Your Legal Questions Answered.
Answering Your Questions. Protecting Your Legal Rights.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, you probably have many questions. Below are the answers to many questions faced by accident victims in South Carolina. If you do not see the answer to your question, just call our office or email Shelly directly - [email protected].
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When is someone considered to be driving under the influence (DUI)?
A person is considered to be driving under the influence (DUI) when they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance, such as marijuana and other illegal drugs, to the point that the person's normal faculties are impaired.
For alcohol, a person's normal faculties are considered impaired when their blood alcohol level (BAC) is 0.08 or higher. Some people may find themselves charged with a DUI when their BAC is below 0.08. This is because a impairment can affect a person at different consumption levels.
A person's impairment is not as easily determined when they have consumed a controlled substance, but if the substance is impairing the driver's faculties, they will be considered driving while under the influence.
If I let a friend borrow my car and he gets in an accident in South Carolina, does my insurance company pay for any damages?
Yes, your insurance will cover your vehicle and pay damages if your friend is involved in an accident while driving your car. However, your insurance company will not pay for any damages unless your friend had your permission to use your car.
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage or UIM?
Underinsured Motorist Coverage or UIM is different from Uninsured Motorist Coverage. UIM coverage is on your personal car insurance policy and goes into effect when the person at fault for your accident has insurance, but their policy limits are not high enough to fully compensate you for your loss.
For example, you are in an accident, which was not your fault. You have losses totaling $45,000, but the other driver's insurance only covers $25,000 in losses. If you carry UIM, which in South Carolina you are required to have at least $25,000 in coverage, the remaining balance will then be entered as a claim agaisnt your UIM coverage. This coverage will hopefully be enough to compensate the remainder of your losses.
What is Uninsured Motorist coverage or UM?
Uninsured Motorist Coverage or UM is different from Underinsured Motorist Coverage. UM coverage is on your personal car insurance policy and goes into effect when the person at fault for your accident does not have insurance.
In South Carolina you are required to carry at least $25,000 in Unisured Motorist Coverage. Thus, if you are in an accident and the at fault driver does not have car insurance, you will put in a UM claim with your car insurance for your losses.
What does loss of consortium mean in a personal injury case?
Loss of consortium is a legal cause of action that can be brought by family members of a person that has been injured or killed in an auto accident or by someone else's negligence. A spouse may recover for the loss of services, and the loss of affection of the marriage that was caused by the injuries incurred by his or her spouse in the accident.
If you have experienced the death of a loved one due to someone else's negligence, contact Shelly Leeke Law Firm at 1-888-690-0211 to set up a complimentary case evaluation.
If I file a claim, will my premiums go up?
If the accident was not your fault, your insurance premiums should not increase.
However, insurance companies base their premiums on risk factors. The number of accidents you are involved in will affect your premium, which means the more accidents you are involved in, the more "at risk" you are for an increase in your insurance premiums. Typically, only accidents occurring within the past three years affect premium rates.
For a free evaluation of your accident, contact us today, or call 843-277-6061.
What is a Contingency Fee Agreement?
In a contingency fee agreement, instead of paying an attorney on an hourly or flat fee basis, the client agrees that the attorney's fee will be a percentage of any recovery in the case. In most contingency fee agreements, the costs are an additional expense, which are paid out of the recovery at the end of the case. Since the clietn does not have to pay an attorney up front, contingency agreements give people who may not be able to afford to hire an attorney, a chance to hire a lawyer to protect their legal rights.
I settled my case without an attorney, can I change my mind?
No. Once you sign a full and final release of claims for your bodily injury claim, your case is closed. You cannot go back later and change your mind and get more money from the insurance company.
While there are some cases that can be settled on your own without an attorney, there are many more cases where a good personal injury attorney can in fact SAVE you thousands. That's why it is always a good idea to at least speak with an attorney before settling your injury case on your own.
What is included with pain and suffering damages?
Pain and suffering damages are money awarded for the physical pain and emotional suffering that a victim incurred in addition to medical costs and lost wages.
What are "punitive damages"?
Punitive damages are damages that are awarded for the purpose of punishment or with the intent of deterring the behavior that brought about the injuries or damages. In real world terms, this type of damages is awarded when the accident that caused the Plaintiff's injuries was reckless conduct more extreme than an ordinary accident.
A good example of a case where punitive damages are often awarded is a case where a drunk driver caused a car accident. Because driving drunk is such an extreme violation of the law, a Plaintiff that is injured in an automobile accident that is caused by a drunk driver is entitled to punitive damages in addition to the damages he would be entitled to in a typical car wreck.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident and need advice from an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney, contact the Shelly Leeke Law Firm today at 843-277-6061!