Car Accidents and Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers–You Could Pay For It

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.

When people are involved in a car accident and decide to bring forward a claim for compensation, one of the first things they ask is, “How much will I get?” The final settlement of a car accident claim involves a multitude of factors, and it’s very difficult to determine ahead of time exactly how much you will receive for the damages you’ve incurred.

However, you can use the facts below to get a general estimate of how much your claim might be worth. This will in turn give you a better idea of whether the insurance company is offering you a settlement that is fair or too low.

Calculate Your Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are one of the largest parts of a personal injury claim, and they’re the easiest to calculate. Simply add up all your medical bills and if you win your case, you’re highly likely to get at least that amount awarded to you.

Calculating future medical expenses can be more difficult and typically requires an expert forensic financial advisor to accurately assess, based on a variety of factors, what your future medical expenses are likely to be.

Calculate Vehicle Damage

After being involved in a car accident, your vehicle is likely to be damaged. Vehicle damage is another economic damage that is easy to calculate. Obtain a few different quotes from auto mechanics and body shops on the estimated cost to restore your vehicle to its working condition prior to the accident.

Calculate Lost Wages

Add up all the time you’ve missed from work and your hourly rate to get a basic idea of how much you could be looking at in compensation for those lost wages. However, keep in mind that calculating the total financial impact of an injury that puts you out of work is more than just adding up the hourly rate for your missed time. You need to keep in mind any paid time off, vacation time, and/or benefits that you may have earned if you had been working at that time.

When to Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

There are many more damages that need to be accounted for when putting together a car accident claim, including pain and suffering, psychological damage, physical disfigurement, and punitive damages when appropriate. These values simply cannot be calculated without the help of an experienced car accident attorney.

At Guest & Brady, you can speak with a car accident lawyer that is well versed in how to calculate total damages after a vehicle crash and can provide you with compassionate, zealous legal representation. Contact us today for a consultation to discuss filing a car accident claim in detail by calling (864) 233-7200.

Seat belts are required by law in all 50 states, including South Carolina. However, these laws aren’t just to give law enforcement the ability to ticket people who aren’t wearing seat belts and earn more revenue. Wearing a seat belt has actually been statistically proven to reduce the risk of injury and death in the event of a car accident. Here are 5 reasons why seat belt laws could save your life.

1. Wearing a Seat Belt Reduces the Risk of Injury Significantly

According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, wearing a lap and shoulder seat belt correctly reduces the risk of fatal injuries to individuals in the front of the car by a whopping 40%. The risk of moderate to critical injuries is reduced by 50%. The risk is reduced even more for drivers and front seat passengers in light trucks – when a seat belt is properly worn, the risk of injury is reduced by 60-65%.

2. Seat belts Save More Lives Than Any Other Car Safety Mechanism

In 2014 alone, seat belts saved approximately 12,802 lives. No other car safety mechanism, including airbags, save as many lives as seat belts do.

3. Every Year in South Carolina, More Lives Could Be Saved by Wearing Seat belts

Statistics show that in South Carolina alone, if 90% of people on the road wore their seat belts, 108 more lives could be saved and over 1000 serious injuries could be prevented every year. Additionally, the reduction of fatalities and injuries in South Carolina car accidents could save the state an estimated $247 million in costs. Across the United States, 90% seat belt compliance could amount to 1600 saved lives and the prevention of 22,000 critical injuries.

4. Ejected Individuals Are More Likely to Be Killed in a Car Accident

The most common thing to occur during a car accident when someone is not wearing a seat belt is the individual being ejected from the vehicle due to the force of the collision. People who are ejected from the vehicle are four times more likely to be killed than those who are not, especially in vehicle rollover accidents.

5. No Other Driver Behavior Contributes to Car Accident Fatalities Than Not Wearing a Seat Belt

Less fatalities are caused by speeding, drunk driving, reckless driving, and other dangerous driving behaviors than fatalities caused by not wearing a seat belt. By buckling up, you’re significantly reducing your risk of death or critical injuries in the event a car accident occurs.

A seat belt isn’t a fashion accessory or an optional device. South Carolina seat belt laws exist to save lives, and by wearing a seat belt and insisting that your passengers wear seat belts – especially children – can prevent life threatening and deadly injuries no matter what type of car accident you are involved in.

If you have been injured in a car accident, whether you were wearing your seat belt or not, it is important to determine whether the car accident was caused by the negligence of someone else or manufacturer defects in the vehicle itself. If so, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact Guest & Brady, LLC today at (864) 233-7200.

Speeding and car accidents are a dangerous combination. Although speeding in and of itself can be the cause of a car accident, when a crash is instigated by something else and speeding is a contributing factor, the results can be serious and in some cases, even deadly.

Why Speeding Makes a Significant Difference

Many people don’t think twice about going 5, 10, or even 15 miles over the speed limit. In some cases, people drive even faster. It’s important to understand, however, that speeding isn’t just a harmless violation of posted speed limits – it’s a danger to you and others on the road. The law of physics determines that the force of an accident is calculated by squaring the increase of speed.

If you were to crash into a stationary object while going 20 mph, your car would take some damage, but you’d likely be able to walk away with just a few bruises and cuts. However, if you were driving twice that speed, the force of the crash would be four times that. It is often mistakenly assumed that doubled speed will result in doubled force, but this is untrue. Remember that the force of the crash is much, much more than just the increase in speed.

How Speeding Increases the Risk of an Accident

Not only will speeding make an accident worse if one does occur, speeding alone increases the risk of an accident occurring. For every increase of 0.62 mph (1 km/hr), the risk of being involved in an injurious crash increases by 3%. That means if you’re going just 5 miles over the speed limit, you’ve increased your risk of being involved in an accident by over 24%. The risk of death in an accident is much higher, up to 4-5% for every 0.62 mph increase in speed.

Reduce Your Risk & Risk to Others on the Road

Although there is some inherent risk of being involved in an accident any time you drive a motor vehicle, watching your speed is something you can actively do to reduce the risk of getting into an accident and becoming seriously or fatally injured in the crash.

The risk of collision goes down by about the same amount that it goes up for every 0.62 mph that you reduce your speed – 2-3%. For example, if you travel 30 mph instead of 35, you reduce your risk of being in a crash by 16-24%.

What to Do In the Event of a Speeding Related Accident

If you or a loved one have been involved in a speeding related accident, it’s important to get legal help as soon as you can. An experienced car accident attorney can help you determine may be at fault for the collision and if you are eligible for compensation for the damages you have incurred as a result of the crash.

At Guest & Brady, LLC, we have the resources and skills needed to aggressively represent you after a life changing motor vehicle accident. Our compassionate yet zealous attorneys will ceaselessly advocate for you during your time of need. Contact us today at (864) 233-7200.

Almost everyone today carries a cell phone, and many people snap photos with their phone all day long. But surprisingly, many people forget to take accident photos or videos at the exact moment they could be extremely helpful – when you or someone else has been in an accident.

If you’re ever in a car crash, for instance, a simple cell phone can be the key to making sure you’re properly compensated for any damage or injury.

Of course, the first priority in a crash is to attend to anyone who might be hurt. But as soon as it’s safe to do so, it’s a good idea to take photos of the entire scene and of all vehicles that were involved. You want to have a record of what everything looked like immediately after the accident, before anything was moved.

If possible, take pictures both inside your car and outside to give a real sense of how serious the impact was. Take pictures of the scene, too, including any skid marks, traffic lights, street signs, roadside debris and anything else that can help you get a complete picture.

A camera phone can also help you make sure you get all the necessary documentation. You can take pictures of license plates, car models and VIN numbers. And you can use your camera to record insurance information and driver’s licenses.

Having a photo record of the accident scene can be very helpful when dealing with an insurance adjuster. It’s tough for an adjuster to question the extent of the harm when there are photos taken directly at the scene.

If your camera lets you record video with sound, this can be even more powerful. You might be able to record a statement from a witness on the spot.

Don’t assume the police will take accident photos of the scene. In most cases, they won’t.

Here’s another example: If you or someone you’re with slips and falls, it’s always a good idea to use photos or video to make a record. That’s because people often don’t realize immediately after a fall how seriously they’ve been hurt.

Also, it might be very difficult to prove later what it was that caused the fall. After snow and ice have melted, a grocery store aisle has been cleaned up, or a broken sidewalk has been repaired, it might be all but impossible to show that these things caused someone to slip and hurt themselves, but accident photos are worth a thousand words.

In one recent case, a tradesman who was working at a home building site fell through some poorly constructed temporary stairs and badly injured his leg. Some other workers eventually found him and took him to the hospital. Later, the contractor for the site dismantled the stairs and got rid of all the evidence.

Fortunately, at the hospital the tradesman had asked his wife to go to the scene and pick up his tools. While there, she used her phone to take some photos of the stairs.

When the case went to court, those photos were the key evidence and made it possible to prove to the jury that the contractor had been negligent and caused the accident.

As a final thought, if you see a dangerous condition in general – such as a gaping pothole or broken playground equipment – why not take a photo and send it to the local government, so they can take care of the situation before someone gets hurt?

Many cities and towns have rules saying that they’re not legally responsible for a safety problem unless somebody told them about it. So it’s a good idea to tell them about it. You might well prevent a serious accident, or at least help the victim to be fairly compensated if one occurs.

If you’ve experienced an injury or loss, call us at 864.233.7200 or 1.800.903.8101 for a free telephone consultation.