In the state of South Carolina, a person’s ability or right to recover after being involved in a serious accident maybe controlled and conjunctively limited by the state’s laws governing negligence claims. Specifically, South Carolina is one of the many state’s that follow the rule of “modified comparative negligence.” The next logical question is what is “modified comparative negligence” and how does that differ from pure comparative negligence?
The answer can be broken down by percentages. Thus, under South Carolina’s “modified comparative negligence” rule, if a person is more then 50% at fault( even if it is 51%), as determined by the appropriate fact finder, then the plaintiff will be precluded from recovering anything. Under this modified system, the plaintiff will be permitted to a ” partial recovery.” Under partial recovery, the law states that any percentage of fault on the plaintiff’s part will be reduced and then deducted from the final compensation/settlement amount.
Conversely, under the pure comparative negligence rule, the degree of fault exercised by the plaintiff will not bar recovery, even if the plaintiff is found to be 90% at fault. In other words, the plaintiff can recover some percentage from the defendant regardless of the extent to which they were responsible for the accident. However, the amount of recovery maybe reduced by fault, just as in the modified comparative negligence theory explained above for partial recovery..
So, let’s put these two theories to the test and use a hypothetical to further explain. Let’s say that there was a serious car accident involving only one plaintiff, and one defendant. The facts of the accident are essentially moot, as the focus of this discussion is based upon the method of recovery. Thus, the two parties, after much deliberation, go to court and it is found that the plaintiff is 40% at fault, and the defendant is found to be 60% at fault. The settlement amount has been determined to be $100,000.
Under the modified comparative negligence theory, the plaintiff would only be entitled to recover $60,000, as they were 40% at fault and the settlement was for an even $100,000. This is not to say that the defendant will be awarded the remaining $40,000, but rather that the amount the defendant( or his insurance company) is to pay will be reduced to that $60,000 amount.
Now, let’s change the facts a bit and say that the plaintiff was found to be 60% at fault and the defendant was only 40% at fault. Under South Carolina’s rule, the plaintiff would be barred from recovering anything, because they degree of fault has crossed over that 50% threshold in the aforementioned paragraphs.
However, under the pure comparative negligence theory, the plaintiff would still be entitled to some recovery; however only for the $40,000, as they were found to be 60% at fault.
Thus, in the event that you or a loved one find yourself involved in any sort of serious accident or personal injury, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP to talk to one our our experienced personal injury attorneys today toll free at (877) 374-5999