Car accident laws aren’t as straightforward as they seem. Some states have no-fault laws, which are very different from what most states have. While South Carolina is not a no-fault state, you still should understand what no-fault laws entail and how they can affect your ability to file a claim.
If you reside in a no-fault state, it’s not impossible to get a settlement for your damages. There are simply additional steps you’ll have to take to see if you can file your claim. After your car accident, getting the assistance of an attorney will help you determine the best approach to getting compensation.
Does South Carolina Have No-Fault Laws?
No, South Carolina does not have the no-fault law in effect. Instead, it follows an at fault model with comparative negligence. This means that so long as you are under 50% responsible for your accident, you can file a claim against the driver that caused your accident. You then negotiate with their insurance company for a settlement that covers your damages.
This is in stark contrast to what no-fault states allow for their car accident cases. As long as you have strong evidence, you can file a claim to win financial compensation. You won’t have to go through your own insurance policy to get the money you need.
Why Is Fault Important In a Car Accident Case?
Fault is crucial because it’s what you prove to show that you aren’t liable for your damages. Even if you know that your accident wasn’t your fault, you still need to prove it during negotiation or trial. Insurance companies aren’t on your side. They’ll often challenge your claims to avoid paying the full amount of compensation you deserve.
When it comes to no-fault laws, this entire process doesn’t apply. Fault isn’t as important as your own insurance policy. The courts don’t involve themselves with car accident cases unless it fits certain criteria unique to each state. South Carolina is considered an at-fault state.
What Exactly Are No-Fault Laws?
In a state that has no-fault laws, neither party is responsible for each other’s damages. If you enter into an accident, regardless of who was at fault, both parties pay for their own damages through the personal injury protection on their insurance. This system was put in place mainly to save time for the courts, but it can actually hurt your chances of getting a fair settlement.
Many consider no-fault laws to be somewhat archaic. Despite this, there are still a handful of states and territories that require no-fault insurance claims for car accidents, including:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
If you reside in one of these states or territories, then no-fault laws apply to your car accident. You will have to pay for your own damages through your insurance policy.
South Carolina’s Insurance Requirements
Because South Carolina is not a no-fault state, it requires its motorists to have sufficient insurance. The South Carolina Department of Insurance states their requirements for auto insurance coverage, which must have:
- At least $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- At least $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
- At least $25,000 for property damages per accident
These minimum requirements are in place primarily to ensure that all drivers are able to cover expenses and damages should an accident occur. You will also need to have uninsured motorist coverage as well. Driving without insurance is illegal and can result in serious consequences.
What Should I Do If I Get Into an Accident In a No-Fault State?
Even though you live in a no-fault state, you should follow the same steps as you would after a car accident. You should:
- Ensure that you and others around you are safe
- Get medical attention and call the police
- Document the scene of the accident if possible
- Get information from the other driver, witness statements, and evidence
- Avoid speaking with any insurance adjuster
- Contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible
No-fault laws are hard to navigate. There are a lot of confusing parts to it that the average person may find challenging to understand. By retaining a strong car accident attorney to help you, they can help you find a way to truly hold the at-fault driver responsible for their negligence.
Be Aware of South Carolina’s Statute of Limitations
No-fault or not, each state has a statute of limitations for how long you have to file a claim for your car accident. Most states typically have anywhere between two to four years to file your claim.
The deadline to file a claim is three years in South Carolina. Three years may seem long, but it can pass by very quickly. Don’t wait to get started and start pursuing financial compensation today.