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Can the Passenger of an Accident Be Compensated in South Carolina?

Car accidents can occur in the blink of an eye. One second, you are fine and healthy. Next, your life might be changed forever. Not having control of the car as a passenger can be terrifying, even more so when you end up in a car accident that leaves you with injuries. 

If you or a loved one suffered a South Carolina accident, it is important to know your legal rights as a passenger. The experienced attorneys at HawkLaw P.A. are here to help you and provide sound legal advice. To request a free consultation* from an accident attorney at our law firm, call 888-HAWKLAW.

What Should You Do If You Were the Passenger in a Car Accident in South Carolina?

As a passenger involved in an auto accident, the steps are much the same as you should take if you were driving.

Seek Medical Attention

Call 911 if anyone appears injured and needs emergency treatment. If no injuries or minor injuries are apparent, it is still a good idea to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Sometimes, car accident victims suffer injuries not readily seen, and diagnostics or other tests are needed to detect them.

Get a Copy of the Police Report

Contact the police to come to the scene of the accident to file a report. This documentation will prove to be important later on if there are any injuries because it will outline the accident, what happened, and shed light as to which driver was at-fault or any other conditions present that might have led to the crash.

Gather Evidence

After an auto collision occurs, gather as much evidence as possible. This ensures you have a careful timeline of the events that transpired before, during, and after the auto collision. Evidence accident victims should collect includes:

  • Location
  • Time of day
  • Photos of the vehicles
  • Names and contact information of eyewitnesses
  • Car insurance company for all drivers
  • Copy of the police report

Additionally, try to take photos or videos of the accident site to show any relevant details, such as skid marks, traffic signs, road debris, potholes, or any other road conditions present that may have contributed to the accident (even if you are not sure if these details matter – they just might).

Keep Record of Medical Expenses

Keep meticulous records of any visits you make to the doctor, hospital, or another healthcare facility. Any medical bills and receipts of payments you have made should also be collected and organized so you have an accurate account of your medical expenses to present if needed.

File a Claim with the Correct Insurance 

Knowing which insurance company to file a claim with can be tricky. You may need to file with the at-fault driver’s insurance, but in some cases, you may need to file a claim with your own insurance company. A car accident lawyer well-versed in South Carolina law can advise you on the best course of action in a motor vehicle accident, along with handling the bureaucracy associated with insurance companies.

Can I File a Personal Injury Claim If I Was the Passenger in a Car Accident?

In South Carolina, you can file a claim against an at-fault driver, whether they were the driver of your car or the driver of the motor vehicle with which your car collided. Many people are often hesitant to file an insurance claim, especially if the motorist was a family member or friend. Victims of car crashes should remember that this is why people pay insurance premiums – to cover the costs of any injuries and property damage caused by the driver of the car.

Injured passengers are entitled to receive compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, surgery, rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and any other losses suffered as a result of the crash. A personal injury attorney experienced in dealing with South Carolina car accident cases can best determine which company to file a claim with and how to present your case.

What Coverage Would Pay for the Injuries to the Passenger?

Passengers in a car accident are often covered by the at-fault party’s insurance policy and can file a claim with the driver’s insurance company to receive compensation for any injuries suffered. In the event the driver was uninsured, you can file a claim with your own auto insurance.

Insurance That Covers Passengers in a Car Accident

Every state has rules for motorists to carry liability insurance to cover the expenses associated with harm to any at-fault third parties who caused damages in a crash. That being said, rules associated with this type of insurance will vary from state to state when making an accident claim. In South Carolina, all drivers must carry liability and uninsured motorist coverage.

  • $25,000 Bodily Injury Per Person
  • $50,000 Bodily Injury Per Accident
  • $25,000 Property Damage Per Accident

What Happens If You Were the Passenger in a Company Vehicle that Got in an Accident?

If you were a passenger of a company vehicle that crashed, to file a claim with the company’s insurance policy, the vehicle would have needed to be on-duty and proven there was negligence of duty of care. In other words, the driver must have been “on the clock” while driving the vehicle and it typically must be concluded they caused the crash.

Personal Injury Protection

Personal injury protection (PIP) is not a requirement or available in South Carolina. MedPay insurance coverage, similar to PIP, is available but does not cover certain provisions, such as lost wages or assistance with home tasks if unavailable to perform them yourself.

Workers’ Compensation

All businesses are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which is a policy that pays employees injured on the job or during the course of employment. As a passenger in an on-duty vehicle, you may be eligible to file for workers’ compensation. It does not matter who caused the accident if the company vehicle is “on the clock”. To file for workers’ compensation you must:

  • Immediately notify the employer
  • Fill out required forms
  • Submit forms
  • Insurance company investigates claim

The investigation of the claim may involve a medical exam by one of the company’s doctors. Based on their findings, a decision is made regarding how much compensation you are entitled to receive to cover medical bills, medical treatment, and lost wages. If you disagree with their findings, you have the right to appeal.

Personal Injury Lawsuit

Depending on the nature of the accident, you also may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, especially if the compensation does not cover the extent of your injury. In a court case, you can also pursue compensation for pain and suffering, along with potentially asking for punitive damages.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in South Carolina?

South Carolina does have a statute of limitations to file a claim if you are in a car accident. The state limits this timeframe to three years which commences on the date of the accident. In a wrongful death case, it begins on the date a victim died.

While three years sounds like a long time, it is best to get examined by a healthcare professional as soon as possible, even if you do not feel injured, in case you suffered injuries that are not immediately apparent. Then, speak to a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. In the event you need to file a personal injury case, the circumstances surrounding the collision are already documented.

What Are the Damages for a Passenger in a Car Wreck in South Carolina?

As a passenger, you can seek several different types of damages if you are injured in a car wreck.

Medical Expenses

The most common damages people seek if injured in a collision are for medical expenses. As you likely know, the costs associated with healthcare are expensive. You can receive money to cover your medical bills, surgery, rehabilitation, therapy, and any other medical bills you accumulate.

Lost Wages

If you are unable to work because of injuries you suffered, you can pursue compensation for lost wages while you missed work or loss of future wages if you cannot perform your job at the same level you did before the accident.

Pain and Suffering

Injured persons who experience pain and suffering can pursue compensation for the physical discomfort, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life, along with other types of damages that do not come with an itemized bill. Known as noneconomic damages, you can potentially receive an award to offset any trauma you have suffered.

Can You Get Punitive Damages in a South Carolina Car Accident?

It is difficult for most people to pursue punitive damages in a South Carolina car accident because you must prove the driver acted recklessly or with indifference to others’ lives. That being said, driving under the influence would count since this behavior is a criminal offense. Speak to a car accident attorney as other circumstances may apply.

You Don’t Have to Feel Helpless. Make Who Is Liable Pay Your Expenses

If you or a family member were a passenger in a vehicle involved in a collision, you do not have to feel helpless as you struggle to move forward. Nor do you need to pay for the expenses that accompany serious injuries received in a car accident all on your own.

The compassionate attorneys at HawkLaw are here for you and will stand with you every step of the way. Hawklaw, P.A. serves areas across the state of South Carolina including Charleston, Columbia, Spartanburg, and Greenville.

To request a free consultation*, call 888-HAWKLAW or complete the online contact form to speak with a member of our legal team about your case.

John D. Hawkins

Founder and CEO

John Hawkins is the Founder and CEO of HawkLaw He has been licensed to practice law in South Carolina since his graduation with honors in 1994 from the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was on the Law Review and Order of Wig and Robe.

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