Common Considerations

For a successful personal injury or wrongful death claim, there are important things to understand and discuss with your attorney.


The doctrine of negligence per se refers to behavior that is negligent in itself. A South Carolina plaintiff need not prove a defendant’s conduct at the time of a crash was negligent if that conduct was illegal:

  • Drunk driving
  • Speeding/breaking other traffic laws
  • Texting while driving

The official police report of your accident will provide proof of the defendant’s illegal conduct, so it’s vital to report your accident to law enforcement.

Strict Liability for Defective Equipment

If the accident that caused your injury or the death of a loved one was due to defective automotive equipment, the responsible manufacturer or repair service is strictly liable for damages.

Your Own Auto Insurance

Even if the at-fault party was entirely responsible for your injuries and/or your loved one’s death, there are circumstances under which you may have to claim compensation from your own insurer:

  • A hit-and-run accident in which the negligent party is unknown
  • A crash with an uninsured or underinsured motorist 
  • A case that takes a long time to resolve where your own insurance initially covers your damages and later files a subrogation claim 

An experienced car accident lawyer can help you get compensation from your insurer while you wait for your claim against the defendant to settle or go to trial.

Comparative Fault

South Carolina law follows a modified comparative fault doctrine for personal injury cases. This means that you can collect compensation for your damages even if you were partially responsible for your own accident. Your award will be reduced according to your percentage of fault as long as you’re found 50% or less responsible. If you’re found 51% or more responsible, you will collect no compensation whatsoever. 

If your case goes to trial, the determination of your percentage of fault can be extremely subjective, so you need an attorney who can present your evidence convincingly and prove that you were not more than half responsible for your accident.   

Protecting Your Claim

There are things you can do at the scene of the crash to make your claim stronger. If you’re physically able to do so after your wreck, take the following steps to protect your claim:

  • Stay at the scene.
  • Take photos of the vehicle(s) involved in the crash, including damage and license plates, as well as skid marks, damaged poles or guard rails, and other evidence.
  • Exchange contact information with the other driver(s) but do not discuss the accident or argue. Try to remain calm.
  • Do not admit any fault to anyone.
  • Call 911 and report your accident to the police when they arrive. Give only factual information.    
  • Get contact information from any witnesses to the crash.
  • Note any nearby security or red-light cameras that might have footage of the accident. 
  • Seek immediate medical treatment to identify and document injuries that might not be immediately apparent.
  • Report your accident to your own insurance company.
  • Consult a car accident attorney.
  • Don’t be in a rush to get your car repaired. 
  • Don’t discuss your wreck or your injuries on social media.
  • Refer calls from insurance adjusters to your lawyer.
Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.