What is a personal injury?
Though you’ve likely run across the terms “personal injury lawyer” or “personal injury case” before, you may not know exactly what they refer to. At its most broad level, a personal injury claim refers to a harm that is suffered by a person, whether it be physical or psychological. These harms can include broken bones, scrapes and bruises or emotional distress. All injuries can be compensated for if another person can be found negligent and thus responsible for causing the harm.
Examples of personal injury cases
So what are some examples of personal injury cases in the real world? A very common category involves automobile accidents. Given the millions of automobiles in the United States, it isn’t at all surprising that accidents happen and with accidents come personal injuries. Another category of accidents involves pedestrians, often hit by distracted or reckless drivers. Medical malpractice is another big category of personal injury cases and these claims involve doctors or other healthcare professionals who failed in their jobs to provide quality care to patients. Defective and dangerous product cases are yet another category of personal injury claim and involve lawsuits against companies who manufactured or sold faulty products that caused harm. Finally, slip and falls claims are another routine source of personal injury cases.
Examples of personal injuries
Given how wide ranging personal injury cases can be, it’s no surprise that injuries suffered by plaintiffs can be similarly varied. Injuries can range from simple cuts to paralysis or traumatic brain injuries. Car accidents can lead to broken bones, fractures and permanent disfigurement. Medical malpractice, product liability claims and slip and fall cases lead to equally diverse harms, from the minor to the truly tragic. Neck injuries, back problems, sprains, broken bones and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are common examples of problems that plaintiffs sue over in an attempt to receive compensation for the pain they have been forced to endure.
How to know if you need a Camden personal injury attorney
Do all cases require the help of an experienced Kershaw County, SC personal injury attorney? In reality, no. If you’ve been involved in a fender bender that resulted in minimal damage to yourself or your vehicle, then there may not be a reason to hire an attorney. The time and money involved may not be worth the effort and you may not see much of a benefit as opposed to handling the claim on your own. Remember, just because you hire an attorney does not mean that your damages will suddenly be greater; an attorney cannot make the harm you’ve suffered any worse than it already was.
Where attorneys can be very useful are complicated cases involving serious harm. It’s these cases that can cause insurance companies to work hard to deny coverage or limit payouts, an attempt to avoid being on the hook for large damage awards. Having an experienced Kershaw County, SC personal injury lawyer fighting in your corner can be a big relief. Rather than worry about making a mistake or missing a deadline, you can relax and trust that your skilled lawyer has control of your case and will do his or her best to see it resolved as beneficially to you as possible.
What to bring to a meeting with your Camden Personal Injury Lawyer
You likely don’t have much experience with personal injury cases or personal injury attorneys and may be nervous or confused about what to do or how to prepare for the first meeting with your personal injury attorney. No need to be nervous, after all, your attorney works for you. If you want to ensure that you hit the ground running, it can be a good idea to do a bit of planning for the meeting and bringing some important documents along with you. For instance, it can be a big help to bring your insurance documents and any letters you’ve received from insurance companies about your recent accident or injury. Bringing names and contact information for witnesses as well as any photographs or written evidence documenting the incident can also be a big help. Physical evidence and documentation of your injuries are also important and can help give your lawyer a better understanding of the harm you’ve suffered. It’s also essential that you collect any medical bills or other receipts for expenses you’ve incurred as a result of the accident. All these will need to be itemized and the sooner you hand them over to your attorney the sooner he or she can begin to understand the scope of your case.
South Carolina’s personal injury laws are based on fault. Though it may come as a surprise, some states actually have exceptions to these fault-based rules. For instance, in Florida, car accident claims are handled on a no-fault basis, meaning that the person who sustains the harm must exhaust his or her insurance coverage regardless of who actually caused the accident. Under a fault-based system, the person responsible for the injury (or his or her insurance company) will be responsible for paying for the damage.
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina, it’s crucial to determine issues of fault. You will need to demonstrate that someone else was responsible for causing your injuries. Many personal injury cases do this by claiming the defendant was negligent. Negligence refers to the failure by a person to use reasonable care to avoid causing harm to someone else. A person is said to be negligent if he or she did something that a reasonable person would not have done. If you and your lawyer are able to prove that someone was negligent then you are one step closer to being able to successfully sue for compensation of your injuries.
Modified comparative negligence
What if your personal injury case isn’t quite so simple, with the defendant being mostly responsible for the accident, but not 100%? In this case, South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence comes into play. This refers to the idea that the court system will take into account not only who is at fault, but also what percentage of fault is assigned to each party to a lawsuit. In South Carolina, a plaintiff can sue to recover damages so long as he or she is 50% or less at fault in the accident. If you are found to be 60% at fault, the modified comparative negligence system will mean that your case is barred from recovering any money from the defendant.
Let’s put this into practice. Bob is rear-ended by Sue who was speeding at the time of the wreck, but it’s later revealed that Bob’s brake lights weren’t working. Bob takes the case to court and Sue is found to be 90% at fault while Bob is deemed 10% responsible. The jury also decided that Bob suffered $100,000 in damages. In that case, Sue will be responsible for paying Bob $90,000. South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence laws allow Bob to collect compensation even though he was partially responsible, but it reduces the amount of his damage award by his degree of fault.
Estimating the value of your personal injury claim
Most people who have been injured in a Kershaw County, SC accident want to know what their personal injury claim may be worth. Though the question is an understandable one, the reality is that it’s almost impossible to answer with any degree of certainty. Too many factors are involved to provide a clear answer, with cases depending to a large degree on the particular facts involved. Additionally, no formula exists for calculating someone’s harm, especially in cases where the harm suffered is severe.
Types of damages in a personal injury claim
Though it can be difficult to know in advance what your case may be worth, you can get a better idea by understanding some of the components of a personal injury damage award. There are two main types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages include things like medical bills, rehabilitation costs, property damage, lost wages and future medical bills. These are things that can be added up relatively simply and are often not in much dispute. The other category, non-economic damages, is much more difficult to determine with precision and is often very subjective. This category includes compensation for things such as pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consortium. This harm cannot be shown through receipts or invoices, but requires testimony from the plaintiff, loved ones or even medical experts.
Statute of limitations
Now that you understand more about personal injury cases in Kershaw County, SC, a final important question is how fast you have to act to bring a personal injury case. Though it’s unfortunate, the reality is that accident victims do have a ticking clock that compels them to act sooner than they may want. This clock is known as the statute of limitation. The statute of limitation refers to the amount of time that the law has given accident victims to file their claims in court. The exact amount of time varies depending on the category of case. In South Carolina, personal injury and medical malpractice cases must be filed within three years of the date of injury. This means that within three years of an accident you must have filed your claim for compensation. The case does not need to be decided within three years, just filed. If you wait too long, the consequences are great: your case will be barred from court. This happens even if the harm you suffered is great and the other person is clearly responsible. The facts don’t matter at this point, as your case has effectively expired, meaning you will lose the ability to hold the defendant financially accountable for his or her actions. It’s for this reason that it is so important to reach out to a Kershaw County, SC personal injury lawyer quickly after an accident, so that your lawyer can begin preparing your case and ensure that time doesn’t run out on your claim.