With a highway fatality rate 50% higher than the national average, South Carolinians need to be vigilant on state and interstate highways. However, with one of the lowest uninsured rates in the country at least if you are involved in an accident, it is most likely that the other driver will be insured. About 1 in 18 accidents involve an uninsured driver.
One of the best ways to be prepared for a possible accident is understanding the process and how to respond if you are involved in one. Read your insurance policy or ask your insurance agent questions about the procedures involved about reporting an auto accident. Knowing how to make a claim, when to submit a third party claim or knowing when your best option to litigate should be known if possible before an accident.
When an accident happens your first concerns should be focused on the accident scene and what to do in the first few minutes and hours after an accident. First, check to make sure your occupants and yourself are free from injury. If someone is injured you may need to call for emergency services. If no one is seriously injured you will want to move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic to avoid further collisions; if it is still drivable. Only after the scene is safe, should you exit your vehicle to check on other pedestrians or people in the other car.
After those important details are taken care you need to then exchange information with the involved parties including witnesses. It is important at this juncture not to talk about fault and definitely not admit any blame. Admitting blame or fault at this juncture will harm your own defense or reduce your own claim. Simply exchange information and call your insurance and a car accident attorney as soon as possible, even if you have to sit in your car to make the phone call.
South Carolina accident system for collecting claims is based on a modified comparative fault system. This allows multiple parties to collect claims from those mostly at fault. In this modified fault system, if you are found to be or assigned 50% or more at fault you can receive no damage awards. Although this is a civil law rule, it is often used by insurance adjustors to negotiate in out of court settlements as well. This is why it is so important not to discuss your own fault potential with anyone but a legal representative. If you were speeding at the time of the accident, but were hit by another driver, this fact will often place some of the fault on you for speeding. If you are found 20% at fault because of your excessive speed that contributed to the accident, your claim will be reduced by 20%.
Remember 6 and 12
South Carolina DMV tracks all drivers and their traffic violations. If you receive 6 points from traffic violations you will be given a formal warning notification about pending consequences regarding the next level in accrual of points. At 12 points you will receive a suspended license. Failure to return your driver’s license can result in fines and imprisonment. Points are removed for any infraction by half one year from the infraction.
South Carolina takes DUIs seriously, to the point that there are both administrative and criminal penalties and all offenses after your first offense (or a BAC over 0.15%) is considered indefinite until you complete all requirements for reinstatement. Essentially you lose your driving privilege until you earn it back. A first DUI offense with a BAC under 0.14% results in a 6 month license suspension administratively, mandatory minimum of 2 days in jail up to 30 days, possible 48 hours of community service and a $400 fine.
Second and subsequent offenses result in an indefinite suspension, where you need to request an administrative hearing with the DMV in order to ascertain how to obtain your privileges again. Often this includes a drug and alcohol evaluation and program completion, waiting till all criminal proceedings and penalties have been satisfied, retaking your knowledge and driving skills tests, a reinstatement fee and providing an SR-22 certificate of insurance proof.