Did you know that South Carolina is home to the UFO Welcome Center? Turns out it’s in Bowman, SC in case any alien visitors need a rest stop during their intergalactic travels. But for regular earthlings, it’s important to be aware of South Carolina car accident laws when driving through the state.
That’s because data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates South Carolina is the most dangerous state for drivers. According to their research, there are more fatal crashes in the state per 100 million miles traveled than anywhere else.
If you’re a resident of South Carolina, it’s important to know your state’s auto accident laws. To help you demystify the rules of the road, check out the rest of this complete guide. The more information you have, the better your chances of a positive settlement in case a car crash happens.
What to Do After a Car Accident in South Carolina
In the moments after a collision, check for injuries and get people to safety. If it seems anyone needs medical attention, call 911. Time is of the essence.
After confirming everyone’s safety, call the police. South Carolina law requires individuals to report accidents that cause $1,000 in property damage or result in injuries or death. This is pursuant to South Carolina Code (SCC) §56-5-1270.
If the police investigate the accident, then the driver does not have to personally submit a report. If not, the motor vehicle owner has 15 days to send a written statement along with verification of liability insurance. This includes form FR-309 “Traffic Collision Report” and insurance verification form FR-10.
Info to Gather at the Scene of the Crash
In addition to calling 911 and the police, you’ll also want to gather as many details as possible pertaining to the crash. This includes exchanging information with the other driver. Be sure to ask for or take photos of the following:
- Contact info (full name, address, phone, email)
- Car registration and insurance card
- Driver’s license and license plate
- Car make, model, and color
If there are witnesses at the scene, ask for their contact information. Also take photos of the vehicle damage, as well as all surrounding landmarks, signs, traffic lights, etc.
Make sure to never say anything incriminating or apologize after a car crash as your settlement may be reduced due to being found at-fault for the accident. You may not take into account future damages or injuries after a car accident as well.
How to Request a South Carolina Car Accident Report
A police officer is responsible for filing a car accident report within 24 hours of completing the investigation of a crash. Any driver wishing to see a copy may obtain one by contacting the South Carolina DMV. Submit form FR-50 “Request for Copy of Collision Report,” which is available online here.
South Carolina Insurance Claim Laws
The South Carolina Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act requires automobile owners to carry insurance minimums to cover accident liability (SCC §56-9-10).
Under this law, drivers must carry a minimum of:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury in one accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury for all persons in one accident.
- $25,000 for property damages resulting from one accident.
South Carolina car accident law also mandates that drivers must have uninsured motorist coverage. The minimums here are the same as for liability (25/50/25) and usually involve a $200 deductible.
Auto insurers must also offer drivers underinsured motorist coverage, but it’s not a requirement for you to purchase. This can be a smart policy addition in case the other driver carries only minimal coverage. If the at-fault driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your damages or medical bills, your UIM insurance will pay the difference.
Additional Insurance Coverage in South Carolina
South Carolina drivers may consider adding collision or comprehensive coverage to their policies. These add-ons are optional but will cover physical damages to the driver’s own car.
Collision coverage pays for damages to your car if it crashes into another car or object. If there is extensive damage that would cost more to repair than it’s worth, most insurers will total the vehicle. The “totaled” threshold — per SCC §56-19-480(G) — says the car’s damage must be at least 75% of its Actual Cash Value.
Comprehensive coverage allows car owners to find coverage for other sources of damages like fire, vandalism, theft, falling objects, and animal collisions. Broken windshields usually enter this category as well.
Though South Carolina law doesn’t require collision or comprehensive coverage, some lenders do so it’s wise to check.
Anyone with insurance questions should contact the South Carolina Department of Insurance by email at [email protected]. You can also call 803-737-6180 or toll free at 800-768-3467, Monday through Friday during business hours.
Is South Carolina a No-Fault State?
No, South Carolina is an at-fault state. This means anyone who causes a car accident in South Carolina will be financially responsible. This includes payments for physical injuries as well as property damage.
Provided that you are not more than 50% at-fault for the car accident, you can still request compensation for damages. However, whatever your percentage of liability is will reduce the damages you may collect as well.
If there are multiple parties, your liability share must be less than any involved party you are suing for damages. And your fault percentage will still reduce your potential damages by that amount.
South Carolina Car Accident Laws and Liability
South Carolina car accident laws do require that all drivers on the road owe other drivers reasonable duty. That means reckless driving by another driver will strengthen your case for a settlement.
South Carolina’s modified comparative fault laws come into play when an auto accident case goes to court. Judges and juries will also have to abide by these laws when determining compensatory awards.
Keep in mind that insurance claim adjusters will typically use these percentages as a guide as well when evaluating your case.
Accordingly, it’s a smart idea to consult with an attorney after an auto accident with damages in the mix. That’s because there is no mathematical formula for determining fault percentages. Achieving a fair settlement may come down to negotiation tactics or winning the sympathy of a judge and jury.
Damages Available After a South Carolina Car Accident
The person at-fault in a South Carolina car accident will be responsible for paying damages to those victims. There are three types of damages available for car accident victims in South Carolina. Those include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
These are the quantifiable damages resulting from a car accident. Examples include:
- The cost of past and future medical treatments
- Lost income and wages because of the accident
- Rehabilitation costs
- Vehicle repair bills
- Loss of use of property
These are the non-measurable losses a victim may experience from the accident. Examples per SCC §15-32-200 include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional stress
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of companionship or consortium
Non-economic damages are harder to prove so make sure to keep detailed records that illustrate evidence of these claims.
The laws in South Carolina require that all drivers owe it to others to exercise reasonable duty behind the wheel. This means they must show care for other drivers on the road. Violations of that duty might include speeding, drunk driving, or running a red light.
Punitive damages may come into play when a crash results from extreme recklessness or lack of attention by the defendant. An individual may not ask for a specific dollar amount with punitive damages. However, SCC §15-32-510 says victims may request consideration for punitive damages within a claim for willful, wanton, or reckless behavior.
Statute of Limitations in South Carolina
According to SCC §15-3-530, a victim of a car crash has three years from the date of the incident to file a claim for damages.
Note that this is the statute of limitations for civil cases resulting from the accident, not for filing insurance claims.
For personal injury and property damage cases, the three-year countdown starts on the date of the accident. However, in the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, the clock starts on the day the victim passes away. This date may be later than the date of the accident itself.
South Carolina laws are strict when it comes to the statute of limitations. Therefore, it’s important for anyone considering filing a civil lawsuit to remain aware of these deadlines.
LegalASAP Will Connect You with an Auto Accident Lawyer in Your Area
South Carolina has high accident rates, and their comparative negligence laws can make achieving positive settlements tricky.
Instead of trying to manage the process solo, consider letting LegalASAP connect you with a qualified auto accident lawyer.
Not only can an attorney help clear up confusion, but it won’t cost you anything out of pocket upfront. That’s because our lawyers work on contingency. So you can be sure they’ll also be working to get the best deal for you.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit: www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann