For passengers who are injured in motor vehicle accidents in South Carolina, it can be a confusing and frustrating time. Typically, insurance companies are more concerned with protecting their insured drivers and less interested in paying anything to you for your injuries. You can be left feeling caught in the middle.
However, at The Jeffcoat Firm, we aggressively protect the rights of injured passengers. We understand that you want to be treated fairly, and you want your case to be handled and concluded quickly and efficiently. Above all, as an injured passenger, we know that you want the compensation you deserve to cover your losses.
Here, we discuss the legal options that may be available to injured passengers in South Carolina. To discuss the specific facts of your case, call or reach us online today. We will provide a free consultation through our offices in Columbia or Lexington.
Legal Options for Injured Passengers in South Carolina
Your options as an injured passenger will depend on who is responsible for the accident. The at-fault party’s insurance typically will serve as the primary source of compensation. Of course, the situation can become complicated if the at-fault driver has insurance that fails to fully cover your losses or has no insurance at all. Consider the following possibilities:
- Recovering from the negligent driver of another vehicle. The first option to consider is the other driver. If you are a passenger in a vehicle, and your driver was not to blame, then you should focus on pursuing compensation from the at-fault driver of the other vehicle. Of course, your own driver may carry optional benefits like medical payments, which can help pay for medical bills early on in your case. An attorney from The Jeffcoat Firm can help you to decide a strategy that meets your needs and goals.
- Turning to uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. In some cases, the other driver who caused the crash may not have carried much insurance. In other situations, the person may even be uninsured. When this happens, you may need to turn to the policy on the vehicle in which you were riding. This does not mean you are alleging your driver did something wrong. On the contrary, these are insurance policies designed to protect you if the at-fault driver failed to carry coverage or carried coverage that failed to fully cover your losses.
- Seeking a recovery from the negligent driver of the car you were riding in. Most passengers know the driver of their vehicle. So, if the at-fault driver is a friend or close acquaintance, you may be hesitant to file a claim. However, if you are seriously hurt, the driver should understand that you need to be compensated. Additionally, you will be filing a claim seeks a recovery from the driver’s personal assets. Instead, you are filing a claim for compensation from the driver’s insurance company.
- Seeking a recovery from both another driver and the driver of your car. South Carolina law apportions blame between parties. So, in some cases, there will be more than one liable party. If both the other driver and the driver of the car you were in are negligent, then each person’s insurance company will need to pay a share of the claim. To be fully compensated, you will need to file a claim with both insurance companies.
- Situations when you might need to use your own insurance. Finally, an injured passenger, you may need to rely on your own insurance. For instance, both drivers who are at fault in your crash may carry only the minimum amount of liability insurance which South Carolina law requires. If you have significant injuries, you may be left undercompensated unless you carry a separate underinsured motorist policy of your own. Obviously, if you are not a vehicle owner, or you don’t drive, this is not going to be an option. However, many passengers do carry insurance on their own vehicles. In limited circumstances, this may be your only option.
Damages You Can Recover as a Passenger
Your right to collect monetary compensation as a passenger is no different from that of a driver. If you are injured by someone else’s negligent driving, then you have a right to seek compensation for:
- Lost income
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress.
Of course, the insurance companies won’t tell you all the ways you could be compensated. Their goal is to get you to sign a release as quickly as possible. For this reason, you should never sign anything until you talk with a lawyer from The Jeffcoat Firm first.
Our Columbia Car Accident Attorneys Are Here for You
Insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying compensation to injured passengers. The Jeffcoat Firm, on the other hand, will do everything we can to protect your rights and pursue the compensation that you are due.
We appreciate that each case is unique. While there are certainly situations that come up more often than others, it is impossible to gauge exactly what your legal options will be until we know all of the facts of your case. For this reason, you should contact us today for a free case review.
For the past 20 years, our law firm has zealously put our clients first and fought tirelessly for the rights of injured people throughout South Carolina. If you or a loved one is suffering from serious and painful injuries following a car accident, whether you were the driver, a passenger, or even a pedestrian, give us a call today to discuss your case through our offices in Columbia or Lexington.