Personal injury is an area of the law that allows victims to seek damages if someone else’s negligence or recklessness has caused them to be injured in an accident. If you’ve been injured in an accident in South Carolina, you might be asking yourself whether you can or should file a personal injury claim.
Every South Carolina accident case is unique, but there are some general rules which can help you determine whether you have a valid claim. The first is that you must have been injured in the accident. You must also be able to prove that your injuries were the direct result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness.
In order to show those things, you will need to prove the following:
- The defendant owed you a legal duty of care. “Duty of care” describes the responsibility we all have to help keep each other safe through our individual actions. For example, a driver has a duty of care to follow traffic laws and drive with caution so as not to hurt other drivers or passengers on the road.
- The defendant breached that duty.
- The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused your injury and losses.
- You have suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty.
Types of Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury can come in many forms. However, here are some of the most common personal injury claims in South Carolina:
- Automobile accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Boating accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Dangerous drugs & supplements
- Dangerous medical devices & defective products
- Dog bites
- Workers’ compensation
- Wrongful death
Statute of Limitations
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney who can listen to your story and advise you on the next steps. Personal injury cases can be complicated and have a lot of moving parts, so having a qualified lawyer on your side can make all the difference.
When you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, you must be mindful of the statute of limitations – the time period in which you are legally allowed to file a claim following an accident.
In most South Carolina personal injury cases, the victim knows right away or within a few days if they’ve been seriously hurt. Cases such as car accidents, slip-and-falls, and dog bites usually fall into this category, just to name a few. In these straightforward cases, the victim has three years from the date of the injury to formally file a claim if the defendant is not a government entity.
The victim only has two years if they’re filing a workers’ compensation claim, or in a civil matter if the defendant is a government entity.
There are some cases in which the victim doesn’t know they have been injured until a substantial amount of time has passed. An example of this would be if a woman took a medication that caused infertility, but she didn’t know she was infertile until years later when she tried to start a family. These cases look to something known as the discovery rule, which may extend the time within which the victim may file a lawsuit.
If the victim was a minor when the accident took place, they have a longer period of time to file a claim, and if the victim was mentally incapacitated when they were injured, they too may have a special period of time to file suit from the date of the injury.
As you can see, there are a lot of exceptions to the general statute of limitations rule. South Carolina personal injury lawyers have a deep knowledge of these exceptions and will be able to advise you on whether you can or should proceed with filing a personal injury claim.
Even though South Carolina has a generous statute of limitations for personal injury claims, you are advised to file your claim sooner rather than later. The sooner you file, the sooner your claim can be resolved and the sooner you can start rebuilding your life.
What is Your Case Worth?
Before you file a personal injury claim, you’ll probably want to know what your claim is actually worth. Putting a dollar value on a claim isn’t as easy as simply assessing property damage, medical bills, and other economic damages. There are also non-economic damages to be considered, such as pain and suffering. You must also take a long view, considering any future medical costs you are likely to incur after a settlement takes place.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will take all of these things into account and come up with a fair dollar value for your case. If you don’t hire a lawyer to fight on your behalf, you’ll probably leave money on the table.
Again, every case is different, but personal injury victims in South Carolina are often awarded damages for the following:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Lost or diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Permanent disability
It’s important to remember that if you file a personal injury claim, you must not act in a way that could jeopardize your case, such as posting about your accident or injuries online, canceling your doctor’s appointments or being a “no show,” or ignoring your doctor’s orders.
Snoozing your social media is the best way to go, as insurance companies will be looking for ways to poke holes in your case so they can say your injuries aren’t as bad as you claim. Thoughtless activities like the ones mentioned above give them that opportunity. Even an innocent photo of you smiling at a restaurant can be taken the wrong way, despite the fact that you might be smiling through pain and it might be your first trip out of the house in weeks.
Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates Today
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates has been representing personal injury victims in South Carolina for more than 40 years. We have seen firsthand the financial, physical, and emotional toll that accidents can have on victims, and that’s why we fight hard for our clients to receive the compensation they’re rightfully owed.
We serve as advocates and advisers for our clients from the day we’re hired until the day we reach a resolution. Whether we reach a settlement outside of court or stand in front of a jury at trial, we provide our clients with excellent legal counsel throughout the entire legal process.
As excellent negotiators who put together strong cases for our clients, we push back on insurance companies who only care about their bottom line and we take care of all the legal necessities so you can focus on getting better.
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates has seven offices across the Midlands of South Carolina, and we would love to help you if we can. Give us a call at 888-353-5513 for a free case evaluation. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®