Every year, thousands of people are involved in motor vehicle crashes in South Carolina. In fact, as of the most recent data, there’s a crash every 3.7 minutes. According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 9.4 percent of all drivers in South Carolina operate their vehicles while uninsured. With this in mind, many injured motorists, passengers, and even pedestrians are left under-compensated for their injuries.
Fortunately, there are options for those who carry uninsured motorist insurance. In South Carolina, uninsured motorist coverage is required.
Knowing that many people operate vehicles in the state uninsured, carrying uninsured motorist coverage provides protection in the event you are injured by someone who lacks coverage. Uninsured motorist insurance pays for the same things that the at-fault party’s insurance would have covered, had that party been insured. Of course, just as consumers often must fight to obtain compensation from those who harm them, consumers often must also fight their own insurance companies for compensation, even where the facts are fairly clear.
Uninsured motorist insurance is not available if you cause the accident. Rather, this type of insurance is designed to protect you when someone else is at fault but lacks the means to pay for your damages. This happens in two ways:
If the at-fault motorist has sufficient assets (home, money, investments, etc.), you may still be able to collect a judgment against that person. This is done by filing a lawsuit and obtaining a judgment against them.
Without the defendant having insurance to pay the judgment, you may then have to assert liens on his or her property, garnish wages, or perform other extended collections activities. If there are no assets or collection seems unlikely, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company in order to collect compensation for your injuries.
In some cases, the at-fault party may flee the scene, leaving you with injuries and no way to identify who hit you. In this case, you may have a right to file a claim for uninsured motorist coverage from your own insurance policy.
Keep in mind, however, you will have to show some contact with the other vehicle in order to collect. Likewise, you will want to make sure the police investigate the crash, and you must prove that you took reasonable actions to identify the at-fault party. If a driver hits you and you agree not to report the accident, this is not a true hit-and-run.
If you’ve been hurt by an uninsured driver or due to a hit-and-run accident in South Carolina, you should contact an experienced auto accident lawyer who can help you properly and efficiently resolve your claim through your own insurance company.
Often insurance companies look for creative ways to avoid paying, so having a dedicated team of reliable professionals on your side can make all the difference. Contact Krause, Moorhead & Draisen, P.A. today to learn more. Consultations are free, so don’t delay.
Steven Krause is a personal injury, auto accident, and workers’ compensation lawyer who practices in Anderson, SC. He graduated form the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law and has been practicing law for 40 years now. Steven Krause believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience here.