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Injured in a Car Accident While Vacationing in South Carolina?

Whether you’re visiting South Carolina for business or pleasure, touring our beaches or colleges, staying a while or just passing through, nothing can ruin a trip like a car accident. Whether you were the driver or a passenger, the entire process can be disorienting, particularly if you’re traveling from out of state. And even more so if children are involved. Beyond your immediate health and safety concerns (and those of your family), you may be uncertain of how to protect your legal rights. In this blog post we will discuss your rights and responsibilities should you be involved in a vehicle accident while vacationing in South Carolina.

The ”Accidental” Tourist

South Carolina has many wonderful and unique tourist destinations. From the renowned beaches of the Outer Banks to attractions further inland such as Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in the capital city of Columbia, our state has plenty to offer visitors. Whether passing through or staying for a while, one thing you don’t want to encounter on your trip is a car accident. Particularly one that involves injury.

“But—I Was Just Passing Through….”

When you’re issued a traffic ticket while on vacation in a different state or territory, you will have to address the alleged violation in that jurisdiction. A similar rule applies when you’re considering a personal injury lawsuit: you generally must file in the jurisdiction where the injury occurred.

An exception may apply if you were injured by a commercial vehicle that does business in  your home state. The law essentially provides that if a company is doing business in a different jurisdiction, they may reasonably expect to be sued in any territories where they are performing such work. For instance, if you were struck by a commercial truck owned and operated by a Fortune 500 company doing national or international business, then you should be able to sue that company in your “home state,” or what is legally known as your “home jurisdiction.”

This issue goes back to an old Supreme Court Decision called International Shoe v. State of Washington.

Masella Law Firm Helps Tourists Injured in South Carolina Vehicular Accidents

The holding of the International Shoe case essentially says that you cannot be sued in a jurisdiction where you weren’t present, weren’t actively doing business, or where you wouldn’t reasonably expect your business to impact that jurisdiction. Thus, there must be “minimal contacts” with a jurisdiction, or a defendant cannot be sued there.

For example, if you run a local water park in Arcadia Lakes, South Carolina and someone from New Jersey visits and injures their neck on a slide, they would have to sue in South Carolina. The same standard of “minimum contacts” applies for injuries while you are on vacation. If you were involved in an accident in South Carolina with another private citizen, you would generally be required to bring suit in South Carolina’s state and/or federal courts. The individual responsible for your injuries (unless they are a business as noted above) would lack the “minimum contacts” with your home state for you to sue there (unless your home state was also where the injury occurred).

Please note that as states and territories have jurisdiction over their citizens, you would generally also be allowed to bring suit in the state where the Defendant is “domiciled.” (For the purposes of this article, no distinction is made between suing in federal or state courts, as that issue goes beyond the scope of this post.)

Depending on the case, it may be disadvantageous to sue in another party’s home state, although this will have to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

Accordingly, if you were an out-of-state tourist injured in a South Carolina car accident, you would generally file suit in South Carolina, and one of your first steps should be to contact an experienced South Carolina firm such as Masella Law Firm, P.A.

What Steps Should You Take if Injured in a South Carolina Car Accident?

The steps you will need to take if injured as a tourist in a South Carolina car accident are not that different from if you were a local resident, and include:

You should request copies of any police reports associated with the accident.

You should request copies of any medical records associated with the accident.

You should consult with, and potentially retain, a South Carolina injury firm, such as Masella Law Firm, P.A., to assist in any insurance claims and to ensure that all evidence is preserved for a potential suit. Your consultation with our firm will also further review your case, as well as the potential value of same.

Do not sign off on any insurance claims settlements.

What if You’re Driving a Rental Car?

An already difficult situation may become even more complex if you happened to be driving a rental vehicle at the time of the accident.

Although you will likely be able to use your personal insurance (as well as any additional insurance purchased from the rental company), your contract with the rental company may place you on the hook for additional fees and costs, even if the accident was not your fault. For instance, there may be language in the contract stating you are responsible for additional fees beyond basic damage, such as loss of prospective value of the vehicle, various administrative fees, and “loss of use” fees for the time the vehicle is out of commission following the accident.

An experienced law practice, such as the Masella Law Firm, P.A., will be able to assist you with the additional nuances involved in a rental car accident.

What Comes Next if You Were Injured in a South Carolina Car Accident While Vacationing?

Any potential lawsuit is highly case specific. The one thing you can count on when your vacation collides with an unexpected accident is that you will need to consult with, and potentially retain, experienced legal representation. Don’t be tricked by the insurance claim adjusters into taking less, make sure your rights are protected by calling (803) 938-4952 today to schedule a free consultation to see exactly what your case is worth.

Although your trip to South Carolina didn’t go as planned, we at Masella Law Firm, P.A., look forward to starting the process of making you and your family whole.