South Carolina Auto Accident Laws
Whether you are driving in Charleston, Myrtle Beach or Spartanburg, there are thousands of miles of scenic roads in South Carolina. Road in this growing state are used by at least three million drivers every day, who each average 10,000 miles per year. If you are planning to live, work or visit the Palmetto State, it is important to know the car accident laws, rules and insurance liability basics in case you are ever in an accident.
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Statistics & Notable Car Accident Settlements
The 2012 US Census found there were 4.7 million people in the state with an increasing population from the last census. But there was a slight decline in fatal accidents from 2008 to 2009: 841 to 817. Of the fatalities caused in those years, most of them were caused by pickup trucks. There were 31,053 total car accidents in 2008 and 31,086 in 2009. In 2012, there were 863 fatalities in South Carolina car accidents, which was an increase of 35 over the year before. Of these crashes, 533 of them were single vehicle, 316 involved speeding and 477 involved a roadway departure. The same year, there were 358
Below are specific accidents types with fatalities for 2008 and 2009:
- Tractor trailers: 55 and 71 deaths for 2008 and 2009, respectively.
- Motorcycles: 112 and 95
- Pedal cycles: 15 and 13
- Pedestrians: 101 and 90
- Trains: 4 and 5
- Motorized bikes: 13 and 18
- School bus: 3 and 4
- SUVs: 197 and 214
- Vans: 71 and 59
- Pickup trucks: 215 and 244
Like many growing states, South Carolina has many careless and reckless drivers. Below are the most common reasons for car accidents in the state in 2009:
- Disregarded turn signals: 35 deaths
- Distraction: 21 deaths
- Driving too fast: 143 deaths
- Failure to yield right of way: 77 deaths
- Ran off road: 48 deaths
- Fatigue: 11 deaths
- DUI: 282 deaths
- Wrong way driving: 45 deaths
One of the more unfortunate car accidents that has occurred recently was one that killed two young high school graduates in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. The South Carolina Highway Patrol reported that an SUV with three people inside ran off the road, killing an 18 year old and 21 year old man. One of young men died at the scene and the other passed away during surgery. Troopers said the 18-year-old was thrown from the SUV. Both dead graduated in the last three years from nearby Landrum High School.
Another serious accident occurred recently in Spartanburg County near Inman that also killed a teacher. The teacher was killed when he was cycling. The woman who hit him has been charged with reckless homicide. He was a 53-year-old teacher and father of two who taught at the local junior high school.
The woman allegedly fled the scene of the crash in July 2017 and was arrested six months later. She allegedly ran into the rear of the man’s bike at high speed. Witnesses allege the woman was using a phone and speeding 17 MPH above the 45 MPH speed limit when she hit him. The accused stopped approximately 300 feet from the accident but then left the scene.
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South Carolina Accident Settlement Taxes
According to federal and South Carolina state laws, some portions of a personal injury settlement may be taxable and others not. For example, any personal injury compensation that is for your medical expenses is not taxable as income. This is the case for compensation for medical bills, treatments, prescriptions and physical therapy.
South Carolina law states that any settlement compensation that is paid to compensate for your physical injuries is not subject to tax. However, the question can get cloudy when you are trying to understand the difference between damages for physical injuries and those for pain and suffering.
The settlement amount for your lost income is likely subject to taxation. The premise is that you are getting compensation and made whole for your lost income that, if the injury had not occurred, you would have been taxed on anyway. Note that if you get compensation for lost wages in a lump sum, this can put you into a higher tax bracket.
In a few South Carolina personal injury cases, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages punish the defendant and are not compensatory for the plaintiff. Thus, they are subject to tax at the federal and South Carolina state levels.
South Carolina Negligence Laws
South Carolina follows a comparative negligence standard in motor vehicle accidents. You are not barred from recovering damages in a lawsuit if your negligence in the accident was not more than the defendants. This means you need to be less than 51% at fault to recover damages. This is different than North Carolina, where if you are at all at fault for the accident, you are barred from recovering damages. For this reason, filing a lawsuit in South Carolina is generally regarded as easier than North Carolina.
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South Carolina Car Accident Statute of Limitations
You have three years from the date of the car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. If a person is killed in the accident, you have three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Auto Insurance Requirements in South Carolina
You are required to carry a minimum of auto insurance in South Carolina. The current minimums under state law are:
- $25,000 and $50,000 for bodily injury
- $25,000 for property damage liability
- $25,000 and $50,000 for uninsured motorist bodily injury
- $25,000 with a $200 deductible for uninsured motorist property damage
Other South Carolina Driving Laws
As of late 2014, there is a state texting and driving law. It applies to all drivers but it only has a $25 fine for first time violations. There is a bill under consideration as of 2018 in the state legislature that would increase fines for texting and driving to between $100 and $300. Police are authorized to stop motorists they see texting and driving but cannot seize the wireless device.
The state has a yearly driver suspension eligibility week every March that lets drivers who lost their driver’s license to reduce the time left on their suspension.
South Carolina Car Accident Resources
If you are unfortunate enough to get in a South Carolina car accident, this is a stressful time. Below are some resources that you may find helpful so that you can move forward after the accident. Most importantly, make sure you receive immediate medical attention. If you have any injuries, it is critical to have these documented as soon as possible by a medical professional.
- You are required to report some car accidents to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. In accidents where there was death or injury, or property damage of $1000 or more, you must submit a Traffic Collision Report within 15 days of the crash. If the police respond to the accident, they will draft an accident report.
- If you have suffered injuries in a South Carolina car accident, you will probably want to get an idea how much your case is worth. Lawsuit Info Center can help.
- Visit South Carolina DMV if you need to get a copy of your accident report for lawsuit or claims purposes.
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