South Carolina Car Accident Laws You Need to Know
If you were just in a car accident, you probably have a lot on your mind. Although it may be hard to think about a lawsuit in the immediate aftermath of a car accident, a successful personal injury claim can help you pay your medical bills or cover the cost of expensive vehicle damage. This article covers important South Carolina car accident laws that you should be aware of if you are considering filing a claim.
Reporting an Accident
South Carolina car accident laws include reporting requirements for car accidents. If you were driving a vehicle that was involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of another, you must report the accident as quickly as possible. The SC statute states that if the accident occurred in a municipality, you must report it to the local police. Otherwise, you must report the accident to the office of the county sheriff or to the closest South Carolina Highway Patrol office.
You are also required to make a written traffic collision report of certain accidents. You must file a written report if you are the owner or driver of a vehicle that was involved in an accident not investigated by law enforcement if that accident resulted in:
- Property damage of $1,000 or more;
- Bodily injury; or
The report must be completed and sent to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles within 15 days after the accident, according to South Carolina car accident laws. The written report must include proof of liability insurance.
If the police investigate the scene of your accident, an officer will give you a form that you must give to your insurer to complete. Even if the police investigate, you may still want to make your own accident report. This report may be useful to your insurance company. Your personal accident report should include:
- A description of the crash;
- The number of people in each vehicle;
- The name and insurance info of all parties to the accident;
- Descriptions of injuries and vehicle or property damage;
- Photos of damage;
- The names of witnesses and any witness descriptions of the accident;
- Video statements if possible; and
- A sketch or diagram of the accident scene.
A personal accident report can also be useful if the other party to the accident admits fault at the scene. A written report of the other party’s admission can help you win a claim if they change their story later.
Failure to Report an Accident
If you do not document an accident with a written report or by reporting it to the police, your insurance company may deny your claim for damages. Some insurance companies have contract clauses that allow them to drop your coverage if you fail to report an accident. Failure to report may also affect your ability to bring a claim against the other parties to the accident.
How Long Do You Have To File a Claim?
In South Carolina, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. If you miss the filing deadline, your case will most likely be dismissed. Exceptions to the deadline may apply if the injured person is under 18 or has been declared insane, or if the person responsible for the injury leaves South Carolina for one year or more before you can file.
How Does Fault Work In South Carolina?
South Carolina uses a modified comparative fault standard in personal injury cases. As long as you are less than 50% at fault, you can still recover against another driver for your injuries. If you are partially at fault, your damages award will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Even if you were somewhat negligent, it is important to prove that you were generally driving safely. This will minimize your fault and help to increase your damages award. For example, you may have failed to use a turn signal, but you may still be able to recover if you establish that you were obeying the speed limit, you looked carefully before turning, you were not texting and driving, etc. This is another reason why it is important to file an accident report as quickly as possible after a car accident. The details of the accident are more likely to be fresh in your mind.
Speak to a Personal Injury Attorney
An experienced personal injury attorney will be especially helpful if you were partially at fault in a car accident. A skilled attorney can help you prove that the other party was primarily at fault. Speaking to an attorney as soon as possible after an accident is a good idea. An attorney will know which details of the accident will help you maximize your recovery. Speaking to an attorney immediately after an accident can also help you comply with South Carolina’s reporting requirements, and an attorney can help you deal with your insurance company. Peace Law Firm has years of experience handling South Carolina personal injury cases arising from car accidents. John Peace will advocate diligently to make sure you are properly compensated for your injuries.