Under South Carolina law, accident victims can claim compensation in a personal injury claim for injuries resulting from another person’s negligence. If they are found partly at fault for the accident, though, the amount of compensation they receive is reduced. In addition, if the accident victim is found mostly at fault for the accident, they are barred from receiving compensation completely. This is known as the modified comparative fault rule, which is much fairer to accident victims than historical South Carolina law.
Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Negligence
Up until 1991, South Carolina law followed the rule of contributory negligence. Under this rule, if accident victims were found even one percent at fault for their injuries, they could not pursue a personal injury claim. This left many accident victims paying out of their own pockets for expenses, even though their percentage of fault was very small. When injuries were catastrophic, this could financially ruin a person after an accident.
That all changed, however, with the landmark case Nelson vs. Concrete Supply Co (1991). It was then that South Carolina moved away from the rule of contributory negligence and followed the rule of comparative negligence. Under comparative negligence, accident victims can still claim compensation if they are 50 percent or less at fault for the accident. They are assigned a percentage of fault, and any compensation they receive is reduced by that same percentage.
Multiple Parties and Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence becomes complicated when there are multiple parties named in a lawsuit. For example, three cars are involved in an accident and all parties are partly to blame for the crash. Comparative negligence rules these cases, as well.
The courts and insurance companies will compare the fault of the accident victim to the combined fault of others involved. As long as the accident victim is still 50 percent or less at fault for the accident, they can still claim compensation.
Comparative Negligence and the Burden of Proof
In any personal injury claim, the defendant, or the person alleged to be at fault for the accident, will likely raise the concept of comparative fault as a defense. This will shift some of the blame for the accident onto the victim, and reduce the amount of compensation they are required to pay.
However, even though it’s the defense that will raise this argument, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, or the person filing the claim. This means that if you’re injured and the negligent party says you’re partly to blame, you will have to prove that it was their negligence, and not yours, that caused the accident. This is just one reason why anyone filing a personal injury claim should not do it alone.
Call a Lancaster Personal Injury Attorney Today
Proving someone was negligent, and refuting arguments that you were partly to blame for the accident, is difficult in any personal injury case. Those hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence needs to speak to a personal injury attorney in Lancaster who can help.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, call the Elrod Pope Law Firm at (803) 599-3080 or fill out our online form for your free consultation. We know how to hold liable parties accountable for paying compensation, and how to protect against claims that you were partly at fault for the accident. Give your case the best chance of success and get in touch with us today.
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.