Car accidents can be stressful, traumatic, and painful experiences, even in the best case scenario. Learning that the other driver is uninsured or has inadequate coverage often worsens your anxieties. If a motorist with little or no insurance causes an accident you’re in, you could face a much heavier financial burden than you would had you gotten into an accident with a fully covered driver. The first step to protecting yourself against uninsured or underinsured motorists is to know the laws and your legal options in the event of a car accident.
South Carolina’s Insurance Laws
In South Carolina, you are required by law to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance on your vehicle to cover medical bills, property damages, and other expenses. As part of this insurance requirement, you must carry an uninsured motorist coverage policy. Legally, uninsured motorist coverage must match the total amount of the minimum liability requirements (which are $25,000 per person/$50,000 per incident) plus $25,000 to further protect the policyholder’s property in the event of a car accident.
Even though it is the law for all drivers to carry liability insurance, some motorists make the choice to drive without insurance. The DMV takes precautions to prevent this from happening by suspending the licenses and vehicles of uninsured drivers, but they aren’t always enough to deter reckless motorists. The best means of defense against an uninsured driver is to have adequate uninsured motorist coverage yourself and to practice defensive driving.
Others drivers may have insurance, but their insurance may not fully cover the damages of a car accident. These motorists are called underinsured drivers. South Carolina requires that insurance companies offer you underinsured motorist coverage, but you are not required to purchase it. While underinsurance is not required in South Carolina, this is not an area to attempt to save money on a premium. The cost of underinsurance coverage is much less than liability(unless for a motorcycle) and is a smart way to protect you and your family from financial disaster.
Insurance Companies May Not Work with You
South Carolina is an “at fault” state for car accidents. This means that whoever is found liable for the crash is responsible for paying the resulting damages. Usually, insurance companies pay for their liable clients from their policies. Uninsured drivers, however, do not have an insurance company to help them pay for the damages and underinsured motorists’ policies won’t help them cover the full amount of the damages.
In either case, your own insurance company will most likely be responsible for covering all or a portion of your damages. The inherent issue is that relying on your insurance company in these situations can be perilous. There is a strong possibility that your claim will negatively affect their profits, and therefore they may be more inclined to try and not fully pay for your damages. Your insurance company may go so far as to deny your claim, or in accidents involving underinsured drivers, insurance companies may refuse to cover the costs that are over and beyond their policy limits. As a result, you can end up paying a significant portion of the damages yourself, even if you are not liable for the car accident.
Take a Stand for Your Rights
Being the victim of a car accident and learning that your insurance company will not support you can put you in a terrifying situation. The financial burden of a car accident can be staggering, with medical bills alone resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Lost wages and property damage can add to the gravity of the situation.
You shouldn’t have to fight insurance companies alone. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Guest & Brady can help you stand up to insurance companies and help you get the highest compensation possible. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident with an uninsured driver, contact us today for a consultation at 864-233-7200.