There are less unintentional injuries that result in death than medical injury and incidents of poisoning. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 200,000 accidental injury deaths each year and nearly 40 million injuries or poisoning occurrences that required medical help. in one year. Injuries can happen in several different ways. An injury can occur without any warning or expectation. Some injuries you may experience will be the fault of your own; however, there are some personal injuries that are not your fault, but rather due to someone else’s carelessness. Victims of injuries caused by a negligent party have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to a seek compensation for the losses that were suffered.
What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
To receive compensation in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff (the victim injured) files a civil action so the defendant (at fault party) will be held responsible. The lawsuit declares that the injury sustained by the plaintiff occurred solely because of the negligence of the defendant, their carelessness, or a breach of contract. A personal injury claim has four parts that all plaintiffs must provide proof of. Those sections are:
- Duty of care. Firstly, the plaintiff must prove that there is a duty of care was in place and understood between themselves and the defendant. Duty of care means that it is understood that the defendant was expected to behave in a way that is considered responsible. In most cases, this obligation is indicated.
- Breach of duty of care. Secondly, is proving that a breach of duty of care took place. This basically means that the defendant failed to act with the same level of concern as any other person would in the same situation. If you feel you have been in a situation like this, more on this subject specifically is in the article below.
- Causation. Thirdly, the plaintiff must prove that the injury would not have happened if the breach of duty of care had been upheld by the defendant. The plaintiff must prove that the recklessness of the defendant caused the injury.
- Damages. The final section of proof that the plaintiff must show that the injuries received are the result of the negligence of the other party. Physical injuries and financial losses are both considered damage.
A personal injury lawsuit differs from criminal court. Criminal charges must be shown as being “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Dealing with a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that the claim made by the victim is more likely to be the truth than not to establish a case.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
If the action of the incident is based on carelessness, an individual may file a personal injury suit based on almost any type of accident. Some frequent types of personal injury cases involve:
- Automobile accidents;
- Trucking accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Plane accidents;
- Boat accidents;
- Bus accidents;
- Animal attacks;
- Defective product;
- Amusement park accidents;
- Slip and falls;
- Premises liability;
- Wrongful death; and
- Medical malpractice
You may still file a claim even in the accident that resulted in your injury is not listed above. Contact a skillful personal injury attorney to schedule a consultation at no charge.
What Damages Are Available in a Personal Injury Claim?
Most people file personal injury lawsuits because they have experienced significant damages and pain and the insurance company is unwilling to offer them a fair settlement. It is also possible that the only way they can reclaim losses is by filing a personal injury claim.
You are entitled to receive compensation for the value of all the losses you have experienced due to personal injury. There are some specific types of compensation that you may qualify to receive:
- Pain and suffering. It is difficult to determine the amount of pain and suffering one may experience in total. You may also include emotional distress and agony that resulted in the personal injury as well. This is awarded routinely throughout the country.
- Medical expenses. Recovering medical care and treatment costs is extremely important because there is no cap on the amount of the bill. Medical expenses can accumulate rapidly, and if left up to you to pay, it could result in bankruptcy. These circumstances make recovery for medical expenses the most sought after compensation.
- Lost wages. Lost wages are considered an economic damage. Reimbursement for lost wages include lost benefits, confirmed present earnings, savings, as well as all other monetary benefits.
- Future expenses. Future expenses are losses that have yet to incur after the personal injury, but are most likely to happen. Examples of future expenses are rehabilitation, scheduled surgeries, time taken away from employment, etc. In many cases, the damage has a lasting effect that directly affects the victim’s future finances.
- Funeral and burial expenses. Surviving family members of a personal injury that resulted in the victim’s death have the right to seek compensation for all expenses related to the death of their loved ones.
- Loss of consortium. If the personal injury occurs and it disables you to the point that you must take time away from your loved ones, or are unable to be personally involved in their lives, loss of consortium benefits are available. For instance, if you no longer have the ability to guide and comfort your family, you may qualify for loss of consortium benefits.
- Punitive damages. If the cause of damage was determined by the defendant’s “conduct being willful, wanton, or reckless,” the victim may seek to recover punitive damages. This is stated in the South Carolina Code of Laws Section 15-32-520 . Punitive damages are damages that are pursued with intention to penalize the defendant.
There are two kinds of damages available in personal injury cases that the state of South Carolina places a cap on. These are punitive damages and noneconomic damages. Punitive damages are limited to three times the amount of compensatory damages received, or $500,000, whichever is greater. Noneconomic damages cannot go above $350,000 per defendant or $1.05 million dollars per case, no matter how many defendants are named when dealing with medical malpractice cases.
Comparative Negligence in a Personal Injury Case
South Carolina has comparative negligence laws. This states that if the plaintiff or victim of the personal injury case is responsible of more than half of the fault of the incident in which the personal injury occurred, they are not accessible to file a claim for the recovery of damages. These laws have a large part in personal injury cases.
If authorization of the claim arises, then the total number of damages the victim can receive will lessen according to the determined degree of fault on their behalf. For instance, if the victim’s total damages were $100,000, but they are found to be 5% at fault, they will only be permitted to receive $95,000.
An attorney can represent you and help protect your rights in personal injury cases. Typically, the defendant will try and prove that some, if not most of the fault of the accident is the victim’s responsibility. This is to lessen the amount of damages for which they are liable. It is key that you are equipped to conduct this situation properly. Again, a lawyer can make all the difference for you in understanding and gaining the rightful recovery you deserve.
Proving Fault in a Personal Injury Case
Proving fault is the most crucial aspect of personal injury cases. The defendant will not be held accountable for your injuries if you cannot prove they are liable. You must prove fault lies in the hands of the defendant in any personal injury case.
There is a different standard of proof in personal injury cases. Most people are aware of the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is used in criminal cases. In personal injury cases, the principle of proof is the preponderance of evidence. It is not about the amount of evidence that supports you, but how reliable, thorough, and true that evidence is.
Preponderance of evidence means that the plaintiff’s recollection of what took place in the incident that sustained their injury is the most probable. Proving that the victim’s side of the story is more than likely the correct account of what happened. This does not cancel doubt; it just establishes that the victim’s report of what transpired at the time of the accident is most likely accurate.
It is not always easy to provide a preponderance of evidence. You must provide, the court, evidence that supports your account of what happened at the time of the accident. Supporting evidence in personal injury can extend from witnesses, medical and police reports, to photographs.
In handling these specifics of a case, it is incredibly beneficial to have a personal injury lawyer on your case. They have access to evidence that you may be unable to access because of the disability or injury sustained. An experienced personal injury lawyer will also likely have a wealth of resources that will allow the case to be thoroughly investigated, witnesses found, and evidence collected before your case reaches a trial. Providing these things or other testimonies that are supporting evidence in your case could be exceedingly difficult to do alone.
Negligence Under South Carolina Law
Negligence and carelessness are often one and the same. Negligence is being reckless while doing something, not taking the appropriate care of something, or not behaving in the responsible way any other person in would in the same circumstance.
A plaintiff needs to provide proof that the defendant acted negligently to receive compensation for damages in personal injury cases. The definition of negligence that pertains to personal injury cases is specific. Some examples of negligence resulting in personal injuries would be car accidents where the other driver was not paying attention or found at fault, negligence at a restaurant that resulted in food poisoning, not providing proper safety equipment, or not maintaining a secure condition of your property.
Negligence is determined differently in medical malpractice claims. Title 15- Civil Remedies and Procedures of South Carolina Code of Laws defines medical malpractice as “doing that which the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would not do or not doing what the reasonably prudent health care provider or health care institution would do in the same or similar circumstances.”
Multiple parties can be considered negligent in a singular case. It is not impossible for multiple defendants to be found negligent. There are some cases where the plaintiff and the defendant are both found negligent to some degree.
When a dog bite occurs, it is often a strict liability than an issue of neglectfulness in civil law. If someone gets bitten by a dog, the owner of the dog will be liable for any injury that dog causes, if the dog was not provoked by the victim and it took place in a lawful, public environment. This is found in the South Carolina Code of Laws Title 47. Strict liability means that you do not have to prove negligence for liability. In this instance, the plaintiff would not have to provide evidence that the dog owner was neglectful. The plaintiff would not have to prove that the dog was a danger or was known to be a threat to others. The dog owner must pay for the injuries to the victim because of strict liability. You will be in position to receive recovery for your economic losses if you file a claim under this statutory law.
Filing a Negligence Based Claim
Negligent conduct may be determined if the dog owner is violating any laws (breeding laws or leash laws) established by South Carolina lawmakers. If the dog is not properly kept under control or if you feel that the dog owner intentionally participated in provoking the dog to attack, you may have grounds to file a claim based on negligence.
Positives and negatives are apparent in cases regarding negligence. The positive aspect is that you may receive a larger amount of compensation, if you have severe wounds or scars, pain and suffering. The negative is that you must prove negligence in cases grounded in neglect. You would have to have provide evidence to prove the dog owner was at fault.
The statute of limitations for filing a dog bite case is three years from the date the dog bite happened, as all other personal injury cases. Do not wait to file your claim. If you have been bitten by a dog belonging to another person, do not hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Determining Who Is at Fault for an Injury
Some cases are more difficult in knowing who exactly is responsible for a personal injury. If you were in a traffic accident while the other driver was intoxicated and ran a red light, it is apparent that the drunk driver is at fault. In some cases, who is at fault is not as abundantly clear.
Say an incident occurs that involves a truck driver falling asleep and sideswiping a vehicle in another lane, causing extensive damage and severe harm to the driver of the other vehicle. The truck driver was extremely exhausted and was relying on supplements to stay awake. The evidence provided gave proof of this and determined that the driver was not operating in the right state of mind. At that point in the investigation, the truck driver seems to be at fault, but a deeper look at the evidence shows that the driver exceeded the lawful number of hours to drive at one time. This was a specific order from his employer that he make double routes in half the time. The truck driver’s employer expected double-time driving, even though it goes against the federal government’s law regarding the amount of time truck drivers are legally allowed to drive at a time. This implies that the employer should be held accountable.
Cases that involve multiple defendants in a personal injury lawsuit is a regular occurrence. In these circumstances, it is important that you think thoroughly through the accident and determine not only who is responsible, but if they are the people involved.
Conducting a Thorough Investigation
A thorough investigation is mandatory in deciding the at-fault party. This process of examination will filter through the evidence entirely. An investigation will also evaluate and examine the evidence gathered to support the personal injury lawsuit in place.
When a personal injury occurs, most people are unaware that gathering evidence will be vital to their case. Most do not know how to accumulate the substantial evidence that can be utilized for civil charges or in building a claim. A personal injury attorney is knowledgeable about concrete evidence and what it can determine. Personal injury attorneys are also connected with various professionals that can provide an expert advice about your case that may play a large role in deciding who was at fault.
Contact an Experienced Chester, South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Now
You are not alone. At Elrod Pope Law Firm, we are dedicated personal injury attorneys. We would love to discuss your claim, and we provide a consultation at no charge to you. We can answer any questions you may have and we can also advise you through the necessary steps it takes to get the compensation you deserve. If you have been involved in any incident regarding personal injury in South Carolina, call today to schedule a free consultation. If you are unable to come to us, we will come to you.
It is in your best interest to receive the compensation that you deserve. To ensure yourself a better chance of recovering what you lost, take the first step by contact an experienced lawyer at our firm today.