What Are The Liability Laws In South Carolina?
South Carolina is a tort liability state, which means the not-at-fault person can pursue a claim against the at-fault party. South Carolina is also comparative negligence, which means you can be barred from collecting for the percentage you contributed to the accident.
What Is Comparative Negligence And How Will It Affect My Auto Injury Case?
In South Carolina, the rule is comparative negligence: even if a plaintiff is partially negligent, that plaintiff can still recover if their negligence does not exceed the negligence of others. The recovery will, however, be reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s negligence.
For example, if a plaintiff is 30% at fault (negligent), and one defendant is 70% at fault, and damages as determined by a jury are $100,000, the plaintiff would get a verdict for $70,000 from that defendant. You might be thinking about how one would determine the percentages of fault. The answer is that the legal system just punts. The case is put on by both the plaintiff’s side and the defense, witnesses are called, and arguments are made. Then, the jury is told the rule, that they have to determine how much each party was at fault, and they come up with an answer. So, they ignore how hard the question is, and they come up with an answer because eventually they will tire of deliberating.
There are a few wrinkles to the comparative negligence rule though.
50% or 51%: The rule in SC is that the plaintiff’s negligence must not exceed that of the defendants, i.e. in a case where a jury determines that the plaintiff and defendant split fault exactly 50-50, the plaintiff gets 50% of damages. If the plaintiff is the least little bit more at fault than the defendant, the plaintiff is barred from recovery. This rule is called the 51% bar rather than the 50.000…001% bar because 51 percent bar is easier to say.
What happens when there are multiple parties? In multi-party suits, the plaintiff’s negligence must not exceed the combined negligence of the defendants. So, even if there is no defendant individually responsible for 51% of the negligence, the plaintiff’s claim is not barred.
Is it an affirmative defense or is the burden on the plaintiff? It turns out that, although contributory negligence was treated as a defense, comparative negligence generally acts as a burden on the plaintiff. In South Carolina, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent by a preponderance of the evidence. The defendant can ofcourse offer evidence that they were not negligent, but they can also offer evidence that the plaintiff was negligent as well.
What Are The Time Limits For Bringing A Personal Injury Lawsuit When Involving A Car Accident?
All states set statutory limits on how much time you have to go to court and file a lawsuit after you have suffered some type of harm. These deadlines vary depending on the kind of case you want to file, but in general this kind of law is called a statute of limitations.
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases generally gives you three years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system. However, the timeframe can vary, depending on what type of Defendant is involved. You can find this law codified at S.C. Code Ann. section 15-3-530.
It’s important to understand and follow South Carolina’s statute of limitations on personal injury cases. If you don’t get your lawsuit filed before the window closes, SC’s civil court system will likely refuse to hear your case at all.
What Steps Do I Need To Take if I Have Been Injured In An Auto Accident and Suspect I Will Need To File A Claim Or Lawsuit?
Car accidents can be extremely traumatizing. From getting your car fixed to getting treated by a doctor, it takes a lot of time to get life back to normal. And if the hassle and pain of a car accident wasn’t already a lot to sort out, insurance companies can put you through the ringer when you try to recover any damages.
To ensure that you are able to recover the full amount you deserve, Sahn Law Firm recommends following these steps:
- Investigate the accident
- Seek medical attention immediately after the accident
- Follow the advice of your doctor
- Call Sahn Law Firm for a free consultation on your case
- Gather any relevant documents
For more information on Liability Laws In South Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (843) 856-2222 today.