Pursuing Compensation After a Car Accident
South Carolina is an “at-fault” state for insurance. This means that the person who caused a car accident can be required to compensate anyone injured for their medical bills, lost income, or pain and suffering. If they caused a death, the at-fault driver’s insurance should pay funeral and burial expenses and compensate survivors for lost future income and loss of guidance and companionship.
Regardless of where the fault lies, you can file a claim against your own auto insurance policy for medical payment benefits if you have that coverage. If the at-fault driver did not have insurance or their policy limits are lower than the cost of your damages, you can also file a claim against your own policy’s uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. South Carolina insurers are required by law to provide coverage in your policy equal to the limits of your bodily injury liability coverage. You must choose underinsured motorist coverage if you want it included in your auto insurance policy.
Because the at-fault party is responsible for compensating the people they injure, you may also file a third-party claim against their bodily injury liability coverage. If their insurance company refuses to pay a fair settlement amount, you can sue the driver by filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.
South Carolina Insurance Requirements
South Carolina law requires drivers to have at least minimum liability coverage. The minimum requirements are $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for one injured person and $50,000 per accident to cover additional injured persons. The law also requires property damage liability limits of $25,000. Auto owners may carry higher liability limits than the legally required minimums if they choose.
State Laws & Personal Injury Claims
There are two key laws that affect a personal injury or wrongful death claim in South Carolina.
The first is the time limit for pursuing a claim, commonly called the “statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations is three years from the date of the crash for a bodily injury claim or from the date of death from crash injuries in a wrongful death claim. If the negligent party is a government entity, the time limit is two years. You must either settle a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurer or file a lawsuit in court before the time expires.
The second relevant law involves comparative fault. South Carolina follows a “modified comparative fault” rule that can assign percentages of fault to more than one party. Any driver assigned more than 50% of fault is barred from filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Moreover, any sum awarded to you in settlement or by a jury will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. If you are awarded $25,000 but are found to be 20% at fault, you will only receive $20,000.
Wrongful Death Claims
When someone is injured due to the negligence of another party, they are entitled to pursue damages from the negligent party. If that person dies and is therefore unable to pursue a personal injury claim, their estate may file a wrongful death claim.
In South Carolina, the executor or administrator of the deceased victim’s estate may pursue a wrongful death action. If the decedent had a will or estate plan at the time of their death, the executor will be the person named therein. If there is no will or estate plan, the court will appoint an executor to pursue a claim and settle the estate. Any financial recovery from the claim becomes part of the estate and benefits its heirs.
Turn to a Skilled Attorney for Help
Nothing is ever guaranteed in the pursuit of a personal injury or wrongful death claim, but most of the time, the claims representative for the negligent driver’s insurance company and their attorneys will work diligently to reduce the value of your insurance claim or to deny it completely. Neither your insurance company nor theirs likes to pay claims. What you need on your side is an attorney who is an experienced investigator, aggressive negotiator, and tenacious trial lawyer.