What is underinsured motor vehicle insurance and how does it benefit you?

  • By Salley Law Firm
  • 09 Feb, 2017

Underinsured motor vehicle insurance is an additional coverage that you can purchase to protect you and your family when you have been injured by another driver.  Salley Law Firm, P.A. explains.

Underinsured motor vehicle insurance is an additional coverage that you can purchase to protect you and your family when you have been injured by another driver. It is meant to help compensate you for your injuries when the at the fault driver’s liability coverage is insufficient to fully compensate you for your injuries and damages. S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-160 requires that your insurance carrier offer you underinsured coverage when you purchase your vehicle insurance. This coverage is usually low cost compared to the overall expense of your insurance policy.

The minimum required liability coverage in South Carolina is $25,000.00 per person or $50,000.00 per accident, per S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-140. This is the standard liability coverage carried by the majority of drivers on South Carolina roadways. This means that $25,000.00 is the most that one injured individual can get from the liability insurance carrier for an accident and the most the liability carrier will pay is $50,000.00 for one accident, no matter how many people are injured or how badly. So what happens if you are hit by a driver carrying the minimum limits required by law but your damages are more than $25,000.00 or there are so many people injured that your portion of the $50,000.00 does not fully compensate you.

That is when you look to your underinsured motorist coverage. To give you some examples:

EXAMPLE 1: You are hit by a driver carrying the minimum limits. Your medical bills are $40,000.00. The liability insurance carrier will only have $25,000.00 to pay you. This will leave you short $15,000.00 for the medical bills and you have received nothing for your pain and suffering. Unless the at fault driver has personal assets sufficient enough to pursue, you will have no other means to be properly or fully compensated for your injuries and damage. If you have purchased underinsured coverage equal to the required minimum liability limits, you will have an additional $25,000.00 to pursue to compensate you for your medical bills and pain and suffering.

EXAMPLE 2: Another driver injures you and three other people in an accident. You and the other three injured people have similar injuries and medical bills of about $15,000.00. The at fault driver carries the minimum limits of $50,000.00 per accident. This would be insufficient to fully cover the $60,000.00 of medical bills for everyone injured by the at fault driver. The liability insurance carrier would likely offer a pro rata portion of the coverage to each person injured. If it was an equal distribution, you would receive $12,500.00 as compensation. Again, if you have purchased underinsured coverage equal to the required minimum liability limits, you will have an additional $25,000.00 to help compensate you for your medical bills and pain and suffering.

Underinsured motorist vehicle coverage can be purchased in varying amounts and offers greater protection to you and your family if you or they are severely injured by another driver. You should check your policy to see if you have this coverage. You should seriously consider adding this coverage to your policy if you do not currently have it. The low overall expense of adding underinsured coverage will be more than justified if you or a family member is severely injured by another driver.

If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys about how underinsured motorist coverage works or have been injured in an accident, please do not hesitate to call Salley Law Firm, P.A. in Lexington, SC at 803-356-5000 or toll free at 1-800-321-6125.

By Salley Law Firm 09 Oct, 2017

Punitive damages are damages given or awarded to an injured person that punish an at-fault party for reckless, willful, wanton or malicious actions or inactions. By punishing an at-fault party for such action or inaction, the at-fault party and others are discouraged in acting similarly in the future. Punitive damages are not available for every case, such as cases that involve simple negligence. Punitive damages can be awarded when an at-fault party is negligent per se in violating a statute or when an at-fault party is reckless, willful, wanton/malicious, or grossly negligent in their actions or inactions. To recover punitive damages, the conduct of the at-fault party must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. Common examples of conduct that can lead to punitive damages are drunk driving or texting while driving. Both of these examples are seen by most as reckless, willful, and wanton. Further, both of these examples are violation of South Carolina statutes and thus are negligence per se.

Punitive damages cannot be recovered by a party who has not sustained actual or nominal damages.  In other words, a party must sustain some violation of a right that entitles them to damages, actual or nominal, before they have the ability to pursue punitive damages. It is not required that a party sustain an injury to their person to have a right to pursue punitive damages. Instead, punitive damages can be recovered for an injury to the person or to their property. For example, if someone was hit by a drunk driver and only their car was damaged, they can still seek punitive damages against the drunk driver.  

S.C. Code Ann. §15-32-530 puts general limitations on the amount of punitive damages that may be recovered from an at-fault party. However, there are also exceptions to these limitations based upon the actions of the at-fault party. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys about being injured by someone who may have acted recklessly, willfully, wantonly or maliciously, please do not hesitate to Salley Law Firm, P.A. at (803) 356-5000 or toll free at (800) 321-6125.

By Salley Law Firm 10 Aug, 2017

If you are out of work due to a work related injury in Lexington, SC or surrounding areas, make sure that you have been written out of work by a medical provider. Do not decide on your own that you are unable to work because of your injury. Once you have been written out of work, make sure that you give a copy of the work excuse to your employer. Also, you should be sure to make a copy of any work excuse for your records.

Do I get compensated for the days the doctor holds me out of work? 

Benefits for lost time from work do not kick in until you have been out of work for more than seven (7) calendar days. If you have been out of work for more than fourteen (14) calendar days, then you have a right to go back and be compensated for the first week that you missed from work. The seven and fourteen day periods do not have to be consecutively missed.

Do I get the full amount of my pay? 

No. Workers’ Compensation pays two-thirds of your “average weekly wage” for the time you are out of work. Your “average weekly wage” is usually calculated based on your earnings in the employment in which you were working at the time of your injury. Specifically, “average weekly wage” is normally calculated by taking the four quarters immediately preceding the quarter in which you are injured and dividing by fifty-two (52). However, the length of your employment, merit based pay raises earned, if you are working a second job at the time of your injury and other factors can alter your “average weekly wage.”

What if the doctor releases me back to work or puts me on light duty? 

First and foremost, do not refuse to return to work. Refusing to return to work will most likely lead to your termination. If the doctor releases you to return back to work and you feel that your injury interferes with your ability to work, then you should immediately contact an attorney to discuss your options.

It is always a smart idea to contact an attorney to find out what your rights are when you have been injured at work. At the Salley Law Firm in Lexington, SC, an initial consultation is free. It is better to contact an attorney early on to discuss your rights, obligations and any questions that you may have, rather than waiting and possibly losing the compensation you deserve.

If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, please do not hesitate to contact us at 803-356-5000 or toll free at 1-800-321-6125.

By Salley Law Firm 14 Jul, 2017

One of the most frustrating things to deal with when you are in an accident can be damage to your vehicle. Where do you have it towed? Who is supposed to repair it? What about a rental vehicle while your car is being repaired? Your car is a total loss, now what?

            If your car is not drivable or you are injured in Lexington, SC and unable to drive it away, you can choose who tows your vehicle. If you know who you want to repair your vehicle, it is best to contact them to tow the vehicle. It is always good to have the information for a repair shop you trust. This will help to speed up process of repairing your vehicle, because you won’t have to deal with your vehicle being moved again or getting tow charges paid to have the vehicle moved to a repair shop. If your vehicle was towed somewhere other than the repair shop, talk with the repair shop you want to do the work, as they will often work something out with the original tow company.

            If your vehicle is not drivable, the at-fault insurance carrier should supply a rental vehicle while you are without a car. A rental should be provided until your vehicle is repaired, unless the repair shop caused an undo delay. If your vehicle is deemed a total loss, the at-fault carrier will usually supply a rental vehicle until they make an offer regarding the total loss value of your vehicle.

            What does “total loss” mean? In South Carolina, a vehicle is deemed a total loss if the cost of repair (parts and labor) is 75% or more of the vehicle’s fair market value. If your vehicle is a total loss, the at-fault insurance carrier is supposed to pay the fair market value of the vehicle. Make sure to request a breakdown from the at-fault carrier for the basis of their determination of the fair market value. Review it thoroughly to determine if they have included all options or upgrades on your vehicle. You can dispute the fair market value and have it addressed through a process called property damage arbitration.

            What if your car can be repaired, but you don’t think the estimate is right? This is another reason to deal with a reputable body shop.  Most body shops are experienced in dealing with insurance claims and adjusters regarding the cost of repair and addressing the need for additional repairs. Give a copy of the repair estimate to the body shop for their review.  They should be able to do the work for the cost listed in the estimate or be able to deal with the at-fault insurance company in that regard.

            What if the at-fault insurance company fails to examine, repair or determine that your vehicle is a total loss within a reasonable time? If you have collision coverage, then you can go through your insurance carrier to determine the damage to your vehicle and pay for the repair or total loss. The disadvantage regarding this option is you will be responsible for your deductible until your carrier is able to recoup the cost of repairs or amount of the total loss. However, the advantage is that you can put the vehicle damage issue behind you quickly. What if you don’t have collision coverage and the at-fault carrier is not addressing the damage to your vehicle? Contact an attorney to discuss your duty to mitigate damages and for help getting your property damage addressed.

            What other things should you consider? Possible reimbursement for the loss of use of your vehicle, for the time you were not able to use your vehicle and for the at-fault insurance company failing to supply you with a rental vehicle. You can ask for the loss of value to your vehicle as a result of being damaged in an accident.         

If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys at Salley Law Firm, P.A. in Lexington, SC about questions concerning damage to your vehicle or because you were injured in an accident, please do not hesitate to call us at 803-356-5000 or toll free at 1-800-321-6125.

By Salley Law Firm 20 Jun, 2017

When you get injured at work, your first priority is to notify your employer that you have been injured. Your notification to your employer should be by written documentation, a text or an email. Your employer or their workers’ compensation carrier should send you to a medical provider.

 

In most cases, employers are willing to provide you the information for your workers’ compensation claim but in some cases, this can be quite difficult.

 

When your employer isn’t cooperating or your feel the medical provider doesn’t have your best interest in mind, it is important to remember that your well-being and your health is more important than trying to battle your employer alone.

 

At Salley Law Firm, PA, we will always put you first and never leave you unsure of what the next steps are on your case. We are experienced in handling workers’ compensation claims and will help ensure you recover the benefits you deserve.

 

Visit our website or give us a call at (803) 356-5000 to schedule your free consultation and to meet with one of our attorneys today!  

By Salley Law Firm 09 Feb, 2017
Underinsured motor vehicle insurance is an additional coverage that you can purchase to protect you and your family when you have been injured by another driver. It is meant to help compensate you for your injuries when the at the fault driver’s liability coverage is insufficient to fully compensate you for your injuries and damages. S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-160 requires that your insurance carrier offer you underinsured coverage when you purchase your vehicle insurance. This coverage is usually low cost compared to the overall expense of your insurance policy.

The minimum required liability coverage in South Carolina is $25,000.00 per person or $50,000.00 per accident, per S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-140. This is the standard liability coverage carried by the majority of drivers on South Carolina roadways. This means that $25,000.00 is the most that one injured individual can get from the liability insurance carrier for an accident and the most the liability carrier will pay is $50,000.00 for one accident, no matter how many people are injured or how badly. So what happens if you are hit by a driver carrying the minimum limits required by law but your damages are more than $25,000.00 or there are so many people injured that your portion of the $50,000.00 does not fully compensate you.

That is when you look to your underinsured motorist coverage. To give you some examples:

EXAMPLE 1: You are hit by a driver carrying the minimum limits. Your medical bills are $40,000.00. The liability insurance carrier will only have $25,000.00 to pay you. This will leave you short $15,000.00 for the medical bills and you have received nothing for your pain and suffering. Unless the at fault driver has personal assets sufficient enough to pursue, you will have no other means to be properly or fully compensated for your injuries and damage. If you have purchased underinsured coverage equal to the required minimum liability limits, you will have an additional $25,000.00 to pursue to compensate you for your medical bills and pain and suffering.

EXAMPLE 2: Another driver injures you and three other people in an accident. You and the other three injured people have similar injuries and medical bills of about $15,000.00. The at fault driver carries the minimum limits of $50,000.00 per accident. This would be insufficient to fully cover the $60,000.00 of medical bills for everyone injured by the at fault driver. The liability insurance carrier would likely offer a pro rata portion of the coverage to each person injured. If it was an equal distribution, you would receive $12,500.00 as compensation. Again, if you have purchased underinsured coverage equal to the required minimum liability limits, you will have an additional $25,000.00 to help compensate you for your medical bills and pain and suffering.

Underinsured motorist vehicle coverage can be purchased in varying amounts and offers greater protection to you and your family if you or they are severely injured by another driver. You should check your policy to see if you have this coverage. You should seriously consider adding this coverage to your policy if you do not currently have it. The low overall expense of adding underinsured coverage will be more than justified if you or a family member is severely injured by another driver.

If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys about how underinsured motorist coverage works or have been injured in an accident, please do not hesitate to call Salley Law Firm, P.A. in Lexington, SC at 803-356-5000 or toll free at 1-800-321-6125.

By Salley Law Firm 09 Feb, 2017
Motor vehicle accidents happen every day, but most people have no idea what they should do if they are involved in one. One of the first things to do is to assess the situation. Does someone need emergency medical care? Are there immediate safety concerns such as a fire or leaking gas? Can the vehicles be safely removed from the roadway? If a vehicle can be moved and it is not a serious accident, it is important to document the positions of the vehicles before they are moved. By documenting the positions of the vehicles, you have evidence of what the accident scene looked like if any issues arise. If it is a serious collision and there are serious injuries, it is best to wait for the authorities to arrive. Call the authorities. Let them know if someone is injured or appears to be injured. Sometimes people think the accident only resulted in minor damage to their car or that they can work out the damages with the other driver and not get the police involved. It is always best to have the police do a report and document the accident. The damage to a vehicle may be more extensive and expensive than you believe. While an at-fault driver may be willing to take care of your damages, what happens when they don’t? How are you going to prove there was an accident or how it happened? It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to documenting the accident.

While at the scene there are things that you should do.   Obtain the at-fault driver’s insurance and contact information. This will help you to contact his insurance carrier. You cannot rely on the insurance carrier to always call you. Many times, at-fault driver’s never report the claim to their carrier. Also, sometimes at-fault drivers provide false, expired or inaccurate insurance information. Having contact information will be helpful in tracking them down or possibly tracking down their actual insurance coverage.   Take pictures of the vehicles and the scene.   These pictures will help if a dispute arises about what happened or there are questions regarding how you could have been injured. Get names and contact information of witnesses, if possible.   Many people don’t want to get involved but get the name and contact information for any witness that you can at the scene. These people can be invaluable in proving how the accident happened or helping to prove admissions that the at-fault driver made at the scene. These witnesses can also help by describing their observations of your injuries at the scene.

What if you are injured? Get treatment as soon as possible. Even if you think the injuries will go away, it is best to get checked out. Most importantly it is an opportunity to make sure that you really are okay. Getting seen by a medical provider as soon as possible will help document what injuries you had from the accident. If you delay, there will be questions as to whether your injuries were from the accident or were possibly caused some other way afterward. Also, if you don’t get seen or treated for your injuries, the insurance carriers will assume that your injuries really were not that bad. When getting treatment, report all injuries or pain that you are feeling even if it seems minor. Many times people focus on the worst of their injuries when getting treatment. However, once those injuries improve, other injuries can become more prevalent. If there is no record of an injury early on, the injury will be highly questioned by an insurance carrier. Also, the lack of documentation will make it more difficult for a doctor to properly relate it to the accident. Follow through on your treatment and your doctor’s recommendations. If you are hurting and want to improve you need to do the necessary treatment. Complaining about how bad your injuries and pain are but not doing anything to improve them only shows that they really are not that bad.

What about paying for medical bills? Submit your medical bills to your health insurance. It ensures that your bills are taken care of in case there is a dispute about liability or if there is insufficient automobile coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries. Do not allow your health care providers to tell you that your health insurance coverage does not apply or will not pay. By failing to use your health insurance they are putting you at risk of having unnecessary bills and this may be a breach of the contract they have with your health insurance carrier.

What if I have to miss work? If you are going to miss time from work, make sure you have a doctor’s excuse. Insurance carriers put no stock into time missed from work unless it is backed by medical documentation. Also, many employers require that you have a doctor’s excuse if you are going to be out of work.   Also, make sure to track the time you have missed from work as accurately as possible. This will help you to give a full account of lost wages so that you can be fairly compensated.

Finally, it can be difficult dealing with insurance carriers to make sure they properly compensate you for your injuries and damages. Contacting an attorney never hurts. You can find out your rights and determine whether you really need an attorney’s services. Having an attorney can help relieve some of the stress and pressure your are under. We are used to dealing with insurance companies and know what needs to be proved to get fair and proper compensation. We can provide guidance when dealing with issues that arise from being injured. We can help to ensure that your damages and injuries are properly documented and addressed. Contacting an attorney as soon as practical is one of the best ways to protect your rights.

If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys in Lexington, SC at Salley Law Firm, P.A., please do not hesitate to call us at 803-356-5000 or toll free at 1-800-321-6125.
By Salley Law Firm 09 Feb, 2017
At   Salley Law Firm, P.A.,   we take pride in our staff and our ability to represent your case. Whether you are dealing with a   workers' compensation case   or a   personal injury case , the professionals at Salley Law Firm, P.A. in Lexington, SC can help.  If you have any questions or want to learn more about the attorneys visit our website   here   or give us a call at (803) 356-5000.
By Salley Law Firm 09 Feb, 2017
If you are injured  at work, workers’ compensation will often be your exclusive remedy for the medical expenses, lost wages and permanent injuries you sustain as a result. Given that workers’ compensation is likely the only way for you to be compensated for a work related injury, it is extremely important to know what to do.   Salley Law Firm, P.A. helps to explain below.

 First, report your injury immediately to a manager, supervisor or administrator. While you have ninety days to report an injury, it is best to report it immediately. This helps to specify the date and helps document the facts of what happened. As time passes, your memory will not be as good as to the specifics of how you were injured. Immediate reporting also helps if you have to prove your injury is work related. It is best that your report be in writing so that is properly documented. This written documentation will help to show that you did report the injury, how you were injured and what injuries you had. This documentation can also help refresh your memory as you proceed forward with your workers’ compensation claim. Do not trust that your manager, supervisor or administrator will document  everything when you tell them.

Second, report all injuries or pain that you are feeling, even if it seems minor. You need to report all pain and injuries. Minor injuries can often seem as if they are not a big deal and will improve in no time. However, these injuries can linger and are often signs of something more serious. Many people focus on the worst of their injuries and later down the road realize that the minor injuries are worse than they thought. If you fail to mention these injuries early on, then you will likely have a much more difficult task getting these injuries covered through workers’ compensation.

Third, talk to your employer and their workers’ compensation carrier about who to see for treatment.   Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier initially chooses what doctors you see. If you choose to see a doctor on your own, your treatment may not be or get covered. Also, do not refuse treatment. Refusing treatment with or recommended by the doctors chosen by the workers’ compensation carrier can severely hinder your workers’ compensation claim and likely end your right to medical treatment paid for by the workers’ compensation carrier. Also, make sure to follow the instruction of the doctors. You do not want to be found non-compliant with the recommended treatment. Again, your claim can be severely impacted.    

Fourth, if the doctors release you back to work or put you on light duty, do not refuse to return to work. Refusing to return to work will most likely lead to your termination. You want to put yourself in the position of doing what you can to return to work or at least show that you are willing to return back to work. It is possible that the doctors will release you back to work even though you know you have ongoing injuries that interfere with your ability to work. When this occurs, you should immediately contact an attorney to discuss what can be done and to help fight to have those ongoing injuries treated and compensated.

Finally, it can be difficult dealing with workers’ compensation insurance carriers and the people who work on their behalf. You may feel that you are being treated unfairly or that your needs are being ignored. Contacting an attorney will help you to know your rights and determine if you need an attorney’s services. Having an attorney can help relieve some of the stress and pressure you’re under. We are used to dealing with insurance companies and know what needs to be proved to get fair and proper compensation. We can provide guidance when dealing with issues that arise from being injured. We can help to ensure that your damages and injuries are properly documented and addressed. Contacting an attorney as soon as practical is  one of the best ways to protect your rights.

If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys here at Salley Law Firm, P.A. in Lexington, SC please do not hesitate to call us at 803-356-5000 or toll free at 1-800-321-6125.
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