If you are seeking an automobile accident attorney, chances are that you are aware of the frustration that can come with going through the process of seeking restitution after an accident. The stress of dealing with the other party involved in the accident, their insurance company, and (in some cases) your own insurance company can be overwhelming. Sometimes, though, this is just the beginning.
What happens when you are in an accident and the other driver does not have an active insurance policy? Are you responsible for your own bills? What about medical bills?
Under South Carolina law, every driver must carry insurance. Mandatory insurance laws protect both the driver of the automobile, and any other drivers that he or she might encounter on the road. There are, however, drivers who choose to ignore this rule. For drivers who have the misfortune to be involved in an accident with one of these drivers, Section 38-77-150 of the South Carolina Code of Laws may be a saving grace.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
For an insurance carrier to offer insurance within the state of South Carolina, the law requires that it include a provision stating that the carrier will pay to an insured party any sum that he or she may be entitled to from an uninsured driver. This provision applies to both injury and destruction of property resulting from an accident with an uninsured party. It protects insured parties from uninsured motorists, and motorists carrying a policy that falls short of the damages suffered.
The law is intricate, but essentially, this means that if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you may be able to recover damages from your own insurance company as if they were the insurance company for the uninsured party as well.
What about a situation where there has been a hit and run? How about when the party responsible for an accident has driven off, unaware of their actions and the resulting accident? Under Section 38-77-170 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, the uninsured motorist statute may also apply in very specific situations.
A Complicated Procedure
The provision also offers some protection for the insurance company. The insurance company, in acting as the surrogate insurance provider for the uninsured party, is also entitled to defend itself in court against a claim. It would not be equitable to place the burden of payment on the insurance company without offering the insurance company the same defenses the uninsured motorist would have if they were in a position to pay. This means that you would essentially be facing your own insurance company in court should the provisions of this statute be exercised.
Another complication arises in seeking compensation for an accident with an unknown driver. Issues of how much effort the insured party must put into finding the missing driver, the type of accident, and whether there were witnesses are a few of the factors that must be considered before a court will allow an uninsured motorist provision to cover damage where the other driver is unknown. Having a lawyer present to navigate this process may be a great benefit.
Have You Been a Victim?
If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, or an accident where the other driver is unknown, the team at the Dan Pruitt Law Firm may be able to help. Consider speaking with our team. We offer free consultations, and with over two decades of experience in the practice of personal injury law, we are dedicated to securing the justice that our clients deserve.