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Accidents happen every day in the United States. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29.4 million people visit the emergency room each year for accidental injuries in the U.S.
In most cases, an accident is just that, and no one is to blame. But if another person (or entity)’s actions or inaction causes your injury, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. Under South Carolina law, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and more.
A seasoned South Carolina personal injury attorney can help you with the process, starting with a free initial consultation. From there, your lawyer will take on the insurance company, fighting to get you the money that you deserve for your losses.
Types of Personal Injury Cases in SC We Handle
A personal injury claim starts with someone getting hurt due to something that someone else did, or failed to do. SC personal injury lawsuits can arise in any number of ways. The key element of every case is that the injury victim would not have gotten hurt if another person had used reasonable care.
Our law firm handles a range of personal injury claims. Our practice areas include:
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip and falls (premises liability)
- Dog bites
- Nursing home abuse
- Sexual assault and abuse
We also represent clients in workers’ compensation claims, a distinct area of South Carolina law where workers who suffer an injury on the job or who develop an occupational illness can get medical and financial benefits.
Personal injury cases may involve any type of injury, from a relatively minor strain or sprain to serious injuries such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Our law firm represents South Carolinians who have suffered injuries such as:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Back and neck injuries
- Soft tissue damage
- Internal injuries
- Brain trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
In situations where a victim’s injuries are fatal, we work with their family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit. For each of our clients, we thoroughly investigate the underlying facts, research relevant case law, and put together a strong demand for compensation to the insurer. Whenever possible, we settle claims on behalf of our clients – but we aren’t afraid to take a case to trial to ensure that our clients get the maximum compensation that they are entitled to under the law.
Can I File a Lawsuit for My Injury in South Carolina?
South Carolina personal injury lawsuits are based on a theory of negligence, which is a legal term that means that a person failed to act with the care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. Negligence has three elements:
- Duty: the wrongdoer (defendant) owed a duty of care to the victim (plaintiff);
- Breach: the defendant breached that duty by something that they did or failed to do;
- Causation: that breach (violation) was the proximate or “but for” cause of the plaintiff’s damages (i.e., but for the defendant texting and driving, the accident would not have occurred and the plaintiff would not have been injured).
If you can prove these three elements, then you and your loved ones may be able to file a claim against the person or organization that caused your injuries. For example, if you are hurt in a motor vehicle accident with a drunk driver, you could pursue a lawsuit against the other motorist because (1) they owed you a duty of care to drive with caution; (2) they breached that duty by driving drunk; and (3) the accident – and your injuries – would not have happened if they had not driven drunk.
Most personal injury claims start with a free consultation with a personal injury law firm, where a South Carolina personal injury attorney will advise you of your rights and options for filing a claim against the other party. If you choose to hire the lawyer, then they will immediately begin an investigation into what occurred. This may include interviewing witnesses, gathering police reports and other evidence, and obtaining and reviewing medical evidence.
Next, your attorney will prepare a demand letter to be sent to the defendant’s insurance company. This letter will outline the facts of the case, why their insured is responsible, and set out a demand for compensation. In most cases, the demand letter starts a period of negotiation, where each side makes an offer and counteroffer until a settlement is achieved.
However, if the insurer refuses to offer you a fair settlement, then your attorney may advise you that it is necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit. Typically, negotiations will continue after the lawsuit is filed – sometimes up until the morning of trial. If the insurance company still will not give you the compensation that you deserve for your injuries, then your lawyer will take the case to trial.
What Compensation Can I Expect in a South Carolina Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you have been hurt in an accident, you may have suffered many types of losses. A personal injury lawsuit is meant to address these losses through three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. In most cases, these damages are paid through the defendant’s insurance coverage.
Economic damages are meant to compensate you for direct financial losses that you have incurred or will incur as a result of the accident. They are typically fairly easy to prove, with documents like invoices, bills, and pay stubs. Economic damages may include things such as medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity.
Like economic damages, non-economic damages are compensatory in nature. However, these damages are intended to cover your intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life. While it can be hard to put a price tag on these types of losses, your South Carolina personal injury attorney will use their knowledge of similar cases and the law to put together a demand for non-economic losses.
Finally, punitive damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct. They are rarely available in personal injury claims, which are based on a theory of negligence because they typically address intentional or reckless conduct. There are some exceptions to this general rule, however, such as an auto accident that was caused by a habitual drunk driver. There is a cap on punitive injury damages in South Carolina, set at the greater of 3 times the actual damages, or $500,000.
Common Personal Injuries
Back and neck injuries
Soft tissue damage
Spinal cord injuries
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In South Carolina, you have up to three years to file your personal injury claim. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you don’t file a lawsuit against the at-fault party within the statute of limitations, then your claim may be barred entirely.
There are some exceptions to this broad rule. In most cases, the “clock” starts running at the time of the accident. However, in the following situations, the time period for the statute of limitations does not start to run immediately:
- If the injured person is under the age of 18 or has been declared “insane,” the statute of limitations begins to run once this period of disability has ended, and the person has one year from that date to file a lawsuit.
- If the at-fault party leaves the state of South Carolina for one continuous year or longer after the accident, then this period of absence will not be counted as part of the three-year statute of limitations.
Remember that if you fail to file a lawsuit within these three years, then any claim that you file later will likely be tossed out of court. That is why it is critical to seek legal services as soon as possible after your accident.
Can I Recover for My Losses If I Was Partially at Fault?
You may still be able to recover compensation for your injuries even if you were partially to blame. South Carolina follows a modified comparative negligence theory for personal injury cases. This means that as long as you were 50% or less responsible for an accident, you can still recover for your losses. However, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault.
For example, imagine that you were in a car crash that happened when another vehicle made a left turn across traffic, striking your vehicle. At the time, you were speeding, going 15 miles per hour above the speed limit. If a jury finds that you were 30% at fault for the accident and that you suffered $100,000 in damages, your total recovery will be reduced to $70,000 ($100,000 – 30%, or $30,000).
Importantly, if you are found to be 51% or greater at fault, you cannot recover in a personal injury lawsuit. If there is some question as to who is responsible for an accident, reach out to a South Carolina personal injury attorney as soon as possible for legal advice on your rights and options.
Will I Have to Go to Trial?
It depends. The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled without going to trial. According to the United States Department of Justice, 97% of personal injury lawsuits are resolved without going to court. If you pursue a personal injury claim, there is a strong likelihood that your case will not go to trial.
It is still possible that you will have to go to court. If the insurance company refuses to offer you fair compensation, then your attorney may advise you to go to trial. There, your lawyer will put forth evidence and make arguments to a jury to show that you are entitled to the full amount of damages that you have requested.
Injured in an Accident? We Are Here for You.
If you have been hurt in any type of accident, you may be overwhelmed by mounting medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. The thought of pursuing legal action may seem like too much to handle. Our law office can help and will be on your side throughout the process – from the initial consultation to the final resolution of your claim.
Based in Simpsonville, Derrick Law Office represents clients throughout the region, including Mauldin and Fountain Inn. Our legal team offers free initial consultations for all prospective clients and handles all personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis – which means that you never pay a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free case evaluation with a South Carolina car accident attorney, contact us today at 864-501-5241.