Dealing with the insurance companies after an auto accident in South Carolina presents numerous challenges, not the least of which is understanding the terminology involved with your claim. For most car accident victims, the insurance claims process is entirely familiar—all the way down to the language used by insurance adjusters and personal injury attorneys.
However, understanding the terminology is critically important. If you don’t understand the terms that are relevant to your claim, you won’t know if you are receiving just compensation. With this in mind, here are 12 of the key terms you will want to know:
GLOSSARY: BASIC TERMS IN A SOUTH CAROLINA AUTO ACCIDENT CASE
1. BODILY INJURY LIABILITY (BIL)
Bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance provides coverage for accident victims’ losses when one driver is negligent (or primarily negligent) in causing a collision. In South Carolina, all drivers are required to carry BIL coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. If you have a fault-based claim against another driver, then you will most likely be filing a claim under his or her BIL policy.
2. BURDEN OF PROOF
When seeking financial compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident, you have the burden of proof. This means that it is up to you to prove that you are entitled to recover your accident-related losses. In order to negotiate a settlement, you will need to convince the insurance company that you will be able to meet your burden of proof at trial; and, if you need to go to court, you will need to convince the judge or jury that you have proven your case by a preponderance of the evidence (51 percent).
3. ECONOMIC DAMAGES
As a car accident victim, you are entitled to compensation for your economic damages. This includes your current and future medical expenses, prescription costs, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, and other direct out-of-pocket expenses.
In order to file a successful fault-based claim, you must be able to establish liability on the part of the other driver or a third party. Liability basically means that an individual or company has a legal obligation to pay for your losses. If you cannot prove that someone else is liable, then you will not be able to recover just compensation.
Negligence is the legal standard by which liability is judged in most car accident cases. If a person or company is negligent, this means that the person or company failed to uphold a legal duty of care. For example, in South Carolina, all drivers have a legal duty to operate their vehicles safely on public roads. If a driver breaches this duty by speeding or texting behind the wheel, then he or she can be held liable for negligence under South Carolina law.
6. NON-ECONOMIC DAMAGES
In addition to economic damages, car accident victims in South Carolina are entitled to recover their non-economic damages as well. The availability of non-economic damages is one of the most important reasons why all car accident victims should seek representation from an experienced personal injury attorney. Non-economic damages that car accident victims can recover in South Carolina include emotional distress, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, loss of companionship, loss of society, loss of support, and loss of enjoyment of life.
7. PAIN AND SUFFERING
Pain and suffering is a term that encompasses the physical and psychological effects of suffering serious injuries in a vehicle collision or other accident. In addition to recovering just compensation for the financial costs of treating their injuries, accident victims can also seek compensation for these forms of non-financial loss as well.
8. PERSONAL INJURY
Personal injury is an area of law that encompasses all types of accident-related claims for economic and non-economic damages. This includes claims arising out of vehicle collisions. If you were injured and someone else was at fault, then you have a personal injury claim through which you can seek to recover just compensation.
9. PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION (PIP)
Personal injury protection (PIP) is auto insurance that you buy to cover a portion of your medical expenses and lost wages if you are injured in an accident. It is not mandatory in South Carolina, but paying for PIP is a good idea if you can afford it. Unlike BIL insurance, PIP provides no-fault coverage, so you can seek payment up to your policy limit (less your deductible) regardless of who is at fault in a collision.
10. UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST (UIM)
Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is another type of mandatory insurance in South Carolina. By law, all drivers must carry UIM coverage with the same minimums as BIL insurance. If you are injured in an accident and the driver who hit you does not have insurance – or if his or her insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your losses – then you can file a claim under your UIM policy. You can also use your UIM coverage to recover your losses after a hit-and-run accident.
When dealing with insurance companies, your goal is to negotiate a favorable settlement. A settlement is an agreement pursuant to which the insurance company provides payment; and, in exchange, you agree to fully and finally resolve your claim. Since you only get one chance to settle, it is absolutely imperative that you make sure your settlement covers all of your economic and non-economic damages.
If you are not able to negotiate a favorable settlement, then you will need to take your case to court. Assuming your case does not settle during the trial (as often happens), then your case will go to the verdict. This is the final outcome of your case as determined by a judge or jury (although, depending on the outcome, you or the insurance company may choose to file an appeal).
DISCUSS YOUR CASE WITH A ROCK HILL, SC AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY FOR FREE
Have you been seriously injured in a car accident in South Carolina? If so, one of our Rock Hill, SC auto accident attorneys would be happy to speak with you about your legal rights. To discuss your insurance claim with one of our Rock Hill, SC car accident lawyers in confidence, call (803) 327-1103 or request a free consultation online now.