If you have suffered an injury in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, you can seek compensation for the losses you experienced by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.
If, however, the at-fault driver isn’t insured or flees the scene and leaves you without providing their insurance information, the matter is that much more challenging.
South Carolina uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, however, can help. Working closely with an experienced Moncks Corner car accident attorney from the start is well-advised to obtain compensation from this coverage.
Why Are Uninsured Motorists A Problem?
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 12.6 percent of the drivers on our roads – in a recent year – were uninsured. This translates to almost 1 uninsured motorist out of every 8 drivers out there, which is far too many and leaves responsible drivers like you at increased risk.
To make matters that much more challenging, there were 2,564 fatal hit-and-run accidents in a recent year, which is a whopping increase of 26 percent over the prior year – according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The South Carolina Uninsured Motorist Statute
Every motorist in South Carolina is required by law to carry uninsured motorist coverage at the following minimum levels:
- $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in coverage for injuries and related damages, which include your medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering
- $25,000 in total coverage for damages to car and property, including damage to your vehicle and its contents
Your UM coverage must be consistent with the liability coverage you carry, which means that if you purchase more than the minimum liability coverage, you’re required to carry the same amount in UM coverage. In other words, you cannot purchase more UM insurance than liability insurance – or vice-versa.
In some instances, claimants can stack their UM car insurance coverage. This means that if your name is on more than one car insurance policy or you cover more than one car on your insurance policy, you can use the total UM coverage across these policies – for the bodily injury category of losses only.
How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work in South Carolina?
Both uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance policies are considered secondary coverage, which means they can only be used after you’ve filed your claim with the other driver’s insurance provider and exhausted their coverage.
If the driver is uninsured, however, this step takes care of itself, and you will need to notify your own insurance provider that you will be seeking compensation through your UM coverage. The same is true if the accident is a hit-and-run and the at-fault motorist cannot be located.
What Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover?
Uninsured motorist insurance generally covers losses – or legal damages – that fall into the following basic categories:
- Property damage to your car and its contents
- Medical expenses, including those related to ongoing healthcare needs and any medical complications that arise
- Lost income, including losses related to decreased earning potential or an altered career trajectory
- The physical and emotional pain and suffering you endure
Your dedicated car accident attorney will skillfully advocate with your insurance company for fair compensation that carefully covers the full range of losses you experience.
When Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Apply?
Uninsured motorist coverage kicks in when you suffer an injury by another driver’s negligence, but the at-fault driver does not carry the car insurance they are required by law to carry. If it’s a hit-and-run accident, you can also seek compensation through your own UM policy.
A Note about Your UM Claim
You will file your UM claim with your own insurance provider. While this may give you hope that the claim will proceed smoothly and that, as a result, you will be fairly compensated in a timely manner, the truth is that your insurance provider is in the business of making money and will take whatever measures it can to keep your settlement as low as possible.
Such measures can include:
- Prolonging or overly complicating the claims process
- Denying valid claims from the start in the hope of scaring claimants off
- Making ridiculously low early settlement offers that claimants may be desperate enough to accept
- Denying the extent of claimants’ injuries
- Focusing fault on the claimants themselves
The most important step you can take in terms of protecting your rights and obtaining the compensation that you are not only entitled to but also need to reach your fullest recovery is reaching out for the skilled legal guidance of a practiced car accident attorney as soon after the accident as possible.
Discuss Your UM Claim with an Experienced Moncks Corner Car Accident Attorney
Mason West is an experienced car accident attorney at West Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers in Moncks Corner, SC. We are a family-run firm that has been proudly serving the community for several generations.
Mason has a wealth of experience helping clients like you successfully recover on their auto accident claims, and he’s well-prepared for complex cases. Your claim is important, so please don’t delay reaching out and contacting us online or calling us at 843-865-6569 for more information today.
Car Accident Claim FAQs
How long do I have to file my UM Claim?
Most insurance companies impose a very brief window of time for filing UM claims, which can be as short as 30 days from the date of the injury-causing accident. This is why working closely with a trusted car accident attorney from the outset is so important.
Can I afford a car accident attorney?
Car accident attorneys recognize that covering your legal bills in the face of the financial losses you’re facing is difficult, and this is why most work on contingency. This means your attorney will receive a prearranged percentage of your settlement or court award once your claim is successfully resolved.
Am I required to hire an attorney?
It is always in your best interest to have the skilled legal guidance of an accomplished car accident attorney in your corner.