Every state has a different way of compensating injury victims. Insurance laws vary widely from state to state, but in South Carolina, seriously injured auto accident victims have the option of stacking policies in order to recover compensation for their injuries. A lot of people really don’t understand what this term “stacking” actually means, and insurance companies love to mislead consumers about their rights. With this in mind, Anderson, SC auto accident lawyers want you to understand your rights in the event you are ever involved in a catastrophic auto accident.
In general, when the person who causes a wreck does not carry enough insurance to pay for all of the injuries that he or she caused, then the victims have just two real options. First, they can attempt to collect the excess (the amount above the insurance available) from the at-fault driver directly. Of course, most people who carry minimum policies do not have sufficient cash on hand to pay for serious injuries and medical bills. The second option is to first recover the full value of the at-fault driver’s liability limits, and then turn to their own insurance policy for additional compensation. This is where underinsured motorist coverage kicks in.
There are two possible ways that states can deal with underinsured motorist coverage. They can permit stacking or not permit stacking. Most states don’t allow it; however, South Carolina does.
Stacking is where an injured person is allowed to combine (or “stack”) multiple insurance policies in order to satisfy or fully compensate for a loss. A lot of other states prohibit this, opting instead for a set amount as the cap. In other words, in other states, a person selects a limit, and that’s the cap or max that they can recover from their injuries. In South Carolina, stacking offers a little more generous option.
Stacking is actually a fairly complex concept in some cases. But to simplify it a bit, it may help to think of it as a matter of offsetting. If a person is severely injured in a car accident, and the person responsible only carried minimum liability insurance ($25,000 per person), then the injured person can first recover that liability policy limit, then turn to his own underinsured motorist (UIM) limit.
Even with stacking laws in place, there are times that an insurance company might try to argue that the injured party is not eligible for stacking of policy limits. In other situations, an insurance company might try to argue the injuries are not as serious as the injured person believes them to be. These common disputes can create an adversarial relationship between insured and insurer.
If you’ve suffered catastrophic injuries from a collision, call Krause, Moorhead & Draisen, P.A. to speak with one of our skilled and experienced injury lawyers today. The call is free, and we never collect unless you do.
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.