Uninsured Motorist Accidents
If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Even if the at-fault driver was not insured or was carrying only the minimum liability insurance required in South Carolina, you could still have options for compensation.
The car accident attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm can help you explore all potential sources of compensation, including uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage that you might carry on your auto insurance policy. Often called “UM / UIM,” this type of insurance can provide compensation in situations where the negligent driver had no insurance or not enough to pay for all of your damages.
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is included in all South Carolina auto liability policies, while underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is optional, but can usually be added at little extra cost. UIM is considered one of the best bargains in auto insurance, and adding it to your auto policy is highly recommended. Although you can’t control how much insurance the other driver has, you can control how much coverage you carry.
South Carolina Car Accidents and Uninsured Motorists
Under South Carolina law, most drivers are required to carry minimum levels of liability insurance. Those levels are as follows:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person
- $50,000 bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 property damage per accident
Despite these legal requirements, estimates are that 1 in every 10 motorists in South Carolina drives without liability insurance. In addition, the minimum levels of insurance are often insufficient to cover even the out-of-pocket expenses incurred by a victim in a South Carolina car accident, much less pain and suffering the victim experienced as a result of the accident.
If you were injured in a car accident and the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured, you may be entitled to compensation through your own liability insurance policy. When you purchase liability insurance in South Carolina, uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is automatically included in your policy. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is not automatically included, but can be purchased when you purchase your insurance policy, and the insurance company must offer it to you.
Your UM coverage may pay out if you were hit by a negligent driver who was violating the law by not carrying auto liability insurance. If your policy includes UIM coverage, and the driver who hit you was not carrying enough insurance to cover your injuries, then your own policy may compensate you to make up the difference. In some cases, your own policy may also compensate you when you are injured in a hit-and-run accident.
Although you are dealing with your own insurance company when you seek compensation on the basis of injuries caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, remember that the insurance company’s goal is still to limit its exposure. In other words, even your own insurance company may be reluctant to pay you what your claim is really worth.
Another issue that comes up with regard to South Carolina UIM coverage is whether the insurance company followed the law when you took out the original policy. The insurance company is required to make you a meaningful offer for underinsured motorist coverage at the time you take out the policy. If the company did not make a meaningful offer of UIM, the policy could be “reformed” to include UIM coverage, and you could be entitled to compensation.