Whenever one person is injured at the hands of another, the injured person incurs costs that they would not have otherwise had. Costs like medication, medical bills, and ongoing physical therapy can add up, and along with the amount of time the injured person has to miss from work to go to medical appointments or cannot work due to the injury can be an expensive burden. Add in all the pain and suffering he or she has to deal with daily, and it makes sense to pursue a personal injury claim or suit in South Carolina.
If an injured person does decide to take legal action against the responsible parties, the first thing to consider is whether to file a personal injury lawsuit or a claim. While there are some similarities, there is a significant difference between a claim and a lawsuit.
Personal Injury in South Carolina – Lawsuit vs. Claim
The difference between a lawsuit and a personal injury claim is relatively straight forward. A claim is the action that takes place before a lawsuit is even considered. It involves back and forth negotiation between the injured person and the other person’s insurance company. The aim of negotiations is to reach a settlement, or a compromise, that allows both parties to walk away without having to go through the litigation process.
However, if the claim negotiations are not productive and a settlement cannot be agreed on, a personal injury lawsuit can be filed. There are several reasons a settlement may not be reached, but often it is a case of the claims adjuster disputing the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries or even whether or not the defendant is at fault.
Making a Personal Injury Claim
In South Carolina, a personal injury is an injury caused to a person’s property, body, or emotions due to the negligence of someone else. Personal injuries could include a slip and fall, a car crash, or even medical malpractice. In the state, residents are permitted to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party for a personal injury.
The time period a person has in which to file a personal injury claim is three years. This statute of limitations begins from the day the injury occurred. However, if the injured party is not able to file a case prior to the three-year period, the civil court system in South Carolina will refuse to proceed with a hearing.
Factors Affecting a Claim
Some of the factors that affect a personal injury claim include:
- Medical bills – the past and future medical bills incurred as a result of the injury are taken into account when determining compensation.
- Pain and suffering – the more severe the incident, the more a person may be rewarded for their pain and suffering.
- Working status – the amount of money the injured person made prior to the accident impacts the amount of compensation he or she may receive.
- Loss of consortium – if a spouse was killed, the person may be entitled to a larger compensation.
- Damaged property – property damaged or lost in the accident is included when calculating compensation.
- Recovery – if the person makes a full recovery or is expected to do so, they are likely to receive less compensation compared to someone who was permanently harmed.
- Brain or head injuries – if the person suffered a brain or head injury, the value of the claim often increases.
Comparative Fault and Insurance Policies in a Personal Injury Case
South Carolina follows the rule of modified comparative fault. According to this rule, compensation can be reduced if the person is found to be partly at fault for his or her own injuries. During the course of proceedings, the amount of compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault that is shared by the injured person.
For instance, in a car accident, if the person is found to be partially at fault, then he or she might not receive a value large enough to cover the damages done to themselves and their car. Under the modified comparative fault rule, compensation will be reduced to the amount that is equal to the percentage that is the injured person’s fault. So, if the court finds that the injured person is 20% liable for the damages, his or her compensation will be reduced by that percentage. Also, if the person is found to be more than 50% at fault for his or her own injuries, then typically, they will not receive compensation for their losses.
As for insurance policies, the state of South Carolina follows a “fault” insurance policy law. What this means is that the person who has caused the accident is responsible for any damages occurring from the accident and he or she might ask for compensation from his or her own insurance provider or that of the negligent party. The injured party’s options are as follows:
- He or she can file a personal injury claim in the civil court against the negligent party
- He or she can file a claim with his or her own insurance provider
- He or she can file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance provider, known as a third-party insurance claim
Compensation for a Personal Injury Claim
Some states have laws regarding the limits on how much compensation an injured person can receive from their case, and it is the same in South Carolina.
In South Carolina, cases of non-economic damages and medical malpractice are limited to a maximum compensation of $350,000 per injured party or an overall amount of $1,05 million. These values apply specifically to medical malpractice cases and not personal injury cases such as dangerous drugs, premises liability, or negligence. Furthermore, compensation for damages incurred from outrageous behavior from another person is limited to $500,000, or even three times the value of the damages.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney in South Carolina
A skilled personal injury attorney can support people who are harmed as result of other’s negligence. If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, a car accident, or a defective product, reach out to our SC personal injury attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates for a consultation.