Filing A South Carolina Car Accident Claim After Being Injured While Visiting The State
How to Handle a South Carolina Car Accident If You Do Not Live in the State
After a year of stay-at-home restrictions, it is finally safe to get out and travel again. While experts forecast that air travel will remain lower than the pre-pandemic levels for quite some time, more and more people are opting to take road trips. South Carolina is a popular destination among road-trippers, and for good reason, the Palmetto State offers a unique mix of outdoor recreation, history, and Southern charm.
This year’s increase in road trips is expected to precipitate a corresponding increase in traffic accidents. While South Carolina car accident victims can pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault party, this process can raise many questions for those visiting from another state. Below we will address a few of the most commonly asked questions for out-of-state car accident victims. Attorney and partner, Steven Goldberg, of the Steinberg Law Firm has also provided feedback on these pressing questions.
Should I file my case in South Carolina?
Yes. There are a few reasons why you should—or may need to—file your case in a South Carolina Court. State courts only have the power to hear certain cases. This concept is called “personal jurisdiction.” A court must have jurisdiction over a defendant to issue a binding order that affects the party. So, to the extent that your home state’s court does not have personal jurisdiction over the at-fault party, your only option may be to file the case in South Carolina.
Next, filing your case in South Carolina may put you at an advantage, depending on your state’s laws. For example, several nearby states have extremely harsh laws that prohibit accident victims from recovering compensation for their injuries if they were even slightly at fault for causing the accident. These states include North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.
On the other hand, South Carolina law allows accident victims who share some responsibility for causing an accident to recover for their injuries. The amount of your total recovery would be reduced by your total percentage of fault. For example, if you suffered $200,000 in damages and the jury found you to be 10 percent at fault, your total recovery would be $180,000. However, if you are more than 50 percent at fault, you will not recover any compensation for your injuries.
If I live in another state but was injured in South Carolina, do I need a South Carolina attorney?
“Yes,” says Goldberg. “Since the wreck occurred in South Carolina, South Carolina law will apply. It is more than likely the injured person will need to file the claim in South Carolina.” Personal injury laws vary by state. And you want to ensure that the attorney that represents you understands the nuances of the law.
“An out-of-state attorney is not able to practice law in South Carolina. A local lawyer will better know how to maximize recovery in the state in which the injury took place,” Goldberg adds. Only lawyers who are licensed to practice law in South Carolina can appear before the court. Thus, if a lawyer from your home state is not licensed to practice law in South Carolina, they will not be able to handle the case. And even if they are licensed in South Carolina, they will almost certainly reach out to an attorney who has specific, hands-on experience handling car accident cases in South Carolina unless they practice here regularly. In other words, if you hire a lawyer from your home state, they will typically turn around and hire a South Carolina personal injury attorney to handle your case.
Will I need to come back to South Carolina to handle my case?
Every case is different, and it is possible that you would need to return to South Carolina at some point during the case. However, in general, the majority of your case can be handled through phone calls, emails, and virtual conferences.
Goldberg adds, “In today’s world, almost everything can be done electronically; from communicating with your lawyer to getting information back and forth to the right people, phone, email, and Zoom communication work. If a suit is filed and goes to trial, this may be the only reason an injury client would need to come back to the area.”
Does being out-of-state affect my chances of winning my case?
Not at all. When you work with an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer, your attorney will act as your representative. Your attorney will investigate the accident, interview witnesses, gather all necessary police reports and medical records, and handle all in-court appearances. As far as the court and the insurance company are concerned, it makes no difference whether you live in South Carolina or another state.
My initial injury was treated in South Carolina, but my additional medical treatment and physical therapy were treated in my home state. How will that impact my case?
The short answer is that where you obtain medical care will not affect your case. Medical bills are medical bills, regardless of where you got treatment. It is common for a car accident victim to receive emergency treatment in the emergency room and then obtain follow-up care from several different medical providers. While your attorney will need to gather records from all treating facilities, where they are located will not make a difference.
Has Steinberg Law Firm handled other cases involving tourists or visitors to South Carolina? What types of cases were they?
“With tourism being the main industry in South Carolina, the Steinberg Law Firm often represents injured people from other states,” commented Goldberg. “From victims of auto wrecks to slip and falls at hotels, we are prepared to help people from all over the country and abroad.”
Contact the Steinberg Law Firm for Immediate Assistance
If you were injured in a car accident while visiting South Carolina, the Steinberg Law Firm can help you bring a case against the negligent motorist responsible for your injuries. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers have decades of experience handling some of the most complex personal injury cases on behalf of clients in and out of the state. We recognize the practical challenges of bringing a South Carolina personal injury case from another state and will do everything to negate any potential impact your out-of-state residence could have on your case.
To learn more and schedule a free consultation with one of our dedicated injury lawyers, give us a call at 843-720-2800. You can also contact us through our online form, and one of our attorneys will get back to you shortly. We represent clients in Charleston, and the surrounding communities, including but not limited to West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, and Goose Creek.
Attorney Malcolm Crosland received a President’s Award from the Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG) on September 25th, 2016 for exemplifying WILG’s mission by serving as Chairperson of WILG’s…