If you’re being blamed for an accident, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help guide you through the legal process and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
South Carolina is an at-fault state for car accidents. Therefore, drivers must have a minimum amount of liability car insurance. Liability insurance pays an accident victim for damages caused by a car wreck.
When a car accident occurs, the at-fault driver is liable for damages sustained by accident victims. However, South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence law could apply if both drivers are partially to blame for the cause of the car crash. If so, the accident victim might not receive full compensation for all damages.
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What Happens When You File a Claim for a Car Accident?
Before recovering compensation for a car accident claim, the victim must prove the elements of negligence:
- Duty – The other driver owed the victim a duty of care
- Breach of Duty – The other driver breached the duty of care by failing to use reasonable care
- Causation – The breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of the victim’s injuries
- Damages – The victim sustained damages because the other driver breached the duty of care
The insurance company for the at-fault party will investigate the claim. If it finds that its insured was at fault, it may offer a settlement. However, insurance companies always try to limit their liability for a claim.
One way to reduce the value of a claim is to allege that the accident victim is partially to blame for the cause of the crash.
South Carolina’s Modified Comparative Negligence Law
Under South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence law, an accident victim cannot recover any money for damages if they are 51% or more to blame for the cause of the accident. Therefore, if a jury finds that your conduct contributed to the cause of your car wreck by 55%, you cannot receive any money from a personal injury lawsuit.
However, if you are less than 51% at fault for the car crash, you may still recover some money for your damages.
Let’s assume a jury decides you were 30% to blame for a car accident because you were speeding when the crash occurred. The other driver is 70% to blame. The jury awards damages in the amount of $250,000.
The most you could receive for damages would be $175,000 ($250,000 less 30%). Modified comparative negligence decreases your damages by the percentage of fault you share for the cause of the car accident, assuming you were less than 51% at fault.
How Do Insurance Companies Blame Victims for Car Accidents?
Insurance companies employ skilled and highly trained claims adjusters and insurance investigators. Their job is to protect the insurance company by reducing liability for claims. Therefore, they aggressively investigate accident claims.
The claims adjuster may employ several techniques to shift the blame for the car accident to you, including:
- Telling you that you are partially to blame and hoping that you do not seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer
- Asking leading questions during a recorded interview to obtain statements that can be purposefully misconstrued to imply fault
- Telling you that you must submit a written statement before the adjuster can process the claim, hoping you write something the company can use to shift the blame
- Interviewing your family members or passengers to try to get them to say something that could be used to blame you for the crash
An example of a statement that could be twisted to imply fault is that you overslept on the day of the crash. The adjuster may comment about how they overslept last week and had to rush to work. You agree that you had to hurry that morning.
In other words, you might have been speeding to get to work or distracted while driving. Therefore, you are partially to blame for the cause of the car wreck.
Claims adjusters and investigators are excellent at their jobs. They appear friendly and may tell you that they want to help you or are on your side. However, they only want to lock you into a set of facts that might not be favorable for you.
Why Should You Fight Allegations of Comparative Negligence?
Depending on the severity of your injuries, your damages from a car accident could be significant. Car accidents cause traumatic injuries and permanent disabilities.
Common car accident injuries include:
- Amputations and loss of limbs
- Broken bones and fractures
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Severe burns and disfigurement
You deserve full compensation for all damages caused by the car accident. In addition, you deserve compensation for permanent disabilities and future damages. Unfortunately, allegations of comparative negligence can significantly reduce the amount of money you receive for a car accident claim.
How Can a South Carolina Car Accident Attorney Help?
Many accident victims are unfamiliar with personal injury laws. Therefore, insurance adjusters take advantage of a victim’s lack of knowledge to deny and undervalue accident claims.
A lawyer protects you from insurance tactics that can hurt your case. An attorney helps you avoid mistakes and errors that could result in much less money for your damages.
Ways that an attorney can help you if you are blamed for an accident include:
- Investigating the cause of the accident to identify the factors that led to the crash
- Gathering evidence proving liability for the accident by establishing causation and fault
- Interviewing witnesses, locating videos of the accident, and obtaining copies of crash reports and police reports
- Handling all matters related to the insurance claim, including all communications with the insurance company and its agents or employees
- Hiring accident reconstructionists and other experts when necessary to disprove allegations of comparative negligence
- Preparing and filing a lawsuit to fight the claim in court if the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith
Your personal injury attorney also documents your damages and calculates the value of your claim. A claims adjuster generally has a difficult time trying to take advantage of an accident victim who is represented by an experienced car accident lawyer.
Comparative Negligence Applies in Other Personal Injury Cases
The comparative negligence laws in South Carolina apply to other types of personal injury claims. For example, an insurance company may try to blame you for causing your injury due to a slip and fall accident, bicycle crash, boating accident, workplace accident, product liability claim, or other accident.
Talk with a lawyer before you provide a statement to the insurance company or agree to a settlement for your injury claim.
Contact a South Carolina Car Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation if You Are Blamed for an Accident
Blaming accident victims is a common insurance tactic. Personal injury lawyers understand how insurance providers use comparative fault to cheat injured victims out of the money they deserve. Do not give in to pressure from an insurance adjuster without seeking trusted legal advice from a personal injury attorney in South Carolina.