Car accidents happen all the time and, unfortunately, they often injure more than just the drivers involved. Sometimes, vehicles are carrying passengers that become severely hurt as a result of the accident. When this occurs, it’s natural for passengers to be confused. They may wonder if they are eligible for the same types of compensation as the drivers involved, and which driver to file a claim against.
The good news for injured passengers is that they can recover their losses after an accident. In fact, in most cases, it’s easier for passengers to claim compensation than it is for the drivers in the crash. Claiming this compensation still presents certain difficulties, however, particularly if there was more than one passenger injured in the vehicle. A Lancaster car accident lawyer can help ensure those hurt get the full amount of compensation they need.
Negligence in South Carolina Car Accidents
All car accident claims in South Carolina revolve around the legal theory of negligence. When a person is found negligent, it means they acted in an unsafe or unreasonable manner. If that negligence causes an accident that results in injury, those hurt can hold the negligent party liable for paying compensation.
Before claiming compensation in a car accident case, the accident victims must prove that someone else was negligent. Passengers cannot be found negligent in a car accident claim because they did not have control of either vehicle involved. Their actions cannot prevent a crash, or cause it, even when passengers are talking or playing music loudly. This makes claiming compensation for passengers much easier.
Filing a Claim with an Insurance Company
The insurance company will also determine negligence, or fault, in the accident before filing a claim. South Carolina uses a fault-based insurance system, meaning that accident victims must go through the at-fault party’s insurance company to claim benefits. The insurance companies for both drivers will determine fault and who is liable to pay a settlement.
When another driver was at fault for the accident, claiming compensation is relatively easy for injured passengers, although dealing with any insurance company has its own challenges. When the at-fault driver in the accident is the driver the passenger was riding with, however, it becomes much more complicated. This person is typically a close friend or family member of the passenger, and passengers often don’t want to sue them.
It’s important to understand that after a crash, you’re not suing the actual driver, no matter which one was at fault. Instead, you’re filing a claim with their insurance company and holding them responsible for paying compensation.
Accidents with Multiple Passengers
Car accidents claims become very difficult if more than one passenger was hurt. This is because, under South Carolina’s auto insurance requirements, drivers are only required to carry a minimum amount of coverage. This coverage provides $25,000 per person for bodily injury, and only $50,000 for all people injured in the accident. When there are multiple injuries that require extensive care, this is often not nearly enough to cover all costs.
When a driver’s insurance does not provide enough compensation to cover the full cost of injuries, passengers with their own auto insurance can sometimes go through their own insurance company. This is only the case when the passenger carries uninsured motorist (UM) coverage or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Although this type of insurance is not required in South Carolina, it is highly recommended as it can provide compensation in many types of accidents.
Hurt in an Accident? Call the Lancaster Car Accident Lawyers Who Can Help
If you were hurt as a passenger in a car accident, you are likely eligible for compensation. Still, establishing which insurance company to file a claim with, and then getting a fair settlement offer is difficult. Don’t handle your case on your own. Call the car accident lawyers in Lancaster who can help you claim the full amount of compensation you’re entitled to.
At the Elrod Pope Law Firm, we want all accident victims to get the compensation they need to treat their injuries. If you’ve been hurt, contact us at (803) 599-3080 or fill out our online form for your free consultation. We can advise on your case, assist with filing your claim, and even speak to the insurance company on your behalf. You don’t have to do this alone. We’re here to help.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.