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What is comparative negligence in personal injury cases?

If a person suffers an injury in an accident and chooses to seek compensation for said injury, a lot of factors are taken into consideration before it is decided whether compensation will be granted. South Carolina, like many other states, has contributory and comparative negligence laws. These laws can make it difficult to receive what one might consider full compensation for injuries suffered in an accident.

When an accident happens, one of the first things that is determined is who is at fault. In some cases, determining who is at fault is cut and dry, but, in others, further investigation may be needed to determine liability. When taking a personal injury claim to court in South Carolina, due to the state's contributory and comparative negligence laws, liability of all involved parties, including the plaintiff, will be taken into consideration before any compensation is awarded or denied.

If a plaintiff is found to have contributed to an accident in any way, he or she may be held partially responsible for his or her own injuries. Under traditional contributory laws, this tends to lead to blaming victims and denying compensation. Comparative negligence, on the other hand, essentially assigns a percentage of fault to each party. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 20 percent responsible for an injury suffered in an accident, that 20 percent would be deducted from any compensation awarded. However, if a plaintiff is found equally responsible for an injury, he or she may not be awarded anything.

Personal injury cases can be complex and may seem long and drawn out. While contributory and comparative negligence laws -- which can be confusing and do not apply to all injury cases -- are in place for good reason, they can certainly make victims in South Carolina feel as if the law is not on their side. Legal assistance is available to help victims of accidents receive fair and full compensation for any damages.

Source: scstatehouse.gov, "Code of Laws: Chapter 38 - South Carolina Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act", Accessed on March 23, 2015

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