How to Gather Evidence After a Car Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident and are seeking medical treatment, the last thing you expect is to become a victim of medical malpractice. However, medical errors can occur even in emergency situations. When the worlds of auto accidents and medical malpractice collide, collecting evidence becomes particularly important. In this blog, we will guide you through the process of gathering evidence to build a strong case under South Carolina law.
Understand the Intersection: Auto Accidents and Medical Malpractice
While these are two distinct areas of law, they can overlap when the medical care you receive post-accident falls below the standard of care. It’s critical to recognize this intersection to properly address both your personal injury claim and potential medical malpractice claims.
Essential Steps for Gathering Evidence
Step 1: Document the Auto Accident
- Police Report: Obtain a copy of the police report, which will include details of the accident, parties involved, and any citations issued.
- Photographs and Videos: Capture the scene of the accident, including vehicle damage, road conditions, and any traffic signs.
- Witness Statements: Collect contact information from witnesses and secure statements about what they saw.
Step 2: Keep Detailed Medical Records
- Initial Medical Evaluation: Save all documents from your first medical examination following the accident. This sets the baseline for any future evaluations and treatments.
- Treatment Records: Document all treatments, medications, surgeries, and consultations. Keep a log of the healthcare providers you see, including names, specializations, and the dates of treatment.
- Billing Statements: Secure copies of all medical bills to establish economic damages.
Step 3: Assess Your Treatment for Possible Malpractice
- Get a Second Opinion: If you suspect malpractice, consult another healthcare provider for a second opinion. This could serve as evidence to show that the initial treatment was below the standard of care.
- Expert Affidavit: Under South Carolina law, you’ll need an affidavit from an expert witness to substantiate a medical malpractice claim.
Step 4: Track Changes in Your Condition
- Photographic Evidence: Take pictures of any injuries, especially those that worsen due to alleged malpractice.
- Journal: Maintain a journal to log your physical and emotional state after receiving medical treatment. This could help establish non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
South Carolina Specifics
Caps on Damages
In South Carolina, non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $350,000 per defendant and $1.05 million overall. There are no caps on economic damages.
Statute of Limitations
You have three years from the date of the accident or the discovery of malpractice to file a claim, although there are some exceptions that could extend or shorten this period.
When medical malpractice occurs in the aftermath of an auto accident, the complexity of your case increases. Gathering comprehensive evidence is crucial for establishing both personal injury and medical malpractice claims. Keeping detailed records, obtaining second opinions, and consulting experts are all key steps in this process.
By being diligent in collecting evidence and understanding the nuances of South Carolina law, you’ll be better prepared to navigate the complexities that arise when medical malpractice intersects with auto accidents.