Compensation for Reckless Driving (S.C.):
When a Car Accident Is a Criminal Offense

Being in a wreck due to someone else’s negligence is bad enough, especially if you or a person you love gets hurt. But sometimes the at-fault party’s driving behavior is so bad that it goes beyond being negligent and becomes reckless. This is especially important to keep in mind for South Carolinians because South Carolina was recently ranked as having the third most reckless drivers in the country according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

As an attorney, I’ve seen many car accident cases over the years, and some of the worst accidents I’ve seen were the result of reckless driving.

If you were hurt due to someone’s dangerous and negligent driving, you may have many questions, such as:

  • Was their behavior bad enough to be considered reckless driving?
  • If it was, how does that change your fight for compensation?
  • Are you entitled to additional damages beyond what you’d normally receive for a car accident claim?

Let’s start by defining reckless driving.

An experienced car accident attorney can evaluate the unique circumstances of your case and guide you on moving your case forward. Call 1-866-900-7078 today for a free case evaluation.

The Definition of Reckless Driving in South Carolina

In South Carolina, the statutory definition of reckless driving is when a person drives a vehicle “in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

In SC the statutory definition of reckless driving is when a person drives a vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

The Meaning of “Willful or Wanton Disregard for the Safety of Persons or Property”

This means the conscious failure to exercise due care. A good way of differentiating between negligence and recklessness is this: if a person is acting negligently and is aware that he or she is acting negligently, they are likely being reckless. The most obvious example is when a defendant is intoxicated while driving.

If a person is acting negligently & is aware that they are acting negligently they are being reckless.

Examples of Reckless Driving

Here are some examples of negligent and dangerous behavior that can rise to the level of reckless driving in South Carolina:

Icon of a checkered racing flag Racing
Icon of two cars driving towards each other in a game of "chicken." Peeling out or playing chicken
Icon of a car with curse words in a speech bubble. Driving aggressively or “road rage”
Icon of a limited visibility road sign. Trying to pass another driver in a limited visibility area
Icon of a police car with the siren on. Refusing to stop or pull over for law enforcement
Icon of a YIELD road sign. Conscious failure to yield to those who have right-of-way
Icon of a speedometer showing dangerous speeding. Speeding 25 mph or more over the limit
Icon of a stop road sign. Running a stop sign or stop light, especially into oncoming traffic
Icon of a school bus. Passing a stopped school bus that has its stop sign deployed, especially if small children are trying to exit safely
Icon of a road barrier with warning lights. Driving around construction barriers or into restricted areas
Icon of a car tailgating a vehicle in front of them dangerously. Driving erratically in and out of lanes or tailgating too close behind the car in front

Compensation for Damages Caused by a Reckless Driver in South Carolina

You may be entitled to compensation for your harms and losses, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical injuries
  • Mental and emotional injuries
  • Property damage

Contact us online or call 1-866-900-7078 today for a free case evaluation if you’ve been hurt by another’s reckless driving.

Am I Entitled to More Compensation if I Was Hurt by a Reckless Driver?

Yes, it’s possible for you to receive additional compensation beyond the standard damages listed above – called punitive damages – if you’re hurt by someone’s reckless driving.

Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant. In South Carolina, punitive damages may be awarded when the injured person proves that his or her harm was the result of “the defendant’s willful, wanton, or reckless conduct.”

Punitive damages can significantly increase the value of a person’s claim. In determining possible punitive damages, a jury may consider many factors, including:

    • the reckless driver’s amount of responsibility


    • how much you were harmed by the reckless driver


    • how much your own actions might’ve contributed to the harm, if at all


    • how long the reckless behavior lasted, how aware the reckless driver was of their own behavior, and if the reckless driver tried to avoid the consequences of their choices


    • similar bad behavior in the past by the reckless driver


    • whether the reckless driver was profiting from their behavior, such as by streaming video of themselves driving recklessly to get views on social media


    • the reckless driver’s ability to pay damages


    • the likelihood that punitive damages will prevent this reckless driver or others from that kind of behavior in the future


    • if the reckless driver already had punitive damages awarded against them for this behavior before by another court


    • any criminal penalties imposed on the reckless driver for their behavior


    • any civil fines imposed on the reckless driver for their behavior


The cap on punitive damages is either 3x the amount you may have been awarded in standard damages or $500,000 – whichever is greater.

However, there is no cap on punitive damages when:

  1. The at fault driver was intoxicated


  1. The at fault driver either pled or was found guilty of a felony arising out of the act that caused your injury, or


  1. The act was intentional (intentional acts can be excluded from insurance coverage!)

An experienced South Carolina car accident attorney can help you seek all the damages you may be entitled to if you were hurt by a reckless driver. Call 1-866-900-7078 today!

Do I Have to Wait for the Criminal Case to Be Over Before I Pursue My Reckless Driving Claim?

No, you do not need to wait for the criminal case to conclude before filing your claim against the reckless driver, even if it’s their first reckless driving offense. The outcome of your case for compensation is not determined by the criminal case.

In fact, you shouldn’t wait. The sooner you file your claim, the greater the opportunity for your attorney to help you achieve maximum compensation.

Do I Need an Attorney if I’ve Been Hurt by Reckless Driving in South Carolina?

If you, or someone you love, were injured or tragically killed due to someone else’s reckless driving, an experienced car accident attorney can help you in the following ways:

    • Evaluate your car accident case – a South Carolina car accident lawyer can examine how the at-fault party’s reckless driving caused the accident or made it worse, and advise you how to seek maximum compensation.


    • Fight for your rights – the at-fault party’s insurance company is protecting their interests, not yours, but a car accident attorney takes on the insurance company for you.


    • Build your case – an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney can increase your chances of receiving compensation. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means we advance the costs of building your case.
      Meanwhile, you pay no attorney’s fee at all if we don’t recover compensation for you.2


    • Move your case forward – numerous delays can occur while your car accident claim is processed even as your bills pile up. A car accident lawyer can try to speed things up and get you paid more quickly.


South Carolina Reckless Driving – Free Case Evaluation

The personal injury attorneys at James Scott Farrin have helped thousands of car accident victims obtain compensation for their harms and losses, including those hurt by someone else’s reckless driving.1 We can help you, too.

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin received 4.8 stars out of more than 3,000 reviews.

Average of all Google reviews from all office locations.1

“They showed compassion towards my daughter when she was hit head on by another driver. They made my husband and I know they would do everything possible to help our child. They took the time to just sit and hear us…they made us feel part of the team. Thank you and may God bless you!” – Alandre J., Google review1

We’ve recovered more than $1.6 billion in total compensation for more than 60,000 people since 1997. And counting.1

To get clarity on your case, call 1-866-900-7078 today and get a free case evaluation.

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About the Author

Thomas J. Godfrey is a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. He uses his ability to process massive amounts of information to help clients build cases and seek maximum compensation from insurance companies. Originally from England, Thomas found his calling here. He brings a strong sense of team and relishes the opportunity to help clients move forward from bad situations.