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South Carolina Personal Injury and Tort Law

South Carolina personal injury law is based in the law of torts.  A tort is a harmful act or failure to act for which South Carolina law provides a remedy.  There are many different kinds of torts.  Physically injuring somebody in an automobile or car accident, committing a negligent act, damaging their property or character are examples of torts.

South Carolina tort law is based on the idea that injured persons should be compensated by those responsible for the injuries.   Therefore, a tort victim has the right to sue the person committing the tort, called the tortfeasor, for damages.

Negligent Torts: Simply put, negligence involves the care a person should have had when he or she caused an injury, and how careful, according to South Carolina law, he or she should have been.   There are typically four requirements to proving negligence in South Carolina.  A plaintiff must show (1) the defendant had a duty to conform to a certain standard of conduct to protect the plaintiff from unreasonable risk, (2) the defendant breached that duty, (3) the defendant’s breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury, and (4) the plaintiff suffered damages.

For example, in applying the four elements of negligence to some hypothetical facts, assume that a person drives into the rear end of another person’s car at a red light and causes the person to strike their head on the steering wheel and get a concussion.  The stopped driver was essentially waiting for the red light to change to green, which is required by law.  The other driver, however, had a duty to stop at the red light like the other car, but breached that duty by failing to stop, proximately caused the victim’s harm by driving into the rear of the car, and the victim actually was harmed because they received a concussion.  In this case, the victim would be able to show that the tortfeasor driver behaved negligently and hold the defendant responsible for his damages.

In some personal injury cases, it turns out the plaintiff was partly at fault in causing his or her injury.  South Carolina Code of Laws Section 15-1-300 basically sets forth a modified comparative fault–51% rule:

SECTION 15-1-300. Contributory negligence shall not bar recovery in motor vehicle accident action. In any motor vehicle accident, contributory negligence shall not bar recovery in any action by any person or legal representative to recover damages for negligence resulting in death or in injury to person or property, if such contributory negligence was equal to or less than the negligence which must be established in order to recover from the party against whom recovery is sought.

In short, under a modified comparative fault – 51% rule, an injured party can only recover if it is determined that his or her fault in causing the injury does not reach 51%.   In other words, as long as the victim or injured party was 50% or less at fault, they may still be able to recover some of their damages from the tortfeasor based on this Section of the South Carolina Code.

In order to effectively evaluate your personal injury rights and remedies, it is always important to seek a South Carolina attorney to determine your possible legal claims and recovery options if you are the victim in an automobile accident.

1 Comment

  1. Click Here
    August 24, 2014

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    Very well written and detailed.

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