A car accident is always a stressful situation. Injuries sustained in the accident can range from inconvenient to catastrophic, and the damage to a vehicle can be expensive to repair. Car insurance helps victims claim compensation for injuries and damages, but what happens when an accident involves an uninsured or underinsured driver? Can the parties involved in the wreck still claim compensation? In most cases, the answer is yes, but there are many considerations.
Getting Into an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
When you are involved in an accident with a driver that is uninsured, your own insurance coverage may include uninsured motorist coverage. In this case, you can use your own policy to cover the damages to your vehicle and your medical expenses, but with certain restrictions. Most insurance companies impose a strict deadline for filing an uninsured motorist claim of 30 days. It is imperative that you or your lawyer contact your insurance company as soon as you find out that the other driver was uninsured. You must alert your insurance company that the other driver was uninsured.
If you are the driver that is uninsured, you can still process a claim against the driver at fault, but you will most likely face penalties from the state for violating insurance laws. Most states have laws requiring all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. Penalties for not carrying the insurance can significantly complicate your claim process and result in the loss of your license for up to a year. Financial penalties may also result.
Accidents Involving Underinsured Motorists
An accident involving an underinsured motorist is more complicated in determining the amount of coverage you are entitled to receive. Since you won’t know if the responsible party in the accident has enough coverage until after your medical issues are resolved and the damage to your vehicle has been assessed, the 30-day deadline does not apply. Once the damages from your crash are assessed, you can file a claim against the responsible party, but you will be entitled to the maximum amount of coverage that you carry on your own policy. This is intended to deter people from carrying limited amounts of liability insurance and claiming a greater amount from another’s insurance company when an accident occurs.
In a claim against an underinsured motorist, you will only be able to claim the difference between your primary policy’s threshold and the underinsured driver’s policy. For example, if your accident results in $100,000 worth of damages, and the underinsured driver carries $50,000 in coverage, you can submit a claim with your own insurer for $50,000, but only if you have $100,000 or more in coverage on your own policy. You would not be able to carry $50,000 in liability insurance and then claim $100,000 from the underinsured and your own policy.
It is important to note that in uninsured and underinsured motorist claims, you cannot file a legal claim against your primary insurance carrier when you cannot agree on a settlement amount. Instead, you are subject to binding arbitration, which is a legal process that takes place outside of the courtroom. The arbitrator will make the final decision on a settlement, and you will have limited opportunity for appeal. In any case where you are making a claim against an uninsured or underinsured driver, or if you are in an accident without insurance or have a low liability threshold yourself, it is wise to contact an experienced car accident lawyer. Car accident victims can make personal claims against drivers in most cases. These lawsuits can result in significant penalties. An experienced and competent car accident lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected.
South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Help Victims of Car Accidents Claim Compensation
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may still be able to collect compensation. Call the experienced South Carolina car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. at 803-929-3600, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our six office locations serve clients throughout South Carolina, including clients in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, as well as the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.