In South Carolina, someone who negligently injures another person is typically responsible for the harm they caused, including compensation for expenses such as medical bills and lost work time. One of the most common types of negligence claims involves motor vehicle accidents.
According to the most recent report from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs, Statistical Analysis and Research Section, there is a fatal traffic accident in South Carolina about once every eight hours. Accidents involving injury occur at a rate of more than one crash every 15 minutes. And, property damage accidents happen about once every five minutes.
That adds up to nearly 1,200 traffic fatalities, including 194 pedestrian fatalities and 23 bicyclists killed in traffic. More than 53,000 people were injured on South Carolina roads during that same year.
When a driver fails to live up to this duty of care and causes a motor vehicle accident, they are generally responsible for any injuries and/or property damage they cause. However, the negligent driver may not be the only person responsible, and so may not bear full responsibility for the damages.
Often another driver is the most obvious responsible party in a motor vehicle accident. But, it isn’t always that simple. An experienced Charleston motor vehicle accident attorney can assess your case and help identify any additional parties who may share the blame for your accident. It’s important not to overlook anyone, as leaving out a responsible party could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
These are just some common examples of third parties who may be partly responsible for a motor vehicle accident. The best source of information about who may be liable for your injuries is your automobile accident lawyer.
Sometimes, the injured party was also negligent, and is partly responsible for the accident or for the extent of their injury. Imagine, for example, that a pedestrian is hit by a driver who ran a red light. The driver who ran the red light was negligent and so is at least partly responsible for the accident. But, what if the pedestrian was looking down at their phone when they stepped into the street, and might have been able to avoid being hit by the car if they’d been paying attention?
In this situation, South Carolina law requires the court to determine what percentage of blame is attributable to each party. If the injury victim was more than 50% responsible, they will not be able to recover any damages. If they were not more than 50% to blame, they will be entitled to compensation. However, the compensation will be reduced in proportion to their fault. For example, if the injured person is found to have been 25% responsible for the accident and their own losses, they will only be able to recover 75% of their damages.
When you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, your mind probably isn’t on your legal rights. Most people in this situation are focused on medical care and recovery, distracted by pain or clouded by medication, and worried about how to get by while off work and not earning income. That’s understandable, but it can also hurt your claim and limit the amount of compensation you receive–compensation you may need to pay for your medical care and living expenses.
The responsible party’s insurance company will likely contact you shortly after the accident. Insurance companies make their money by paying out less in compensation than they collect in premiums. That means it’s in their best interests to pay you as little as possible, or even avoid payment entirely. They may lead you into making statements that can hurt your case or take comments you make on the phone out of context to use against you. They may also try to trick you into entering into a quick settlement agreement, before you really know the extent of your injuries and what your claim may be worth.
The best way to protect your claim is to work with an experienced Charleston injury lawyer from the beginning, and let the attorney handle communications with the insurance carrier.
Attorney Frank Hartman has dedicated his legal practice to fighting for fair compensation for injury victims in and around Charleston, South Carolina. To learn more about how The Hartman Law Firm can help you protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve, call 843-300-7600 or fill out the contact form on this page.