If you’ve been injured in a South Carolina car accident it’s critical that you understand how the law could impact a possible claim for compensation. Though it may seem obvious that if someone else is at fault the matter should be open and shut, however, liability laws can impact the extent to which you are able to collect damages and deserve some additional discussion.
The first thing that needs to be shown in any South Carolina car accident claim is that another party is legally liable for the accident. To do this, a plaintiff needs to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent and that this negligence resulted in damages or injuries associated with the car accident.
So, what is negligence?
Negligence is another way of saying that a person failed to behave in a way that they were legally obligated to. To legally prove that negligence existed, there are four things that need to be shown. First, that in the circumstances the defendant had a duty of care. Second, the defendant must be shown either by his action or inaction to have failed to live up to this duty of care. Third, there must have been foreseeable damage to the plaintiff in the event that this duty of care was breached. Finally, the harm suffered by the plaintiff needs to be caused by the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.
Differences in negligence laws
States across the country employ various schemes for assigning liability in car accidents. In some especially clear-cut cases, one party is entirely at fault for a crash, meaning that the person is 100 percent liable. In these cases, that person will be found legally liable regardless of the negligence system at use in the state. However, in many other cases the system of negligence at issue can dramatically impact compensation.
For instance, North Carolina embraces a concept known as contributory negligence. Using this standard, which is the least favorable to injured car accident victims, a plaintiff can be barred from collecting damages if they are found negligent in the slightest bit. This means if someone is found even 1 percent at fault in a car accident, they are prevented from recovering any damages from the other driver who was found 99 percent at fault.
Thankfully, the law here in South Carolina is far more reasonable when it comes to assigning blame. Under a comparative negligence standard the law says that victims can still collect damages from a defendant even if they are found to be partly at fault in the accident. However, the percentage of your fault will be used to reduce the amount of your overall damage award. This means if you won $100,000 but were found to be 10 percent at fault, you will collect only $90,000.
Modified comparative negligence
If you want to get even more precise, South Carolina employs a modified comparative negligence system. This means that so long as a plaintiff’s percentage of fault is not greater than 50 percent, he or she can collect damages in a civil case. As long as the defendant shares half or more of the blame for the accident, you will not be barred from collecting compensation.
So now that you know about negligence in South Carolina, let’s give an example of how all this would work. Let’s say you were driving down a busy road in Charleston and, just as you were preparing to stop, another driver hit you from behind. An investigation into the accident reveals that one of your brake lights was out, something that the jury ends up deciding leaves you 25 percent at fault in the accident. Now let’s say you were awarded $40,000 in damages. Before you will actually collect, this award will be reduced by $10,000, leaving you to collect $30,000.
David Aylor has assisted countless injured individuals across South Carolina and helped secure damages for the harms they’ve suffered. David Aylor understands that auto accidents can lead to stress and confusion, leaving injured motorists and their families with expensive medical bills and worry over how to move forward. If you’ve been injured in a South Carolina auto accident and have concerns, feel free to contact Charleston SC Auto Accident Attorney David Aylor today at (843) 310-4900.