Often when a person is injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, the defendant’s insurance company will try to claim that the injured person was partially or entirely at-fault. While it may not seem fair, it is a common tactic used by insurance companies to reduce their payouts. Being actively involved in the liability investigation early on is crucial to your case, and is one reason why you need the services of a skilled South Carolina personal injury attorney right from the start.
Comparative Negligence in South Carolina
In South Carolina, we use a system called comparative negligence. This means even if you are partially at fault in an accident, you can still recover financial compensation as long as your percentage of the fault is less than or equal to the defendant’s. In other words, if the defendant is found to be 80% at-fault in causing an accident and you are 20% at-fault, you can still recover damages. However, the amount of your verdict or settlement would be reduced by 20%. The same principle applies all the way up to 50%. However, if you are found to be more than 50% at-fault in the accident, you will not be able to recover anything.
Do not Fail to Mitigate Damages
After an accident, you may have a duty to mitigate your damages. This means that you need to try to minimize your losses. While this is most often seen in contract cases, it may apply in rare circumstances in personal injury cases.
South Carolina drivers have an Assumption of Risk
Another potential defense is called assumption of risk. This defense claims that you were aware that there was an inherent risk in an activity, such as skiing or walking down steps that you could see were wet or icy, and yet attempted it anyway. If the defense can show that you were aware the danger existed, understood its risks, and still voluntarily put yourself in harm’s way, they will be able to defeat your claim.
Statute of Limitations in South Carolina
All states have a deadline to bring a lawsuit for vehicle damage and personal injuries. In South Carolina, you have three years from the date of injury to bring a lawsuit in most cases. In cases involving the government or special causes of action, you only have two years to bring your suit. If you fail to do so within the legal timeframe, the defendant can argue that the case should be barred by the statute of limitations. This is another reason a good South Carolina car accident attorney is invaluable. Even if negotiations are continuing and the statute of limitations is approaching, you may need to file a lawsuit to preserve your case and continue with negotiations.
Retaining a Personal Injury Attorney in South Carolina
Don’t let the other side jeopardize your case with negligence defenses that can reduce the financial compensation you deserve. Contact the Elrod Pope Law Firm today to schedule a consultation and let one of our skilled attorneys fight for you.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.