Guide to South Carolina Car Insurance Laws
After an auto accident in South Carolina, the law requires the driver that caused the accident to pay for the damages.
Usually, insurance will cover the costs, but it’s critical to understand how South Carolina insurance laws might affect your recovery.
The Peace Law Firm helps injured clients recover from at-fault drivers after a collision. South Carolina auto insurance laws require an at-fault driver to pay for the costs of bodily injury and property damage.
To enforce this rule, South Carolina requires all drivers to carry auto insurance coverage. Insurance will cover most costs, up to policy limits. If damages are higher, the injured party has a right to sue the driver for full reimbursement for their injuries.
How to Prove Fault in a South Carolina Auto Accident
Before the insurance company pays your claim, you’ll need to demonstrate that the insured driver is at fault. Because South Carolina is a tort liability state, you must have proof of all the elements of negligence to prove fault.
The Driver Must Owe a Duty of Care
When you receive your driver’s license in South Carolina, you agree to follow the rules of the road and act as a reasonable driver. Every driver has a “duty of care” to behave reasonably, considering others’ safety and property.
Further, even a car owner has the responsibility for making a reasonable choice when loaning their vehicle to another driver.
You Must Be Able to Show the Driver Breached the Duty of Care
Next, you must show what the driver did that violated their duty of care. Perhaps a witness saw them run a stop sign or you have video of them swerving. Without evidence of fault, the insurance company might try to deny your claim on this element.
The Breach Must Have Caused Your Damages
In addition to showing the amount of your damages, you’ll need to prove that the driver’s negligent behavior caused them.
Insurance companies often argue that the insured’s actions didn’t cause the accident. They’ll try to pressure you by saying you were equally at fault or that there was an external cause.
The Amount of Your Claim Should Match Your Damages
Insurance companies have the bad habit of offering a quick settlement and pressuring you to accept. Unfortunately, these offers are rarely enough to cover your medical bills and other losses.
You have the right to recover damages for your economic and non-economic losses, including things like:
- Past and future medical bills,
- Past and future lost wages,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Lost enjoyment of life.
Your attorney can help you identify and calculate all damages you suffered as a result of the accident.
South Carolina Car Insurance Requirements
Before legally operating a vehicle in South Carolina, you must have liability insurance to cover the damages if you cause an accident. In addition to liability coverage, you must have uninsured motorists coverage for collisions where the at-fault driver is unknown or driving illegally.
By law, your insurance policy limit cannot be less than:
- $25,000 in bodily injury costs per person,
- $50,000 in bodily injury costs per accident; and
- $25,000 in property damages per accident.
Under Section 38-77-140, an at-fault driver’s insurance should pay at least $25,000 for one person’s medical bills and costs. While this amount isn’t insignificant, consider how the limits work when the accident involves multiple vehicles and passengers.
When the policy limit is $50,000 for an entire accident, all injured parties must split that amount.
What Happens When Car Accident Claim Exceeds Insurance Limits?
After a crash in South Carolina, you have the right to recover the total value of your damages from the accident. If your claim exceeds the at-fault driver’s insurance limits, you can sue the driver individually for the remaining amount.
Unfortunately, if the driver does not have many assets, it can be difficult to collect the compensation they owe you.
But there may be other options as well. For example, you can file a claim with your own underinsured motorist coverage if the other driver’s insurance is not sufficient to cover your losses.
Alternatively, someone other than the driver may be liable for the accident, such as the driver’s employer if they were on the job when the accident happened.
Rely on an Experienced Attorney to Walk You Through South Carolina Car Insurance Laws
If you’re worried about what happens if medical bills exceed policy limits, let the experienced attorneys at the Peace Law Firm help. We are here to help you hold the person who injured you responsible for the damages they caused.
We’ll work to help you seek fair compensation after a crash. Whether you need help negotiating with an insurance company or taking the negligent driver to court, the Peace Law Firm knows South Carolina car insurance laws.