South Carolina's traffic laws are found in Title 56 of the S.C. Code. These and other rules of the road are necessary for the flow of traffic to be safe and efficient on our state's highways. Most car crashes happen because one or both parties failed to follow the rules of the road, and the responding officer will often cite one or both parties for violations.
There are many legal issues that insurance defense lawyers can confuse and obfuscate to limit their client's liability or damages, but, when there is a violation of the rules of the road, it provides a clear message as to who is liable in an auto accident.
Rules of the Road and Per Se Negligence
In South Carolina, when a motorist violates a traffic law that was designed for the public's safety, it is considered per se negligence. There is no need to further litigate liability when the defendant caused an accident by violating a traffic law. Officers will often cite one party or the other for traffic violations following an accident, and a conviction on that ticket will be introduced at court as proof of negligence per se. Depending on the facts of each case, some examples of negligence per se include:
· Failure to obey traffic signals.
· Following too closely.
· Failure to yield the right-of-way.
· Reckless driving.
· Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs.
· Failure to wear a seatbelt.
· Unlawful passing.
· Crossing the center line.
· Talking on a cell phone or texting while driving.
Rules of the Road and Comparative Negligence
Obviously, the rules of the road apply to the plaintiff just as they apply to the defendant. If you were issued a citation following your auto accident, that does not automatically mean that you cannot recover for your losses. If you were not guilty of the traffic violation, you may need to request a jury trial prior to the court date that you were given. Do not plead guilty or pay a fine on the traffic ticket until you have spoken to your auto accident attorney at Axelrod & Associates, P.A. because it may affect your case. Even if you did violate the rules of the road, you are still entitled to recover if you were no more than 50% at fault in the car crash.
Your Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer will identify the different ways that the at-fault driver violated the rules of the road and use those violations to prove the other driver's negligence. Although a conviction of a traffic violation may be per se negligence, any violation of the rules of the road, whether ticketed or not, can be used as evidence of negligence. In criminal or traffic court, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person committed a traffic violation. On the other hand, in civil court we only need to prove that it was more likely than not that the defendant was negligent which is a much lower standard of proof.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, schedule a free consultation with a Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer on the Axelrod team. Call us at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form today.