Is Negligent Driving a Crime?
Like other states, South Carolina has a detailed code which tells drivers what they should and should not do out on the road. Any violation of this code can possibly lead to criminal sanctions. Find out below is negligent driving a crime?
Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care when driving. No single law criminalizes negligent driving. In fact, negligence can take more forms than even the most creative person can imagine. However, the law does allow anyone injured by negligence to seek compensation. If you are hurt by a negligent driver in South Carolina, you can negotiate a settlement or file a lawsuit, and a personal injury lawyer at Surasky Law will help you do so. Contact us today to get started.
Is Negligent Driving a Crime?: The Law
Various statutes criminalize negligent driving in South Carolina. Anyone who violates these laws can receive a traffic ticket. Some of the most important are:
Section 56-5-1520. This law requires that drivers control their speed to comply with the “duty of a person to use care.”
Section 56-5-2715. This law requires that drivers stop at railroad crossings and only proceed when “exercising due care.”
Section 56-5-3230. This law requires that drivers use due care to avoid collisions with pedestrians and other motorists.
Any violation of these rules could result in criminal charges and penalties if convicted.
South Carolina also criminalizes reckless driving at section 56-5-2920. This is defined as driving in a manner that exhibits willful disregard for the safety of other people or property. It is more dangerous driving than mere negligence and can lead to the suspension of a driver’s license and possible imprisonment.
Personal Injury Lawsuits for Negligence
Regardless of whether negligence is a crime, it is a civil wrong which allows injured victims to seek compensation. Many of our clients will seek money to cover their medical expenses and lost income. Another purpose is to compensate for pain, suffering, and similar losses.
The state of South Carolina has the responsibility for enforcing the criminal law. That’s why you report a suspected crime to the police so they can investigate and present their findings to the prosecutor. If the prosecution believes there is enough evidence, they can file criminal charges and arrest a suspect. If convicted, the defendant can be put behind bars, fined, or suffer other penalties.
However, negligent driving is also a civil wrong, and accident victims have a right to pursue compensation in lawsuits that they (and not the state) file. Accident drivers can negotiate a settlement with the negligent driver or, if that fails, file a lawsuit in court.
Surasky Law has broad experience bringing personal injury claims, including Aiken car accidents. We can build a case to show that the driver who struck you did not use reasonable care while driving. Sometimes it’s a judgment call whether the driver was sufficiently careful. In other cases, negligence is obvious. Either way, accident victims need our experience to help them bring a case.
Examples of Negligent Driving
Negligence takes many forms. It can include breaking a traffic law, such as refusing to stop at a red light. But it can also include acts that might not be illegal, like swerving inside your lane. It is circumstantial.
Some common examples of accidents caused by negligent driving:
Failing to stop before making a right-hand turn on a red light
Failing to yield as you merge with traffic on the highway
Texting while driving
Talking to a child in the back seat and not paying attention to the road
Zoning out while driving
Driving too fast
Passing a motorist illegally
Failing to stop at an intersection
Driving too closely to pedestrians in the crosswalk
In each of these examples a driver has failed to use the care we expect of reasonable people when they are driving on the road. Consequently, they were negligent. And if they struck and injured a motorist or pedestrian, then they can be legally liable for the injuries and property damage.
Sometimes negligence is shared. It’s possible that an accident victim was also negligent in the lead up to any collision. For example, a pedestrian might have been jaywalking when they got struck by a speeding motorist. Or a driver might have also been looking at their phone before colliding with another car on the road.
In these examples, the accident “victim” shares some of the blame for the crash. This means they are negligent also.
Under South Carolina law, your compensation gets reduced by your portion of fault for the accident. So if you are 50% to blame, you’ll receive only half of your compensation. If you were 25% at fault, you’ll receive a quarter less.
South Carolina will also prevent you from suing if you are more at fault than the other party. This is the 51% bar, which is very unforgiving. To protect your rights, quickly contact an attorney who can review the facts to determine whether you have a solid claim.
Steps for Bringing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Negligent Driving
If you were hurt, you probably want to know what steps you can take to secure compensation. Many of our clients involved in even low-speed parking lot collisions suffer thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost income.
We recommend the following steps:
Report the accident to the police. They can investigate whether the motorist who hit you broke the law and should face punishment.
Call your insurer to report the accident. They need to know and can begin starting the claim.
Receive medical care for your injuries. This treatment improves your odds of becoming well. It also helps document your injury severity and the cost of the accident.
Call Surasky, a personal injury lawyer in Aiken, SC. An attorney can begin pulling together a claim and negotiating with insurance companies.
Call Surasky Law Today for Assistance Following a Car Accident
Our Aiken, SC personal injury car accident lawyer has obtained favorable settlements for many clients. You should call as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation to learn more about how we can help.