What to Do if You Get In an Accident Without Insurance
Getting into an accident at any time can be costly, but doing so when you don’t have insurance can cause the consequences to be even greater. Tickets for this offense can be some of the most expensive traffic citations in South Carolina, but leaving the scene of the accident out of fear can lead to more trouble. Here is what you need to know and do if you are involved in an accident when you do not have insurance.
If you are at Fault
South Carolina State Penalties
First of all, you should know the consequences that are associated with this infraction. On your first offense, law enforcement can issue a fine of $550 for an uninsured motorist fee and additional fines. You can also be imprisoned for up to 30 days. Your license and registration can even be suspended, resulting in a reinstatement fee of $200. You will also need to cover any of your responsibilities from damages sustained in the accident. Second and third citations can mean even mean greater fines and prison time with a charge for each day that your coverage has lapsed. In addition, you may have to pay for SR-22 insurance to reinstate your driving privilege.
Stay on the Scene
If there is one thing you should not do, it is leave the scene of the accident. Doing so will drastically increase your fines and penalties. If the person you hit is injured, leaving the scene can also mean that he or she could be left without help and potentially die from neglect. Not only could you save someone’s life by staying on the scene and helping the other person, but you can avoid additional criminal charges for felony hit and run, due to the responsibility you had and failed to fulfill.
Although it can be difficult to call in authorities if you know you will be in trouble for driving without insurance, doing so can give law enforcement a better impression of you and possibly help your case. Call 911 and be sure to let them know about any injuries or potential hazards that have occurred due to the accident. Do not give false information about your insurance situation, and saying that you are covered when you are not will only make the situation worse. Do not let the consequences of one mistake turn into additional bad decisions and penalties.
Seek Legal Advice
Since you will be facing hefty fines and criminal penalties, contact an experienced attorney for help. If you are involved in an accident while you do not have insurance, you may also face civil liability as the at fault driver. If the other driver makes an uninsured motorist claim (UIM) against his or her own insurance, the insurance company has the right to sue you to recover the amount paid to its insured.
If the Other Driver is at Fault
South Carolina is a "Fault" State in regards to automobile insurance. If you were injured and the other driver caused the accident then you can still make a claim against his or her insurance company for personal injuries or damage to your vehicle.