Around 40,000 people die from car accidents in the United States each year. Even when crashes aren’t fatal, they can cause serious injury. From traumatic brain injuries to internal bleeding and concussions, people can get horribly hurt in car wrecks. It can be even more stressful trying to handle an accident with an uninsured driver in South Carolina. Are you still covered for medical bills and property damage? What about your pain and suffering? What recourse do you have in an uninsured driver accident?
What to Do After a Car Accident
Whether it’s head-on, side-impact, rear-end, or rollover, car accidents can be very traumatic. You may feel disoriented in the heat of the moment. As stressful as it may be, it’s important to follow these steps in the event of a car crash:
- Gather and record information. If possible, make note of all the car accident details as soon as you can. Get the name, contact information, and license plate of the other driver. Note the make and model of the car. Record road and weather conditions. What happened before, during, and after the crash?
- Report the accident. Call the police to report what happened. One or more officers should arrive at the scene to gather statements and to file a report. You will need this police report for the insurance claim.
- Get witness information. Are there any eyewitnesses? Try to get their contact information if you can. Their statements may be useful for any legal action you may pursue.
- Seek medical attention. If there are any serious injuries, it is important to get medical help right away. Even if you feel fine initially, it is a good idea to see your doctor. They can assess and document your injuries.
- Consider retaining a lawyer. Particularly in a case with an uninsured driver, you may choose to consider legal action against them. An experienced car accident lawyer can explain your options. They can also advise you on how to proceed.
- Call your insurance company. You will need to report the car accident to your insurer. It is important to be honest and truthful in your statements. Have the necessary information ready. Your lawyer can guide you through what’s needed.
- Maintain records. Keep track of medical bills, lost wages, and other documents that may be relevant in recovering damages. This is true whether your insurance company will cover costs or you are suing the other driver.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage in South Carolina
South Carolina law requires all drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage. What this means is that even if you get into a crash with an uninsured driver, your own insurance will provide some coverage. This coverage also applies in accidents with an underinsured driver. That’s when they don’t have enough insurance to cover costs.
If you’re involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you would then file a claim with your own insurer. There is often a $200 deductible you must pay. Still, get all the relevant information about the other driver. When the police arrive at the scene, they may issue them a ticket for driving without insurance.
The state-mandated minimum amounts for uninsured motorist coverage are:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 for all persons in a single accident
- $25,000 for all property damage in a single accident
Those are only the minimum required amounts. You have the option to buy more coverage if you’d like. Your car insurance company can tell you more. Regardless of the amount of uninsured motorist coverage, it may not be enough. Medical bills, lost wages, and other damages can add up very quickly.
To recover damages beyond these amounts, you will need to pursue legal action. The South Carolina injury lawyers at Pracht have years of experience with these exact types of scenarios. You should get the fair compensation you deserve.
South Carolina Car Insurance Laws
Car insurance is required by law to drive a vehicle in South Carolina. The minimum liability insurance amounts are the same as for uninsured motorist coverage. Liability insurance covers damage to the other party (or other parties) when you are at fault. Your car insurance policy will cover at least:
- Up to $25,000 in bodily injury per person
- Up to $50,000 in bodily injury per accident
- Up to $25,000 in property damage per accident
Optionally, you can also buy collision, comprehensive, and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of your insurance policy. These are not required.
What Happens in a Hit and Run?
Did you get into an accident and the other driver fled the scene? Did the other driver hit your car while you were parked and then drive away? Ideally, you can include the make, model, and license plate when filing the police report. Even if you can’t, you should still have some coverage for damages.
A hit and run accident works similarly to an accident with an uninsured driver. Your uninsured motorist coverage will cover damages up to the amount in your car insurance policy. If the police or other officials are able to track down the other driver, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit to recover damages. If they are unable to identify the other driver, you may have to pay for damages exceeding your policy out of pocket.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
South Carolina is a comparative negligence state. This means fault is assigned by a percentage. The claim amount is then adjusted based on this percentage. In the case where one driver is found 100 percent at fault, the other driver can pursue 100 percent of damages. But, if one driver is only 80 percent at fault, the other driver can only sue for up to 80 percent of damages. And, if you are more than 50 percent at fault with an uninsured driver, you may not be able to pursue damages at all.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can build the case to assign more fault to the other driver. Thus, this can also increase the size of your potential payout. Experienced attorneys can help build a more comprehensive claim too. This may include damages relating to:
- Car repair or the cost to replace the damaged vehicle
- Medical bills, both current and future
- Lost wages, but current and impact on future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
South Carolina is one of a few states that also allow stacking. Insurance follows the policyholder, not just the vehicle. This means you can use the policy held by you and other family members living in the same household. If you and your spouse both have a car insurance policy with uninsured motorist coverage, you can each seek up to $25,000 in damages with your respective policies. This is even if the other car was not involved in the crash. The rules around stacking insurance can be complex. Your South Carolina attorneys at Pracht are here to help.