In addition to the injuries and property damage that you may sustain in a car accident, another complicated element of a crash is determining who will pay for your damages. While South Carolina is an at-fault car insurance state, meaning that drivers are required to hold liability coverage that helps to pay for the accidents that they cause, recouping damages may still prove difficult, especially within a timely manner.
One way that you may be able to mitigate the hassle of determining fault, at least initially, and recovering damages for your losses as swiftly as possible, is by carrying personal injury protection coverage. Also called PIP coverage or medical payments (medpay) coverage, personal injury protection insurance can be an important part of protecting yourself should you be injured in a crash.
Understanding Personal Injury Protection Insurance
The state of South Carolina only requires its drivers to carry liability insurance. Liability insurance is broken down into three insurance types: liability insurance for bodily injury, liability insurance for property damage, and underinsured/uninsured motorists’ coverage. The first two types are designed to pay for injuries and damages to others that the policyholder causes; the second is to pay for damages in the event that the at-fault party does not have, or does not have enough, insurance. As a note, while insurance companies are required to offer drivers uninsured/underinsured coverage, drivers can reject it if they so choose.
Drivers also have the option of purchasing a variety of other insurance types, including collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, which pays for damages to one’s own vehicle. Personal injury protection coverage is also available, although as found in South Carolina’s Code of Laws, this type of insurance is not mandated.
PIP coverage helps to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses that you or any of your passengers incur in an accident up to your policy limit regardless of fault. Depending upon your insurance policy, PIP coverage may also cover (in addition to reasonable medical expenses) lost wages and expenses for essential services, such as the costs of care and maintenance.
The Benefits of PIP Coverage
Because personal injury protection coverage is not required, you need to weigh the advantages and drawbacks of purchasing this coverage type and make an informed decision on your own. The biggest–and perhaps the only–drawback is that PIP coverage can be relatively expensive to maintain, adding to the costs of your monthly/yearly premiums. For this reason, many people choose to risk not carrying this insurance type in order to save money up front.
In the end, however, the benefits of PIP coverage often outweigh the risks. These benefits include:
- Your medical expenses will be covered even if you are at fault for an accident;
- The injuries of your passengers/family members will be covered even if you are at fault for an accident;
- You will be able to seek benefits whether or not the other driver can be located (i.e. hit and run situation);
- You will be able to seek benefits whether or not the other driver has insurance or enough insurance to pay for your injuries; and
- You will not have to wait for the insurance companies to determine fault before benefits will be paid.
Your Right to Seek Your Full Damages Amount
It is important to understand that regardless of the type of insurance coverage that you carry, you have the right to seek your full damages amount. This means that if another driver caused your accident, you can seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, and other economic losses as well as noneconomic losses, such as the value of your pain and suffering. If a settlement cannot be reached with the insurance company, you have the right to bring forth a car accident personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Contact the Law Offices of Peake & Fowler if You’re in a South Carolina Car Accident
Even if you have personal injury protection (PIP) and other coverage types, reaching a settlement with your insurance company that compensates you for the full value of your losses can be difficult. At the law offices of Peake & Fowler, our skilled South Carolina car accident attorneys have experience investigating car accidents, determining and proving fault, negotiating with insurance adjusters, and taking claims to court. For legal assistance you can count on if you are involved in a crash, please contact our law offices today at (803) 788-4370 or through our website contact form for a free, no-obligation consultation.