UNDERSTANDING INSURANCE COVERAGE IN PERSONAL INJURY
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After a vehicle wreck involving personal injury in Orangeburg SC, it’s critical to understand the insurance coverage available to cover damages sustained. Damages are not just the medical bills, but also the pain and suffering that comes with injuries, loss of enjoyment, lost wages, potential disabilities, etc. In cases involving serious injury, the dollar amount of damages can go well beyond the insurance coverage of the liable party. In South Carolina, vehicle operators are only required to have $25,000.00 of coverage to pay damages to another party. That would not be nearly enough money to cover a situation involving serious injury and particularly if the serious injury involves multiple people. Though someone can be held in judgement beyond their insurance coverage, the old saying “you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip” applies in many cases. If the liable party doesn’t have the money, they don’t have the money. The good thing is that normally there are other insurance coverages involved.
The first thing to consider is “Underinsured Motorist” (UIM) coverage. This is coverage the hurt party has that if for the situation of the liable party not having sufficient coverage of damages. Along with UIM coverage is also “Uninsured Motorist” (UM) coverage in the event the other party has no coverage (note: it is against state law not to have minimum limits of $25K, so it is likely a non-covered driver will also not be able to pay if held in judgment). UIM coverage is up to the amount of liability coverage if the driver has UIM. For example, if someone has the minimum limits of $25K, they will also have UIM of $25K. If the other driver cannot cover the damages, UIM covers an additional $25K. If the coverage is $50K, then liability is likewise $50K. South Carolina also allows “stacking” of UIM coverage for all the vehicles on the policy. Therefore, if the UIM coverage is $25, but there three cars under the policy, then total coverage would be $75. Also important to note: Policies have different coverage for multiple people injured. For example, a $25K policy is actually 25/50, meaning that $50K is available if multiple parties are injured. If two people are injured, each person has up to $25K. If three people were injured, they would have to divide up the $50K, and at least two parties would get less than $25K.
For an example of how insurance coverage works in Orangeburg SC: An at-fault vehicle has minimum $25K coverage and causes damages of $55K to another person. The other person has a $25K UIM policy, and therefore has up to $50K for the liability coverage and UIM coverage. If he has another vehicle, he could “stack” a $25K UIM policy, and have the $5K coverage for the full damages. It is always important to look far and wide for coverage. In some cases, a person may be a “resident relative” of someone else in their home who has vehicle insurance coverage that may apply to that person, including UIM coverage. I have sometimes found this to be the case when we thought the person was uninsured but discovered the resident relative coverage. Have your attorney check for all possible coverage of all damages.