It’s always the last thing you expect to happen on a very busy day when you have somewhere important to be, but sooner or later many of us experience an unexpected car accident. If you have been involved in a car accident in South Carolina, you will want to equip yourself with some basic knowledge so that you know what actions you should take in order to make a claim for injuries or seek compensation for vehicle damage.
Here at David R. Price, Jr. P.A., we want to help you with your next steps, from learning and understanding your rights to officially making a claim for compensation with a personal injury lawyer. Our brief overview will provide you with some key information that will hopefully answer some of your concerns and give you the confidence stand up for your rights as you progress your case.
South Carolina Car Insurance Basics
Like most states, South Carolina requires the owner of a vehicle to carry a specific amount of liability insurance. Most of your medical treatment, property damage and extra accident related bills will be covered by the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage. In South Carolina, the minimum liability car insurance coverage requirements are as follows:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of yourself, a passenger, another driver, a pedestrian, or any single person involved in the accident.
- $50,000 for a single accident, and
- $25,000 for any property damage (vehicle or other) that you cause as a result of the accident.
Although these amounts are just the bare minimum stipulated by South Carolina law, some car insurance policies carry a higher coverage. If the at-fault driver in your collision only has the minimum coverage, then you may need to look to other sources of recovery such as the underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on your own policies..
Who is at fault?
South Carolina is an at-fault state which means that it follows a “fault” or tort system when deciding how an injured party will recoup losses following an auto accident. Therefore, the person who was legally at-fault for causing the accident is liable for any damages. This means they will be personally responsible either through their insurance company or through the courts for compensating injuries and vehicle damage caused by the crash. In South Carolina, there are three ways in which a person who was injured or who suffered property damage in an auto accident can seek compensation. They can:
- file a claim with their own car insurance provider,
- file a third-party car insurance claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurer, or
- file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Where an injured party files a claim with their own insurance company, the injured party’s own insurance company may then look to the at-fault driver’s insurer for reimbursement of claims paid to the non-at-fault party.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim
If you are the injured party and decide to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver in South Carolina, you will need to be aware of the statute of limitations, which provides a filing deadline for cases in the civil court. Like every state, the limitations set out strict time periods in which you may file a lawsuit after the accident and they vary depending on the type of case. For auto accident lawsuits in South Carolina the below timeframes apply, unless the at-fault driver was acting within the scope of government employment at the time of the collision:
- Personal injury: three years after the date of the accident (S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530(5)).
- Property damage: three years after the date of the accident (S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530(4)).
The statutes of limitations only apply to filing a claim within the civil courts, and so they should be your first consideration when deciding to take action. If you delay until you have lost the ability to go to court, an insurance company almost certainly will not be willing to offer you a satisfactory settlement. Therefore, don’t hinder your chances of receiving a full compensation by delaying or missing the civil deadline entirely.
There are a few limited situations where the above timeframes change. For example, if your car accident involved a government employee or government property such as a city bus, then you will need to file a claim within the correct government agency immediately after the accident. The statute of limitations in such situations may be drastically different than the timeframe set forth above, so in order to protect your legal rights you will need to speak with a legal advisor straight away.
The settlement process after your car accident begins at the scene of the accident. You may still be in shock or even injured but if you can, you should gather every piece of information that is available to you. Try to take photographs of both vehicles and to capture the names and contact information of the other driver and any witnesses. This information will later be the evidence on which you rely to prove your claim. From day one until you submit your final claim, you will need to collect and keep any documents that further your case such as, driver details, medical information, receipts and photographs of the damaged vehicles and of your injuries. As your case continues you will need to keep this evidence collecting mentality so that you can demonstrate the effect of the accident on your life and receive full compensation for all loses.
How we can help
Having an experienced and skilled attorney representing your interests is only going to benefit your case and ensure that you receive all the compensation available to you. At David R. Price, Jr. P.A. we have determined Greenville, SC car accident injury attorneys that know how to best present your case and will fight relentlessly so that you are reimbursed for every loss. Contact us now for a free consultation and help with your claim.