Getting into a car accident with an uninsured driver is any motorist’s biggest nightmare. They have significant expenses and cannot file a claim against a policy that does not exist. Even though it is mandatory for drivers to carry auto insurance in South Carolina, some drivers break the law. In South Carolina, 10.9% of the drivers in the state did not have auto insurance in 2019.
That means that there is a one in ten chance that the driver who caused your crash may not have the means to pay for the damage that they caused. The uninsured rate is increasing in South Carolina, especially as drivers feel the pinch from tough economic times.
In addition, there is the possibility that you may have been injured in a hit-and-run accident. These are considered the same as a crash with an uninsured motorist because you do not have the driver’s insurance information. Even if the driver has insurance, they may not have enough coverage to pay for your injuries.
You Have Coverage Through Your Own Policy
The good news is that they have coverage for their damages through their own auto insurance policy. The amount of coverage depends on the individual policy. You can at least get some money to pay for your damages.
South Carolina law requires that any auto insurance policy sold in the state provides coverage for an accident with an uninsured motorist. The law does not require that auto insurance policies offer underinsured motorist coverage, but it is something that you can purchase as part of your policy. The minimum amount of coverage in a policy is:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury coverage
- $50,000 per accident for bodily coverage
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
In general, it is smart to have more than the minimum amount of coverage. Even a visit to the emergency room and some treatment afterward may be enough to make the $25,000 go quickly. If you have higher coverage limits, you have a better chance of having your injuries more fully covered. Some drivers pay to “stack” their car insurance policies. If they have two cars on their policy, they can get the maximum amount of coverage for uninsured accidents for both vehicles as part of one accident.
These are the same mandatory minimum coverage that drivers must have to pay for accidents with other drivers. Motorists often do not realize that they have this coverage, but it is there to protect them.
Dealing with Your Own Insurance Company Is Still Difficult
Your own insurance company should pay the claim just the same as the other driver’s would if they actually had an insurance policy. You would still need to follow the regular rules of filing an insurance claim, including showing that the other driver was at fault for the crash. Instead of negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company, you would be dealing with your own.
Many injured drivers are surprised to learn that their own insurance company is not any better for them than that of another driver. People often think that customer loyalty would mean that their own insurance company is fair with them. Unfortunately, that is not the case. All insurance companies are the same when they have to write a check. They do not like to do it, and they will make getting what you legally deserve as difficult as possible.
You can collect the same types of damages against your own policy as you could from the other driver. Your damages would include:
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You Still Have to Negotiate
You would need to negotiate this claim with your insurance company, just like you would if it was the other driver’s policy. You would begin by presenting a demand for payment that would include proof that someone else was responsible and documentation of your damages. Your insurance company would offer you a settlement check. Like any settlement offer coming from an insurance company, you can expect that it will be low, and you will need to reject it and make a counteroffer.
Even when you are dealing with your own insurance company, you are not dealing with a friendly company dedicated to protecting your interests. This is not going to be a simple claim. As with any other accident, you need legal help for this claim because you will be dealing with an insurance company. You must understand the value of your case before you begin to negotiate the claim.
You would also have the legal right to sue the uninsured driver for damages when your insurance coverage is not enough to pay. However, judgments in personal injury cases are notoriously hard to collect. The same driver who may not have been able to afford an auto insurance policy may not have many assets to seize. Therefore, whatever uninsured motorist coverage that you have may be the limit of your financial recovery.
Call a Greenville Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, the smart move is to call a car accident lawyer right after the crash. On your own, you may fall victim to the tactics of the insurance company that are designed to shortchange you on your claims. The Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm is here to make sure that does not happen. Call us today at (864) 280-7660 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.
Can I sue my own insurance company in an uninsured motorist claim?
Absolutely. You have a contract with your insurance company, and they are obligated to provide coverage.
Why do I need a lawyer if it is my insurance company?
Insurance companies play hardball with their own customers all the time and try and settle every case for as little as possible.
When should I call a lawyer?
The best time to contact a lawyer is right after your crash.