Officials are still investigating a serious four-vehicle car crash that killed four people.
The wreck took place just prior to the Thanksgiving weekend on Highway 378. Investigators believe that a westbound Chevrolet pickup truck crossed the center line onto the eastbound side, where it sideswiped a Ford van which then spun around like a top. The Chevrolet continued in the wrong direction, eventually smacking into a GMC SUV before eventually coming to rest near the side of the road. Meanwhile, the GMC SUV careened into a Ford SUV, which almost immediately burst into flames and killed all three occupants almost instantly. The Chevrolet pickup driver was also killed in the crash.
Two other people were rushed to a local hospital with serious injuries, but they are expected to survive.
Multi-Person Liability in a Car Crash
Many times, more than one defendant is responsible in a negligence action. For example, a tavern or bar may sell alcohol to a person who is already impaired, or a doctor may partially misdiagnose an illness and prescribe a dangerous drug. Or, as in the above story, there may be a primary collision that causes a secondary collision. Even more commonly, one driver may be have been speeding while the other one entered the intersection against the light.
As a modified comparative fault state, South Carolina follows the majority rule. To recover damages, a plaintiff must be no more than 49 percent at fault in a car crash or other tort action. So, assume that plaintiff driver is 40 percent at fault and defendant driver was 60 percent responsible. If the damages were $100,000, plaintiff would recover $60,000 from defendant. But, if the percentages were reversed, plaintiff would recover nothing, even though defendant was more than a little bit responsible.
The bottom line is that even if you were partially at fault, you can still recover money for your economic and noneconomic damages in court.
The factfinder, which is normally the jury, divides fault for the crash in a car wreck case. Although the procedure varies somewhat by county, and perhaps even by individual judges in the same county, the judge asks the jurors to divide fault between the parties as a percentage.
Even though this instruction does not come until the end of the trial, an attorney can lay the groundwork for a favorable division during the trial itself. This is done just like the old song goes: accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. An attorney can highlight all the things the plaintiff did right, whether it be:
- Buckling a seat belt;
- Using lights or windshield wipers as appropriate;
- Staying off a cellphone;
- Being completely sober; and
- Driving while alert and well-rested.
Such questioning cannot go too far, or the other side will object to the bolstering of the witness; however, the same thing can also be done in reverse almost without limitation.
Like most other items in a personal injury trial, comparative fault is very subjective. For a free consultation with an attorney who knows how to work the facts to your advantage, contact The Connell Law Firm, LLC. We routinely represent clients throughout the Palmetto State.