What Is Comparative Negligence and How Can It Impact Personal Injury Claims in South Carolina?

by | Nov 10, 2022 | Personal Injury

man-holding-neck-from-personal-injury-caused-by-vehicle-accident Sometimes when an accident happens, fault is not clear. You might even think you were partially to blame. Does that mean you can’t get any money from the other party? Not necessarily. Under South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence law, you may still be able to get compensation for your damages.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal theory where the court will look at the fault of each party. There are different types of comparative negligence.

Pure Comparative Negligence

Under a pure comparative negligence theory, a plaintiff can recover damages for any amount of fault of the other party. That means, even if the plaintiff was 99% at fault, they can recover damages for the 1% that the other party was to blame.

Modified Comparative Negligence

However, South Carolina does not follow pure comparative negligence. It uses a modified comparative negligence theory. Under SC’s modified comparative negligence law, a plaintiff can recover damages as long as they were less than 51% responsible for an accident.

How Does Modified Comparative Negligence Impact a Personal Injury Claim?

Under modified comparative negligence, the amount of fault that the plaintiff has in an accident is directly connected to the amount of money they can recover. The total amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

For example, if a plaintiff is 10% at fault and their damages are $100,000, then their compensation will be reduced by $10,000, or 10% of the total damages. The defendant party, who is 90% at fault, will have to pay $90,000 to the plaintiff.

Why Is It Important to Prove Fault?

It’s essential to prove that the other party is more at fault than you are in South Carolina. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault, then you won’t be able to recover any compensation for your damages.

Additionally, the more fault you can place on the other party, the more money you will get. Thus, you should prove the other party is at fault to the greatest extent possible.

How Does My Fault Affect My Personal Injury Claim in South Carolina?

woman-texting-while-driving-and-at-fault-for-personal-injuryIf you are found to be at fault, even a small amount, your compensation will be reduced. It may even be completely eliminated if you are more than 50% at fault.

For example, if you failed to wear a seat belt in your car and were involved in an accident, some of your injuries may be related to your actions. While the other driver may have been speeding or they ran a red light, the court will likely place some of the blame for your injuries on your failure to wear a seat belt. However, it is unlikely that not wearing a seat belt would make you more than 50% at fault. You will still be able to get compensation from the driver who is primarily at fault, but it will be reduced by the percentage by which you were at fault.

What If There Were Multiple Other Parties at Fault?

If there were multiple parties at fault for your accident, then multiple people may be liable for your damages. Under modified comparative negligence, you still must be less than 51% at fault. However, the court will allot fault among all parties and those other parties will be liable according to their fault.

For example, if one person is 30% at fault and the other person is 70% at fault for your injuries, then they will share the liability in those percentages.

What Is Joint and Several Liability?

However, there is a theory called “joint and several liability” which applies to personal injury cases in some states. Under joint and several liability, when there are multiple defendants who are at fault, you can recover 100% of your damages from any of them, regardless of how much each is at fault. The defendant who pays more than their percentage can then recover from the other at fault parties.

In 2005, South Carolina did away with joint and several liability. It does not apply in South Carolina. You can only get money for the percentage of fault that a party is in your claim.

Contact a Greenville Personal Injury Lawyer for Maximum Compensation

Attorney Venus Poe has worked with countless clients who were partially at fault in their accidents. It’s a very common situation, especially with car accidents. When you contact our legal team, we will review your case and help you understand how to get the most out of your claim.

Call us today at (864) 689-3382 for a free consultation with attorney Venus Poe.

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