second, if you need to switch to a job that pays less because your injuries prevent you from doing your prior job, you can get financial compensation based on the difference in pay between the two jobs. Finally, if your injuries are so severe that you are unable to work any jobs, you can get damages based on what you are predicted to have earned for the hypothetical rest of your career.

Non-Economic Damages

On the other hand, non-economic damages are based on things that are less easily represented than economic damages. The most common thing people will seek non-economic damages for is “pain and suffering,” which includes not just physical pain from your injuries but also the mental and emotional toll that a car crash can have on you. Since there is no bill or receipt for something like how much a broken bone hurts or the mental toll that living with injuries takes on you, you will have to demonstrate the value of these things to the court with the help of our attorneys.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are different from economic and non-economic damages in that they are intended to punish defendants, not make you whole again. They are only meted out when defendants have acted especially badly. You will have to prove that the defendant was more than just negligent when they hurt you, so you should speak to our lawyers about whether going after punitive damages makes sense in your claim.

Calculating Damages in Car Accident Lawsuits in Charleston, SC

In addition to explaining why you are seeking damages, you also need to specify the amount you are asking for. There is no mandated way to calculate damages, but two methods commonly employed by attorneys are the multiplier method and the “per diem” method.

The Multiplier Method

The multiplier method can be considered the simpler of the two. This method takes your economic damages and multiples them by a reasonable number to determine your non-economic damages. For example, if you have $200,000 in economic damages and our lawyers determine that multiplying by 3 makes sense for your claim, you would have $600,000 in non-economic damages for a total of $800,000 in compensatory damages. The multiplier method is generally used when plaintiffs are not expected to ever fully be rid of their injuries, so the amounts in damages that plaintiffs may request are often quite high.

The Per Diem Method

The per diem, or “daily” method takes a different approach. Instead of simply multiplying things, you and our lawyers come up with an amount that reflects the hardships of dealing with your injuries for each day you are expected to be dealing with them. You then add up that number for the days you will be dealing with your injuries, and that becomes your non-economic damages. This method is most often used when the plaintiff is expected to recover fully at some point from their injuries, as using the per diem method when a plaintiff will never receive would result in infinite financial compensation, which no court is going to award.

Contributory Negligence in Charleston, SC Car Accident Lawsuits

Some car accident plaintiffs may be worried that opposing counsel will try and pain the accident as if it were fully or partially your fault. This can cause worries that your case will be thrown out if the jury is convinced that you are partially to blame for your injuries. Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 15-1-300, plaintiffs cannot be barred from recovering damages if they were partially at fault for the accident. However, their damages can be reduced based on the percentage they are deemed responsible for their injuries. Additionally, if a plaintiff is more than 50% at fault for their injuries, they cannot recover damages.

Discuss Your Case with Our Charleston, SC Car Accident Attorneys

Get a free analysis of your claim from the car accident legal team with Rice, Murtha & Psoras when you call us at (803) 219-4906.