I often get the question of “how much money is my car accident case worth?” – while the answer to this question varies depending on your injuries, medical bills, medical treatment, venue, lost wages, and other factors, there are some common elements that go into how we value car accident claims in South Carolina.
1. Available Insurance Coverage
The first factor in valuing a car accident claim is ascertaining the amount of available insurance coverage – a limit on insurance is almost always a limit on recovery. To begin, we look to liability insurance, which is the insurance that the at-fault driver carries to compensate you for your injuries. In South Carolina, our law requires drivers to carry minimum bodily injury limits of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. In layman’s terms, this means that a local driver who injures you in South Carolina (who is properly insured) is carrying at least $25,000 of available coverage for your injury claim – exceptions to this include situations where there are multiple claimants, and the per accident limit must be divided pro-rata. In addition, our law requires separate per accident limits of $25,000 in property damage; so, it should be noted that in South Carolina the bodily injury limits and property damage limits are usually viewed separately (one exception may be in claims involving commercial policies). Of course, many drivers carry limits of $100,000 or more. Indeed, commercial policies often carry $1,000,000 in coverage. Regardless, determining available insurance is a crucial first step.
2. Medical Payments Coverage/Personal Injury Protection
Second, we look other possible sources of recovery such as “Medical Payments Coverage”, which is often interchangeable with the term “PIP”, or Personal Injury Protection. No fault “medpay” is a special coverage that is not mandated in South Carolina, but often appears on automobile insurance policies (Note: some states do mandate no-fault coverage, and depending on where your policy was written, it may cover you for a South Carolina accident). Medpay covers your “reasonable medical expenses” up to a certain threshold under the policy. Often, it will pay for medical bills up to $2,000 or even higher. In the car accident context these “bonus payments” can help facilitate treatment through the payment of health insurance co-pays, out of pocket expenses such as crutches, or other unreimbursed medical expenses. Fortunately, under South Carolina law, medpay coverage is not subject to assignment, subrogation, or set-off, meaning it usually directly benefits the injured party (as opposed to just the doctors and hospitals).
3. The Type of Injury Incurred
Car accident injuries span a wide spectrum from relatively minor bumps and bruises to catastrophic injuries such as paralysis, herniated discs, fractures, and even death. As you may imagine, the more severe the injury, typically the more value a case will have. This can be based on pure medical bills and lost wages being higher, or based on the intangible damages of a permanently altered life or death of a loved one.
4. Medical Bills
The amount of medical bills incurred in a car accident often correlates with the amount of settlement or verdict recovered. While it cannot be said that all cases with high medical bills are worth more money or all cases with low medical bills are worth less (for example, a death case may have no medical bills but still have substantial value), there is a general correlation with the amount of bills incurred and the ultimate settlement reached.
5. Other Factors
Finally, other factors such as lost wages, the reprehensibility of conduct of the at-fault driver (i.e. a drunk driver accident vs. a run of the mill car accident), the venue where the accident occurred, the amount of visible property damage to your vehicle, and many other factors all go into the valuation of your car accident case.
If you have any questions regarding your rights after a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina car accident please give Sansbury Law Firm a call at 843-315-9945, or visit www.SansburyLaw.com
Disclaimer: every case is different, you should consult an attorney regarding the specific facts of your case. Any advice contained in this article is intended to be merely information in nature.