South Carolina’s Highway Patrol is reporting a fatal accident involving a moped driver and a passenger vehicle, according to a recent WBTV news report. The 39-year-old moped driver was killed when a Chrysler 300 hit the moped from behind. The accident occurred near Charter Drive and Turn Plow Drive in Long. The driver of the Chrysler was ticketed for speeding, failing to have a vehicle license tag, and operating an uninsured vehicle. The 39-year-old victim died of his injuries from the wreck.
It is likely that you have heard the term “uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.” This may have happened when you initially took out auto insurance coverage on your South Carolina vehicle. You may also have seen the words in your auto insurance policy each time the coverage was renewed. Many wonder what uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is, and whether it is even necessary. This question arises because nearly every state, including South Carolina, mandates that auto insurance companies offer this coverage to its drivers.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage protects the policyholder directly. This is because this coverage pays if the policyholder is injured and/or his or her property is damaged by an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run driver. Not all states offer uninsured motorist coverage. South Carolina requires all drivers carry this type of coverage equal to the minimum amounts of mandated liability coverage. The minimum coverage in South Carolina is 25/50/25, according to South Carolina’s Department of Insurance. The SCDI estimates a typical deductible for uninsured motorist coverage is about $200.00.
Underinsured motorist coverage, on the other hand, is similar but different to uninsured motorist coverage in that it pays for your bodily injuries or property damage if the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy’s coverage limits are not high enough to pay for your medical bills or property expenses. While South Carolina auto insurers are required to offer its drivers underinsured motorist coverage, you are not required to purchase it.
There are a total of five different types of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. These include the two categories of liability coverage with which most are familiar: bodily injury and property damage. The five available versions of uninsured motorist coverage include:
- uninsured motorist bodily injury;
- underinsured motorist bodily injury;
- uninsured motorist property damage;
- underinsured motorist property damage; and
- underinsured/uninsured motorist bodily injury.
Bodily injury liability insurance coverage protects the policyholder against claims by others who are injured in an accident for which he or she was at fault. Claims for bodily injury may include lost wages, medical costs as well as pain and suffering. South Carolina requires a driver to carry a minimum of 25/50: $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for all persons injured in the same accident.
Property damage liability insurance coverage pays for damages caused by the policyholder to the property of others. This coverage goes beyond vehicles to cover walls, buildings, equipment and fences. The minimum limit mandated in South Carolina for this type of coverage is $25,000 in one accident.
Why Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is Important
While it may be legally true that underinsured motorist coverage is not necessary; in practical terms this type of coverage can be a financial lifesaver. This is because the probability of getting into a car accident with someone who is uninsured or underinsured is higher than you would expect – it is estimated by the Research Insurance Council that as many as one in eight drivers in the United States are on the nation’s roads without basic car insurance coverage.
The consequences of being involved in a South Carolina auto accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver can be devastating and financially shocking. If the uninsured driver is at fault for the crash and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy, your best option is to try to seek damages in court. Likewise, an at-fault driver with minimal auto insurance coverage will likely have a policy whose coverage limits will not be sufficient and you will also have to seek the additional damages in court. Even if you win your case before a South Carolina judge and/or jury, the likelihood that the at-fault driver will have the funds to pay for your property damages and medical expenses are probably slim.
Other South Carolina Insurance Requirements
Auto insurance laws in South Carolina mandate that drivers hold at least the minimum required amounts of both liability and uninsured motorist coverage. The minimum liability coverage required by the state is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or fatality, per person;
- $50,000 combined for bodily injury or fatality, per accident; and
- $25,000 for property damage.
Not surprisingly, South Carolina drivers may opt to buy additional coverage from state-licensed car insurance companies that helps pay costs that are not paid by the uninsured motorist or liability coverage in place. This coverage includes:
- Collision, which pays for accident-related damages to your vehicle;
- Comprehensive, which pays for damage to your vehicle caused by external factors (i.e. wildlife, weather, or theft);
- Medical payments, which is coverage that pays for medical expenses that exceed the limits of other insurance coverage on the vehicle;
- Rental reimbursement, which pays for the rental of a vehicle if one is needed after an auto accident; and
- Towing and labor, which can cover towing expenses and some labor costs.
South Carolina Accident Lawyers
The experienced South Carolina accident lawyers at the Law Office of H. Chase Harbin have a dedicated car accident investigator who can reconstruct an incident, if necessary. These legal professionals have extensive experience representing car accident victims in South Carolina and can lead you every step of the way. From initially contacting your own insurance carrier for claim filing to negotiating a settlement with the other party’s insurer, to litigating your claim at trial, these skilled attorneys are here to fight for the compensation you deserve. To schedule an initial case evaluation with one of our attorneys.
Chase Harbin is a Criminal Defense Lawyer who practices in Pickens and Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 17 years now. Chase Harbin believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.