In 2021, the United States had nearly 43,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents. There were roughly 1.34 fatal crashes per million miles traveled. Unfortunately, South Carolina had one of the highest fatality rates in the United States — 1.97 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. There were 962 fatal crashes and 1,064 fatalities because of car accidents in total in South Carolina during 2020.
Even accidents that occur and do not result in a fatality can come with huge losses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), non-fatal car accidents will cost roughly $55 billion in lost wages and medical expenses. As a result, even non-fatal crashes can affect victims for years to come.
A South Carolina car accident attorney can provide the help and guidance you or your loved ones need after an accident. They can deal with the insurance company, assist with getting the right medical care, and assert your rights in court. Ultimately, a South Carolina car accident lawyer helps victims get their lives back on track after an accident. They focus on the legal aspect of your situation so you can focus on healing.
South Carolina Overview
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that there was one traffic collision every 4.3 minutes in South Carolina. That translates to approximately one fatal collision every nine hours and one injury crash every 16 minutes. There was also approximately one property damage crash every six minutes.
Unfortunately, drivers and passengers were not wearing seatbelts in 53% of fatal accidents. The other top contributing factors for all accidents during 2020 included:
- Driving too fast for conditions (33,967 accidents)
- Failure to yield the right of way (24,093 collisions)
- Improper lane usage or change (10,115 accidents)
- Followed too closely (8,142 collisions)
- Distraction or inattention (7,427 accidents)
Driving under the influence accounted for 213 fatal collisions, the top reason these devastating crashes occurred.
As of December 2021, there were 1,005 crash fatalities in South Carolina, a record year for traffic fatalities. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety noted that these numbers were so high in 2021 because drivers were not “doing the right thing” while driving. Incidents were often caused by driving under the influence and speeding. Simply being unaware of things around drivers also led to frequent accidents.
When a fault is clear, having an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney on your side is often the best way to understand your legal rights and assert them properly.
As of August 2022, South Carolina is on track to have the highest number of traffic fatalities in the United States. They have the highest number of at-fault drivers on the road at 12%. However, there are currently 704 fatalities in 2022, 98 fewer than in 2021.
The term “negligence” is legal jargon for carelessness or recklessness. When someone is negligent and causes an accident that leads to injuries or fatal accidents, they are legally responsible for those damages. However, proving injuries, property damage, and other losses can be difficult. As a car accident victim, you must show that the other driver caused your injuries and losses.
Each element of a car accident claim is outlined below. Your South Carolina car accident lawyer can assist in proving each of these factors.
Non-commercial motorists have a duty of reasonable care. That means they must act reasonably while driving in South Carolina, given the driving conditions.
Duty in a car accident case is easy to prove because every driver must act reasonably on the road; the duty is essentially assumed in car accident cases.
The driver’s duty to operate their vehicle safely must have been breached in a car accident case. For example, in most circumstances, it is unreasonable to ignore the rules of the road, such as speed limits and staying in your lane. Driving recklessly or carelessly and failing to maintain control of a vehicle can all lead to a violation of the duty of care.
You must prove two categories of “cause” in every car accident case. First, the breach of duty must have resulted in the accident. That is, a driver might have run a red light, but if ignoring the light happened two blocks before they hit your car, running the light might not matter.
Second, your injuries after the accident must have been caused by the accident. If you broke your ankle after the accident, that will be pretty easy to prove. However, not all injuries are that straightforward. You might need to work with your South Carolina car accident lawyer to prove your injuries after a collision.
Lastly, you must also show that there were some damages caused by the accident. Compensation after an accident is supposed to put the injured person back in a position as if the accident had never happened. If you do not have any injuries, then monetary damages may not be awarded.
Keep in mind, however, you might not realize how much a car accident can affect your life until long after the crash. A South Carolina car accident attorney will help you work through these injuries and damages to assert the true cost of all of your losses.
Negligence Per Se
“Negligence per se” is a legal term that describes a situation where proving fault is virtually automatic. That is, engaging in a certain activity is almost always negligent, no matter the situation. In South Carolina, violating a statute will constitute “negligence per se.”
Examples of actions that might trigger negligence per se in South Carolina include:
- Driving outside of the lane of traffic
- Running stop lights or stop signs
- Ignoring posted traffic signs and notices
- Failing to give the right of way
Every situation is different, and there are some exceptions to South Carolina driving statutes. Talk to a South Carolina car accident lawyer to learn more about negligence per se in South Carolina.
There are many situations where more than one person is at fault for a car accident, and that person might be you — the plaintiff who is asserting a legal claim against another driver. What happens when you are also at fault for an accident? Talking to a South Carolina car accident lawyer will help you find an answer.
South Carolina is a "modified comparative negligence state," meaning a car accident victim can recover financial damages if they're less than 51% at fault for the crash. If they are 51% or more at fault, then they will not receive any damages.
When there are multiple defendants, the amount of negligence for the plaintiff must not exceed the combined negligence of all of the defendants. Even if no one defendant is more than 51% at fault, a plaintiff could recover against them — as long as the plaintiff is less than 51% at fault. Cases involving several defendants are particularly complicated, and working with a South Carolina car accident attorney can help you properly assert your legal claim against more than one defendant.
Compensation Available to Personal Injury Victims
Personal injury victims are private individuals seeking compensation to put them back where they would have been if the accident or injury had never occurred. The compensation is usually in the form of money, but it can involve other remedies as well. However, monetary compensation is often the only way that the law in South Carolina can even attempt to compensate victims for losses that are often extremely severe or personal.
In most cases, you can receive forms of compensation. However, what types of compensation are available to you will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. Talk to a South Carolina car accident lawyer for more information about money damages you might be able to receive after a car accident.
Recovering after an accident can take time. While you are healing, you may not be able to work. In serious accidents, you may not be capable of returning to the same line of work in which you worked before the accident. You may have physical or mental limitations that could limit your ability to work at all.
Personal injury claims consider all of these new limitations and compensate you for these losses. For some, it may just mean a few days’ work. For others, it may mean the wage loss associated with a permanent or long-term career change.
A South Carolina car accident lawyer will help you work through the difficult task of estimating how long you might be unable to work. They can also engage experts (including vocational and medical experts) to help make these estimates and predictions.
It is no secret that medical costs can be extremely high, particularly if you do not have insurance to help front some of those expenses. Compensation is available after a personal injury claim for any medical expenses directly resulting from the accident or injury. This often includes situations where a prior condition or injury was aggravated because of the incident.
Keep in mind that you might recover for expenses that others have paid (such as your health insurance company), but you may have to reimburse whoever paid those expenses from your recovery after a settlement or trial. A South Carolina car accident attorney will help you address these liens and reimbursements as part of your car accident case.
Pain and Suffering
You must work through physical and mental pain and suffering when you are personally injured. Unfortunately, there is no way to compensate victims for this type of loss in any real sense. Instead, the legal system offers compensation in monetary terms to provide some type of reimbursement for pain and suffering.
In some cases, pain and suffering awards are minimal, but they can also make up the brunt of the award in other claims. Your South Carolina car accident attorney can give you an estimate of what your pain and suffering compensation will be worth based on the unique facts of your case.
Property Loss and Damage
In most car accident cases, there will be at least some property damage. That damage might be just to the vehicle involved in the crash. However, it might also include property that was harmed within the vehicle as well. Electronics (tablets, GPS systems, sound systems, etc.) are perhaps the most common property damage resulting from a car accident.
Emotional Distress and Loss of Enjoyment of Life
In many cases, a car accident may cause emotional distress and damages that can have a lasting effect on your life. Like pain and suffering damages, loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress damages are not associated with a hard dollar figure.
Instead, your South Carolina car accident lawyer will review your unique situation and help you determine what kind of compensation might be available to you to address the emotional and mental damages caused by the car accident.
Personal Injury Settlements
Not every personal injury case will make it to court. In fact, roughly 90% of cases are settled out of court. Many cases are settled even before you have to formally file a complaint or petition with the court. In those situations, you or your South Carolina car accident attorney will often work with an insurance company or the at-fault driver to come to a mutually agreeable compensation package.
Unfortunately, insurance companies sometimes try to take advantage of victims that do not know or understand what their case is truly worth. They often talk victims into settling for far less than what their case would have been worth in front of a jury or judge. For this reason and others, it is important to speak with an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney about your claim so you can work with him or her to get the compensation you deserve.
Crash Information in South Carolina’s Largest Cities
South Carolina's diverse population spreads out along its 32,020 square miles. With a large portion along the coast, densely populated areas vary from seaside cities to landlocked bustling towns.
Below are some key car accident statistics in each of South Carolina’s five largest cities. South Carolina divides car accident statistics by county. Some of the information below overlaps depending on the county in which the city is located. Comprehensive analysis is available for 2020; all information below is up-to-date as of the 2020 report unless stated otherwise.
Charleston, South Carolina, is located in Charleston County and Berkeley County. It has a population of 151,612, which climbed roughly 53% from 2000 to 2021. Although it has the largest population, it is the second-largest city by area in South Carolina.
Charleston is also located in Berkeley County. Berkeley County had 49 fatal collisions and 234 serious injury accidents. The top areas for accidents in Berkeley County were:
The top contributing factor for accidents in Berkeley County was driving too fast for conditions.
Columbia, South Carolina, is the second-largest city in South Carolina. It is home to 137,541 people as of 2021, which is the largest its population has ever been. It is located in both Lexington County and Richland County.
Lexington County had 42 fatal collisions, 81 serious injury crashes, and 6,787 total collisions in 2020. The most common reasons crashes occurred were driving too fast and failure to yield the right of way. The top roadways for collisions during 2020 in Lexington County were:
Richland County had 49 fatal crashes, 125 serious injury accidents, and 10,617 total collisions in 2020. Again, driving too fast and failure to yield were the most common reasons that accidents happened in Richland County as well.
North Charleston, SC, spans three counties: Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester. North Charleston really is just north of Charleston, and the areas blend together somewhat. According to numbers from 2021, 117,472 people call North Charleston home.
Dorchester County had 3,237 total collisions in 2020. Of those, 22 involved fatalities, and 50 involved serious injuries. There were 713 “other” injury crashes as well.
There are 92,398 people living in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. The city is currently at its peak population. It has grown a huge 89% since 2000. In fact, it has been growing 92% faster than similarly sized cities since 2000. It is located entirely in Charleston County.
Charleston County had 68 fatal collisions in 2020. It also had 234 accidents that led to serious injuries as well. The top roadways in Charleston County with fatalities and accidents included:
The top contributing factor for crashes in Charleston County was driving too fast for conditions and failure to yield the right of way.
The population of Rock Hill, South Carolina, was 74,102 as of 2021. It is the only city in the top five that has actually declined in population since 2020. Although the decline is slight (0.1%), it is unique compared to other more populated areas of South Carolina.
Rock Hills falls entirely in York County. In 2020, York County had 5,456 total collisions. Of those, 36 were fatal, and 105 involved serious injuries. In addition, 1,313 collisions were reported as “other” injuries.
The top roadways in York County for crashes included:
There were also 49 crashes at the intersection of I-77 and SC-460 alone.
Driver inattention or distraction was the top reason that crashes occurred in York County. The second most common cause was driving too fast for the conditions.
Contact a South Carolina car accident attorney for more information about your rights after a car accident.