Woman injured in a car accident by a tourist in Charleston SC getting out of the car and holding her neck in pain.

Charleston, South Carolina, is renowned for its historic charm, cobblestone streets, and picturesque Waterfront Park. A popular destination for vacations, the city saw 7 million tourist visits in 2022.

While we welcome visitors, increased traffic from out-of-state drivers can also mean more accidents on city streets. Knowing how to navigate the legal landscape is essential for locals injured in a tourist-caused car accident.

Vehicle collisions with tourists can be more complex than those involving Charleston locals due to fault laws in other states. Understanding how to handle a tourist-involved crash and working with a Charleston car accident lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

How are Car Accidents Handled in Charleston?

Like the rest of South Carolina, Charleston operates under an at-fault system for car accidents. This means that the person responsible for causing the accident is accountable for covering the damages. South Carolina law applies if the accident was with a tourist, no matter where they are from.

Typically, the insurance process for receiving compensation requires the following actions:

  • Report the accident. Regardless of who was involved, the drivers must report the accident to the police. South Carolina requires reporting a car accident that results in injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage within 15 days of the accident if police did not initially investigate it. After the incident, you can obtain the police report from the local Charleston Police Department for your insurance claim.
  • Seek medical attention. Even if injuries seem minor, it’s essential to see a doctor. Medical attention safeguards your well-being and provides documented evidence of any injuries related to the accident.
  • Exchange information. Both parties will exchange contact and insurance details. This is vital in an accident involving an out-of-state driver so your car accident attorney can contact the insurer to file your claim.
  • Determine liability. The insurance company and your attorney will review evidence gathered at the scene, medical records, and other documented proof of your damages to determine liability. This is usually based on whether the other driver acted negligently, including speeding, tailgating, or distracted driving.
  • File an insurance claim. You will initiate a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance. This involves your attorney submitting a demand letter along with evidence supporting your claim to the out-of-state driver’s insurer based on the information you exchanged at the accident scene.
  • Negotiate and receive your settlement. After submitting the claim, your attorney may negotiate with the insurance company for compensation. Once an agreement is reached, the insurer will pay your claim and close your case.

If the insurance company refuses to pay, your attorney can initiate legal action in the Charleston County court system to help you seek a settlement through a personal injury claim.

What Happens When You’re Injured by a Tourist in a Crash?

If you’re injured in a crash caused by a tourist, follow the normal procedure for filing a compensation claim in Charleston. However, certain factors may differ from accidents involving local residents that can affect your compensation.

  • Fault vs. no-fault coverage. South Carolina uses an at-fault system where the person causing the accident usually covers the damages. Some states, like New York, use a no-fault system, where no-fault insurance covers their own medical bills, no matter who caused the accident.

If a tourist from a no-fault state injures you, file a claim with their liability insurance.

  • Policy minimums. Different states have varying minimum coverage requirements for auto insurance policies. Florida, for instance, does not require bodily injury liability insurance for drivers. You may have trouble receiving compensation after an accident due to low liability insurance requirements compared to a local Charleston driver with South Carolina minimums.

If this happens, work with your attorney to pursue other avenues, such as filing a lawsuit against the driver or filing with your uninsured motorist policy, which is required in South Carolina.

  • Filing with out-of-state insurers. Dealing with an out-of-state insurance provider can be more complex than dealing with a local one, as it involves understanding and complying with the regulations of two states.

This may result in challenges due to differences in regulations, communication hurdles, and varying claim processing procedures. Although online methods have simplified the process, it can still be challenging without legal representation.

  • Modified comparative negligence: South Carolina operates under a modified comparative negligence rule. According to this legal principle, if you are found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident, you can still claim damages. However, your compensation from a trial verdict will be reduced in proportion to your level of fault.

Having an Attorney is Essential for Accident Claims Against Out-of-State Drivers

If you’re injured by a tourist in Charleston, a car accident lawyer in Charleston, SC, from Joye Law Firm can protect your rights. Our attorneys can represent your interests against the at-fault party’s insurance company and offer the following legal services:

  • Handling communication with out-of-state insurers. Each state may have different insurance regulations, coverage limits, and claim procedures. Our attorneys can help you navigate out-of-state insurance claims, and make sure you don’t miss critical details or deadlines that could affect your claim’s outcome.
  • Knowledge of state laws. Understanding the laws governing your case is crucial when dealing with an out-of-state driver. A Charleston car accident lawyer can ensure your case is handled correctly and complies with state laws.
  • Thorough assessment of damages. Maximizing your compensation requires a comprehensive evaluation of your damages. They may include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and future medical expenses. Your attorney can conduct a thorough assessment to determine the full extent of your losses, ensuring you receive fair compensation.
  • Effective negotiations. Insurers often use tactics to minimize payouts, and they may exploit the complexities of cross-state claims. Our legal team knows how to counter these tactics effectively. We can negotiate on your behalf, using our legal knowledge to build a strong case for fair compensation.
  • Litigation experience. If your insurer doesn’t settle, our attorneys can guide you through the litigation process, from filing the initial lawsuit to representing your interests in court. We protect your rights, giving you the best chance of a favorable outcome in a legal battle.

Seek Compensation for Your Car Accident Today

Whether you’re injured in a car accident in Charleston by a local or a tourist, having skilled legal representation is crucial to getting the compensation you deserve. Our Charleston car accident lawyers have the skills, experience, and dedication to guide you through the legal process and fight for your rights.

Call us today for a free case review, and let us help you get a fair settlement after your accident.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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