Modified Comparative Negligence Law in South Carolina

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Personal injury law varies by each state, and it’s important to know what the laws are in your jurisdiction. For South Carolina residents, modified comparative negligence is the tort rule in place that governs how personal injury cases are treated and assessed, specifically with regard to the assignment and implications of fault.

What Is Modified Comparative Negligence?

Modified comparative negligence, which is the South Carolina negligence law that has been in place since 1991, states that a victim who is 50% or less at fault for an incident can sue another party (or parties) for damages.

In other words, as long as the victim bears only half of the fault (or less), they can pursue compensation for the damages they’ve sustained. On the other hand, under this system any party involved in a personal injury case that is 51% or more at fault cannot pursue compensation for their damages.

How does modified comparative negligence affect compensation?

Because fault can be shared by two or more parties in any modified comparative negligence case, the total amount of compensation for the victim will vary based on the situation.

First, the total payout to the plaintiff will be reduced by the percentage of their fault. For example, if a plaintiff who is 25% at fault sues a defendant who is 75% at fault and their total damages are determined to be $1,000, they would receive only $750.

Second, if there are more than two parties involved, each party will be assigned a percentage of the fault for the incident, and each party will only be responsible to pay that percentage of the total damages owed to the plaintiff.

For example, if a plaintiff who is 20% at fault for an incident sues two defendants who are each determined to be 40% at fault, and the total damages are set at $1,000, the plaintiff would be eligible to receive a total of $800, but each of the two defendants would only be responsible for $400 (reflecting their individual fault percentages).

Previously, if one of the defendants was unable to pay their portion to the plaintiff, the other defendant (or defendants) would have to cover that portion in addition to their own.

This is no longer the case, and each defendant is only responsible for their own percentage of fault even if one of the other parties cannot pay for any reason.

How Does Modified Comparative Negligence Differ from Other Systems?

The comparative negligence system in place in South Carolina is only one of a few systems to be found throughout the United States. The two most prominent alternatives to this in other states are pure comparative negligence and contributory negligence.

Pure comparative negligence

Pure comparative negligence is utilized by states such as California, Florida, and New York. While more similar to modified comparative negligence than contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence differs in that there is no “51% rule” that prevents a party from suing for compensation based on their majority fault of 51% or more. That means that in pure comparative negligence states, a driver who is 99% at fault for an accident can still pursue damages from the other driver based on their 1% of the fault.

Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence, which is the law in a few states including North Carolina and Virginia, used to be the negligence law in South Carolina until 1991 when the state switched to modified comparative negligence. Under contributory negligence, even a small percentage of fault could prevent someone from pursuing compensation for their damages.

For example, a driver who is found to be only 1% at fault for an accident would be unable to pursue compensation from another driver who was 99% at fault.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?

Partnering with an experienced personal injury attorney in Greenville, SC can be a game-changing move. A personal injury lawyer can provide:

  • Thorough case evaluation
  • Communication with insurance companies and other parties
  • Evidence gathering for your case
  • Pre-trial conference representation
  • Court representation

In light of comparative negligence in South Carolina and the importance of establishing fault, partnering with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible can help establish your case and increase its chances of success.

Upstate Personal Injury Lawyers Is Ready To Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle or other accident, don’t hesitate to contact us at Upstate Personal Injury Lawyers right away. Our team will bring almost two decades of litigation experience to your case and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for your consultation.

FAQs About Negligence Law

Is there a statute of limitations for personal injury cases in South Carolina?

Yes, in South Carolina personal injury claims must be brought within three years of the incident in question.

Can I know for sure whether my case will go to court?

While there’s no way to know for certain whether your case will end up in court, scheduling a free case evaluation with us is the best step you can take to move your case forward. Regardless of whether your case is settled pre-trial or in a courtroom, our team will fight for the damages you are owed.

Get in touch via phone, fax, email, or alternatively send us a message via our contact form located on the contact page.

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