Did You Know...Your Insurance Company Will Represent an Uninsured Driver Against You?

In an effort to help you the consumer be more aware of what really happens with your insurance premiums, I want to make sure you understand what happens when the real world collides with the insurance world. 

Hypothetical, or Example:

Suppose you are in South Carolina driving your beautiful wife and young child to church one morning when suddenly and without warning a drunk driver passes out at the wheel behind you and plows into your vehicle causing serious personal injuries. The drunk driver stumbles away from the scene but is later found at the convenient store nearby trying to buy beer. The police come do an investigation as you and your family are taken off by EMS to a nearby hospital and you eventually get to talk to the trooper that investigated the collision. The trooper indicates the driver was arrested for drunk driving (the driver's 4th), driving under suspension and disorderly conduct. He will probably be released from jail soon since no one died and since he doesn't really have any money, the fines will be a moot point. Drunk driver has no insurance on the vehicle because he could not afford it and lives in a van by the river (so no assets). 

Question:

1) Who pays for the medical bills, damaged property, permanent scarring, surgeries, and months on end of an altered lifestyle all because of this idiot?

2) Do you think the EMS transportation, medical services, car dealership, towing company, plastic surgeon, therapist, and rental company all will work for free out of the kindness of their hearts?

 

Answer:

1) In the state of South Carolina the law is that every driver must carry liability insurance and uninsured insurance to drive on the roadways in the state. That is it. Any additional coverage is up to you and what you are savvy enough to get with the right insurance company and agent.

So using the hypothetical above, the family injured would have to file a claim against their own automobile insurance company to try and be reimbursed and brought back to the position they were in before the drunk driver ever struck them.

Do you think that means your own insurance company will bend over backwards to help you OR do you think that means your own insurance company that you pay the premiums on will stand in front of the drunk driver and work against you to minimize what you receive?  Let me answer that for you...the later.

What if you have to file a law suit? Who represents the drunk? Well your insurance company provides an attorney that will look to be representing his interest and would actually sit at the drunk's table in front of the jury at a trial. 

That is why it is important to get a good insurance company focused on its members instead of a poor insurance company focused on their bottom line. In my opinion the top poor insurance companies are Allstate, Esurance, Safeco, and Direct General. It doesn't mean your insurance company is great if I didn't just list it, these are just the worst. 

2) No those services are not free and they will send you to collections if you do not pay them within 90 days regardless of who is at fault. They provide services and they want their money for those services. 

 

Stay tuned for more real life scenarios. To better educate yourself on insurance read these posts. 

 

"Full Coverage" Automobile Insurance

 

How Do Insurance Companies Make Money?

Slip, Trip, Twist, Spin, or Fall Law in South Carolina

When you slip and  fall on someone else's property, this is commonly referred to as premises liability. These cases are typically more complex and difficult to resolve than a motor vehicle collision. The reason for this is just because you fall on someone else's property does not mean they are responsible for the injuries you incur. The law is very specific in South Carolina and determining the factors surrounding your slip, trip, twist, spin, wrench, slide, unintended dance move, and/or fall is paramount to determining if you have a case.

I hate to do this but I will let you all in on a little secret...come closer:

Regardless of the circumstances of your fall, more than 80% (Eighty percent) of the time, a corporate landowner will deny, or disclaim, liability for your fall on their property!  --Trey Mills

Why is this, you think? It's very simple and what I call the Cost Benefits Analysis. If a corporate entity through their insurance company denies liability on 80 people out of 100, the 80 percent they scare away saves them millions of dollars in comparison to the 20 people that stood up and fought.

I like to fight for the 20% but would rather that percentage of people increase to not be run off by negligent property owners that knowingly attract people to their property to spend money but don't want to take the time to make safe the premises or warn their patrons of any dangerous conditions on the property.

The Cliff Notes version of the law is this:

To have a viable premises liability claim from a slip, trip, and/or fall on someone else's property, the property owner must have created a dangerous condition, have actual notice (knew) of a dangerous condition, and/or constructive notice (should have known) of the dangerous condition and failed to warn patrons or make safe the area or hazard.

Cases I have turned down recently consist of the following:

  • Roofer power washing a tin roof for a customer slips and falls from the roof breaking his foot; (Nobody else's fault but his own-accidents happen.)
  • Lady slipped in convenience store on water. (No one knew how the water got there including my client. Landowner had no actual or constructive notice of the water. Roof did not appear to have a leak and no nearby coolers.)
  • Gentleman tripped over "something" walking into a store. (He didn't know what he tripped over, there were no issues with the threshold, and video of the incident indicated he simply tripped. Thus not landowners fault he tripped.)

Cases I have taken recently consist of the following:

  • Roots from a nearby tree growing up throughout a parking lot at a restaurant  causing injury to my client. (Landowner knew or should have known the roots were causing a dangerous condition as they do not just grow up through the pavement in one night.);
  • Spilled milk in a grocery store causing my client to fall. (Grocery store did not follow protocol and knew the spill was there but failed to make safe the area or warn their patrons.);
  • A one inch "lip" formed between the sidewalk and a recently repaved parking lot at a shopping mall that appears flush, or even, to patrons walking towards it. (Created a dangerous condition.)
  • Before that same mall repaved their parking lot, client injured as a result of potholes. (Knew or should have known of the dangerous condition as potholes don't form over night. )

 

Every case is different and presents a separate set of facts leading to the injury. We are always available to review your  slip, trip, twist, spin, wrench, slide, unintended dance move, and/or fall. Your consultation is free and we do not receive any payment unless we successfully resolve your case through settlement or verdict. Please give us a call at 864-231-7171, check us out on Facebook, or email us.

 I have covered this issue with more detailed links to the law and language as indicated below.

Related Articles:

South Carolina Slip and Fall Law: Premises Liability

South Carolina Slip and Fall Law: When It's Nobody's Fault But Your Own

Crashes and Falls Leading Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

When You Fall Head Over Heels, Call Trammell & Mills

Insurance Claim Game: 10 Tips to Follow

I hate to reveal the secrets of personal injury litigation that help me reduce my student loan debt and feed the families of my staff.  However, I was given a second chance at life for a reason and that reason could be to educate you on not getting screwed by your insurance company or an at fault party's insurance company.

As with any legal endeavor the most important factors are the facts and circumstances surrounding the issue, or problem. Each case is different and there is no universal answer for every case. These are the most basic rules I could think of without leading you astray.

  1. Liability/Contributor to Negligence- Who? What? Where? When? and How Many?  are questions you need to identify in regards to how you incurred the damages, either personal or property, with your claim.
  2. James K. Ferrell of the Memphis Injury Law Blog gives a great 10 Step Guideline to follow after an automobile accident. No need for me to recreate the wheel. I would just replace #10 with "Call Me".
  3. Ken Dolan of Dolans.com has an article entitled "How to Win the Claim Game" for property claim tips.
  4. Pictures are worth a 1,000 words- take them of the area in question, pot hole, car wreck, broken porch, malfunctioning product, dog biting you, etc.
  5. Devil is in the Details- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT trust what insurance claims adjusters tell you. Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company. DING, DING, DING. That means they are not looking out for your interest but their employer’s interest.
  6. Yesterday, I had a client come in that had been in a rear end collision and he went to visit with the Farm Bureau adjuster for that at fault driver. The Farm Bureau adjuster offered the gentleman a check for $215.00 for ALL CLAIMS arising out of the accident.  My client was savvy enough to realize that his car alone may have more damage than $215.00 much less the Emergency Room visit, several follow up appointments with his family care doctor, and the MRI that he was sent for in regards to his neck pain.
  7. Another time, I had a client hit while exiting a school bus. The Nationwide Adjuster was looking for his parents that night and offered them $700.00 to settle his claim. My client had just gotten back from the ER and referred to an orthopedist for his leg.  I ended up getting them more than $10,000.00.
  8. Why do insurance adjusters do this? If they can get you to take a check for $215.00 now before you realize the true extent of your injuries they just saved their company tens of thousands of dollars. 
  9. Once you sign the adjuster's form you have just signed your rights away against the at fault party. Read my Can You Read? article
  10. Consult Someone that Does this for a Living- don’t ask your friend, mama, daddy, boss man, insurance adjuster for the insurance company, or Joe the Plumber. Ask someone that handles these type of cases. Reference my Do I need a Doctor, Lawyer, or Preacher articles.
           a.    When I needed to remodel my foreclosure home, I called a contractor.
           b.    When my Tahoe breaks down, I call a mechanic.
           c.    When I hurt my arm in a wreck, I consulted a doctor.
           d.    When my tooth hurts, I go to the dentist.