Comparative Negligence in South Carolina Car Accident Cases

Posted by the Charleston Car Accident Lawyers at Anderson & Schuster, Attorneys at Law, LLC. Our auto accident attorneys are here to help those injured in car, truck and motorcycle accidents in Charleston and across South Carolina.

To recover damages in a South Carolina car accident lawsuit, a cause of action for negligence must be brought against the at-fault driver.  South Carolina is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning that even if a plaintiff is partially at fault in the auto accident, that plaintiff can still recover if their negligence does not exceed the negligence of others.  The recovery will, however, be reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s negligence in the accident.

For example, if the plaintiff is 20% at fault and the defendant is 80% at fault, and damages as determined by a jury are $100,000, the plaintiff would get a verdict for $80,000 from that defendant or, more likely, that defendant's car insurance company.  The jury that hears the car accident case determines the percentage of fault each party bears.

The plaintiff's negligence in a South Carolina car accident case must not exceed that of the defendants. So, if the jury that hears the car accident case finds the plaintiff 51% at fault, that plaintiff is barred from recovery. If there is more than one defendant in the auto accident case, the plaintiff’s negligence must not exceed the combined negligence of the defendants.

In South Carolina auto accident suits, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was negligent in causing the plaintiff's car accident injuries by a preponderance of the evidence.  The defendant will likely offer evidence that they were not negligent in the auto collision, and they can also offer evidence that the plaintiff was negligent.

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