Honest Answers From Your South Carolina Lawyer
When you’re faced with a major life event, you’re filled with questions and uncertainty. Get the straight answers you’re looking for from a South Carolina attorney.
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If I get hit by a car walking across the street or riding a bicycle, what rights do I have?
You have the same rights to be compensated as an innocent motorist or passenger in a typical car, truck, or motorcycle accident. Here are three important factors in your case:
If the accident is all or mostly your fault—for example, if you walked despite a “stop” signal on the crosswalk light or veered across three lanes of traffic on your bicycle—you cannot legally recover.
But even if you may have played a role in the crash, don’t be discouraged. Due to the rule of “comparative negligence,” you might still win compensation. To get your best shot at a recovery, you’ll need an experienced auto accident lawyer to convince the insurance company that its driver is most at fault.
Even if the driver’s fault is clear, it’s smart to consult an attorney to strategize the best way to maximize your financial recovery. Legal compensation is built from many details that have to be fully developed before the insurance company will part with its beloved cash to pay you.
Traffic accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists often result in severe injuries or even death, especially if it involves a child. The worse the injuries, the greater potential to collect more compensation. As the value of your claim rises, it becomes more important to protect your rights to a fair recovery; at the same time, it becomes much harder for an untrained person to win the best available outcome.
Seriously hurt or grieving people have too much to worry about already. They can be overwhelmed by dealing with insurance company demands and by the insurance adjuster, who’s evaluated on how much he doesn’t pay out in claims. Insurance companies take advantage of amateur claimants, getting out cheap by forcing an unjustifiably low settlement when you’re just exhausted or don’t know any better.
It’s easy to overlook your rights in this situation, including the availability of all potential sources of financial recovery. Keep reading.
The primary source of recovery is auto insurance. Victims get paid first from the at-fault driver’s policy. You’ll need to be sure you know the maximum amount that policy will pay. An experienced auto accident attorney can help.
Finally, some good news. If needed, and if you bought the right coverage, you can use your OWN auto policy. If your case is that serious, you need a skilled attorney to review your coverage, then prove your rights to get as much as possible.
The Tip of the Iceberg
Remember, these are just three factors in your case; there are usually a lot more moving parts to manage than that. Don’t risk adding insult to injury by getting shortchanged by an insurance company or overlooking your coverage. Fill out our Get Help Now form to get your questions answered and start building your case today.
What do I do about fixing or replacing my vehicle after an accident?
That’s actually two questions. Welcome to the often-complicated world of auto insurance, where you’ll learn first-hand how hard insurance companies can be when you attempt to use their product as intended.
Here’s how a car, truck, or motorcycle accident property damage claim breaks down:
Which Insurance Do You File With?
You can file your property damage claim with your own auto insurance company or the at-fault driver’s. The biggest consideration here is, filing with your own company might get it done faster because you’re their customer. But your recovery may be limited by your policy.
Also, you’ll probably have to pay a deductible, meaning an amount insurance doesn’t cover. It’s usually $500 or so.
Your policy may have other limits on your recovery. Ask your insurance agent.
If you file with the at-fault driver’s insurance, you can expect to deal with an adjuster who’s not on your side. Here’s more on him, including whether you should contact an attorney before speaking with him and how to outwit adjusters and their tricks. For the most part, insurance companies usually handle property damage claims pretty fairly without the need of a lawyer—but don’t count on that for your injury case.
What Will a Property Damage Settlement Recover?
This is a list of items you might get if you make a claim against the at-fault driver:
- Repairs. If your car is repairable, you can recover the value of repairs, even if you don’t get them. But you need at least an estimate of the cost, done by a qualified mechanic.
- Vehicle replacement. If your vehicle is “totaled,” meaning totally destroyed or repairs exceed its fair market value, you can recover the fair market value of the vehicle on the date of the crash. A good source for estimates is Kelley Blue Book.
- Loss of use. This is compensation for the time you were deprived of the vehicle’s use while it was repaired or replaced. A good estimate of this is the cost of renting the same or similar vehicle. You might recover this even if you didn’t actually rent a car, or you borrowed someone else’s for free.
- Depreciation. This is for the reduction in fair market value after repairs. If your vehicle is in as good condition as before the crash, you don’t qualify for this.
- Punitive damages, in rare cases. This recovery is reserved for some of the worst behavior, usually criminal. If your car got wrecked by a DUI driver, you might qualify for punitive damages. But you can expect a big fight over it and you’ll likely need a lawyer to give you the best shot at obtaining them. We handle these cases differently than ordinary crash cases. Contact us by email, live chat, or calling (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to find out more.
If you’ve been involved in a serious accident, handling the property damage aspect may be the easiest part of your case. If you are overwhelmed with your injuries or the idea of handling the insurance company, you don’t have to go it alone. Send us an email or start a live chat right where you are so we can start answering your questions and point you in the right direction.
How will the insurance company contact me after I get hurt in an auto accident? What if I’m too hurt to talk about it?
The insurance company contacts you through its claims adjuster, also called claims rep or claims handler. The adjuster typically works for the liability insurance company of the at-fault driver who hurt you. Oddly, in an underinsurance or uninsured claim, the adjuster actually works for your insurance company.
Regardless of who he works for, the adjuster’s primary goal is very simple—get the insurance company out of this as quickly and cheaply as possible. The adjuster may be friendly, but he is not your friend. You must deal with him accordingly. Check out these typical tactics they use, and how to deal with them.
Here’s tips on whether you should speak to the adjuster now, or consider hiring someone to do it for you:
- If you have a simple claim—like you went to the ER and then a couple visits of physical therapy for a sore back—you may be able to handle the adjuster by yourself.
- If you have serious injuries, like a broken bone or anything requiring a referral to a specialist, you owe it to yourself and your family to get your own professional on your side: an experienced car accident attorney. You need to focus on recovery and not worry about having your rights violated, or responding to repeated demands for information, or waiting for the adjuster to call you back.
- If you are unsure how seriously you are hurt, you risk torpedoing your claim by giving uncertain information to the adjuster. Like trying to be tough, telling him you feel okay, only to discover later you actually need a spinal operation. Yep, that’s happened.
Final analysis: If you are seriously hurt, unsure how your medical treatment will turn out, or unsure how to do deal with the adjuster, then don’t immediately talk to the adjuster.
Here's more info on the process to get your claim settled.
Remember: information is power, especially when you’re dealing with an experienced professional who’s handled potentially thousands of claims and is skilled at shortchanging injury victims like you. Talking to an experienced car accident lawyer first is in your best interest. At Holland & Usry, we help people like you. Contact us with a live chat or email to answer your questions, or even set up a free meeting to discuss your claim and evaluate every possible insurance policy that could provide money to help you. Even if we don’t accept your case or you decide not to hire us, it might give you peace of mind and some free pointers.
How will I know if I got hurt due to a defective car or truck?
If you’re asking, you should find out. The truth is, it’s hard to tell if cars are defective without engineering or industry experts, which an experienced injury lawyer can find. A commonsense rule is this: if you suffer injury or the death of a loved one from an inexplicable crash or failure of a safety device that should have prevented or minimized injury, you may have a case.
Here are common defective car cases:
- Defective airbags. Airbags don’t deploy in a serious crash, causing death, brain injuries, paralysis, broken or crushed jaws and faces, or chest crush injuries. Or sometimes they deploy improperly, shooting metal particles into victims’ faces like the Takata airbag. And sometimes they deploy for no reason at all, which could cause a serious or lethal traffic accident, facial burns, and broken bones in the face or jaw.
- Defective tires. Tire tread separation or blowouts can cause violent crashes with lethal or life-threatening injuries.
- Rollovers. Cars designed with faulty handling, suspension, or stability systems can tip over for no justifiable reason or from low speed fender-benders. Tragedy can result from rollover injuries, including paralysis or even death.
- Defective seatbelts. Safety latches fail to keep victims buckled in crashes, causing needless injury or worse.
- Defective door latches. A door opening for no reason while a car is in motion is scary. If it happens in a crash, a misadventure can become a catastrophe if a passenger is thrown out to crash onto pavement, down an embankment, or even get run over.
- Defective cruise control. If it doesn’t shut off when you tell it to, your car becomes an unstoppable menace until it meets an immovable object, like a stopped car or a tree, often causing a devastating crash.
- Extreme damage from low-speed wrecks. If damage to the car—and the occupants—is far greater than the impact justifies, the car may be defectively designed. Cases like this can feature crushed roofs when the car tips over, or intrusion by car components like the dash or door into its passengers.
- Fires. Movies are not real life. If a car explodes or bursts into flame from a little fender-bender or for no reason at all, there may be a defect explaining it.
Get Help By Helping Yourself
If you wonder whether you got hurt or lost a loved one because your car or truck is defective, take two simple steps that may save your case:
- Keep the car at a place where it can be protected from thieves and weather. Do not get it repaired before it can be examined thoroughly.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer to investigate your case.
When you come to Holland & Usry, PA, we begin with a free strategy session to get the facts and begin our investigation to protect your rights and get you some answers. Feel free to start with an email right where you are so we can schedule your free meeting. You can’t solve this yourself, and any calls to Detroit will go unanswered. You need a professional who can tell you whether you’ve got a legal case worth the investment of your time and who might just give you peace of mind, whether you have a case or not.
How can a defective, out-of-repair, or dangerous road cause a wreck?
Poor road conditions—like potholes, bumps, rutted or broken pavement, and unsafe roadside drop-offs—can cause tragic, even fatal car accidents in many ways.
Here are just a few examples of how dangerous road conditions can forever change the lives of innocent motorists:
- Improperly graded roads allow water to pool, creating dangerous hydroplaning.
- Overly steep drop-offs on the roadside can cause lethal rollovers where the "luckiest" result can be paralysis.
- Highway ruts where the pavement is scraped or worn off can cause a driver to lose control even at a safe speed and barrel off the side of the road into a tree.
- Inadequate warning signs—or no warning signs at all—can fail to alert the driver about road hazards. This applies just as much to temporary hazards like construction as it does to permanent dangers like bumps in the road. Think of the looming disaster posed if you are driving at highway speed when you hit an unmarked bump, or if you drive straight into a construction zone without any warning at all.
- Traffic lights where the timing is off are surprisingly dangerous. These may not give enough time for motorists to get through an intersection safely.
- Insufficient pedestrian signs or lights—or none at all—don’t give pedestrians enough time to cross an intersection safely, or fail to warn approaching motorists to look out for them.
- Insufficient guardrails or median barriers fail to prevent deadly crossover crashes. Instead, a car skids across the median and can’t stop before slamming headfirst into oncoming traffic.
Poor road conditions and improper signs are a deadly peril that can leave innocent motorists and passengers grievously hurt…or worse. If you think the condition of a road contributed to your car accident, an experienced injury lawyer who knows how to research the accident history of the road and gather the necessary experts to prove your case is exactly what you need.
Feel free to start a live chat with us right where you are to apply to be one of our clients. If we accept your case, rest assured you’ll get the care you need. We’ll do all we can to gather the proper evidence to help get your medical bills paid and get you the best possible financial settlement for a crash that should have been prevented by authorities- and anyone else who contributed to your harm.
Can a bar be held responsible if it over-serves an intoxicated person who, after leaving the bar, causes a drunk driving accident injuring another?
Yes. It is possible to hold a bar responsible when its staff over-serves individuals who go on to drive and hurt others.
South Carolina law prohibits a person or establishment licensed to sell alcohol from selling alcoholic beverages to persons in an intoxicated condition. If you prove that this occurred and you were injured by the over-served person, then the establishment or restaurant is negligent per se, or negligent by law.
This does two things: it proves negligence on the part of the establishment and it allows the you to seek punitive damages. Also, because South Carolina law treats conduct involving the use, sale, or possession of alcohol differently from other claims; if a jury attributes any fault to the restaurant or establishment, you may recover the entire award from them even if the jury finds the driver more at fault. This also means that the injured person may recover the entire amount awarded against the driver as well, if the jury finds the establishment more at fault. The reason this matters is because if the restaurant or bar has more insurance coverage than the driver or vice versa, you have a greater chance of recovering.
South Carolina refers to this as dram shop liability. An experienced law firm can help victims of drunk driving—whether a bar or restaurant contributed to the accident or not—be compensated for their injuries and losses.
If you or a loved one have been injured or you have lost a loved one due to a drunk driver, please contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841 for your FREE, confidential consultation. For more information on injury cases download our free report.
I got hurt badly by a hit and run driver in Duncan. What if the police never find him, or what if they do but he has no insurance? How will I ever pay all these medical bills?
There’s hope for you. You can still get help from your own policy. Every driver in South Carolina must carry uninsured motorist coverage, also called UM, which pays if the at-fault driver cannot be caught, or has no liability insurance to cover your injuries.
There are two important things you should know about UM:
- The amount you can access is limited to the amount of your liability coverage. This is yet another reason you should get as high a liability limit as possible. The other important reason is you can only get as much underinsurance coverage (UIM) as your liability limits; see why we feel it’s the most important coverage you can buy.
- The shocking truth about UM: Victims are often stunned to discover when you make a UM claim, your own insurance company fights against you.
Also, UM can sometimes be stacked, similar to UIM. You may be able to collect more than the coverage on one vehicle if your household owns several vehicles.
The law of UM coverage and stacking can be very complex. If you’re hurt bad enough to need it, you should have an experienced car accident lawyer review your policy to make sure you don’t overlook any coverage—and to see if he can help enhance your claim to keep you from being shortchanged by your own insurance company.
If you have any questions about UM for a serious car wreck in Duncan or anywhere in South Carolina, check out our other articles on this site and feel free to request our free report on South Carolina car crash cases. You can call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting, or start a live chat or email from right where you’re sitting. If you’re hurt too bad to come to us, we’ll come to you.
I got hurt when another driver ran a red light and hit me. Who pays?
You might be surprised. Even though everyone is required to carry car insurance, most folks don’t know how it works until they have no choice—like when they get hurt in a Union car accident.
In a nutshell, this is how insurance coverage can work to help you recover for a serious car wreck.
Primary Source of Recovery
The at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy is the primary source for paying for your losses after a traffic accident.
Auto liability insurance is required to protect folks like you who get hurt by other drivers. You’ll soon be contacted by an adjuster, who is a representative of the liability insurance company. You need to remember no matter how nice he is, his basic job is to do one thing: to cheapen your claim any way he can. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums from policyholders, not by paying generous settlements. The insurance adjuster is going to use every trick he knows to whittle down the money you collect.
If the at-fault driver has no insurance, you can recover from your own policy under your uninsured coverage.
All these coverages have limits, so if your claim exceeds them, you’re probably stuck with the limits of the policy, since most at-fault drivers don’t have assets to pay a huge claim. The minimum insurance limit in South Carolina, carried by many drivers, is just $25,000, so hopefully you already have the most important insurance coverage in South Carolina, discussed below.
Paying Medical Bills: Use Your Own Coverage If You Can
Use your own health coverage. The at-fault driver’s policy will not pay medical bills as they come in. If you have health insurance, use it. It may help your case in the long run. Later on, you may have to pay back your health insurance company from any insurance settlement you receive (in a legal claim called “subrogation), but it is often at a discount from the actual cost of your medical bills.
Your auto insurance policy may have a type of insurance called “personal injury protection,” (PIP) or MedPay. This automatically pays your medical bills up to its limits, usually $1,000 to $10,000. You can still use it if you have health insurance. Just remember your health insurance will probably make a subrogation claim as discussed above. Take a look at your policy and see if you have any. If you don’t, call your agent; this coverage is usually extremely cheap and can provide needed financial relief if you’ve been in an accident. Usually, all you do is set up the claim with your own insurance company and send it copies of your medical bills. Your insurance company will send you a check to reimburse you or, if you request, will send it directly to the provider. The at-fault driver’s liability insurance gets no discount or benefit from your bills being paid by PIP.
The Most Important Car Insurance in South Carolina
It’s called “underinsured motorist coverage,” underinsurance, or UIM. It protects victims hurt in serious accidents by drivers who don’t have enough insurance. This vital part of your insurance policy kicks in to pay the rest of your claim, or at least compensate you more fully when the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover it. Even better, if you've got this coverage on other cars in your household, it can be stacked to pay you more.
Sadly, South Carolina law does not require this coverage, but it must be offered a very specific way by your agent. If you reject the coverage but your agent failed to offer it properly, South Carolina law allows you to get that coverage on your policy to cover you anyway.
If you want more information, check out our free report on South Carolina car accident claims.
It’s bad enough when you get severely hurt in a wreck, but it can be made worse by all the complications of medical bills piling up and adjusters harassing you about your claim or not returning your calls. If you’ve been seriously hurt and need help managing the insurance for your claim, send us an email or start a live chat. You can always call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.
I Got Severely Hurt in a South Carolina Car Wreck, and My Medical Bills are $50,000. I Just Found Out the Driver Who Hit Me Only Had $25,000 in Liability Insurance. Will I Be Able to Get Any More Money to Pay My Bills?
Hopefully. While South Carolina law requires drivers to carry only $25,000 liability insurance, that amount can be woefully inadequate when someone gets hurt badly; however, you may have additional insurance on your own policy that you can use. It’s called underinsurance (UIM), and it’s designed for this very purpose – to help you get compensated when the driver who hurt you does not carry enough auto insurance to cover your injuries. UIM can help get you fully compensated or at least get you more compensation than you would have been if you didn’t have it.
The best thing about UIM is, in the right situations, it can give even more coverage than you might think, through a legal tactic called "stacking."
For more information about UIM and South Carolina car accident claims in general, check out our free book I Just Got in a South Carolina Car Accident. Now What?.
If you're not convinced about how vital UIM can be to protect you and your family in a South Carolina car crash, read some of our clients' stories:
- UIM provides desperately needed financial aid to motocycle brain injury victim
- Car accident settlement involving a drunk driver
- Settlement for 2 children seriously injured in a car accident
- Car accident settlement for a child, including the child's parents' policy
UIM coverage is so important that South Carolina law requires your insurance agent to offer it in a specific way. If you're just reading this for information and wonder if you have it, consult your policy immediately, and if you don't have it, call your agent to redo your policy to get you as much as possible. It just might save you from financial ruin if you ever get hurt in a car accident.