Being in a car accident is always scary. When the other driver doesn’t carry proper insurance, it can also be highly frustrating. Many people aren’t sure what to do next, or if they will be able to recover compensation for their injuries.
Fortunately, if the at-fault driver doesn’t have any insurance, you may still be able to file a claim with your own insurance company. It will depend on whether your insurer pays your uninsured motorist (UM) claim. This insurance can cover your losses – up to your policy’s limits – if the driver who hit you has no insurance, or if the driver fled the scene and cannot be identified, known as a hit-and-run crash.
Here, we discuss several aspects of filing a UM claim in South Carolina, including the steps you can take on your own to protect your right to recover compensation. To discuss the specific facts of your case, please feel free to contact McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC. We can provide a free consultation through our conveniently located Rock Hill office.
Take These Steps If Your Crash Involved an Uninsured Driver
A crash with an uninsured driver in South Carolina requires you to take prompt action. In the immediate aftermath, you should do your best to take these steps:
- Collect information – Even if the other driver lacks insurance, you should still collect as much information as you can from the driver. Key information includes the driver’s name, contact information and driver’s license number. Also, you should take pictures of the accident scene, including damage to any vehicles, the position of the vehicles in relation to each other and any other pertinent details.
- Report the accident – Under South Carolina law, all drivers must report any accident that results in injury, death or property damage. So, call the police – even if the other driver tries to persuade you not to call. It is illegal to drive without carrying proper insurance. So, the police should be notified. The police will also file a crash report. This report will help you with your insurance claim.
- Get medical attention – You should always seek medical attention after an accident – even if you don’t think you are badly injured. Some injuries such as concussions don’t always present symptoms right away. Seeing a doctor will also document your injuries with medical reports.
- Call an attorney – You may need to go through your own insurance company to claim compensation. Still, you will be dealing with an insurance company – one that is in the business of making big profits – not paying out large settlements. If your injuries are serious, an attorney can advise you on dealing with the insurance company and make sure that your rights are fully protected.
- Report it to your insurance company – You will have to call your insurance company to report the accident. When the other driver is not insured, you should let the insurer know. Failing to contact your insurance company within a certain amount of time may bar you from receiving any compensation. So, you should check your insurance policy to determine how much time you will have to start the claims process.
When you deal with your insurance company, you should understand what type of compensation you may be entitled to receive. An attorney can help you to evaluate your claim and asses the amount of damages potentially available to you.
What Damages Will an Uninsured Motorist Policy Cover?
Under South Carolina law, drivers must carry liability insurance which pays for the bodily injury or property damage which they cause others to suffer in an accident. The law also requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage that has the same minimum limits as your liability coverage. In our state, those minimum limits must be at least:
- $25,000 for bodily injury (per person)
- $50,000 for bodily injury (per accident)
- $25,000 for property damage (per accident).
Of course, you can also buy liability and UM in higher amounts. In fact, you will give yourself better protection if you do. However, those are the minimum limits.
Additionally, when you buy auto insurance, the insurer must offer you underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, and you can elect to accept or reject it. This insurance applies if the at-fault driver’s liability insurance fails to pay for all of your losses. It will cover the difference between what the other driver’s insurance covers and the total amount of your losses – up to your policy’s limits.
When you file a UM or UIM claim with your insurer, it can cover damages such as:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost wages (and reduced future earning capacity)
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress.
These are just the most common damages which people claim in personal injury cases. An attorney from McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, can provide you with a full assessment of your losses, which may include additional damages.
How Can a Rock Hill Car Accident Law Firm Help You?
After a crash with an uninsured driver, many people think they can file a claim with their insurance company on their own. However, in order to fully protect yourself, you should work with an attorney. The attorney will have the education, training and legal skill that it takes to protect your rights and pursue all compensation that you are entitled to receive. For instance, at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, we will:
- Thoroughly document all losses you have suffered
- Work with highly knowledgeable professionals that can help us to understand and substantiate your claims of serious injury
- Negotiate aggressively with the insurance company
- Present your case at trial, if necessary.
These are just a few of the ways an attorney from our law firm can help with your claim. The bottom line is that we will take on all the legwork of your claim so you can focus on your health.
Were You Hurt by an Uninsured Driver? Contact Our Rock Hill Car Accident Lawyers Today
If you were injured by an uninsured driver, our Rock Hill car accident lawyers at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, want to help you. Our attorneys are dedicated to assisting accident victims with their claims. We will go up against the insurance companies on your behalf and hold them responsible for paying all compensation you deserve. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Gary C. Lemel is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University School of Law who has deep background as a criminal defense attorney in Rock Hill. Over the course of his career, he has handled everything from traffic violations to death penalty litigation. His current practice spans multiple counties and focuses on cases involving driving under the influence, drug charges and high-level felonies. He also serves on the board of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and as a member of the South Carolina Bar’s Judicial Qualifications Committee and Public Defender Standards Committee.