South Carolina Car Accident Laws

From notifying the police to submitting a crash report to the DMV, Jerry’s guide will cover all the essentials of South Carolina’s car accident laws.
Written by Samuel Todd
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you get into a car accident in South Carolina, you’ll need to give your name, address, and insurance information to other parties in the accident. Under state law, you’ll have 15 days to submit proof of insurance to the DMV—and, if anyone was injured, you must notify the police right after the accident.
Car accidents are frustrating—and often, frightening—experiences. When you’re standing on the side of the road after an accident, it can be hard to know what to do. That’s why it’s a great idea to prepare yourself for a collision before it happens.
, the car insurance comparison app, is here to walk you through the basics of South Carolina car accident laws. We’ll cover accident reporting, insurance requirements, personal injury lawsuits, and comparative fault so that you’re ready for every scenario in the Palmetto State. Plus, we'll give you some tips to get the best rates on
South Carolina car insurance
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What to do after a crash: South Carolina car accident reporting laws

After a car accident
, the first thing to do is make sure that you and your passengers are okay. If anybody was hurt, call 911 right away, and let the authorities help whoever’s injured.
Next, if it’s safe to do so, you should move your vehicle to the side of the road, away from any traffic.
SC Code §56-5-1210
requires that you carefully remove your vehicle from the street to help traffic flow. If you don’t feel comfortable driving, wait for the authorities to arrive, and they’ll move your car for you.
Finally, you’ll want to exchange information with anyone else who was in the crash and document damage by taking photos and writing down notes. This information can be super helpful later on when insurance companies (or courts) are trying to determine whose fault it was!
Remember, it’s never a bad idea to report an accident to the authorities—but it isn’t always required in South Carolina! Let’s take a closer look at when you should notify the authorities and DMV, and when you might be able to skip that step.

When to report an accident to the police

If you’re involved in an accident that caused bodily injury or death, you must notify the police.
SC Code §56-5-1260
breaks it down further:
  • If you were in a city, report to the local police department
  • If you were on a public highway, report to the county sheriff or South Carolina Highway Patrol
When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, they’ll automatically fill out a report, so you won’t have to submit one on your own.

When to report an accident to the DMV

In addition to filing a report with the police, state law gives you 15 days to submit a written report to the DMV, if:
  • The accident caused bodily injury
  • The accident resulted in death
  • The accident caused more than $1,000 in property damage
To submit a report to the SCDMV, just fill out an
FR-309 form
and send it to the SC DMV:
South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles Attn. Financial Responsibility P.O. Box 1498 Blythewood, SC 29016-0040
Don’t worry, the form is pretty simple. It’s got two main parts: first, a section for your personal information (name, driver’s license number, etc.) that you’ll fill out; second, a section for your insurance information (policy number, etc.), which will be filled out by your insurance provider. Once you’ve mailed it over to the DMV, you’re all done!
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Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: South Carolina’s insurance laws

Now that we’re done with the urgent stuff, let’s back it up a step: how much coverage do you need in South Carolina, and what are the penalties if you’re in an accident without it?
To drive a car in South Carolina, you need to demonstrate financial responsibility for the vehicle. How? The simplest way is to buy car insurance! South Carolina follows the 25/50/25 rule, which means that you’ll need:
You’ll also need
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
, which pays for damage to your car if you collide with someone who doesn’t have enough coverage. The
Insurance Information Institute
estimates that 11% of South Carolina drivers are uninsured—so this coverage is a great investment!
If you don’t meet these minimum requirements, you’re risking several different punishments:
  • Fines of up to $200
  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • A possible jail sentence of up to 30 days
  • A reinstatement fee of $200

Claiming damages after an accident: South Carolina’s personal injury laws

If you were seriously injured in a car accident, you might want to add a personal injury lawsuit to your insurance claim. Though South Carolina’s personal injury laws get a bit tricky, we’ll give you a general idea of what to expect.
According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, you have the right to claim two types of damages in a personal injury lawsuit:
  • Economic damages: medical expenses, loss of income, loss of business opportunities, loss of use of property, burial costs, and more
  • Non-economic damages: Pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, emotional distress, humiliation, and more
South Carolina also enforces a statute of limitations on personal injury claims:
  • For most personal injury lawsuits, you have three years to file a claim
  • For personal injury lawsuits against government entities, you have two years to file a claim
If you’re certain that you’d like to pursue legal action, it’s best to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer. They’ll walk you through the ins and outs of the state’s legal system and help you get a full recovery.

Who’s to blame: South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence law

Let’s imagine a scenario: Caleb and Taylor are both approaching an intersection in
. Caleb is looking at his phone, so he doesn’t see the light switch and he barrels into the intersection—
running a red light
. At the last second, Taylor sees Caleb and slams on the brakes—but she’s not able to stop in time, because she’s going 15 over.
Over the next few weeks, insurance companies find that Caleb is 75% at fault for running the red and Taylor is 25% at fault for speeding. So, who gets to recover damages? 
South Carolina is a modified comparative negligence state, meaning that a driver can recover damages if they’re less than 50% at fault. In the example above, Taylor could recover 75% of her damages from Caleb (100% of total damages minus the 25% she’s responsible for).
If you’re 50% at fault or more, though, you’re out of luck! Under South Carolina law, Caleb won’t be able to recover anything from Taylor, because he was found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident.
Keep in mind that these laws change across state borders! South Carolina is one of 33 states that use a modified comparative negligence law.

How to save money on car insurance in South Carolina

On average,
your insurance will go up after an accident
by about 34%. In some cases, that number could be as high as 80%! If you want to fight back against rising insurance rates,
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