“Negligence” is a term that is often thrown around in popular discourse, but it has a particular legal meaning that is not normally appreciated. For South Carolina residents interested in learning what rights they have as a result of being injured in a car accident, a basic understanding of the concept of negligence is important.
To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff that the defendant breached, which caused damages to the plaintiff. In general, anyone operating a motor vehicle has a duty to others to act with reasonable care.
A driver breaches this duty when they act unreasonably, taking into account all the circumstances, including: whether he was intoxicated, was not focusing on the road, was not heeding stop signs or red lights, or did not use turn signals properly. When a driver fails to act with reasonable care and, as a result, injures someone, the victim may have a claim for negligence.
Damages are the value of those costs arising from the accident – from pain and suffering to medical bills. With a negligence claim, the ultimate goal is to make the victim whole, as if the accident had never occurred. Of course, money damages can only approximately remedy the damage done to a victim. Still, because car accidents are so prevalent in South Carolina (Greenville alone had ten fatal car accidents in 2010), the availability of money damages helps to alleviate some of the burden a victim faces after an accident.
South Carolina is a comparative fault jurisdiction, which means that a victim is permitted to recover damages reduced by a percentage, depending on the victim’s fault in causing the accident.
Even with a basic understanding of negligence, for a person who has been in a car accident there is no substitute for consultation with a car accident lawyer. A lawyer will be able to apply the law to your specific case to determine what your rights are. If you are considering filing a lawsuit or believe your rights were violated as a result of a car accident, feel free to contact us or visit our website.