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Fatal South Carolina Highway Crash Raises Tricky Liability Issues

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A deadly highway merging accident in central South Carolina has the potential to bring even greater suffering to a family who lost two children or to a tractor-trailer driver who suffered injuries in the collision.

The tragedy unfolded when a 15-year-old girl who held only a learner’s permit pulled her family’s Honda onto U.S. Highway 321 in Sawnsea, South Carolina (SC), and was struck from behind by an 18-wheeler. The girl, who was unaccompanied by an older, licensed driver, and her 10 year-old brother were killed, and their sister sustained life-threatening injuries.

Police could not immediately determine whether the underage driver or the man at the wheel of the semi was at fault for the accident. compensation issues by the insurance companies for the folks involved. Findings from an ongiong investigation will likely play a key role in what happens next.

If the teen caused the collision because she was too inexperienced or distracted to merge safely, the truck driver could file a personal injury lawsuit. On the other hand, if the driver of the 18-wheeler is found to have been speeding or otherwise driving negligently, the childrens’ parent could have grounds for filing wrongful death and injury claims.

Because, unlike Virginia and North Carolina, South Carolina allows for findings of comparative negligence, the parents’ claims could be upheld in court even though the daughter was not legally permitted to drive. That outcome would depend on a decision that the trucker was more to blame for the accident than the teen.

Had the wreck occurred in North Carolina or Virginia, showing that the underage driver was even 1 percent responsible for the fatal accident would be enough to invalidate a wrongful lawsuit. In this respect, the South Carolina rules are more modern and fair to victims than those in other states.

As an experienced Carolina car and truck accident attorney, my heart aches for everyone in this crash as a victim or family member. While courts and lawyers may ensure that the most at-fault party’s insurer provides monetary compensation to the person or people harmed, everyone will have to deal with the consequences of the accident for very long times. I offer each individual my condolences and hopes for speedy recoveries.

EJL

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.