Understanding Comparative Negligence in South Carolina

  1. Personal Injury
  2. Understanding Comparative Negligence in South Carolina

Before 1991 in South Carolina, you could be completely barred from recovering any money if you were at fault in any way. This type of bar from recovery, called Contributory Negligence, still exists in North Carolina. However, after the case of Nelson v. Concrete Supply Co. was decided in 1991, South Carolina explicitly stated its transition to comparative negligence.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Negligence occurs when there is a duty owed, the duty is breached, and damages result. Comparative negligence comes into play when there are multiple people involved in an incident where damages result. Comparative negligence allows for an individual to be held accountable for a portion of the blame for the incident. In this case, a jury will be responsible for assessing the percentages of blame for each individual involved by considering all negligence in the case. According to comparative negligence rules, an individual can only collect damages for the percentage of the incident that was not your fault. 

What is the 51% Rule?

In South Carolina, if a jury decides that an individual is more than half at fault for the incident, then the individual is not entitled to compensation. As such, the jury will assign percentages of fault to the individuals involved in an incident or accident. In other words, if the plaintiff is 51% or more at fault for the incident, the plaintiff is barred from recovering compensation for comparative negligence. However, if the plaintiff is 50% or less at fault for the incident, the plaintiff may be entitled to recover damages for comparative negligence. 

Is South Carolina an At-Fault State?

South Carolina is an at-fault state, which means that the insurance of the person at fault has the primary responsibility for covering the costs associated with the accident, by fault. This is based on the idea that compensation is used to make an injured individual whole again after the incident occurs. 

An Example: A Car Accident Between Two Individuals.

For example, two cars are driving on the road late at night. Driver 1 is driving without their lights on, while Driver 2 is speeding far over the speed limit. The two drivers collide. Here, the damages are calculated to be $10,000. In court, a jury found that Driver 1 was 30% at fault, while Driver 2 was 70% at fault. In South Carolina, Driver 2 would be barred from compensation based on comparative negligence because Driver 2 was primarily at fault. However, Driver 1 would potentially be entitled to $700 in damages from Driver 2. 

If you are the victim of a personal injury accident, King Law is here to help you. We will answer your personal injury questions and help you navigate through a long and difficult process. We are here to give you peace of mind and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Give us a call at 888-748-KING (5464) to speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys in North Carolina and South Carolina.

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