Hybrid cars have become increasingly popular in recent years as drivers look for ways to save money on gas and reduce their environmental impact. However, like any complex machine, hybrid cars can malfunction and cause accidents. If you live in South Carolina and have been in an accident caused by a faulty hybrid vehicle, you may have questions about your options and legal rights. This blog post will provide an overview of steps to take if your hybrid car’s defect results in a collision in South Carolina. You can also speak to a Charleston, SC car accident lawyer for additional assistance.
Check If Anyone Needs Medical Attention
The first priority after any accident is to make sure all involved are safe. If anyone seems injured or complains of pain, call 911 immediately to get emergency medical assistance. While waiting for help, do not move injured people unless absolutely necessary. Ask if they need any aid like a blanket or water but avoid providing first aid unless properly trained. Getting prompt medical care can make a huge difference in recovery.
Contact Law Enforcement
Even minor collisions need to be reported to the police to create an official record of the incident. Call 911 or your local police department’s non-emergency number. When officers arrive, cooperate fully and answer their questions honestly. Ask them to file an accident report detailing all parties, vehicles, eyewitnesses, and contributing circumstances. Get a copy of this report for your records, as it will be crucial evidence later.
Document the Scene
While waiting for the police to arrive, take photos and videos documenting the accident scene from multiple angles. Capture images showing damage to all vehicles, skid marks, debris, road hazards, weather conditions, and anything else that could have contributed to the crash. Also, photograph all injuries sustained in the accident. Thorough photo evidence will help investigators reconstruct what happened.
Get contact and insurance details from the other involved drivers. You’ll need their names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance providers. This info is required for filing claims and lawsuits later. Don’t admit fault or assign blame to anyone. Just stick to factual details about the incident.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Call your car insurance provider as soon as possible after the accident and inform them what happened. Provide your policy number, details of the incident, and all information collected from other drivers. Ask them to send an adjuster to inspect your vehicle’s damage. Cooperate with your insurer’s investigation of the claim.
Assess Your Vehicle’s Malfunction
A key question will be whether your hybrid car’s defect directly caused or contributed to the crash. Carefully inspect the vehicle yourself or take it to a mechanic you trust to diagnose any problems or malfunctions. Document any issues found that could have impacted the car’s drivability or safety features. Save all repair invoices related to accident-related damage.
Decide Whether to File a Lawsuit
Based on the evidence and your attorney’s counsel, you will need to decide if filing a lawsuit is your best recourse. Lawsuits are complicated, drawn out, and expensive, so valid legal grounds and strong evidence of liability are essential. With an attorney’s help, you can potentially recover damages like medical bills, lost income, car repair/replacement costs, pain and suffering, and punitive damages meant to punish the defendant. If negotiating a fair settlement out of court seems unlikely, then a lawsuit may be your only avenue for compensation.
File Your Lawsuit Before the Deadline
South Carolina law gives auto accident victims three years from the incident date to file a lawsuit for damages. This deadline is called the “statute of limitations.” Take prompt legal action so this time limit does not expire – file a suit within two years to be safe. An attorney will know the intricacies of preserving and submitting your claim on time. Missing the deadline will invalidate your claim.
Have Your Vehicle Inspected by Expert Witnesses
Hiring one or more qualified expert witnesses to inspect your car will be essential for proving defect liability. They can thoroughly test the vehicle’s systems, attempt to replicate any malfunctions, and pinpoint design flaws or manufacturing defects. Experts can also testify to how the vehicle failed and caused the collision. Their technical perspective strengthens your case.
Gather Evidence from the Manufacturer or Dealership
Your legal team can request evidence from the defendant auto company via the discovery process including interrogatories, requests for production of documents, depositions, and more. Materials like the car’s design plans, safety test results, consumer complaints, and maintenance records could contain incriminating details. Discovery unveils key facts.
Prove the Defendant’s Liability
To win your lawsuit, you must conclusively prove:
- A defect existed in the vehicle when sold.
- The manufacturer or dealer knew or should have known about the defect.
- This defect caused or contributed to the accident.
- As a result, you sustained damages.
With an attorney’s counsel, use all gathered evidence and testimony to build a compelling argument proving liability and damages. Verifiable facts are more convincing than opinions.
Stick to the Facts When Testifying
If a trial occurs, you will likely have to testify explaining your recollection of the accident. Tell the truth – dishonest testimony can ruin your credibility. Answer questions directly and avoid speculating. Do not lose your cool under cross-examination. Stay calm and stick to the factual evidence at hand to present a clear narrative of what occurred.
Be Ready to Appeal if Necessary
Even with strong cases, verdicts can surprise. If a ruling does not adequately compensate you for your damages, your lawyer may advise appealing to a higher court. New evidence, procedural errors, unreasonable rulings, and other issues can justify appeals. While prolonging the process, appeals may overturn or increase an insufficient judgment.
Monge & Associates have been helping injured victims stand up for their rights for over 20 years. With offices in 32 locations across 19 states, including South Carolina, we have an in-depth understanding of local auto accident laws and litigation procedures.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident caused by a malfunctioning hybrid car in South Carolina, contact Monge & Associates today for a free consultation. Call now on (888)-477-0597 to discuss your case with one of our qualified attorneys.