At the Hammack Law Firm, when we’re faced with a complicated case, we work even harder to make sure our clients get the care and settlements they deserve—like when our client, who we’ll call Joe, came to us with severe injuries he sustained when the motorcycle he was riding struck the tire tread of a truck.
The Accident & Background Details
Joe was riding with two friends northbound on I-85 approaching Highway 14, when he changed from the shoulder lane to the middle lane and almost immediately hit a truck tread that came off a tractor-trailer. Joe lost control of his motorcycle and slid into the Jersey barrier in the median, causing both of his legs to be crushed. Even though Joe was wearing full riding gear, he suffered a road rash over the entirety of his back that had to be treated at the Augusta Burn Center. His medical bills totaled in excess of $1M.
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How We Helped
Since we were unable to identify the truck the tire tread came off of, we filed an Uninsured Motorist claim against his insurer. The first battle we fought was over liability. Under South Carolina law, to recover against an unidentified driver, we must produce an affidavit from an uninterested witness that can testify to the facts of the wreck. Thankfully, a good Samaritan in a tow truck saw the entire event and stopped traffic to be sure our client was not run over. The tow truck driver witnessed the facts of the wreck, but unfortunately, he did not see the tire tread. While we were able to obtain his affidavit, we also had to track down his fellow riders that observed the tire in the roadway and also witnessed the smoke coming from a tractor-trailer and brake lights ahead. One of the witnesses was in a detention facility due to immigration status, which made it difficult to get the affidavit executed but in the end, through a thorough investigation and boots on the ground, we were able to establish liability.
The second battle was a coverage issue involving intra-policy stacking of Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) coverage. Under South Carolina law, a named insured or resident relative of the household can stack UM coverage on each vehicle in the household. Our clients had four vehicles garaged in SC, so we argued that he should be entitled to stack his UM coverage on the motorcycle involved in the collision and multiply by 4 vehicles. The insurer took the position that he should not be able to stack coverage on his four household vehicles because they were issued from his home state of Indiana, which does not allow stacking. Our clients moved to SC in 2016 but kept their residence in Indiana, where their daughter lived. The insurer knew that he and his wife moved to SC, but the agent denied knowledge. Through correspondence between the agent and our client, we were able to show that the agent and carrier had knowledge of the SC residency. We then learned of a new Court of Appeals decision, Young v USAA, that supported our argument that the policies issued in Indiana were really insuring “property, lives, or interests” in SC, and therefore, SC stacking law should apply.
The Settlement Result
Ultimately, we convinced the insurer to tender the full policy limits for the vehicles garaged in SC and we were also able to substantially lower our client’s medical liens through negotiation—allowing us to disburse a significant six-figure net recovery for our client.
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At Hammack Law, our team is confident in its ability to help get our clients back on their feet after an accident through litigation and individualized attention to their claim. With the extensive knowledge of personal injury laws and the necessary experience in trial, our team of skilled South Carolina attorneys can sort out all legal matters, so you can focus on recovery.
We were thankful to be able to help our client through a very difficult time! Sometimes hard work and investigation really do pay off.