Whenever we meet with new clients, we ask them to tell us about their car wreck. Almost every time, they tell us that the other driver was completely at fault. It’s hard to explain to them that rarely is one party ever 100% at fault. Usually, both parties are partially responsible for a car accident. The reason it’s so important that people understand this is that it will affect their car wreck lawsuit. Greenville injury lawyers can only get their clients damages if they can prove fault. Doing that is not always as easy as you may think.
Here, we’ll discuss how our Greenville car accident attorneys determine fault. We’ll also explain what happens if the court finds that you are partially at fault. If you still have concerns after reading this article, just give our office a call. One of our experienced Greenville car wreck lawyers can sit down with you and answer any questions you may have.
Before You Collect Damages from a Car Wreck, You Need to Prove Negligence
The most common way of proving fault is by showing the defendant is negligent. This is the standard our attorneys use in almost all of their personal injury lawsuits. In order to prove negligence, you need to demonstrate the following 4 elements:
Duty of Care
Your lawyer must show that the defendant owed you a duty of care. This element isn’t hard to prove in a motor vehicle accident. All drivers owe other motorists a duty of care. At a minimum, they must obey all traffic laws in South Carolina. They also need to use common sense.
Breach of Duty
The hardest part of most car wreck lawsuits is proving that the defendant breached their duty of care. To do this, your Greenville injury lawyer must show that the defendant didn’t behave the way a normal driver would have. For example, if you can show that the defendant got a ticket at the scene of the crash, that would go a long way toward determining fault.
The same is true if the police report indicates the other driver caused the crash. The police may have confirmed that the other driver was texting at the time of the crash. Or perhaps they were driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If this happens, it won’t be hard to prove they breached their duty of care.
It’s not enough that you were involved in a car wreck. Your Greenville car accident attorney also needs to prove that you were hurt. This can be done using medical records. It can also be done using copies of medical bills and other receipts of out-of-pocket expenses you paid.
You will have to show that your injuries were caused by the crash. If you had a pre-existing condition, it can be hard to prove causation. This is why we always tell our clients to go to the hospital immediately following their car crash. This is the only way to prove that nothing intervened to cause your injuries.
If your Greenville car accident attorney is able to prove these 4 elements, it’ll go a long way toward determining fault.
The Defendant is Going to Claim You Caused the Crash
While your Greenville injury lawyer is working hard to prove the other driver caused the crash, they’re doing the same thing. They have hired an attorney to prove that you were at fault. This means that there’s a good chance you’ll be found to be partially at fault. If this happens, it will impact your damages.
In South Carolina, if you’re partially at fault for your accident, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. This is because South Carolina follows the comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, a plaintiff may still recover damages as long as they are less than 51% at fault. However, your damages are reduced by the percentage of fault. This means that if your damages were $100,000, and you were found to be 20% at fault, your damages will be reduced by $20,000.
Your attorney is aware of this. When they enter settlement negotiations, they will be ready for the defendant’s lawyer to bring this up. While they’ll be willing to concede somewhat, they aren’t going to settle for an unfair amount. They’ll make sure you’re comfortable with whatever amount they agree on.
There Is a Good Chance Your Greenville Car Accident Attorney Will Settle Your Claim
Because there’s always the chance that you could be found to be at fault, your attorney will try to settle your case. You’re much better off settling for a lump sum than going to trial and losing. The last thing you want to do is walk away with nothing.
When you settle your case, you’ll get a guaranteed amount. Even if you went to court and won, there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever see your money. If the defendant has no insurance, you’ll be at the mercy of their financial picture. If they have no assets, you may never see a dime.
It also makes sense to settle. If you go to trial, your lawyer is going to spend a lot of money preparing your case. They may need to hire accident reconstruction specialists or expert witnesses. These experts cost a lot of money, even if they only show up to court for a few hours. Rather than spend this money on trial, you can put it toward your settlement.
Contact an Experienced Greenville Injury Lawyer Right Away
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you probably suffered some serious injuries. If you hire an experienced Greenville injury lawyer, they’ll take care of the legal side of things. This frees you up to focus on your physical recovery.
All you need to do is call and schedule your free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to sit down with an attorney who’s handled plenty of cases like yours in the past. They know how to negotiate with the insurance companies and will work hard to settle your case.
Call today and set up a date and time that works for you.