Summer is here, and with most COVID-19 restrictions in South Carolina having been lifted, we are already starting to see many visitors from other states. While this is good news for the state’s tourism economy, it also means our roads are getting busier. This, unfortunately, means that the number of car accidents in South Carolina is likely to rise over the summer months as well, and many of these accidents will involve out-of-state drivers.
If you are a South Carolina resident and have been involved in a car accident with an out-of-state driver, it will be important for you to handle your situation appropriately. While insurance coverage may be available to you, it will be up to you to make sure you receive the coverage you deserve.
Here are some of the key steps you should take after a collision with an out-of-state vehicle in South Carolina:
1. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE OTHER DRIVER’S INSURANCE INFORMATION
Make sure you have the other driver’s insurance information and keep it in a safe place. While this might be the driver’s personal auto insurance policy, it could also be a rental policy if the driver picked up the car at the airport. In either case, you will most likely be filing a claim under the driver’s policy if they were at fault, so this is important information to have.
Like South Carolina, most of the surrounding states require drivers to carry liability insurance coverage. This insurance covers other motorists’ costs when the insured driver is at fault in the collision. While Florida and some other states have “no-fault” laws that do not require liability insurance, drivers in these states can (and frequently do) pay for liability coverage.
2. REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
Regardless of whether you have a claim under the out-of-state driver’s insurance policy, you will need to report the accident to your own insurance company. Your insurance company will investigate the accident; and, if the out-of-state driver were at fault, your insurance company would seek to hold the driver’s insurance company financially responsible.
With that said, it is up to you to make sure you receive the financial compensation you deserve. While your insurance company has a legal duty to investigate the accident and process your claim in good faith, this does not mean that your insurance company has to calculate your losses for you. To make sure you receive full compensation, you will need to work with an experienced attorney to calculate how much you are entitled to recover (more on this below).
3. SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR YOUR INJURIES
If you were injured in the accident, you should seek medical treatment for your injuries promptly. While medical care can be expensive, it can be even more expensive if you wait to see a doctor. Your health insurance should cover your accident-related medical bills. Your health insurer may eventually be entitled to subrogation, but this isn’t something you need to worry about right now.
4. HIRE A LOCAL LAW FIRM TO INVESTIGATE AND COLLECT EVIDENCE
As soon as possible, you should hire a local law firm to investigate the accident. This includes both collecting evidence from the scene of the accident and collecting evidence from other sources. For example, if the out-of-state driver was distracted (i.e., because they were looking up directions), your law firm may need to obtain their phone records to prove that you are entitled to financial compensation.
Even though the other driver is out of state, you will still need to choose a South Carolina law firm. It would help if you had an attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina who knows local investigators and experts and is familiar with the geographic area where the accident occurred.
5. DETERMINE WHAT INSURANCE COVERAGE IS AVAILABLE
When you hire a local attorney to help you, your attorney will be able to determine what coverage is available under the out-of-state driver’s insurance policy. Your attorney can review your policy as well.
At a minimum, you should have uninsured motorist coverage with policy limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This coverage is required under South Carolina law, and you can use it if the other driver is from a state that does not require liability coverage. If you have chosen to purchase underinsured motorist coverage, you can use this to increase the amount of your financial recovery if the out-of-state driver has some liability coverage but not enough to cover your accident-related losses fully.
6. CALCULATE YOUR LOSSES FROM THE ACCIDENT (CURRENT AND FUTURE)
As we mentioned above, when you have an insurance claim following an accident involving an out-of-state driver, it is up to you to calculate your losses. To do this, you will need to work with an experienced attorney. In addition to making sure you receive appropriate coverage for your repair costs and outstanding medical bills, your attorney can also calculate just compensation for your loss of income and benefits, your future out-of-pocket costs, and your pain and suffering.
7. WORK WITH YOUR ATTORNEY TO COLLECT JUST COMPENSATION
Once your attorney determines liability and calculates your losses, they can then work to recover just compensation on your behalf. Fundamentally, seeking just compensation for an accident involving an out-of-state driver is no different from seeking just compensation for any other type of collision. You need to make informed decisions, and you need to know when it is time to settle. You also need to be prepared to take your case to court if a fair settlement isn’t on the table.
GET A FREE CONSULTATION FROM A ROCK HILL, SC CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER
Were you involved in an accident involving an out-of-state driver in South Carolina? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly. For a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Rock Hill car accident lawyer, call (803) 327-1103 or tell us how we can reach you online now.