Auto accidents are a common occurrence in South Carolina. This article discusses what you need to know about South Carolina car accidents, including what to do after a car accident, an overview of South Carolina's car accident compensation laws, and how to get appropriate compensation for your injuries and losses.
What Should You Do After an Accident in South Carolina?
Here is a list of what to do if you are in an accident:
- Don't leave the scene; leaving the scene of the accident, even if it's a minor accident, could be considered an illegal hit-and-run
- Get to safety out of traffic and check everyone for injuries (and consider rendering first aid to any car accident victims)
- Call the South Carolina highway patrol or the police department for help and medical assistance; you will want to make sure you get a copy of the police report or accident report
- Collect contact information and driver's insurance information from the people who were driving any vehicles involved in the accident
- Take pictures of the scene and get the contact information of any witnesses; also, check with nearby businesses or homeowners for a copy of their security camera footage, if applicable
- Call your insurance adjuster and notify them of a possible car accident claim
- Get checked out by a doctor
- Talk to a personal injury attorney about your recovery options
South Carolina Car Accident Compensation Laws: At a Glance
Below is a table showing key aspects of South Carolina's car accident compensation laws, including limits on damages and the statute of limitations.
|Statute of Limitations
||3 years for most personal injury and property damage lawsuits (§ 15-3-530); 2 years for claims against the government (§ 15-78-110)
|Limits on Damages
$350,000 cap for each claimant on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims, adjusted annually ($512,773 in 2022) (§ 15-32-220); $300,000 cap on claims against government (§ 15-78-120)
||Modified comparative negligence fault system may prevent or diminish damages (§ 15-1-300; Nelson v. Concrete Supply Co.)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Fault in South Carolina: 'At Fault' and 'Comparative Negligence' Rules
South Carolina follows the "at fault" or "tort" system for car accident claims. This means that in order to recover damages, you must first show fault on the part of the other driver. However, South Carolina also follows a "modified comparative negligence" rule, which states that even if you are partly to blame for causing the accident, you may still recover damages as long as your negligence in causing the accident is not greater than that of the person or people you are suing.
In other words, to recover damages, you must be 50% or less at fault. However, if you were partly to blame, any damages that are awarded will be reduced in proportion to the degree that you were at fault. For example, if you were 10% at fault and the other driver was 90% at fault, you may still sue the other driver, but an award of $1000 will be reduced by $100.
Types of Damages Available in South Carolina
After a car accident, there are usually two types of damages to consider: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the more direct, specific costs you've incurred as a result of your injury or damage to property, while non-economic damages refer to the more abstract costs of an accident, like emotional distress and the loss of spousal companionship.
Economic damages may include:
- Car repairs
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
Non-economic damages may include:
- Physical pain
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of affection or companionship
Limits on Damages in South Carolina
South Carolina does not have a cap on most damages that may be awarded. However, there is a cap on the non-economic damages of certain medical malpractice claims ($350,000), as well as a cap on claims against the government ($300,000). These claims are adjusted each year for inflation. Most recently in 2022, the cap has been adjusted to $512,773. Lastly, claims are time-sensitive, as you must file most lawsuits within three years from the date of the accident.
Involved in a Car Accident? Talk to a South Carolina Attorney Today
To receive fair compensation after a car accident in South Carolina, you'll want to be able to show fault according to the modified comparative negligence rules. Learn more about these rules and evaluate the strength of your case by speaking with a local injury law attorney familiar with South Carolina car accident compensation laws.