South Carolina has complex car accident laws that are important to understand as a car accident victim. It is crucial to consult the attorneys of Tippens & Zurosky after you have been involved in a car accident so that you don’t accidentally make a mistake that leads to less compensation for your damages – or no compensation at all. After a serious car crash, contact the experienced car accident lawyers at Tippens & Zurosky as soon as you can for information about your specific accident. Speaking to the other side’s insurance company without talking to a lawyer can be highly detrimental to your case. We can help you navigate the laws pertaining to your case.
Statute of limitations. One of the key laws to know is your statute of limitations, or deadline for filing a claim. In South Carolina, all crash victims have three years from the date of their car accidents to file injury claims and three years for property-damage only claims. If someone is under 18 at the time of accident then the statute of limitations is either three years from the date of the car accident, or one year past their 18th birthday, whatever is longer.
Fault-based car insurance. South Carolina follows fault-based car insurance laws. All drivers must carry adequate vehicle insurance. The minimum South Carolina bodily injury coverage is ($25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident) and the minimum South Carolina property damage liability ($25,000). After an accident, injured parties can file claims with the at-fault party’s insurance provider for personal injury and property damage recovery.
Liability Laws: South Carolina follows the doctrine of 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 20% at fault (negligent), and one defendant is 80% at fault, and damages as determined by a jury are $100,000, the plaintiff would get a verdict for $80,000 from that defendant. So, you might be wondering as to how exactly the people on the jury determine the percentages of fault. The answer may actually surprise you since there is not an exact set of criteria a jury must follow in determining the fault of the parties. Both the plaintiff’s side and the defense present their cases to the jury by calling witnesses, presenting evidence, and making arguments about how they see the case. Then, the presiding judge instructs the jury on the law of comparative negligence, and tells them that they have to determine how much each party was at fault. Human nature being what it is, combined with the fact that the jury can’t go home until they reach an answer can create a result that is not grounded on law, or facts.
In South Carolina, a plaintiff’s negligence cannot exceed that of the defendants. So, in a case where a jury determines that the plaintiff and defendant split fault exactly at 50-50, the plaintiff recovers 50% of damages. If the plaintiff is deemed to be more at fault than the defendant, say 51%, than the plaintiff is completely barred from recovery. If there are multiple defendants involved, the plaintiff’s negligence cannot 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.
An attorney from our firm can advocate for you against a comparative negligence defense. There are many times when insurance companies assert the defense of comparative negligence, even when the facts and evidence don’t necessarily support it. Insurance companies know how to use the laws in ways that are most favorable to them. Tippens & Zurosky evens the playing field, so that an insurance company cannot take advantage of you.
One of the reasons clients hire Tippens & Zurosky LLP is for our in-depth knowledge of South Carolina’s car accident laws. We stay updated on the latest changes in the law – and zealously advocate for our clients to try and achieve the best possible result based on the evidence of the particular case. Clients also love our customer service, and appreciate our knowledge with the firm having handled thousands of personal injury cases to a successful conclusion. Call us at 704-343-0018 to schedule a consultation so that we may assist you.