Being involved in an automobile accident is never fun, but the stress and misery only intensifies if the other party involved is an uninsured motorist. That is just one potential complication that could arise if you are involved in an auto accident. What if you were at the scene of an accident involving injuries? What should you do? If you find yourself asking these questions after your accident, contact the experienced team at Krause, Moorhead & Draisen, P.A. for personalized, professional assistance in recouping the settlement you deserve.
What Are Minimum Insurance Requirements Under South Carolina Law?
The South Carolina Department of Insurance has clear guidelines on insurance needs for all motor vehicles. In order to drive legally in the state, every vehicle must be insured. Listed below are the minimum coverage requirements:
- $25,000 per accident for property damage.
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury, with at least $50,000 per accident. In addition to medical expenses related to the accident, this covers pain and suffering, as well as lost wages.
- Uninsured motorist coverage; in the event of a hit-and-run accident or an accident involving an uninsured driver, this covers property and medical costs you may incur related to the accident.
The Other Driver was Uninsured. Now What?
Because you are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage under South Carolina law, your basic expenses should be covered. This will take care of any accident-related expenses, including rental car costs incurred while your vehicle is being repaired. Although you will be saddled with the $200 deductible, even it may eventually be reimbursed if your insurer ultimately collects from the uninsured motorist.
What Are My Responsibilities at the Time of the Accident?
Whether or not there is obvious property damage or clear injuries, it is smart to call law enforcement and have an official report filed on the accident. The agency involved will depend on where the accident occurred; local police departments handle accidents within their city limits, while the South Carolina Highway Patrol or county sheriff’s office will deal with crashes occurring outside city limits. Additionally, calling an ambulance to a scene involving serious injuries is imperative.
Once help is on the way, it is important to do what you can to take precautions to prevent additional accidents or injury. This may include moving so as to avoid impeding traffic, positioning someone to warn approaching drivers of the accident, using flares, reflectors or flashlights.
You will now need to exchange information with the other driver, including names and evidence of insurance. At this time, it is a good idea to get names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident, and to jot down important facts and information relevant to the accident.
Someone Appears to Be Seriously Injured. What Should I do?
Hopefully you have already called 911 and an operator is supporting you. The most important thing is for you to remain calm, and rely on the emergency services operator to walk you through the necessary interactions with the accident victim. It is usually best not to move injured parties at the scene of an accident unless absolutely necessary. If the accident victim is conscious, talk to them and reassure them that trained help is on the way. Try to glean useful information such as the location and degree of pain, allergies to medicines, and contact information. Do what you can to keep them warm and comfortable, apply pressure to wounds, and perform basic first aid as directed by the emergency services operator.
If the victim is unconscious, you will need to assess breathing, and may need to perform CPR under the direction of emergency services. Do what you can to support the victim until professional help arrives. Then share any relevant information so the victim receives the best care possible.
Am I Civilly Liable if Something Goes Wrong?
Good-faith interventions or lack thereof are not subject to civil liability, unless there is “gross negligence or wanton or willful misconduct.”
What Mistakes Related to the Accident Should I Avoid?
While you are required by South Carolina law to cooperate with law enforcement officials by answering all questions and showing your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, you are not required to admit to any wrongdoing or to sign anything. Be aware that anything you say may be used against you later, so be mindful of what you contribute to an officer’s report.
Be aware that you have no obligation to give statements or to sign forms given to you by the other person’s insurance carrier. Be cautious about signing any settlement agreements or releases.
I Have Completed Required Paperwork, but the Insurance Company Still Has Not Paid
It is your responsibility to keep accurate records related to your accident. This may include reports related to medical conditions and necessary medical equipment, property damage reports and expenses, anecdotal notes, police reports, correspondence with insurance carriers and others, and copies of any bills.
South Carolina law requires the insurance company to respond in a “reasonable” manner to your claim. If, after considering the number of vehicles involved, the extent of damages and injuries, weather conditions, intensive investigation and other special circumstances, you believe the time frame to be beyond reasonable, it may be time for you to get legal help.
Where Can I Find Experienced Attorneys to Assist me in Dealing with my Accident?
Instead of trying to fight insurance companies or understand complex laws and regulations on your own, trust the experience of the legal team at Krause, Moorhead & Draisen, P.A. to help you during this difficult time. Our attorneys know the laws in South Carolina, and will fight on your behalf. Contact us now for your free, personalized consultation. You will be glad you did.