Comparative Negligence and South Carolina Car Accident Lawsuits
No one is perfect, and the law accepts and acknowledges this. In family law, you will not lose custody of your children just because your children are sometimes noisy in public or because you let them watch more screen time than the American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends. In a criminal trial, the prosecution may not introduce evidence irrelevant to the present case just to make the jury view the defendant negatively. Likewise, in personal injury law, you do not lose the right to be awarded compensation if the accident was partially your fault. A Columbia car accident lawyer can help you with your claim with the insurance company or your lawsuit, even if you bear part of the fault for the accident.
Modified Comparative Negligence Laws in South Carolina
Until 1991, South Carolina followed the contributory negligence rule for personal injury lawsuits. According to the contributory negligence rule, the plaintiff could only recover damages if the accident was 100 percent the fault of the defendant. It isn’t hard to see that this rule is unfair. If you have ever dealt with a car insurance company after a minor accident before, you know that most accidents are not 100 percent the fault of one driver and zero percent the fault of the other. Under the contributory negligence rule, it would be hard to win a car accident lawsuit unless you had been sitting in your parked car in your driveway when the defendant veered off the road and hit your car.
The comparative negligence rule makes it possible for plaintiffs who are partially at fault for the car accident to recover damages, but the plaintiff’s damages are reduced according to the percent of fault that belongs to the accident. For example, if you request $100,000 in damages, and you win the lawsuit, but you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, your damages will be reduced by 20 percent, so you get $80,000. In states that follow the pure comparative negligence rule, you can still win your car accident lawsuit even if you are 99 percent at fault for the accident.
Since 1991, South Carolina has followed a modified version of the comparative negligence rule. In South Carolina, you can file a car accident lawsuit if your share of fault in the accident is 50 percent or less. If you win your case, the court will reduce your damages award according to the percent of fault that you bear in the accident.
If the Accident Was Partly Your Fault
Even if it is obvious that you were somewhat at fault for the accident, do not say this to your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company. If possible, don’t talk to insurance adjusters about your accident at all. Have your car accident lawyer talk to them instead.
Let Us Help You Today
The car accident lawyers at The Stanley Law Group can get you a fair insurance settlement or damages award, even if the accident was partially your fault. Contact The Stanley Law Group in Columbia, South Carolina or call (803)799-4700 for a free initial consultation.