Day 9: The Impact of Comparative Negligence on Pedestrian Accident Settlements

In South Carolina, the doctrine of comparative negligence plays a significant role in determining the outcome of pedestrian accident settlements. This legal principle can affect the amount of compensation a pedestrian can receive if they are found to be partially at fault for the accident. Here’s a detailed look at how comparative negligence impacts pedestrian accident settlements in South Carolina.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that allocates fault among all parties involved in an accident. Under this principle, a plaintiff’s compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault. South Carolina follows the modified comparative negligence rule, which allows plaintiffs to recover damages as long as they are not more than 50% at fault for the accident. If a plaintiff is found to be 51% or more at fault, they cannot recover any damages.

How Comparative Negligence Works in Pedestrian Accident Cases

  1. Determining Fault:
    • In a pedestrian accident case, the court or insurance company will evaluate the actions of both the pedestrian and the driver to determine each party’s degree of fault. Factors considered may include whether the pedestrian was jaywalking, crossing against a signal, or distracted at the time of the accident.
  2. Calculating Compensation:
    • Once the degree of fault is established, the total amount of compensation is calculated and then reduced by the pedestrian’s percentage of fault. For example, if a pedestrian is awarded $100,000 in damages but found to be 20% at fault, their compensation would be reduced by 20%, resulting in a final amount of $80,000.

Examples of Comparative Negligence in Pedestrian Accidents

  1. Jaywalking:
    • If a pedestrian crosses the street outside of a designated crosswalk and is struck by a car, they may be found partially at fault for jaywalking. If the driver was also speeding, both parties could share fault, affecting the pedestrian’s compensation.
  2. Distracted Walking:
    • If a pedestrian is texting while crossing the street and does not notice an approaching vehicle, they may be deemed partially at fault for not paying attention. If the driver was also distracted, the fault may be shared, and the pedestrian’s compensation will be adjusted accordingly.
  3. Ignoring Traffic Signals:
    • If a pedestrian crosses the street against a red light and is hit by a car that had the right of way, the pedestrian could be held primarily at fault. Depending on the circumstances, they may receive reduced or no compensation.

Legal and Financial Implications

  1. Insurance Settlements:
    • Insurance companies often use comparative negligence to negotiate settlements. They may argue that the pedestrian was partially at fault to reduce the amount they have to pay. It’s essential to have an experienced attorney to counter these arguments and ensure a fair settlement.
  2. Court Decisions:
    • If the case goes to court, the judge or jury will determine the percentage of fault for each party. Their decision will directly impact the final compensation amount. Proper legal representation is crucial to present evidence and argue your case effectively.
  3. Financial Impact:
    • Comparative negligence can significantly affect the financial outcome of a pedestrian accident case. Understanding this principle and how it applies to your case can help you set realistic expectations and plan accordingly.

Steps to Protect Your Rights

  1. Gather Evidence:
    • Collect as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident, including photographs, witness statements, and police reports. This evidence can help establish the driver’s fault and counter any claims of your negligence.
  2. Seek Medical Attention:
    • Obtain immediate medical treatment and keep detailed records of your injuries and expenses. Medical documentation is vital for proving the extent of your damages.
  3. Consult an Attorney:
    • Work with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who understands comparative negligence laws in South Carolina. An attorney can help you build a strong case, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary.


Comparative negligence can significantly impact pedestrian accident settlements in South Carolina. Understanding how this legal principle works and taking steps to protect your rights are crucial for ensuring fair compensation. If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident, contact The Bill Connor Law Firm in Orangeburg, SC, for expert legal guidance and representation. Our experienced attorneys will help you navigate the complexities of comparative negligence and fight for the compensation you deserve.