The basis for most personal injury claims in South Carolina is the negligence “cause of action.”  Basically, if someone has been injured, and they want the law to provide them with relief, that person must file a complaint that includes a cause of action that the law recognizes.  While there are other causes of action that can provide the basis for relief in personal injury cases, like strict liability, express warranties, and implied warranties, negligence is the most common because the facts that give rise to a negligence claim are comparatively common.  The scenario is that one person does not act with reasonable care and they cause injury to another person.  In all likelihood, the second person will have a negligence claim against the first, whether that person caused a car accident, accidentally hit the person, or built a shoddy house.

For a plaintiff to succeed in civil court on a negligence claim, they must prove by a preponderance of the evidence each of the following five elements of the negligence cause of action:

  1. Duty
  2. Breach
  3. Actual Causation
  4. Proximate (legal) Causation, and
  5. Damages.

Less formally, negligence can be seen as involving only three elements: negligence (duty and breach), causation (both actual and legal), and damages.  In most case, like perhaps the most common case of negligence, auto accidents, this analysis will be sufficient.  However, to fully explain the close cases, where it may not be clear whether a party was negligent, elaboration of all five elements is necessary.

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