Thousands of accidents happen every day in the United States; many of them involve serious injuries. When someone is severely injured as the result of an accident, they may wonder whether they have a personal injury case. While not every accident or injury qualifies for a personal injury lawsuit, many of them do. Those who were hurt in an accident that wasn’t entirely their fault may be entitled to compensation.
What Types of Injuries Qualify for a Personal Injury Case?
There are many injuries that qualify for a personal injury case. The injuries must be significant or have caused a permanent loss of a bodily function, are permanent, or have caused disfigurement or scarring. Minor bruises or scratches heal quickly and generally are not serious enough to qualify for a legal case. It is best to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney immediately after the incident to find out if the accident requires a lawsuit.
Liability is a legal word for responsibility. In accidents, liability means that the party is responsible for it. In order to bring a lawsuit against someone, that person must first be liable for the accident. If the person is not liable, the lawsuit cannot typically move forward. An experienced attorney will review the situation to assist in determining whether the party is responsible, or partially responsible. More than one party may be liable for the accident.
Negligence is a legal name for fault. Both liability and negligence need to be established in order to file a lawsuit. Negligence means that the responsible person knew, or should have known, that there was a dangerous condition, or that an accident was possible. In car accidents, some of the important factors to consider when thinking about negligence include whether the vehicle was speeding, or being driven in a reckless manner. Additionally, the driver is responsible if he was driving while distracted, impaired, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Many times, an accident is caused by one party alone. Sometimes, however, the injured party may also have been at least partially responsible for causing the accident. Not all states take this into consideration, but South Carolina does.
South Carolina is a comparative negligence state. The liability of the accident may not be solely one person’s fault. When more than one party is responsible for the accident, they will share in the liability. The accident will be split between the parties based on their individual responsibility. For example, one person may be primarily responsible for the accident, and the other party may be partially responsible. The primary party may be held liable for 80 percent of the accident, and the other party held liable for 20 percent. In this example, the damages would then be split between the two in this manner.
When considering comparative negligence, the main thing to remember is that the plaintiff’s negligence cannot be more than 50 percent. If your responsibility is 51 percent or more, you are barred from recovery. This means that you would not be able to receive any damages if the accident was more than half your own fault.
Damages are also called losses. Damages include expenses that you incurred directly as a result of the accident or injury. Some of the damages you may seek compensation for are:
- Medical Expenses;
- Lost Wages;
- Pain and Suffering;
- Future Medical or Rehabilitation Costs;
- Scarring and Disfigurement;
- Emotional Trauma; and
- Household Expenses.
When injuries are permanent, or disabling, the victim may be unable to work, or could require ongoing care. Medical costs are extremely expensive. Your medical costs begin with the ambulance ride and emergency room, which alone are thousands of dollars. Ongoing medical care could cost an accident victim millions of dollars over a lifetime.
You are only allowed to collect damages if you can prove them. When you are injured in an accident it is essential that you keep all the necessary documentation. Medical reports, hospital records, medication prescriptions, and other bills are needed as part of the proof of your damages. It is particularly important that you get medical care immediately, even if you don’t feel injured. Many times, injuries worsen over the first few hours, and you need to be sure that you do not have a concussion or internal injuries.
Proving Negligence and Liability
A police report is another document that helps to prove the accident, including statements from drivers and passengers. Witness statements are also essential for proving fault in a case. Sometimes, the accident will need to be reconstructed in order to show definitively how it occurred. There could also be video surveillance available. If so, it will be easier to identify the responsible party.
What to Do After an Accident
After an accident occurs, you will likely be quite shaken up. But it is best to try to remember a few key things. If possible, take photos at the scene, before the vehicles have been moved. Call the police, and get the name and other information of the other driver. Do not admit guilt and do not apologize for the accident. Keep documentation from all medical treatments and make notes to remind you of what you have been told. Do not speak with the insurance company until you have first talked with an attorney.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
As soon as you are physically able, contact a skilled personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will review your accident and injury to determine the options that are available to you. Your lawyer will advise you whether you may have a personal injury case and if so, will help guide you through the process. Personal injury cases are often necessary in order to ensure that you have the money required to pay for expensive medical care. If you were the hurt in an accident that was not your fault, call the personal injury legal team in Kershaw County at Connell Law Firm to schedule a consultation.