Comparative negligence is a primary component of settling most accidents cases. While some states use contributory negligence law that restricts any driver with any fault from collecting damages, several states such as South Carolina have opted for a comparative negligence model when determining insurance benefits for injured drivers. All accidents generate an official accident report produced by the jurisdictional police investigators that often states exactly what transpired and who is at fault, but many times there are also shared fault scenarios where evaluation is made in percentages.
51% bar for comparative negligence
There are two types of modified comparative negligence law. One sets the bar for financial recovery at 50% fault while the other requires a 51% comparative fault percentage for denial of a claim or standing to file a lawsuit for damages. The 50% rule is restrictive because two-car motor vehicle accidents with equally shared fault would deny both drivers any financial compensation. The 51% rule for denial of benefits means only the driver with the most fault is ineligible for financial compensation.
Impact on claims
The modified comparative negligence law in South Carolina is one of the main reasons that motor vehicle accidents claims become legal cases when the respondent insurance company thinks they can prove comparative fault beyond 50% assigned to a claimant. They effectively have very little to lose and much to gain, especially in high-value accident cases. Furthermore, the assigned percentage of comparative fault will be used to discount the final settlement.
The 51% bar rule is a primary area of concentration for South Carolina accident attorneys when they represent clients who may be near the 50-50% fault range. Not only are they trying to get as much compensation as possible for their client, but they also must defend them against claims of personal negligence.