How is Fault Determined in a Personal Injury Case?


Life can change in an instant with a personal injury. All of a sudden, you find yourself dealing with pain, emotional turmoil, and bills piling up. When facing these challenges, you naturally want to know who’s responsible. If legal action seems like the right path, understanding how fault is determined becomes crucial.

At Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer & Staggs, we’ve guided countless individuals through the complexities of personal injury law. Let us help you understand how we unravel these situations and pinpoint where the responsibility lies.

Understanding Negligence

To determine fault, we often look at whether someone was negligent. Simply put, negligence means failing to act with the kind of care that a reasonable person would, leading to someone else getting hurt.

Proving negligence involves a few key points:

  • Duty of Care: The person or company responsible had a responsibility to act in a way that wouldn’t put others at risk. This responsibility can look different in different situations, but it always means taking reasonable precautions.
  • Breach of Duty: The responsible party failed to meet their duty of care. Two of the most common reasons include texting while driving or failing to fix a known hazard. Fault may be established when these events result in an accident.
  • Causation: This is where we connect the dots. The careless action or inaction has to be the direct reason why someone got hurt. It’s about proving a clear link between what the responsible party did (or didn’t do) and the injury that happened.
  • Damages: The injured person suffered real damages because of the negligence. This could be anything from medical bills to lost income, pain, or even emotional distress.

Comparative Negligence

Sometimes accidents aren’t black and white. In South Carolina, the personal injury law recognizes that both sides might share some blame. This is called “comparative negligence.” It means that even if you played a part in what happened, you could still get some compensation for your injuries. The catch is that the amount you receive gets reduced based on how much you were at fault.

Imagine getting into a car wreck and you’re 20% responsible. If your total damages are $100,000, you wouldn’t get the whole amount. Instead, you’d get $80,000 because your payment would be lowered by that 20%.

Image is of a man holding his neck in pain and calling a personal injury attorney following a car accident

The Role of Evidence in Determining Fault in a Personal Injury Case

Proving fault in a personal injury case requires evidence—the more, the better. Here are some key types:

  • Police reports: These can offer a snapshot of the incident, often including what witnesses saw and what the officer on scene noted.
  • Witness statements: Those who saw the incident firsthand can provide critical details about how it unfolded and who might be responsible.
  • Medical records: Your medical history tells a story of your injuries and the treatment you’ve needed.
  • Expert opinions: In complicated situations, we might bring in specialists to analyze the cause of the accident or assess the extent of your injuries.

Getting all this information and making sense of it isn’t easy. It takes legal know-how and experience. That’s where having a personal injury lawyer in your corner becomes crucial.

The Challenges of Proving Fault

It might seem like figuring out who’s at fault in a personal injury case should be easy. But in reality, it can be quite a battle. Insurance companies do everything in their power to pay you less. Add this to the fact that those responsible often won’t take ownership of their actions. They might try to twist the story or dodge the blame altogether.

South Carolina law throws a wrench into the mix with its rule on shared blame. Remember how we discussed the possibility of getting compensation even if you’re partly at fault? That’s due to something called “modified comparative negligence.” It basically means you can still recover damages if you’re less than 50% responsible.

However, this rule also gives the other side an opening. Their insurance company might try to paint you as more responsible than you truly are. This tactic aims to lower the amount they have to pay out.

At our firm, we’ve dealt with these situations numerous times. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of how South Carolina’s specific personal injury laws work. We’ll fight tooth and nail to gather evidence that not only highlights the other party’s carelessness but also makes sure you’re not unfairly blamed.

Seeking Justice with Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer & Staggs

If an accident’s left you injured, don’t let the legal maze scare you away from getting what’s fair. At Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer & Staggs, we’ve made it our mission to fight for people like you. We know firsthand how much a personal injury can affect your life—physically, emotionally, and financially. We’re here to guide you through this tough time.

Reach out to us today at (803) 649-5338. Let’s talk about your situation, no strings attached. We’ll help you understand your options and how we can fight to get you the justice you deserve.