Though most of us treat driving as an activity akin to blinking or breathing, operating a motor vehicle is fraugth with may dangers, most seen and some unseen, that can have catastrophic effects upon an individual involved in an auto accident. The most ignored yet financially devastating dangers of driving is when you are the victim of an accident caused by an uninsured driver or a hit and run incident.
This is where having uninsured motorist coverage comes into play. This specific provision of your car insurance policy is meant to protect you from the financial effects of being the victim of a hit and run or an uninsured driver. Specifically how does this particular coverage work in the context of car accidents.
WHAT IS UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE?
Much like it sounds, your uninsured motorist coverage is specifically designed to protect you from damages caused to you by another driver who is uninsured, or by another driver who is unidentifiable. The amount of coverage that is provided by your insurance company for uninsured motorist coverage is equal to the policy limits of the liability portion of your policy. Therefore, if you have selected a policy that carries the state minimum limits for liability ($25,000 per individual / $50,000 per accident), then if you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage, the limits on that will also be $25,000 / $50,000.00.
I don't want to get bogged down on this part of the puzzle too much (cause it in itself is an entire discussion) but yes, you do have to be offered this coverage by your insurance company at the time the policy is purchased. You do have the option of accepting or declining the coverage. Of course it is imperative that you purchase uninsured coverage!! It does not cost very much in comparison to the financial pitfalls it protects you from.
HOW DO I USE MY UNINSURED COVERAGE?
Most clients I help in this scenario are keenly aware that uninsured motorist coverage is used when they have been injured by the negligence of another driver who is driving uninsured (in violation of South Carolina law) or when they have been injured by the negligence of another driver in a "hit and run" and the driver can not be identified.
The dilemma clients face is "who pays me for my damages" and "how do I get paid for my damages?" The short answer is this . . . enforcing your uninsured motorist coverage will involve you filing a claim against your own insurer for damages, and potentially you may have to sue them to get the compensation you are entitled to.
The process from the lawyer's perspective as far as procedure is concerned is the same - we go after the insurance company. The client, however is sometimes thrown off by the process since they are basically suing their own insurance company who is supposed "to have their best interest in mind."
THE PROCESS OF USING UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
In my experience, dealing with uninsured claims is the most tedious and frustrating type of scenario. The reasons are simple. First, the insurance company does not want to pay . . . period. No surprise there. Secondly, the insurance company will fight you, their own customer, tooth and nail over their obligation to pay out. Your insurance company, who you pay premiums to to protect you from this very situation, will question your observations, defend the liability of the other driver, even question law enforcement about the uninsured status of the negligent driver all in an effort to stall and possibly avoid payment to you.
Never assume because they are your "insurance company" they have your best interest at heart . . . Insurance companies exist for one reason only, to maximize profits. Do not lower your guard because they are your insurer.
These are a few steps to follow when you have been involved in an auto accident involving an uninsured driver:
- Make sure to contact law enforcement immediately and get an accident report issued concerning the accident.
- Be ready to document everything. Use your smartphone to take photographs, get contact info for other drivers and witnesses
- Notify your insurance company about the accident and inform them that the at-fault driver was uninsured
- Prepare your narrative concerning the accident in your mind so that you can tell your insurance company. However, make sure not to make any statements that may place fault on yourself and do not consent to a recorded statement
- Please hire an experienced auto accident attorney immediately. Do not sign any documents or enter into any settlement negotiations prior to consulting and hiring an attorney so that you do not inadvertently forfeit any legal rights.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - CHARLESTON AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
Contact me at The McMillian Law Firm. Let me be your advocate and friend in this trying time of dealing with injuries caused due to the negligent acts of another. Contact me as soon as possible so that I may lay the foundation for your auto accident injury suit and conduct a thorough investigation. Immediately, I begin to obtain witness statements, police reports, and all relevant materials I need to build your case towards an acceptable settlement or trial.
It is never too early to contact me! Each and every day that goes by is an opportunity lost to at least begin the process of healing and making the responsible at-fault party take heed of their actions. I am available for home visits, hospital visits, nights and weekends, just let me know what works for you.
If you are the victim of an auto accident brought about by the negligence of an at-fault third party and live in Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, Walterboro, Folly Beach, or any of the other fine communities of the South Carolina Low Country, contact The McMillian Law Firm now!! 843-900-1306 or email at [email protected]