In South Carolina, two things must be present in a claim for personal injury: Liability or fault, and Damages or injuries.
As a passenger in a motor vehicle collision, liability is rarely an issue, because the driver of either car can be liable for your injuries. Either the driver of the other car was at fault for your wreck, or the driver of the car you were in caused the wreck.
Of course, there are always exceptions. For example, if a large animal runs out of the trees and runs across the road and the driver of your car hits it, then the driver of your car may not be found liable for your injuries.
Filing A Claim in South Carolina
In South Carolina, drivers and passengers file a claim for personal injury in the same manner.
If the accident involved two or more cars, then a passenger could file a claim against all the drivers involved. However, if one person clearly was not at fault for the accident, such as in a rear-end collision, then there would not be a reason to file a claim against the driver who was rear-ended.
It is important that a passenger who is injured in a wreck gets the insurance information from all of the drivers involved and contacts their insurance companies to file a claim. A passenger should also seek medical treatment immediately and should not try to settle their case until medical treatment is complete.
The Greenville, South Carolina attorneys at David R. Price, Jr., P.A. advise that any passenger injured in a car accident should retain the services of a qualified personal injury attorney to help you handle your claim. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf in order to obtain the best compensation possible.
Disputed Liability in SC Car Accidents
If there is a multi-car accident where each driver disputes liability, it can delay how quickly a passenger will receive compensation for his injuries.
In some cases, there may be a dispute between the drivers and their insurance companies as to who was at fault for running a red traffic light. For example, a driver who is making a left turn and is in the center of the intersection may turn when the light turns red to clear the intersection. Another driver might drive through the intersection and hit that car. In that case, there may be a dispute as to who was a fault. If the driver who hit the turning car entered the intersection with a green light, then the driver turning left was at fault for failing to yield, but if the driver who hit the turning car entered at a red light, then the driver who hit the turning car is at fault for disregarding a traffic signal.
Joint Tortfeasor Liability in South Carolina
Sometimes an insurance company may believe both drivers share fault for a collision. In these cases, insurance companies may delay paying a passenger compensation for his injuries while they argue about the percentage of liability each driver has for the accident that caused the passenger’s injuries.
The reason for this type of dispute is that in South Carolina, where multiple parties are responsible for a plaintiff’s injuries (i.e., there are “joint tortfeasors”), each defendant is responsible only for the percentage of a plaintiff’s damages that corresponds with their percentage of fault.
For example, in a wreck where one car pulls out from a stop sign in front of another vehicle, the vehicle that has the right of way may have been speeding and so would also have some liability. If that case were tried to a jury, the jury would be required to determine the percentage of a fault that each driver bears for the collision. If the speeding driver was determined to be 10% at fault for the collision, he would be responsible for paying 10% of the plaintiff’s damages.
Injury Claims for Multiple Passengers
Sometimes more than one passenger is injured in a South Carolina automobile accident. If three separate passengers are injured, they all may have a claim against the driver who was negligent. If the total value of all of the passengers’ personal injury claims exceeds that driver’s insurance, then the passengers may have to settle their cases with the driver who was at fault for less money than their cases were worth.
Why You Need A Car Accident Attorney in South Carolina
Experienced Greenville, South Carolina car wreck attorney David R. Price, Jr. strongly encourages any passenger injured in a car accident to hire a qualified attorney. If you are a passenger in a car accident, then your case will require the careful investigation and analysis of all aspects of your accident.
In addition, if a claim involves disputed liability or joint tortfeasors than a competent attorney will be able to skillfully negotiate with all insurance companies involved to ensure you receive all of the compensation for your injuries that you deserve.