The minimum limits for automobile insurance in the state of South Carolina are $25,000.00 per person for bodily injury, $50,000.00 for all persons per accident in bodily injury, and $25,000.00 per accident in property damage. (Current through the date of this blog post). Every driver must carry liability coverage for harm, or injury, they may cause others and uninsured coverage to protect themselves from others not following the rules, ie when harmed, or injured, by drivers without automobile insurance. (For a more in depth analysis feel free to read the actual South Carolina Code on Automobile Insurance, S.C. Code Ann. 38-77-10, et al.)
I have discussed the term "full coverage" on previous blog posts and will only revisit it to say, 90% of clients I assist think they have full coverage and they do not. There is a two inch thick reference book by my desk entitled, "The Law of Automobile Insurance in South Carolina", so understand there are many twists and turns in the world of insurance law. There are two main items everyone should add to the minimum coverage, underinsured coverage and Personal Injury Protection, because these items protect your interest instead of you depending on the general population having enough insurance coverage when you are seriously injured.
Let’s make all these facts and figures relevant:
- Example 1: The Anderson Independent reported that six people were injured on Sunday, August 19, 2012, "Six Hospitalized in Sunday Morning Collision." Let’s assume only one driver was responsible for the collision, albeit an accident and not intentional, and was not one of the six injured. If that at fault driver has minimum insurance coverage, the most any one of those six people could receive for their injuries, without pursuing personal assets of the at fault driver, is $25,000.00. The most all six injured parties could receive under the same example, is $50,000.00 aggregate between all six of them. But what if one party had a broken arm that required surgery? That doesn’t change the fact that the only amount of coverage the at fault driver has is $25,000.00 per person per accident in bodily injury and $50,000.00 for all persons per accident. That is why it is important to make sure you have underinsured coverage and PIP coverage. Nobody will watch out for your interest more than you.
- Example 2: Also reported recently by the Anderson Independent was a fatality when a motorcycle driver lost control of his bike and was killed. "Clemson Motorcyclist Killed in Accident on Liberty Highway." There was apparently no other vehicle involved and was merely an accident with no other party being negligent, or liable. Therefore the only relevant automobile insurance coverage would be PIP, or medpay, and only if the driver incurred medical expenses prior to his untimely death. The only party is the driver and you can not pursue your own liability coverage against yourself in a collision. See also "Single Car Accident Leave Drivers and Passengers with Few Options."
When you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision and been injured, you want to make sure at the very least you have your interests protected within your own insurance coverage. Your right, that is not fair because it was the fault of someone else and they should take care of all your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, permanent disfigurement, and loss of earning capacity. Fill in the blank, "Nobody said life was _____." Plus, if they have minimum coverage they are doing everything required of them by South Carolina law. Good luck trying to get a judgment against personal assets that don’t exit, too. I have several outstanding judgments, one against a 19 year old that will most likely never own anything and one against a now defunct corporation. We’ve all heard the saying, "Can’t get blood out of a turnip." Well that’s true.