Personal Injury Attorneys in South Carolina Helping Victims Obtain Compensation
From fine dining to amazing historical sites, Charleston is a favorite destination for more than 6,000,000 visitors annually. The Charleston metropolitan statistical area boasts a population of more than 760,000. Both the population and the number of tourists are expected to increase in the coming years. Unfortunately, more people and more activities bring more opportunities for accidents to happen. If you’ve been injured in an accident due to the recklessness or negligence of another person, you may be eligible for compensation. The skilled attorneys at the Hughey Law Firm can help.
South Carolina personal injury law encompasses a wide variety of accidents that can occur as a result of someone else’s carelessness or negligence. Personal injury cases may involve car and truck accidents, defective products, slip and falls, and premises liability.
When someone acts in a reckless or careless manner and causes injury to another person, they can legally be on the line for damages. Insurance companies and their lawyers who regularly represent these individuals are not in the business of compensating you for your injuries. Instead, they will do everything they can to try and “poke holes” in your case and reduce its value.
The South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Hughey Law Firm regularly take on the big insurance companies and represent injured accident victims during settlement negotiations and at jury trials. Our experienced lawyers can aggressively advocate for you at the negotiation table or in the courtroom to help you achieve the settlement or jury verdict you deserve.
About Personal Injury Claims in South Carolina
Each state in the nation has rules regarding the filing of personal injury claims. Here are some of the highlights of South Carolina’s personal injury statutes:
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in South Carolina is generally three years from the date of the accident.
The state has a modified comparative negligence rule. What this means is that if you are found to be partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, any award you receive for your damages will be reduced by the same percentage as your fault. For example, if you were twenty percent responsible for the accident, your damage award will be reduced by twenty percent.
If you are found to be more than fifty percent responsible for your accident, then you are not eligible to seek compensation for damages from other at-fault parties.
The types of damages that may be awarded for a personal injury claim include economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damages; as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Additionally, punitive damages—meant to punish the defendant for reckless or negligent behavior—may be awarded.
Punitive damages in personal injury cases are capped at three times actual damages or $500,000—whichever is greater.
The vast majority of personal injury cases will be settled before trial. Mediation is required in South Carolina civil litigation for the purpose of encouraging a settlement.
In South Carolina, there is strict liability for dog bite cases. What this means is that a dog owner is liable for any injury to another person by their dog, even if the dog had no previous history of aggression.
It is possible in South Carolina to file a personal injury claim against a governmental agency or its employees if the injury you incurred was the result of recklessness or negligence on the part of an entity or individual’s lawful actions. However, if the injury occurred due to unlawful actions, then damages may be sought only from the individual whose actions were unlawful, not the governmental agency.
Our Practice Areas
There are many ways in which an accident can occur. Here is a list of some of the areas of personal injury law that we have particular experience in assisting our clients:
Auto accidents: We represent those who have been injured in all types of auto accidents, including truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, accidents involving pedestrians or bicycles, rideshare accidents, accidents caused by defective car parts, and accidents caused by defective road design. We not only help our clients to obtain the maximum amount of compensation available through the at-fault party’s insurance, but we also help settle claims regarding property damage, and help our clients file a claim against their own uninsured or underinsured motorist policy.
Nursing home injuries: If your loved one has been mistreated, abused, or neglected by the staff at a nursing facility, we will fight to hold these facilities accountable for their actions, not only for your loved one’s sake but for the sake of preventing others from being injured by the same negligent actions.
Worker’s compensation: If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you have the right to file a worker’s compensation claim in order to get compensation for your injuries, including medical treatments and lost wages. We are happy to answer questions and provide guidance in your decision to file a claim. Additionally, if your workplace accident was caused by the recklessness or carelessness of an individual, you may be able to seek damages from the at-fault party who should also be held liable.
Product liability: Consumers have the right to expect that the products, medications, and food that they have purchased are safe to use. If you’ve been injured due to a defective product, you may have a valid product liability claim.
Slip and fall accidents: Slip and fall and trip and fall accidents are among the most common premises liability claims. These types of accidents can result in serious injuries. If you have been injured due to an unsafe condition at a residential, commercial, or public property, you may be eligible to file a premises liability claim.
Catastrophic injuries: Certain injuries can result in a lifetime of medical care and expenses, and take away the victim’s ability not only to work at the job he or she formerly held, but to be gainfully employed at all. If you or a loved one has suffered catastrophic injuries in an accident caused by someone else, you deserve an injury lawyer who will fight for you to get the necessary compensation to provide the care and necessities you need for life.
Wrongful death: Losing a loved one unexpectedly brings grief as well as complexity to the lives of family members left behind. Unfortunately, the process of holding the at-fault party accountable for the wrongful death of your loved one is complex as well. The experienced attorneys at Hughey Law Firm can guide you through that process.
Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injuries
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence or reckless behavior of someone else, you probably have a lot of questions. While many of the answers depend on the specific details of your case, below we provide answers to some of the questions that we are most frequently asked pertaining to personal injury law.
Auto, Truck, and Motorcycle Accidents
Q: My car was rear-ended, and I suffered whiplash because of it. I have heard that it is difficult to secure compensation for whiplash, since it is such a minor injury and that it’s hard to prove that the injury even exists. Is this true?
A: Not necessarily – injured individuals may recover damages for whiplash depending on the severity of their injury. Whiplash is a common injury suffered by people who have been involved in auto accidents, particularly a rear-end car accident. While symptoms such as neck pain, stiffness, and headaches typically fade within a few days or weeks, some people develop chronic pain that lasts for months or even years from whiplash. Because under certain circumstances whiplash can cause significant pain and disrupt your daily life, it can result in both economic and general damages for some people. In accidents involving whiplash, it’s important to get a medical evaluation immediately to treat your whiplash, as well as to get documentation of the diagnosis to prove damages.
Q: What if my damages exceed the policy limits of the at-fault party’s insurance?
A: Injured individuals often find that the at-fault party’s insurance cannot adequately compensate them for all of their injuries and property damage. One option in this scenario is to file a claim with your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy seeking additional compensation. An experienced car accident attorney can help you with this, as well as search to see if your case involves additional potentially liable parties from whom to seek compensation, such as restaurants or bars who overserve patrons, to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation available to you. Contact us for more information.
Q: What if I am partially responsible for the accident that caused my injury?
A: South Carolina follows a comparative negligence rule that allows an injured party to file a personal injury claim even if he or she partially caused the accident, as long as that level of responsibility doesn’t exceed the responsibility of the other party. However, a court will reduce any damages award by the percentage of responsibility that the injured party bears. For example, if a court determines that you were 10 percent responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, the court will reduce your compensation by 10 percent.
Q: I was injured in an accident caused by the driver of a semi-truck. Who is liable—the truck driver or the company that the driver works for?
A: Depending on the circumstances of your case, a court may determine that multiple parties contributed to the accident that caused your injuries. Potentially liable parties include:
The driver whose negligent act caused the accident
The trucking company if the driver acted negligently while on the job
Shippers who ship hazardous materials without taking proper safety precautions, load the truck improperly, or fail to properly investigate the trucking company that they hired to ship their products
The manufacturer of the truck or parts if a vehicle or parts defect caused your accident
Q: My husband suffered severe brain damage in a motorcycle accident. Can I file a personal injury lawsuit on his behalf to help pay for his current and future medical expenses?
A: Yes, if you are the legal representative for your husband, then you can initiate the legal process on his behalf. Current and future medical expenses are two types of damages that you can seek in a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced accident attorney can help you understand your legal options in this situation.
Nursing Home, Assisted Living, and Home Care Injuries
Q: What types of abuse occur in nursing homes?
A: Unfortunately, all types of abuse occur in nursing homes. In the past, we have represented clients who have suffered physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as general and medical neglect, which constitutes abuse under South Carolina law.
Q: While visiting my mother at the nursing home, I discovered that she had bedsores. Could this be considered abuse?
A: Yes, bedsores are often an indicator of abuse or neglect. Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, are caused by a person laying in one position for too long. Nursing home staff should be trained on how to properly treat bedsores, as well as methods used to prevent them.
Q: I know there are federal laws designed to protect vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care programs. Is there a state law that offers protection as well?
A: Yes. It’s called the South Carolina Omnibus Adult Protection Act, and it covers, among other things, the procedures involved in reporting and investigating nursing home abuse in South Carolina. Contact one of our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys to explain more about what the law entails.
Slip-and-Fall and Other Premises Liability Injuries
Q: I slipped and fell while at the store due to a wet floor. The store owner stated that she is not liable because she did not know that the floor was wet. Does this mean that I am unable to pursue compensation for my injuries?
A: It depends on the specific facts of your case. Business owners and employees have a duty to inspect their premises and make sure that there they are free of hazards. Property owners are liable for hazards that they knew about or should have reasonably known about. Thus, regarding a wet floor, the only exception to the owner’s being found liable is if the floor had just become wet and those in charge of keeping the premises safe did not have time to discover it, take steps to fix the situation, or warn others of the hazard prior to your fall.
Q: While I was walking down the street, a neighbor’s dog bit me. The neighbor told me that the dog had never bitten anyone before and that he did not know the dog would behave this way. Is the neighbor still liable for my injuries?
A: Yes, provided that you did not deliberately provoke the dog to bite you and that you were not trespassing on the neighbor’s property. South Carolina has a strict liability rule in which dog owners are liable for their dog biting someone, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, and even if the owner had no knowledge that the dog was dangerous.
Q: If a person is drinking at a bar, and the bar staff lets that person drive away in a car, is the bar responsible if the driver gets into an accident on the way home?
A: Yes, a court may find them liable. South Carolina law recognizes the liability of establishments who over-serve their patrons, and the law requires that these establishments purchase at least $1 million in liquor liability insurance if they serve alcohol to their customers after 5 p.m.
What Should You Do After Suffering an Injury?
Most people do not go about their daily lives expecting an injury. Getting hurt often leaves people feeling confused and uncertain about what to do next. Knowing how to proceed after an injury can reduce stress and make it easier for you to focus on your recovery. Below are some suggestions for what to do after suffering an unexpected injury.
Step One: Seek Medical Attention
Any time you have an accident with injuries, no matter how minor, seek medical attention as soon as possible. In many cases it’s obvious when you need care. Sometimes, however, your injuries may appear minor at the time of the accident, then turn out more severe later. Traumatic brain injury, whiplash, and internal bleeding all fall into this latter category.
Seeking medical attention can help prevent you from injuring yourself further and provide evidence that your injuries came from the accident, not from some other event.
Keep copies of the documentation you receive from medical professionals about your injury. If possible, take photos of your injuries throughout the healing process, too. Carefully preserving this information could help you protect your rights down the road.
Step Two: Contact Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company can often provide vital help and coverage as you recover from your injuries, but often you have a legal obligation to alert your insurer to your injury as soon as practicable. Calling your insurance company will inform you about what expenses your insurance company will cover and what other benefits your policy may provide. Be prepared, however, for your insurer to ask for detailed documentation about your injury, including how it happened, whether someone else is at fault, and what your prognosis is for recovery.
Step Three: Contact Your Employer
After an injury, will you be able to work? How long will you need to recover before returning to work? As soon as possible, you contact your employer and ask several vital questions, including:
How much paid time off do you have? You may need to use both sick time and vacation time if your injuries require a long time off work. Conversely, your employer may have a policy that requires you to use only your sick time.
Do you have the option to work from home during your recovery? Even if you cannot go back to the office, you may complete some of your work responsibilities from home during your recovery. This can save your income and your sick time, allowing you to use your days off only for the days you really need them.
Can your workplace make accommodations to bring you back sooner? Some offices may already have accommodations in place, including shorter working hours or special seating, that can allow you to return to work sooner after your accident.
Even if your employer cannot make accommodations for you, they still need to know about your injuries and get a better idea of how long it will take you to return to work after your accident.
Step Four: Take Stock of Your Finances
You have talked to your employer and your insurance provider. You have a good idea of the scope of your injuries. Now, take a look at your financial situation. If your full income will continue during your convalescence, that is a lucky thing. Most people, however, will find their income reduced by their recovery. Ask yourself the following questions to assess your financial capacity.
Do you have short or long-term disability insurance? Either type of insurance can provide a financial cushion while you recover. Make sure you check your policy to discover how much it will cover, both in terms of how much it will pay out and when the policy will kick in and provide payment.
Do you have a savings cushion that will help cover your bills? Take a look at your savings account versus your monthly bills. Make sure you have arrangements in place to help cover your regular bills.
Do you have debts that you can put on hold while you recover? Student loan services, for example, may allow you to defer payments until income increases again with little penalty other than accumulated interest.
Are there places you can get help if you need it? Take a look at local churches and food pantries. Talk with family members. You may need financial help during your recovery, and setting those arrangements up early can prevent stress in the future.
Step Five: Contact a Lawyer
The sooner you contact a lawyer, the better your chances a lawyer can help you tackle the challenges of recovering from an injury. An experienced personal injury attorney can help by:
Investigating whether you have a claim against another party. By working with a lawyer, you can identify who caused your injuries and whether you have the right to financial compensation from them. An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to conduct an investigation that evaluates all potential avenues for obtaining compensation from parties with legal liability.
Negotiating on your behalf. Many people find working with insurance companies both exhausting and frustrating. An experienced personal injury lawyer, however, will negotiate on your behalf, freeing you up to focus on the healing process. A lawyer will also have your best interests at heart, and will fight to recover the compensation you deserve.
Providing valuable legal advice. There are legal pitfalls to avoid while you recover from an injury. A lawyer can guide you around them. These may include deciding what you should post on social media about your injury, analyzing the terms of a settlement offer, and sketching out a plan for making the most of your legal rights.
Maximizing the compensation you receive. From discovering more information about the insurance policy that covers your accident to working with you to identify all individuals and entities who bear responsibility in your accident, an attorney’s efforts give you the best chance of maximizing the compensation you receive from your accident.
Elements of Proof in a Personal Injury Case
In order to prove negligence in a personal injury case, the accident victim must be able to demonstrate four legal elements. First, the accident victim must be able to show that the at-fault person or entity owed a legal duty of care. In most cases, this means that the at-fault party was supposed to act as a “reasonable person” under ordinary circumstances.
Secondly, the accident victim must be able to show that the at-fault person violated the duty of care. This means that the at-fault party acted did something that was unreasonable or failed to do something that a reasonable person would have done under the circumstances.
Thirdly, the accident victim must demonstrate both factual and legal causation. In other words, the accident must not have occurred without the at-fault party’s negligence, and the accident was the foreseeable cause of the injuries and damages sustained.
Finally, the accident victim must be able to show that he or she suffered injuries and damages as a result of the accident, or that the accident exacerbated a preexisting injury or medical condition. The South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Hughey Law Firm can help you prove all of the elements of your personal injury case, in order to put you in the best position to recover damages.
Available Damages in South Carolina Personal Injury Cases
Injuries sustained in personal injury accident cases can be debilitating, and in some cases, permanent. Under South Carolina law, individuals who are injured by the negligence of others are entitled to compensation for the economic and non-economic damages they sustain as a result of the accident. Common damages sought in personal injury cases include, but are not limited to:
Loss of quality of life; and
Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
In a personal injury case, the at-fault party’s insurance company will try and undermine your available damages. For example, the insurance company may try to claim that you were injured before the accident or that you were not injured to the extent you may be claiming. A personal injury lawyer can be helpful in gathering and presenting evidence of your losses, ensuring that you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury law can be confusing and proving fault and damages in your case can be overwhelming. Proving the elements of your case may also require expert testimony from a medical provider, economist, or vocational rehabilitation expert. The lawyers at the Hughey Law Firm have the experience to litigate your personal injury case to a conclusion and help you get the best possible result.
Let Us Help You
Regardless of how your accident occurred, it’s wise to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to see if you may be eligible for compensation. Let us help you discover what your legal options are. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, please call us today at (843) 881-8644, or contact us online.