If you were injured as a passenger in a car accident in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, or any other part of South Carolina, you have the right to file a claim with an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney against the at-fault driver – whether that was the driver of the car you were in or the driver of the other vehicle.
If you have questions about what steps to take after the collision, our firm is here to provide guidance. We handle life-changing injury and wrongful death cases and have helped many families across South Carolina seek justice. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact us through our website form, chat box, or by calling (803) 790-2800 in Columbia, SC, or (843) 427-2800 in Myrtle Beach, SC.
In the article below, we have also answered many of the most common questions we hear from injured passengers.
I was a passenger in a car accident, who do I file a personal injury claim against?
After a wreck, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against whichever insurance company covers the at-fault driver. Although you may be hesitant to file a claim, especially if the driver was a friend or part of your family, remember: this is what insurance is for. People pay insurance premiums every month for situations just like yours, so that you don’t have to take on the financial burden of the accident for expenses like medical bills and lost wages.
What Compensation Can I Seek as a Passenger?
South Carolina injury law is designed to place you in the position you enjoyed prior to the car accident, which means you can seek compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost enjoyment of life
- And all other “damages” such as physical pain or suffering
Are passengers covered by car insurance in Columbia, SC?
Yes, passengers are covered by a few different types of car insurance, including:
- Personal Injury Payment (PIP). PIP covers expenses like medical bills and lost wages after an accident. If your driver has a PIP policy included in his insurance coverage, you can file a claim with his PIP policy regardless of who was at fault.
- Medical Payment (MedPay). MedPay helps pay medical expenses after a wreck. Like PIP, MedPay is a “no-fault” type of coverage, so you can file a claim with the driver’s MedPay policy regardless of who caused the accident.
- Bodily Injury Coverage. Bodily injury coverage is what most people imagine when they think about car insurance after a wreck. In South Carolina, every driver is required to carry $25,000 in bodily injury coverage – though, of course, some people break this law, and other people have much more than this minimal amount.
- Health Insurance. You should always file all of your medical bills with your health insurance company. Even though you may have to reimburse the health insurance company out of your settlement, this will end up saving you a lot of money on medical expenses in the future because health insurance companies have negotiated lower treatment costs with the hospital. An attorney can also help negotiate down your medical liens so that you keep a greater percentage of your settlement or verdict.
The at-fault driver did not have insurance, what can I do?
Even if the at-fault driver did not have insurance, passengers still have multiple recovery options after a wreck. We break it down in the flowchart below.
If the driver of the car you were in was at-fault and does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover all your damages, you may be able to rely on your own uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) motorist policy. You can also use your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage if you have it.
If the at-fault driver was in the other car, and he doesn’t have insurance or not have enough insurance to cover all your damages, you can rely on your driver’s PIP, MedPay, Uninsured or Underinsured motorist coverage. In addition, you can utilize your own auto insurance coverages to protect yourself and your finances in these situations.
Does my car insurance cover me as a passenger in another car?
Yes, as we mentioned above a passenger can rely on their own underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage if the at-fault driver does not have sufficient insurance to cover their injuries. Your auto insurance covers you even when you are not in your own car. While filing a claim with you own insurance company is never ideal, it often beats the alternative of being left with medical bills or lost wages that far exceed any small increase in your insurance premium.
How can a Columbia car accident attorney help with a passenger’s personal injury claim?
Personal injury cases can be hard for passengers to navigate on their own. There is often confusion about what insurance coverage is available, which insurance coverage should be paid first, and who should be held accountable for the harm caused. A car accident lawyer can provide clarity and help you seek a full, fair recovery from all the available insurance policies. Lawyers will also gather evidence and handle the negotiations with the insurance companies so you can focus on healing.