The Law of Automobile Insurance in South Carolina is exactly what it says it is: a comprehensive and accessible look into the otherwise intimidating world of automobile insurance law. Put lightly, this book will be as important as water to a great many attorneys entering the field. Whether they like it or not, many law students will be filling attorney positions that require (at the very least) a cursory knowledge of state auto insurance law. Anyone finding him or herself in the field of personal injury, insurance defense, contracts, and even criminal law will have a hard time keeping this book away from their shelf.
The book specifically covered by this post is the Sixth Edition, published in 2009. It was succeeded by the Seventh Edition in 2015. All editions are published by the South Carolina Bar’s Continuing Legal Education Branch, and the most recent is available on SC Bar’s website for $95. Like many others in my position, I do not have $95 to spend on yet more books. Lucky for us at CSOL, the Sixth Edition is available in the stacks in the Barrister. This edition is equivalent to its successor in every way, short of the sample forms contained in the latest edition (which can be found online anyway). The Sixth Edition was written by a host of practicing attorneys with decades of insurance experience between them. Several even filled governmental positions and oversaw the regulation of insurance law in the state. The writing of this book was also overseen by an editorial board of eleven current and former South Carolina Judges, giving the book some airtight credibility.
The first chapter of the book, Regulation of the Automobile Insurance Business, gives the reader a general primer on in the ins and outs of how the three branches of government regulate the industry. It will give new attorneys a good idea of what agencies they will need to interact with in their time practicing. It also delves into persons regulated as well as the former and current law of automobile insurance in the state. Each edition’s first chapter also ends with significant developments in the field since the last edition.
The next five chapters of the book will be the most substantively important for practicing attorneys. Each of these chapters goes into the different types of automobile insurance, their purpose, regulations defining them, and court interpretations of those regulations. This is where the book truly shines: anyone can Google a statute in a few seconds, but this book will give you the statute AND the landmark court cases that define ambiguous terms in those statutes. Want to know exactly what “reasonable” means in the context of a regulation? This book will devote an entire section to that question before you even realize that you even had the question.
Chapter Seven is what makes this book useful even for aspiring criminal lawyers. It details insurance fraud statutes and gives them the same treatment that I mentioned above: controlling precedents fleshing out the regulations. This chapter also breaks down bad faith and more importantly, the Tyger River action, the SC attorney’s secret weapon when negotiating settlements with insurance companies. This book is worth it alone for how simply and understandable they describe the action. Save yourself the time reading the opinions of three Supreme Court cases and have this book at arm’s reach.
Another way that this book will save you time is its chapter dedicated to applying the SC Rules of Civil Procedure directly to automobile insurance issues. Rather than looking up the SCRCP, finding the appropriate rule, then narrowly applying it to whatever the issue is, simply open this book to Chapter Nine and follow the tailored instructions the authors have written for you. Incorrectly following procedure can lead to malpractice surprisingly easily; this book will make it much harder to make these mistakes.
This book is a godsend for young attorneys and those of us about to enter into civil practice, but I would even recommend this book to more experienced attorneys as a quick reference. The world of automobile insurance is dense and convoluted, but this book was written by giants of the industry and will help you navigate this world with ease. It is also important to know that the Seventh Edition is currently available on the SC Bar’s CLE website for $95. While this seems steep, it comes complete with samples of every insurance-related form an attorney will use in his or her career, contributing to the longevity of the purchase.
By Alston Slay
Class of 2019