In the aftermath of a car accident, the standard procedure is for both parties to exchange auto insurance and contact information. In most states, including South Carolina, the at-fault party is liable for all damages. Therefore, you would file a claim with their insurance company. However, when a driver causes an accident with insufficient coverage, you face challenges in seeking damages. An experienced car accident lawyer can often help.
Are There Other Ways to Access Compensation?
There are several avenues to pursue compensation if involved in a car accident with a driver who lacks adequate insurance:
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Review your insurance policy to understand this coverage. South Carolina law requires it as part of the mandatory coverage.
- Collision and personal injury protection insurance. Your policy may include collision coverage for car damage and PIP for medical expenses, irrespective of fault.
- Sue the at-fault driver. You may consider filing a lawsuit to collect damages, often from the driver’s personal assets.
- Use health insurance. Your insurance may cover the medical bills from the accident and seek reimbursement from any settlement or award you later receive.
- Negotiate with medical providers. Some medical providers may reduce or negotiate the amount owed if you have substantial medical bills.
If factors like road conditions or a vehicle malfunction played a role in the accident, you might have a case against a municipality or manufacturer. These cases are often complex and challenging to prove. An experienced car accident attorney can help you understand the laws and begin the process.
What Can You Do To Protect Your Right To Compensation After a Car Accident?
Following a car accident, there are several steps you can take to protect your right to compensation. First, ensure the safety of everyone involved and call emergency medical services if necessary. Report the accident to the police, ensuring they document the incident. The police report serves as a vital piece of evidence.
Documentation is also vital in building a solid case for compensation. You can gather evidence by taking photographs of the scene, capturing vehicle positions, damage, road signs and skid marks. Talk to witnesses present, as their account could help validate your claim. Seeking medical attention immediately after the accident is necessary to prove your losses and connect the driver’s actions to your injuries. Some injuries are only evident after a few days. Therefore, having a complete medical evaluation is essential, even when you feel fine.
Preserve evidence, including damaged clothing and property. Then, contact a personal injury attorney with experience in car accident cases. An attorney will ensure you take the necessary steps to protect your rights and maximize the potential compensation.
How Does the Civil Claims Process for Filing a Lawsuit Work?
There are several steps in the civil process to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. For most victims, the first step is to consult with a personal injury attorney who will evaluate the merits of your case and send a notice to the at-fault party and their insurance company, indicating your intention to file a claim. The steps that follow include:
- Investigation. Your attorney will gather evidence, including police reports, witness statements, medical records and expert testimonies, to find evidence of negligence and damages.
- Negotiation. After assessing the evidence, the at-fault party can offer a settlement. However, a settlement is sometimes more challenging to achieve if they do not have insurance coverage, and you may need to go to trial.
- Discovery. Both sides exchange evidence and information. This phase includes depositions, interrogatories and document requests.
- Mediation. Before trial, both parties might meet with a neutral third party to facilitate settlement discussions.
- Trial. If mediation fails to produce a settlement, the case proceeds to trial. Both sides present evidence and witnesses. A judge or jury determines liability and damages.
Receiving a lump sum payment is sometimes impossible when the at-fault party does not have insurance. They may need to liquidate assets, but in the absence of assets, they may need to make incremental payments to cover the damages.
When Should You Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for Help?
If you have questions about how to approach seeking compensation for your losses in an accident involving a negligent driver with insufficient insurance coverage, contacting a car accident lawyer should be your first move. At Jeffcoat Law Firm PI, we often see cases involving careless drivers who violate state-mandated insurance requirements. We can help you understand the laws that apply to your case and how you can pursue damages through other means. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and take the first steps in recovering your losses.