If you are involved in an insurance claim or lawsuit involving personal injury in Chester, South Carolina, there are several state laws that could affect your claim. Below, we discuss the laws regarding personal injury in our state and what you need to know.
Personal Injury in Chester, South Carolina, and the Statute of Limitations
Every state has a set time limit, or statute of limitations, on how long you have to file a lawsuit after suffering an injury. The deadlines tend to vary depending on the kind of case you wish to file, but in South Carolina, the time limit for filing most personal injury cases is three years from the date of your injury, as laid out in South Carolina Code Ann. 15-3-530. It is critical to adhere to the statute of limitations. If you fail to file your lawsuit before that three-year period, the court will refuse to hear the case, and you will miss out on receiving the compensation you deserve.
Who Can Be Found Responsible for Your Injuries in South Carolina?
In certain cases of personal injury, the person you file a claim against may argue that you are the one to blame, even partially, and that it is your fault that you were injured. In South Carolina, if it is found that you share even a small degree of legal liability for the incident, it will affect the total compensation you receive from the defendants.
This is known as comparative negligence in South Carolina. Under this rule, the jury will be asked to determine how much you were at-fault in the accident that led to your injury. If your share of the fault is 50% or less, the verdict will be reduced by that percentage. However, if the jury finds that you are more than 50% at-fault, you will not receive any compensation.
Dog Bites and Strict Liability in South Carolina
Animals can be unpredictable, and there are some cases where pets have attacked or bitten guests at someone’s private property or even public property if the dog is at a public park. The old law in South Carolina said that dog owners are protected from liability the first time their dog harms someone if there was no reason to believe that the dog was dangerous. This was called the “one bite rule.” However, in South Carolina, there is a new statute that renders dog owners strictly liable for their dog’s actions. This means that no matter what the dog’s behavior has been in the past, the owner is liable for any injuries caused by the dog.
How Can You Prepare for Your SC Personal Injury Trial?
There are a number of processes that take place as you prepare to go to court. Both parties will need to exchange evidence and information regarding the accident and your injuries, and this process of exchange is referred to as “discovery.”
The discovery process usually includes a number of elements, such as:
- Documentation – copies of all documents related to the case and insurance policies. The right documents are necessary for your personal injury lawyer to bring the case forward and prove to the judge or jury, as well as the insurance company, what your compensation should be.
- Interrogatories – these are written questions intended to get more information from the opposite side. The party that is responding to interrogatories is obligated to answer them truthfully and under oath.
- Depositions – this is a witness’s sworn testimony that is taken out of court. A deposition is used to collect information during the discovery phase and, in some instances, may be used at trial. A witness that is being deposed is referred to as the deponent.
- Expert witnesses – during the discovery phase, expert witnesses may testify about their conclusions in your case. In reaching a conclusion, experts can rely on the same evidence that others in their profession would rely on in similar cases.
- Medical examinations – after you have been involved in an accident, an initial examination is usually performed, but the insurance company or at-fault party may ask for a second opinion. The person who performs the independent medical exam for that second opinion is required to have the right medical knowledge or training in the area relating to the subject of your case, and must have experience and credentials in the field of independent medical exams.
What Kind of Damages Can You Seek in a South Carolina Personal Injury Lawsuit?
When you file a lawsuit for personal injury in Chester, S.C., it is usually with the intention of collecting compensatory damages to cover expenses such as damaged property, medical bills, or lost income. Non-economic and punitive damages may also be awarded. The idea of punitive damages is to stop people from repeating negligent or erroneous behaviors.
Make Sure You Have a South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer on Your Side
Navigating the discovery process for a personal injury case in Chester, S.C. can be daunting. Talk to a lawyer at Elrod Pope who has the experience to handle your case for you. With a legal representative on your side, you get the guidance you need from start to finish, so you can stop worrying about the personal injury legal process and focus on your recovery and getting your life back on track.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.