What Area of Law is Personal Injury?
In the state of South Carolina, personal injury falls under tort law. These are civil claims and lawsuits that are filed when a person has been injured due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness. Most are settled outside of court, but some go all the way to trial.
Personal injury cases come in many different varieties, but here are some of the most common cases seen 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
South Carolina is a tort liability state, meaning the person who is not at fault in an accident is entitled to pursue a claim against the at-fault party.
In South Carolina, there are often four steps to proving that negligence occurred and caused injury to someone else:
- Duty of care – We have a duty of care for each other when we interact in public. For example, drivers have a duty of care to act cautiously for the safety of others on the road. Shop owners have a duty of care to make sure their retail space is safe for customers. The list goes on. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed them a legal duty of care.
- Breach of duty – There are many ways that a duty of care can be breached. One example would be if a retail store knew there was a spill but failed to clean it up, resulting in a customer’s slip-and-fall accident.
- Causation – This requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant’s breach of duty caused their injury and losses.
- Harm – The plaintiff must prove that they suffered actual harm as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
If a plaintiff is able to prove all of the above, they can be eligible to receive compensation. However, doing so can be an uphill battle – even if the case seems straightforward. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.
Damages & comparative negligence
When a plaintiff receives damages in a personal injury case, that money is meant to serve as compensation for the financial, physical, and emotional injury the victim has experienced as a result of the accident.
In personal injury cases, damages are often paid out for the following:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Lost or diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Permanent disability
- Punitive damages
- Funeral expenses (in wrongful death cases)
South Carolina is a comparative negligence state, which means the plaintiff can receive damages even if they played a partial role in the accident – so long as their role was less than 50 percent. If a person is responsible for more than 50 percent of the accident, they cannot claim any damages.
In cases involving comparative negligence, the amount of fault the plaintiff played will serve to reduce the amount of damages they receive. For example, if it is determined that a plaintiff was 10 percent responsible for a car accident when they were hit by another car, the damages they receive would be reduced by 10 percent.
Settlement or trial?
Most cases are usually settled outside of court after negotiations between the plaintiff and the at-fault party’s insurance company. Although you aren’t required by law to hire an attorney for personal injury cases, doing so will set you up for the best possible outcome.
South Carolina personal injury attorneys know exactly how to negotiate with the other side’s insurance company, and they know all the tricks that insurance companies use to avoid paying out a fair sum. One of the biggest benefits of having a lawyer during negotiations is that they know what your case is worth and they’ll refuse to back down. An attorney will go back and forth with the insurance company in an effort to settle the case, but they won’t be afraid to take them to court if they refuse to play fair.
You have to remember that lawyers negotiate for a living, which is why it’s a good idea to have one representing you in your personal injury case. The other side’s insurance company will have a team of lawyers trying to poke holes in your claim, in an attempt to stop you from getting the full compensation you deserve. A lawyer can stand up to those tactics and fight hard for you.
Lawyers are extremely beneficial when trying to reach a settlement, taking part in depositions, and going through mediation. Without an attorney, you might feel bullied or tricked into accepting a settlement that is far too low and doesn’t take into account future expenses. A skilled attorney knows when a settlement isn’t fair and when the insurance company is playing games.
If a settlement can’t be reached and the case is taken to trial, both sides will stand in front of a jury. Once again, the insurance company will have their own powerful lawyers who are highly experienced at what they do, so it only makes sense for you to have an equally experienced attorney on your side.
Whether your case gets settled before going to trial or gets decided by a jury in a courtroom, one thing is certain – the legal process can be very confusing for someone who has never filed a personal injury claim. Hiring a lawyer can alleviate that confusion, as they can cut through the red tape and do all the legal legwork while you focus on getting better.
Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates today
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates has been working with personal injury victims in South Carolina for more than 40 years, and we are proud of our strong track record of achieving great results.
We are experienced in all areas of personal injury law, and we fight tirelessly for all of our clients to receive every penny they are rightfully owed following their accident. Our attorneys understand the physical, emotional, and financial costs that personal injury victims are forced to endure, and we believe in doing everything we can to make sure our clients aren’t left to pay for an accident they didn’t cause.
We consider it a privilege to fight for what is right. We also file wrongful death claims on behalf of families who have lost loved ones due to accidents in South Carolina. Although we know that no amount of money can bring a loved one back, we believe in doing what we can to help eliminate the financial burden that comes with burying a loved one.
Our law firm prides itself on the great work we do for personal injury victims, and we are proud of our excellent client relationships. We always keep our clients’ best interests at heart and communicate with them every step of the way.
We have seven offices throughout the Midlands of South Carolina, in Aiken, Camden, Columbia, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Sumter, and we would love to give you a free case evaluation. There’s absolutely no obligation to hire us – but if you do, you won’t pay anything unless we help collect money for you.
Give us a call today at 888-353-5513. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®