Knowledge is Power: Insurers Now Obligated to Disclose Policy Limits- Goose Creek Personal Injury Lawyers
The South Carolina Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011 was largely a measure to change tort reform legislation in South Carolina on behalf of potential defendants, providing caps on punitive damages for plaintiffs in most civil claims. However, there is one important change for the benefit of plaintiffs: the insurer must disclose the amount and nature of liability coverage available upon request.
According to S.C. Code Ann.§ 38-77-250 , when a claimant requests, with specificity required under the law, policy information regarding a potential defendant, the insurance company must provide it. This completely changes the game for plaintiffs’ lawyers regarding settlement of a claim and is a very prudent move by legislators, potentially saving insurers (and, in turn, the insured) a lot of money by encouraging settlement. Before this law, a plaintiff may have had to file suit and request through interrogatories the nature and amount of coverage for the potential litigant. Now, during the course of settlement, a plaintiff may request the policy information to enable a plaintiff’s lawyer to negotiate settlement without filing suit. This is relevant for all personal injury claimants, from those suffering minor damages to brain injuries.
Having the policy information is vital to settling the claim, because plaintiff’s attorneys should try to get their clients the most money possible. Without knowing the size of the pot, it’s difficult to know how much is available to the client. By having to provide within thirty days, “a statement, under oath . . . stating with regard to each known policy of non fleet private passenger insurance issued by it, the name of the insurer, the name of each insured, and the limits of coverage,” a claimant will know quickly what kind of coverage is there to effectively and quickly settle his or her claim. An insurer may provide a declaration page in lieu of that information. This applies to liability coverage only, not to umbrella or excess coverage.
The Plaintiff must make the request with particularity. It must be made: 1) under oath; 2) delivered via certified mail or statutory overnight delivery; 3) with statements describing the nature of the claim; and 4) include the accident report or injury report from which the claim is derived. When you hear tort reform, it has a negative connotation for plaintiffs, but this type of law will help lawyers effectively and expeditiously settle claims prior to litigation.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact one of our personal injury lawyers at Miller|Conway. We are a Charleston Area personal injury law firm located in Goose Creek handling personal injury cases throughout the Greater South Carolina region and we are here for you when you need us.
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