Whether you’re a new driver or have been driving for years, it’s always a good idea to stay up-to-date on your state’s car insurance laws. In the event of a car accident that results in property damage, injuries, or fatalities, the insurance policy will come into play to help cover the losses. Below you’ll find a brief summary of South Carolina’s auto insurance laws.
South Carolina’s Minimum Coverage Requirements
Every state establishes its minimum coverage requirements for auto insurance. This ensures that in the event of an accident that those involved can get the care they need. Liability coverage pays for expenses like medical bills, property damage expenses, and other losses incurred by drivers, passengers, or pedestrians who were injured or had their personal property damaged in an accident.
Liability coverage kicks in if a family member is driving your vehicle, or if you’ve given someone permission to drive it. Depending on your policy, you may also be covered if you get into an accident while operating a rental vehicle.
The liability insurance amounts that meet the state minimum include:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the owner or driver of the insured vehicle
- $50,000 for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident that was caused by the owner or driver of the insured vehicle
- $25,000 for property damage per accident caused by the driver or owner of the insured vehicle
Sometimes, however, the minimum isn’t always enough when a person is seriously injured. This is because once the policy limits are exhausted, the rest has to come out-of-pocket. That’s when it’s best to hire an attorney who can fight for full and fair compensation if you’ve been in a car wreck.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
In addition to liability insurance, South Carolina required drivers to have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This has to be in an amount equal to the minimum required liability coverage, which we discussed above. This type of coverage protects drivers and passengers in the event the at-fault driver has no insurance. It also prevents hit and run accident victims.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
Insurance companies are required to notify the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) when a vehicle owner cancels their insurance policy. If a policy isn’t picked up by the time the SCDMV is notified, the uninsured driver will receive a letter that requires them to provide proof of insurance. This is done by having the insurance company electronically verify coverage within 20 business days.
If the SCDMV does not receive verification within the time, the person’s driving privilege, license plate, and vehicle registrations will be suspended. Additionally, the person could have to pay up to $400 to have their privileges and registration reinstated.
If a driver is pulled over and cited for not having auto insurance, their license and registration will most likely be suspended and they could receive a $550 uninsured motorist fee. If they’re uninsured and driving a vehicle that doesn’t belong to them, their license will be suspended for 30 days and they’ll need to pay a $100 reinstatement fee.
Protecting Auto Accident Victims
When it comes to financial responsibility for car accident losses, South Carolina follows the traditional fault system. This means that the person who caused the accident is responsible for the resulting harm. The victim of an accident can seek compensation for their injuries and losses in three ways. First, they can file a claim with their own insurance company. This is assuming the loss is covered under their policy.
If they choose not to file with their own insurance company, the crash victim can file a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The last option would be to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.
In most situations, filing the claim with your own insurance company is the way to go, but your lawyer can advise you on the best option based on your circumstances.
In order to protect your rights, it’s also important to know that the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim in South Carolina is three years, according to the state’s Code of Laws. If you file after that timeframe is up, you forfeit your right to seek monetary recovery. If you’ve been injured in an auto crash, it’s important to be aware of the laws discussed above. This will ensure when you file a claim to seek compensation that you understand your rights and options.
For more details on South Carolina’s auto insurance laws, you can schedule a free consultation with our lawyer. We can explain your legal rights to you and help you get on the path to receiving the compensation you need to recover from your accident-related injuries.