Underinsured Motorist Coverage Is Essential

Do you have underinsured motorist coverage on your automobile insurance policy? If the answer is “No” or “I don’t know,” you should take time this week to consult with your insurance agent and add this valuable coverage.

If you are found to be at fault in an automobile accident, liability coverage protects you and your assets while comprehensive coverage, i.e. “full coverage,” helps pay for your automobile.   So what happens if you are involved in an accident and it is not your fault? Assuming the other at fault driver has liability insurance as required by South Carolina law, that driver’s insurance should pay for your medical bills.   If the at fault driver does not have insurance, uninsured coverage will pay for your damages.

While it is estimated that 12 to 13% of the vehicles on the road are uninsured, it is far more common for a vehicle to have only minimum liability limits of $25,000 per person, per accident coverage.   This means the MOST you can recover, regardless of your injuries and damages, is $25,000.  If you have a wreck of any severity and your medical bills and lost wages total more than $25,000, you are likely out of luck.  A short stay in the hospital or a simple surgery can easily lead to medical bills totaling well more than $25,000, and if the liability insurance limits are not adequate to cover your medical bills,  lost wages, pain & suffering and other damages, the old adage of “you can’t get blood from a turnip” may well come into play.  This is why underinsured coverage is so important – it protects you, even when the at fault driver secured only minimum coverage on their vehicle.  You may also be able to “stack” the coverages on each of your vehicles – so if you have 3 vehicles with $50,000 of underinsured coverage available, you may be able to seek the entire $150,000 if justified by your damages and if the facts of the case allow stacking.

Pope & Hudgens urges you to speak to your insurance agent and demand underinsured coverage ON EVERY VEHICLE YOU OWN.  Also, seek out experienced, local attorneys you can trust to assist you.  Both choices may mean the difference between a settlement or verdict that leaves you owing medical providers thousands of dollars and one that fairly compensates you for your injuries.

 

 

Workers’ Compensation Law Intended to Benefit the Injured Worker

In South Carolina, our courts have liberally construed the workers’ compensation statutes to assist the backbone of our businesses – the workers themselves. A recent case in the South Carolina Court of Appeals confirms this principle, stating: “The guiding principle undergirding our workers’ compensation system is that the Act is to be liberally construed in favor of the claimant.” (Beckman v. Sysco, Opinion No. 5205).

In the Beckman case, the employee was injured while loading a hand truck. The employee injured his back, buttocks, legs and right foot and was treated for his injuries.   While the employer claimed that the back was the only injury, the employee was able to show otherwise through his own testimony and the testimony of his physician. The Court of Appeals determined that more than one body part was affected and this was extremely important for the employee. This determination moved him from a single listed body part (i.e. the back) and the limited award he could receive under our laws, to a multiple body part injury which allowed him to recover under the loss of earnings capacity portion of our workers’ compensation laws.

The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act can be confusing and sometimes difficult to apply to a particular injury.   If you have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to temporary payments while you are out of work, medical treatment, and compensation for your permanent injuries. Sometimes, having a reputable attorney who can talk to the health care providers and employers can mean all the difference. Having an attorney that knows and understands the law, and who is willing to go to bat for you, allows you to obtain a fair and reasonable outcome.