Dealing With Uninsured Motorists
Dealing with uninsured motorists when accidents occur in South Carolina means the traditional route for seeking compensation often isn’t an option. While you would typically file a claim under the other driver’s liability coverage, you will need to seek alternate means of financial recovery.
Examples include filing an uninsured motorist (UM) claim, seeking coverage under other insurance policies, or initiating a lawsuit against the other driver. A car accident attorney can evaluate the case, help you choose the best option, and guide you through the process of recovering damages.
What to Do When You Experience a Collision with an Uninsured Driver
There are several steps you can take to make dealing with an uninsured motorist easier after a collision. Overall, you will want to collect as much information and evidence as possible and explore your options for recovering compensation outside of a liability claim.
Below is an in-depth look at each of these steps.
Notify Law Enforcement About the Collision
Depending on the severity of the car accident, this could be a requirement in your case. Regardless, you may want to report your collision to the local authorities to establish an official record of the incident and other parties’ involvement.
In many cases, you will need to submit this police report as evidence with whatever insurance claim you file. It can prove to your insurer:
- The other driver’s role in the accident
- That the other driver lacks the necessary coverage to pay your damages, as they will likely receive a citation for driving without insurance
Note that if law enforcement doesn’t come to the scene, you can file a report at your local police station.
Exchange Contact Information with the Involved Drivers
While this information should appear in the police report, you will want to write down contact information for all drivers involved. Doing so will help your insurance company and attorney get in touch with these individuals should your case require additional information from them.
It’s also important to record the license plate numbers and each vehicle’s make and model. Having this information on hand will help in the event that you can’t reach the other involved parties in the future.
Collect Any Evidence You Can at the Scene
If the circumstances allow, gathering evidence where the collision occurred can provide further support for your case. Examples of such evidence include:
- Photos of the damage to all vehicles involved
- Photos of each vehicle’s position after the accident (before they were moved out of traffic, if possible)
- Contact information for any eyewitnesses
- Notes regarding where and when the collision took place, as well as the current weather and road conditions
Don’t worry if your injuries or other circumstances prevent you from compiling such evidence—your lawyer can handle this later. Collecting it yourself simply gives them a head start when investigating your case.
Consider Contacting a Lawyer for Help
Once you leave the scene and address any injuries you suffered, you can explore your options for recovering compensation. Though filing a liability insurance claim is off the table, hiring an attorney can still be beneficial to your case. For example, a car accident lawyer could help you:
- Compile evidence to support your right to damages
- Understand your legal rights and options under South Carolina law
- Prepare and submit a claim under your UM policy or other applicable insurance policies
- Negotiate for a fair settlement from your insurer
- Determine if filing a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured driver is worthwhile based on the circumstances
For a free legal consultation, call 803-222-2222
UM Policies Offer Protection Against Uninsured Drivers
State law requires drivers in South Carolina to carry insurance that protects them against uninsured drivers. When you have this coverage, any claim goes through your own insurance provider.
If you’re involved in a car accident, and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, your UM coverage would pay for some of the resulting damages. Similarly, this coverage is supposed to help if the other driver flees the scene, creating a hit-and-run scenario.
The amount your insurance company pays depends on the coverage limits you selected. According to the South Carolina Department of Insurance (SCDOI), liability and uninsured motorist coverage is required in the following amounts:
- Bodily injury liability per person: minimum $25,000
- Bodily injury liability per accident: minimum $50,000
- Property damage liability per accident: minimum $25,000
While having this mandatory policy should give drivers some additional peace of mind, it isn’t always enough to cover accident costs. In addition, it’s possible for your own insurance company to wrongfully deny your compensation claim. When this happens, you’ll need to take other steps to recover compensation.
When UM Insurance Doesn’t Cover Your Damages
Depending on the level of damages you incurred, your UM policy may not provide enough coverage to keep you from paying out of pocket. Injuries from car accidents can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills, as well as lost wages if you can’t return to work. Property damage can also run significantly higher than what your UM insurance covers.
If you have the minimum coverage, but your damages amount to more than those limits, you would be responsible for the excess. However, you could potentially file claims under other insurance policies if you have them, such as medical or comprehensive coverage. Alternatively, you may decide to file a lawsuit against the other driver. A car accident lawyer can review the case and let you know if this is a viable option.
South Carolina has Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance
South Carolina law requires drivers to carry a specific level of auto liability coverage. Insurance companies must report any lapses in coverage to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV). When drivers fail to obtain new coverage within the SCDMV’s required window, they face various penalties, including:
- Suspension of driving privileges
- License and vehicle registration suspension
- Hefty reinstatement fees
Drivers who get pulled over or are involved in accidents while uninsured can also face traffic citations and fines. Victims could also still hold uninsured drivers liable for any damages they caused through a lawsuit.
Despite the potential ramifications, a surprising number of people continue to drive without insurance. National estimates indicate that as many as 1 in 7 people on the roads today lack insurance coverage. When you encounter an uninsured driver in a collision, an attorney can help you explore your other options for financial recovery.
Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm About Your Car Accident
If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you can contact our personal injury law firm for a free review of your case. At Anastopoulo Law Firm, we understand the different ways to recover damages for our clients when dealing with uninsured drivers. Our car accident lawyers can be there for you every step of the way to seek the most favorable outcome.
Since damages from car accidents can run much higher than the state-mandated UM coverage minimums, we can explain your other options and help you seek compensation. Our attorneys serve clients throughout South Carolina. Don’t settle; call Anastopoulo Law Firm today: (800) 313-2546.