Can I Claim Personal Injury if It Was My Fault?
Can I claim personal injury if it was my fault is a common question, and we are glad to help answer it so that injured victims better understand their rights following an accident. The answer will depend on the state where your accident occurred.
In South Carolina, you can only pursue a personal injury claim against a defendant if their fault did not exceed 50%. However, if you are involved in a car accident, some no-fault insurance might come into play.
Some accidents are very clear cut. However, fault is less clear in other accidents. Comparative fault applies to all accidents, not just car accidents. For example, a slip and fall. The best thing to do when you are unsure of fault is to bring the case to a lawyer with Surasky who can analyze the facts.
Comparative Fault in South Carolina
The general rule in South Carolina is that you can bring a personal injury claim provided you were not more at fault than other parties. In practice, this means you can be up to 50% to blame but not a hair over. If you were more than 50% to blame, you can’t sue in court—and you can’t receive payment for a bodily injury liability claim.
As mentioned above, facts might be in dispute, and you might not think you are primarily responsible for the accident. Comparative fault is often a contested issue in personal injury cases. You should hire an attorney as soon as possible to begin collecting evidence to make a strong case for you.
Comparative Fault in Other States
Not every state follows South Carolina’s rule. In North Carolina, for example, any fault on a person's part will bar a lawsuit. So an accident victim could be only 1% to blame, but that is enough to prevent them from receiving any compensation. It’s an unforgiving rule.
Other states have more liberal rules. Florida uses a “pure comparative fault” scheme. Under this rule, a victim can always sue for personal injury even if they are 99% to blame. So long as someone else bears at least 1% responsibility, a victim can sue.
You should understand the laws in other states because you might get into an accident there. For example, you could drive into North Carolina and get into a wreck. If so, then that state’s laws usually apply to determine fault.
Medical Payments Coverage & Other No-Fault Insurance
Not all insurance is fault-based. You might also have no-fault insurance, which as the name implies will pay compensation regardless of fault.
In South Carolina, many drivers have medical payments coverage. This insurance pays for medical care up to the policy limit after a car accident. We always recommend that drivers carry as much medical payments coverage as they can afford because it might be the only source of funds after a crash. When buying insurance, ask how much medical payments coverage will cost you. Unfortunately, most drivers in South Carolina have a policy worth only a few thousand dollars, and some insurers won’t offer more.
Other states require that their drivers carry personal injury protection insurance, called PIP. It is similar to medical payments coverage, though other states mandate that their drivers carry it. Again, in South Carolina, medical payments coverage is optional.
Damage to Your Vehicle
If you are involved in a car accident, you could also get your car fixed using collision insurance. Collision is no fault, so you can use it to fix your car even where you were responsible for the wreck.
Misconceptions about Fault
We have heard many myths about faults and accidents. Some of the most common are:
Myth #1: You are always at fault if you hit another car. This simply is not true. Fault is determined by reviewing the circumstances of an accident. For example, you might have been driving safely when someone pulls out directly in front of you. If an accident was unavoidable, then you are not at fault even if you struck the other vehicle.
Myth #2: Fault is usually divided 50/50. Wrong! Fault is divided according to the facts. We rely on all sorts of evidence, including dashcam footage, witness testimony, and physical evidence to determine fault.
Myth #3: If you admit fault, you are to blame. This is only partially true. Any statement you make can be used to establish fault—that’s true. But, still, we must view all evidence. You might have apologized for hitting someone. However, that kind of statement is not enough to conclusively establish fault.
Myth #4: Comparative fault only applies to car accidents. Again, that’s wrong. Comparative fault applies to all accidents, including slip and falls, negligent security, and other premises liability claims. We have talked mostly about car accidents, but that’s because they are the most common accidents people experience.
Our legal team is available to field any question you have. It is vital to receive accurate, timely information, so please do not hesitate to contact us.
Call an Aiken, SC Personal Injury Lawyer to Learn More
Receiving compensation after an accident is a priority. With the cost of medical care exploding, many victims could be bankrupted treating their injuries. At Surasky Law, we strive to obtain as much compensation as possible for our clients. We never assume they are always to blame. Instead, we carefully comb through the evidence to determine whether our clients can seek compensation against someone else for their injuries. Contact us to learn more.