Bill Connor

Bill Connor
Orangeburg Attorney Bill Connor received his Bachelor of Arts from The Citadel in 1990, and after serving for over a decade as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, including three deployments to the Middle East, he received his Juris Doctorate from The University of South Carolina in 2005. In 2012, Bill was honored to receive an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, the top peer rating for American lawyers. Receiving this rating at such an early point in his career is unheard of among lawyers.

 

You have decided to start your own business, and want to do the right things for it from the beginning.  You know that most businesses fail before the five year mark, and know you must make the best financial and legal decisions possible.  You know lawyers aren't cheap, and must make the decision of where the initial seed money is to be spent.  So many other early expenses:  Rent or mortgage payments, new office furniture, computers, etc. staffing costs, insurance.  The question is what value a lawyer brings to the table of a new business when hard decisions must be made about expenses.  In this article, I hope to help you make that decision.
 
       The first priority of starting a new business in South Carolina should be incorporating that new business with the state secretary of state.  In South Carolina, that process can be completed on-line, including payment of the filing fee by credit card (filing fee for a limited liability company in SC is currently $110).  This process is simple enough that a lawyer would not have to do it for the business, but for a small flat fee a lawyer would be worth getting it done correctly.  In setting up a business (either corporation or limited liability company) with multiple owners/partners, it is worth it to hire a lawyer to draft an operating agreement between partners.  This is important to be done correctly, as it will govern relations between the owners:  Who has what percentage of ownership, and draws what percentage of the profits after expenses?  What is the agreement for owners leaving the business?  What is the agreement of owners about management of the business?  What about non-disclosure agreements?  These are just a few of the major considerations for the operating agreement, and without a lawyer partners could end up in litigation.
 
      Once the business is incorporated and any necessary operating agreement drafted, the next step is ensuring the other administrative details are performed correctly.  For example, it is important to request a Tax ID number (Employer Identification Number) and a corporate bank account separate from any personal bank accounts.  This can also be performed by non-lawyer owners, but for a small flat fee a lawyer would ensure it is done correctly. For many types of businesses, having the right insurance is either required to maintain a license, or a "de facto" requirement to ensure the business is protected. This is also something owners could acquire, and review the terms of the insurance.
 
       If the business was properly incorporated, it is then important to follow appropriate corporate formalities.  After incorporation, business owners in South Carolina have a legal "shield" from most types of personal liability. Any lawsuits based on activities associated with the business (for example, an injury of a third party by the negligence of an employee, or a "slip and fall" on the property of the corporation) must be brought against the corporation as an entity, and not the individual owners.  The insurance is then for covering any potential claims against the corporation.  A lawyer can help ensure the owners are fully protected by ensuring corporate formalities are met. In South Carolina, under the concept of "piercing the corporate veil", owners could be held personally liable for claims associated with the corporation.  If the corporation is shown to be a sham, and not run as a corporation, the owners could face that risk.  This is again why a lawyer could be helpful with the corporation.
 
      When the business is off and running, having an attorney on retainer can be very helpful to staying out of trouble with potential "legal minefields".  Decisions about hiring and firing, following regulatory requirements like eVerify, the list goes on and on.  In our firm, we offer what I believe to be a good deal for the small business to stay out of trouble at a low cost.  We ask that the small business keep a moderate amount of retainer in escrow, but we do not charge a recurring fee.  We only charge the retainer if we are requested to perform legal work.  For example, if the business plans to fire an employee in a unique situation, they could call our office to ask about the situation and how to proceed without incurred legal risk. This type of arrangement is something most small businesses can afford, and worth it to save the resources and stress of legal problems.

THOUGHTS ABOUT CONTRACTS IN SOUTH CAROLINA   

 

        For many small businesses in South Carolina, hiring a lawyer for all contracts with other parties can be cost-prohibitive.  Certainly, for contracts involving substantial amounts of money or with substantial effects on the business, it is always best to retain an attorney.  The following are some thoughts about contracting without a lawyer, and financial considerations if seeking a lawyer.

 

  1. Understand that oral contracts are still legally enforceable.  The contract is made when one party has made an offer involving consideration, and another party has accepted the offer with consideration.  Consideration just means the there has been a promise of a quid pro quo (Latin for “this for that”).  In other words, as a promise to give another party something when the other party is providing nothing in return is not enforceable.  A writing is always recommended, as it provides evidence to a court of the contract.  It also helps define the contract and helps eliminate misunderstandings between parties.  Understand that for some contracts the party must have a contract signed by the other party for the courts to consider the evidence of a contract. This is called the “Statute of Frauds”.  It doesn’t mean a contract didn’t occur, but that the court cannot rely on oral evidence and must have a writing signed by the party against whom the suit is brought.  This includes contracts dealing with land, marriage, high dollar amounts, or contracts that cannot possibly be completed within a year.  When it doubt, seek a lawyer, but understand that smaller contracts made orally are still enforceable contracts in court.

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  1. When drafting a written contract, it is best to be as precise as possible in what is being exchanged.  This is particularly the case for work projects.  By the “Parole Evidence Rule”, courts cannot consider any evidence of an oral agreement that contradicts what is in a written contract.  Therefore, it’s important to understand that when a contract is made in writing a party cannot rely on oral agreements outside the writing that contradict in any way.  This does not prevent evidence of agreements that do not contradict the writing.  Additionally, if parties did not come to an agreement about a particular aspect of the contract, they can look to industry standards and reasonableness in determining what should be part of the contract.  Again, a detailed and precise written contract prevents the potential litigation and questions of what the court might decision about ancillary issues.

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  1. Though a writing must only be signed by parties, it is good practice to have a notary witness and notarize the contract.  In some cases, like contracts dealing with Real Estate, marriage, and long term projects, there might be a witness and/or notary requirement.  Ensure to at least consult with an attorney about those questions.

 

  1. If one party retains an attorney, that attorney can be used by both parties to draft the help execute a contract.  It is preferable for both parties to have their separate counsel, but financial considerations may deter this course.  It is important to remember that the attorney will be working in the interest of the party who retained him, though he has the duty of truthfulness with the other party.  The adverse party should sign a waiver acknowledging he understands who has retained the attorney and the attorney’s duties.  Both parties could retain an attorney to solely draft the contract to be executed by the parties.  In that event, the parties would have to waive conflict, and the attorney could not represent one party against another.  Again, recommended for both parties to retain counsel.

    Call The Bill Connor Law Firm at: 803-937-5571


 
         Two of the most important decisions in seeking to redress a civil wrong are whether or not to bring a formal lawsuit and where to bring the lawsuit.  The first question is a very personal one.  It is normally made after some attempt to reach a resolution between parties before filing.  The other side will not make what you consider a reasonable offer to resolve the matter, the next step is filing suit.  The decision of where to bring the suit is normally one of finding the most advantageous (for your side) place to file and eventually go before a jury.  This is what I hope to enlighten with the various factors to consider.
 
         Determining which state to bring suit, assuming it is not a Federal matter, will normally come down to the two usual grounds for Civil jurisdiction:  The place the incident occurred or the state of residence of the Defendant.  In South Carolina, the venue (or county) rules use the same grounds, place of the incidence or county residence of the Defendant.  In sticking to venue, it's important to understand that different venues provide different expectations for results.  Some venues are more Liberal, and result in juries which historically give more and higher jury verdicts to the person bringing the suit.  Some venues are more conservative, and juries give fewer and lesser awards to those bringing cases.  For example, in South Carolina it is generally known among attorneys that Greenville County is considered more conservative and Hampton County is considered more Liberal.  Therefore, it would be less advantageous to bring a suit in Greenville as a general rule.
 
        Another factor in determining venue can be deciding whether or not it is best to have the case heard by a jury in Federal Court.  In the event of parties from different states and a matter beyond $75,000.00 a party can bring a case to Federal Court or have a case removed from state to Federal Court.  This may be advantageous for a party defending a lawsuit and stuck in a Liberal venue. The Federal jury will not be residents solely of the Liberal venue.  This is something most lawyers can help with understanding based on the differing situation.  In some instances, the case may have to go before a Federal Court due to being a Federal jurisdictional matter.
 
         Many times, parties have little discretion in the venue.  If the accident occurred in the same county as the Defendant's residence (state matter) then the case would have to be brought in the one venue.  If there are multiple parties involved, venue can be brought in the residence of the first Defendant sued, even though other parties can be brought in to that jurisdiction even though the incident occurred elsewhere.  Sometimes, the "place" the incident (wrong) occurred can be open to question.  For example, with a breach of contract between parties who contracted from different venues (either over the internet or mailing contract back and forth), this might open several potential venues.  In some cases, parties can seek a change of venue based on some kind of argument that justice cannot be served in that venue for a party (or parties).  For example, in cases involving pre-trial publicity that could rise to a level to request a change of venue.  
 
         The key thing after venue is settled is winning the case, and juries are always open to good advocacy.  Just keep in mind the basics of determining where to bring a suit.

 

 

           In the progress of a civil action, one of the most important events (during or sometimes before actual litigation) is mediation.  This is because only a small number of civil cases go all the way to a trial, whether by jury or bench (judge).  The bottom line is that parties usually reach a settlement before cases go before a jury, and the primary means of reaching a settlement is by mediation.  Because settlement helps keep the court system from being clogged with cases, most venues require parties attempt mediation before they can go to trial.  This is always something to ask about in litigation.
 
          Mediation is confidential, meaning the parties can open up with information to bring settlement that cannot be disclosed outside of settlement.  The mediator is within the confidentiality agreement, and cannot disclose information from one party to another unless the party providing the information gives authority to the mediator.  Unlike an arbitration, in which the arbitrator is authorized to make a binding decision after parties present their evidence and arguments, a mediator cannot make a ruling.  The mediator's role is to attempt to bring a resolution between parties which both parties consent.
 
           The dynamics of mediation can vary widely.  In a court ordered mediation, parties will usually agree upon a certified mediator, who will be paid by the parties to mediate the case.  The location of mediation can be anywhere the parties consent, whether in the mediator's office, one of the lawyers' offices or elsewhere.  The mediator will usually speak to the parties and attorneys first to explain the process and issues like confidentiality.  Usually, the parties will then split up into separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth with offers and counter-offers.
 
           A benefit to an experienced, authoritative mediator is in helping predict what would happen at trial.  For example, in a divorce mediation, a former family court judge mediator can tell the parties what the judge has experienced with a certain ruling with a certain fact scenario.  This allows a party to make the best decision by knowing what would likely happen at trial.  Mediation is not always successful, but many times a settlement still occurs after mediation.  Parties then think about what they have learned in mediation and know the offers on the table.  In that event, the mediation was still "successful" despite a seeming failure.
 
          Particularly when a great deal of money is riding on a case, it is always best for parties to consider a mediation, even if parties appear far apart with positions.  Costs of trial are saved, and settlement brings an almost immediate transfer of money.  Parties aren't waiting for post-trial motions and appeals to finish.  Most importantly, parties are in control of the outcome, which is not the case with a judge and jury.  

Need Help? Call The Bill Connor Law Firm Today!  


 
        Landlord/Tenant laws in South Carolina have come a long way in the past 50 years, and it's important for Landlords and Tenants to know some of the basic rights when contracting for this relationship.  
 
         First, though landlord/tenant leases (or sub-leases) are not required to be in writing, a written contract generally provides rock solid evidence of what the parties intended.  By the "Parole Evidence Rule" the writing signed by the parties will supersede oral agreements that might contradict the written agreement made before the written contract.  Any further agreements should be signed as either amendments or new contracts.     
 
         If there is no agreement between parties as to the length of the lease, the court will presume a month to month lease.  This kind of lease will continue until at least one party decides to end the lease and provides one month notice of the end of the lease.  Of course, a breach of contract like failure to pay rent can also end the lease (though the Landlord must petition the court to eject the breaching tenant, and a tenant can bring suit against a landlord failing to make repairs to the property and even terminate the lease for such failure).  The month to month lease provides flexibility for both parties, but can leave little security for the tenant staying beyond one month if the landlord so decides.
 
          Generally, leases will run either every six months or annually.  Similar to the month to month leases, a party wishing to end the lease must give at least a 30 day notice before the end of the lease that the lease is to end.  If the parties do not agree to another longer term lease, the court will presume the parties have moved to a month to month lease with the same requirements explained above. Similar to the month to month lease, parties can remedy breaches by the other party by termination of the lease and in some cases withholding rent due to non-repairs.
 
           Many years ago, parties could agree to contract for the tenant living in an unreasonably unlivable property.  As long as the landlord and tenant agreed to the rent, they were free to contract.  However, the law requires that landlords provide a reasonable level of "habitability", called the "implied warranty of habitability".  Therefore, regardless of what's in the contract between the parties, the landlord cannot fail to present and maintain a reasonable standard for the property.  Black mold, filthy conditions, structural unsoundness, etc. can be deemed to be a breach by the landlord and the tenant can bring suit and potentially terminate the tenancy. 
 
(similar to the way "damages" is the last element of personal injury in determining the amount to redress the harm).
 
 
           If a party were to terminate the lease prior to the end of the term, the other party can sue.  The penalties against the landlord can be substantial, and that includes for constructive termination (making conditions such that the tenant reasonably cannot continue).  The penalties against a tenant are also substantial and can involve two times the damages caused or up to months of the rental amount and attorney fees.  The landlord must make reasonable attempts to re-lease the property (and upon re-leasing cannot continue charging rent), but can charge rent against the tenant during the remainder of term of lease.  
 

          When purchasing or selling real estate, it's important to hire a real estate agent to help with the marketing and sale of your property.  Real estate agents must be licensed, and should know the processes of listing homes and preparing homes for sale.  Additionally, are a huge help to buyers in showing the type of home being sought, and helping through the buying processes.  That aside, it's important for home buyers and home sellers to understand and check on some critical details in the process of buying or selling real property.
 
         Arguably most important thing to check as the buyer or seller is the actual legal boundaries of the property.  The deed to the real property will offer a description of the boundaries, and many Deeds reference a plat of the land. Whatever has been registered as the Deed (and associated plat) is the legal boundaries of the property.  In most counties in South Carolina, the general public can find the information on line at the respective county registry of Deeds website.  They can provide this information to a surveyor to check the land.  Critically, this actual lines of property may not necessarily coincide with fences and other physical boundary markers. Even the Tax Map boundaries may be off. The actual survey, based on the legal Deed/plat, will give ground truth.  
 
        As an attorney working various cases (personal injury, family law, estates, etc.), the most shocking cases to clients come with the transfer of expensive real property without a survey based on the legal Deed.  Homes worth over a million dollars of which multiple owners have purchased and sold with incorrect physical boundaries (yard fences, etc.).  If the buyers catch the mistake within the statute of limitations (3 years for most torts, including breach of contract or fraudulent misrepresentation between private entities), the buyers may sue the prior owners who sold the property.  It may seem unfair to the prior owners, and they had not surveyed the property, but they may be "stuck holding the bag" of having advertised real property as consisting of property beyond the legal physical limits:  A yard that stretches onto common area property or adjacent property, for example.
 
       The best way to prevent this nightmare is to have all property surveyed prior to purchasing it.  Do not assume that seemingly "ancient" fences prove legal lines without verification.  Do not be stuck "holding the bag" when someone decides to conduct a survey.  Be smart.

 

    

 
        Planning for end of life decision-making is something most want to avoid, and yet critical for the well-being of family.  Intellectually, all know they will face the end of life and associated decisions, yet planning can make it too much of a reality. I hope to explain the importance of some end of life decisions and the way to ensure the courts will recognize and respect the decisions.  I will also argue why these decisions should be put in place now, as well as the care of family involved with the decisions and associated document.
 
        In South Carolina, a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA) is one of the best ways to make enforceable end of life decisions now which can protect families from potential financial ruin (and emotional turmoil).  With the HPOA, a person can give a loved one powers over decision-making in the event the person is in a medical state in which they cannot communicate and (to a reasonable degree of medical certainty) the person will not recover.  This medical situation can be the result of an accident, or some kind of terminal illness in advanced stages.  The key is that the person is being kept alive by artificial life sustainment (respirator, etc.) of forced hydration/nutrition (forced feeding).
 
        The HPOA allows the person giving authority different decisions relevant to the end of life.  First, the decision of whether or not they wish to donate organs after death.  Next, the HPOA offers three choices with artificial life sustaining efforts (generally, this deals with pulling the plug on a respirator):  1.  They can give the choice to the person they have given power of attorney.  2.  They can demand that life sustaining efforts will end.  3.  They can demand that life sustainment will continue indefinitely.  Next, the HPOA offers the same three choices in the event of forced hydration/nutrition (forced feeding).
 
         If clients ask for my thoughts, I generally recommend clients consider the option of giving the decisions for life sustainment and forced feeding to their power of attorney. The person with power of attorney will know all the surrounding factors to make that decision, including discussions with the person who gave power of attorney before losing the ability to communicate.  That aside, this is a personal decision the person must make about the end of their life.  The good of the HPOA is it prevents the person from being kept on life support against what would be their will, and potentially destroying the family's financial security in the process.
 
       The HPOA is something people should consider when in the process of estate planning with documents like wills and Durable Power of Attorney (look to my previous articles about this Power of Attorney).  These documents will display love toward family if and when they must be used.  Not spending the time and effort to create the documents, and putting family in a much worse position in the event they are needed but not available, can be telling. Catastrophic personal injury accidents can occur at any time, so waiting for old age is not wise. Most general practice lawyers or Estate lawyers can draft and execute a HPOA at a relatively low cost. The time is now to get it done.
 
 

Call The Bill Connor Law Firm at: 803 937 9571

 After any accident, an injured party may consider bringing a lawsuit due to the damages incurred.  In a car wreck or slip and fall case, just an evaluation in the Emergency Room will run into the thousands of dollars. In addition to the hospital bills, the injured party will usually have other associated damages.  They may have lost time from work.  They may have endured a great deal of pain and suffering and might even be prescribed pain medicine.  In serious injury cases, the consideration of lost future earnings come into play due to semi-permanent or permanent disability caused by the accident.  Other incidents might not involve any medical evaluation or treatment or lost work. What factors should be considered before bringing suit?
 
         First, it is important to know that costs are always involved in actually filing suit against another party.  The filing fees are normally around $150 (potentially much more).  Service of process on another party can be costly, paying for depositions in discovery can cost a few hundred per deposition.  Filing suit and litigating cases involves costs that must be factored into whether or not to bring the suit.  That's even the case with lawyers working on contingency and not an hourly fee.
 
        In cases involving an insured party, and insurance should be involved in car wreck cases due to legal requirements, parties can sometimes work out a settlement without filing suit.  In a car wreck in which liability is not contested, for example a rear-end collision, the insurance company is usually willing to settle.  The disagreements will normally then come with the amount of settlement, with the insurance company attempting to keep the numbers low.  That's where a lawyer can be cost effective:  Even though the lawyer receives 1/3rd of the settlement, he should be able to negotiate a settlement well beyond what might be negotiated without a lawyer and more than make up for his contingency.
 
        If the medical bills are in the hundreds and no injuries were diagnosed, attempts at settlement but not lawsuit is generally the best course of action.  Even if a jury might award a bit more than a settlement, the costs would likely not be justified.  Beyond the monetary costs are the costs of time and stress of the lawsuit.  The time away from work due to the lawsuit (depositions, answering discovery, trial, etc.) can be very costly in lost income.  For a case involving substantial medical bills and injuries, the predicted jury award would likely be worth it.  For low dollar damage cases the best bet is usually a decent settlement.
 
       The decision of whether to sue can be a tough one and should not be made lightly.  Think about everything involved including the cost, pray about it, and make your decision.

   Planning for end of life decision-making is something most want to avoid, and yet critical for the well-being of family.  Intellectually, all know they will face the end of life and associated decisions, yet planning can make it too much of a reality. I hope to explain the importance of some end of life decisions and the way to ensure the courts will recognize and respect the decisions.  I will also argue why these decisions should be put in place now, as well as the care of family involved with the decisions and associated document.
 
        In South Carolina, a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA) is one of the best ways to make enforceable end of life decisions now which can protect families from potential financial ruin (and emotional turmoil).  With the HPOA, a person can give a loved one powers over decision-making in the event the person is in a medical state in which they cannot communicate and (to a reasonable degree of medical certainty) the person will not recover.  This medical situation can be the result of an accident, or some kind of terminal illness in advanced stages.  The key is that the person is being kept alive by artificial life sustainment (respirator, etc.) of forced hydration/nutrition (forced feeding).
 
        The HPOA allows the person giving authority different decisions relevant to the end of life.  First, the decision of whether or not they wish to donate organs after death.  Next, the HPOA offers three choices with artificial life sustaining efforts (generally, this deals with pulling the plug on a respirator):  1.  They can give the choice to the person they have given power of attorney.  2.  They can demand that life sustaining efforts will end.  3.  They can demand that life sustainment will continue indefinitely.  Next, the HPOA offers the same three choices in the event of forced hydration/nutrition (forced feeding).
 
         If clients ask for my thoughts, I generally recommend clients consider option of giving the decisions for life sustainment and forced feeding to their power of attorney. The person with power of attorney will know all the surrounding factors to make that decision, including discussions with the person who gave power of attorney before losing the ability to communicate.  That aside, this is a personal decision the person must make about the end of their life.  The good of the HPOA is it prevents the person from being kept on life support against what would be their will, and potentially destroying the family's financial security in the process.
 
       The HPOA is something people should consider when in the process of estate planning with documents like wills and Durable Power of Attorney (look to my previous articles about this Power of Attorney).  These documents will display love toward family if and when they must be used.  Not spending the time and effort to create the documents, and putting family in a much worse position in the event they are needed but not available, can be telling. Catastrophic personal injury accidents can occur any time, so waiting for old age is not wise. Most general practice lawyers or Estate lawyers can draft and execute a HPOA at a relatively low cost. The time is now to get it done.
 
 


 
         After an accident involving personal injury and resulting damages, it's critical to determine all possible insurance coverage.  A personal injury lawyer is usually able to look beyond what most non-lawyers know about coverage, but anyone who has been hurt should know the basics of finding coverage.  It's relatively easy in the situation a liable party causes injury and has a policy with high enough limits to pay damages like medical bills, lost wages, and pain/suffering.  The tougher situation is when parties either don't have enough coverage, or in some cases neither the liable party has coverage and the hurt party doesn't have uninsured motorist coverage. These unique situations are the focus of this article.
 
        When a liable party causes a great deal of damage, but only maintains minimum limits (in South Carolina that is $25,000.00), the harmed party must look beyond the liable party's coverage.  The first place to look is the underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage available by the party with high damages.  These limits will usually be at the level of the liability limits if available.  Therefore, if a party has $25,000.00 in liability coverage the UIM coverage will be $25K.  If the damages are beyond the UIM coverage, the other potential coverage is in "stacking" UIM policies for other vehicles under the harmed parties' policy.  That allows for that additional coverage as needed.  Yes, the liable party can be sued for an amount beyond their coverage, but attempting to satisfy damages beyond coverage becomes very difficult and time-consuming.  The old saying "you can't squeeze blood from a turnip" applies in many cases, and remember there is no debtor's prison.  
 
        The same principle of coverage applies when the other driver is uninsured.  Instead of UIM coverage, it is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, with the same ability to stack policies to satisfy damages.  Again, must better to go after insurance policies available then attempting to "squeeze blood from a turnip".
 
         The other situation that can create the need for alternative insurance coverage is in the event of an accident involving an uninsured driver and the harmed party does not have personal policy coverage (or declined UM/UIM coverage).  Another potential coverage may exist as the only alternative to having no coverage available.  If the person is a "resident relative", living in the same house with a direct family relative (like father/mother or spouse or children), and the relative has UM/UIM policy coverage, that harmed party could be covered.  The insurance company for the policy allowing coverage for a resident relative will likely conduct an investigation to ensure the relatives did live together at the time of the accident, and proof will be required.  Assuming the insurance company accepts the resident relative status, then the coverage is available to the limits of the UM/UIM policy.
 
        Again, a personal injury lawyer will be looking for these alternative types of coverage, but it's still important for everyone to understand what is available to cover damages.  It could make all the difference in the world for yourself, or more importantly for those you love.
 
Bill
 

FINDING ALL POSSIBLE INSURANCE COVERAGE AFTER PERSONAL INJURY

 
         After an accident involving personal injury and resulting damages, it's critical to determine all possible insurance coverage.  A personal injury lawyer is usually able to look beyond what most non-lawyers know about coverage, but anyone who has been hurt should know the basics of finding coverage.  It's relatively easy in the situation a liable party causes injury and has a policy with high enough limits to pay damages like medical bills, lost wages, and pain/suffering.  The tougher situation is when parties either don't have enough coverage, or in some cases neither the liable party has coverage and the hurt party doesn't have uninsured motorist coverage. These unique situations are the focus of this article.
 
        When a liable party causes a great deal of damage, but only maintains minimum limits (in South Carolina that is $25,000.00), the harmed party must look beyond the liable party's coverage.  The first place to look is the underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage available by the party with high damages.  These limits will usually be at the level of the liability limits if available.  Therefore, if a party has $25,000.00 in liability coverage the UIM coverage will be $25K.  If the damages are beyond the UIM coverage, the other potential coverage is in "stacking" UIM policies for other vehicles under the harmed parties' policy.  That allows for that additional coverage as needed.  Yes, the liable party can be sued for an amount beyond their coverage, but attempting to satisfy damages beyond coverage becomes very difficult and time-consuming.  The old saying "you can't squeeze blood from a turnip" applies in many cases, and remember there is no debtor's prison.  
 
        The same principle of coverage applies when the other driver is uninsured.  Instead of UIM coverage, it is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, with the same ability to stack policies to satisfy damages.  Again, must better to go after insurance policies available then attempting to "squeeze blood from a turnip".
 
         The other situation that can create the need for alternative insurance coverage is in the event of an accident involving an uninsured driver and the harmed party does not have personal policy coverage (or declined UM/UIM coverage).  Another potential coverage may exist as the only alternative to having no coverage available.  If the person is a "resident relative", living in the same house with a direct family relative (like father/mother or spouse or children), and the relative has UM/UIM policy coverage, that harmed party could be covered.  The insurance company for the policy allowing coverage for a resident relative will likely conduct an investigation to ensure the relatives did live together at the time of the accident, and proof will be required.  Assuming the insurance company accepts the resident relative status, then the coverage is available to the limits of the UM/UIM policy.
 
        Again, a personal injury lawyer will be looking for these alternative types of coverage, but it's still important for everyone to understand what is available to cover damages.  It could make all the difference in the world for yourself, or more importantly for those you love.
 
Bill
 

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The Bill Connor Law Firm

1408 Russell St

Orangeburg, SC 29115

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