If you’re looking for the short answer: Yes, you can receive a judgment against a negligent person's assets. However, there are usually better options that you should first explore.
1. File a claim with all the insurance companies that may cover the negligent driver.
If the at-fault driver has insurance, you should be able to collect from his/her insurance policy. In cases of serious injury, you may be able to pursue compensation from the negligent driver’s umbrella or excess liability policies. These policies are designed to help protect the insured against large claims or lawsuits when the primary layer of insurance coverage is insufficient. In addition, if the at-fault driver was borrowing someone’s car at the time of the accident, the insurance on that car should apply.
2. File a claim with your insurance provider.
If the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for all your medical bills and other losses, you can file what is known as an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim with your own insurance company. In order to do this, there must be UIM coverage on the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident, or you must have UIM coverage included on your own insurance policy.
In certain instances, you may be able to stack multiple UIM policies to cover the losses caused by the wreck. What is policy stacking? You can read this article for more information: What Does Stacking Insurance Policies Mean, And How Can It Help Car Accident Victims?
3. Determine whether there are any other potential defendants.
The negligent driver is not always the only liable party. If any other person or entity is partially responsible for the accident, then South Carolina law permits you to seek recovery against them as well. For example, if a bar overserved a drunk driver, or a defect in the roadway contributed to the crash, then you could pursue an insurance claim against those entities.
If all else fails, you can file a judgement against the driver’s home, vehicles, and other assets. The problem is that most reckless drivers do not have sufficient holdings to sell off in cases of catastrophic loss. It’s also important to know that even if the court enters a judgment against the responsible party, the court is not responsible for ensuring the civil judgment is paid. This can be a long, drawn-out process, so we recommend exploring every other avenue before attempting to execute judgment.
If you were involved in a car crash in South Carolina, and want to know all your rights and options, please contact us today. We want to bring clarity and justice to the process for you.