Who Is Liable for a Car Accident in South Carolina?


When you get injured in a car accident in South Carolina, determining who is liable is one of the first steps toward recovering just compensation. But, even if it appears obvious who is responsible for a collision, determining liability is often much more complicated than it initially seems.

For example, let’s imagine a scenario in which you get rear-ended on I-77. Initially, it may seem fairly obvious that the driver who rear-ended you is liable. But, what if the driver couldn’t stop because his or her brakes failed? What if you were at the front end of a chain-reaction accident? Or, what if the other driver was working at the time of the collision? Each of these factors (among many others) has the potential to change who is liable for your accident-related losses.


Depending on the circumstances involved, several parties could potentially be liable for a car accident in South Carolina. When investigating car accidents, our lawyers will look for evidence that supports claims against parties including:

  • Another Driver Involved in the Accident – Driver negligence is the most common cause of car accidents in South Carolina. This includes everything from running red lights and stop signs to driving while distracted or under the influence. If another driver made a mistake that caused the accident, then that driver is liable under South Carolina law.
  • A Passenger Involved in the Accident – In some cases, accident victims will have claims against passengers. This could be the case, for example, if a passenger grabbed the wheel or threw something out of the vehicle.
  • A Driver’s Employer – South Carolina law holds employers liable for their employees’ negligent acts within the scope of employment. If the driver who caused your accident was on the clock, then his or her employer could be liable.
  • A Vehicle Manufacturer – Brake failures and other mechanical and electrical issues will be the result of vehicle defects in some cases. If a vehicle defect is to blame for your car accident, then the vehicle’s manufacturer should be liable for the costs you have incurred (and will continue to incur) as a result of the collision.
  • A Repair Shop, Maintenance Shop, or Dealership – If a vehicle defect isn’t to blame for a mechanical or electrical issue, then the issue may be the result of a faulty repair or maintenance job. When technicians make mistakes that lead to accidents, their employers (i.e. repair shops, maintenance shops, and dealerships) can be held legally accountable.
  • A Government Agency or Contractor – Government agencies and contractors are responsible for building the public roads and maintaining them in safe condition. If an issue with the road caused you or another driver to lose control, then the government agency or contractor that is responsible for the road’s condition may be liable.
  • A Bar, Restaurant, or Social Host – Bars, restaurants, and social hosts can be held liable for drunk driving accidents in some cases. While South Carolina does not have a “dram shop” law like many other states, the courts have allowed accident victims and families to pursue claims against bars, restaurants, and social hosts in some cases based on the circumstances involved.
  • A Ridesharing Company – If you were injured in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle (either as a driver or as a rideshare passenger), you could have a claim against the rideshare company. South Carolina law requires rideshare companies to carry liability insurance that covers victims and families following serious and fatal accidents.

In the vast majority of cases, recovering financial compensation for a car accident will involve filing a claim under the liable party’s insurance policy. South Carolina law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance, and many drivers carry coverage well above the state’s minimum requirements. Additionally, most businesses carry commercial liability insurance that covers personal injury and wrongful death claims; and, if you file a claim against a business that has liability insurance, the business will most likely refer your claim to its insurance company.


To recover just compensation for a car accident, you don’t just need to know who is liable—you need to be able to prove it. So, how do you prove liability for a car accident in South Carolina?

Proving liability for a car accident in South Carolina requires a comprehensive investigation. This includes conducting an investigation at the scene of the accident and collecting evidence from other sources.

For example, if a distracted driver is liable for your car accident, you may need: (i) forensic evidence from the scene of the accident, (ii) a report detailing the location and extent of the damage to each vehicle, and (iii) copies of the other driver’s cell phone records. In contrast, if you have a claim against a government contractor for a road defect, you may need: (i) photos of the crash site, (ii) expert testimony explaining how the road was defective, and (iii) a copy of the contractor’s agreement with the government. There are numerous other possibilities, and the key is to engage a law firm promptly so that the firm can collect all relevant evidence while it is still available.

Keep in mind, there are two aspects to a successful car accident claim: In addition to proving liability, you also need to prove how much you are entitled to recover. For an overview of the steps involved in proving the costs of your accident-related injuries, you can read: How Much Can You Recover for a Car Accident in South Carolina?


If you have been seriously injured in a car accident in South Carolina, contacting a law firm promptly will greatly increase your chances of recovering just compensation. To discuss your claim with an experienced Rock Hill, SC car accident lawyer in confidence, call 803-327-1103 or request a free consultation online now.

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