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Comparative Negligence in South Carolina Drunk Driving Accident Cases


If you suffered injuries in a South Carolina drunk driving accident, you can file a personal injury claim against the drunk driver and recover compensation for your injuries and damages. In South Carolina, when a drunk driver causes a car accident resulting in injuries and property damage, they may face liability on top of criminal penalties, such as fines, jail time, and license suspension. But what happens if you also did something that contributed to your accident? You may be wondering how the comparative negligence laws in South Carolina work in such cases. So, what happens if a drunk driver hits you in South Carolina, but you are also to blame for your accident? Read on to find out.

Establishing Fault in a Drunk Driving Accident Case

Just because a drunk driver hit you does not automatically mean you will recover compensation from them. To recover compensation for your injuries and damages, you must establish all the elements of negligence. First, you must prove that the other driver owed you a duty of care. Since every driver has a duty of care to drive safely and avoid causing harm to other road users, proving the first element of negligence is usually not a challenge. Second, you must prove that the driver breached their duty of care. You will have established this second element by proving that the driver was drunk driving. Third, you must show a causal relationship between the drunk driver’s actions and the harm you suffered. Fourth, you must establish the harm you suffered was a proximate cause of the defendant’s actions. Finally, in South Carolina, you must prove that you sustained damages from the drunk driver’s conduct before you can recover compensation.

Comparative Negligence in South Carolina Drunk Driving Accident Cases

If you were involved in a South Carolina drunk driving accident and are partially to blame for your accident, you may still be eligible to recover compensation from the drunk driver who hit you. South Carolina uses the comparative negligence system for tort and injury cases. This system allows plaintiffs to recover compensation for the harm suffered even if they are partly at fault for their accident. However, because South Carolina is a modified comparative negligence state, you cannot recover compensation from the drunk driver if you are more than 50% to blame for your accident. Additionally, if you are partially to blame for your accident but are eligible to recover compensation, your recovery will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.

For instance, suppose you are awarded 20% of the blame because you ran a stop sign. In such a case, the defendant will only be considered 80% at fault for your case. You will still recover compensation in such a case, but your recovery will be reduced by 20%. So, if the court awards $150,000, you will get $120,000 from the defendant, which is 80% of $150,000.

If you were hit by a drunk driver, it is crucial that you retain a skilled attorney who can show that you were not at fault for your accident or were not more than 50% at fault. An attorney can help you do this by, among other things;

  • Obtaining accident/police reports
  • Presenting photo/video evidence
  • Reconstructing your accident
  • Interviewing eyewitnesses

Contact Us for Legal Help

If you’ve been in a drunk driving accident in South Carolina and need help recovering the compensation you deserve from the drunk driver, contact our qualified Charleston drunk driver accident lawyer at Gus Anastopoulo Law Firm.

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