How South Carolina’s At-Fault Insurance System Works

If you’re a driver in South Carolina, it’s important to understand how the state’s at-fault car insurance system works. Unlike “no-fault” states, South Carolina uses a “fault” or “tort” system when it comes to automobile insurance and accidents. In this system, the person responsible for causing a car accident is also responsible for paying for the damages. This blog post aims to shed light on what this means for you, whether you’re a driver, passenger, or pedestrian in the Palmetto State.

What is the At-Fault System?

In South Carolina, the at-fault system means that the person who caused the car accident (the “at-fault” party) is legally responsible for the damages and injuries that result from that accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance is typically the first place to seek recovery for injuries, property damage, and other losses.

How Does It Work?

Filing a Claim

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you have several options for seeking compensation:

  • Filing a claim with your own insurance company: Your insurer will then seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
  • Filing a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company: This involves dealing directly with the other party’s insurer.
  • Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver: This is typically a last resort if insurance claims are not sufficient to cover your losses.

Determining Fault

Before compensation is paid out, the insurance companies will investigate to determine who was at fault for the accident. This can involve reviewing police reports, witness statements, and any available camera footage.

Policy Limits

It’s essential to know that insurance policies have limits on how much they will pay out. If your claim exceeds these limits, you may need to pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover the remaining amount.

Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

South Carolina follows the “modified comparative negligence” rule, which means you can still recover damages even if you were partially at fault for the accident. However, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. Note that if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you will not be able to recover any damages.

Mandatory Minimum Insurance Requirements

In South Carolina, drivers are required to have the following minimum amounts of insurance:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage per accident

What to Do After an Accident

  • Report the Accident: Always call the police to document the incident.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
  • Gather Evidence: Take pictures, obtain contact information of witnesses, and keep all medical records.
  • Notify Insurance: Inform your insurance company about the accident.
  • Consult a Lawyer: Given the complexities of the at-fault system, consulting an experienced lawyer can help you navigate the claims process more effectively.


Understanding how South Carolina’s at-fault car insurance system works is crucial for anyone who drives in the state. Familiarity with the system can ease the post-accident process, helping you get the compensation you rightly deserve.

While accidents are unfortunate, knowing your rights and obligations can make a significant difference in how you manage the situation.