Can I Get a Free Consultation to Meet With a Lawyer?Uncategorized
When you sustain injuries in an accident, the last thing you want to do is pay an attorney to represent you. You are already out of work and are worried about how you will support your family. However, you know that trying to settle with the insurance company might not get you enough compensation to cover all of your damages. And, you believe that more than one person could share responsibility for your injuries but are not sure who to sue—or even how to start negotiations or a lawsuit.
Those are the stresses that you can throw to the side. Personal injury lawyers offer free case evaluations and work on a contingency contract, which means that you do not pay for legal fees unless they win your case.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
That is all well and good, but do we handle the type of case you have? We handle cases such as:
- Car accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Bicycle accidents;
- Nursing home abuse cases;
- Premises liability cases;
- Workers’ compensation cases;
- Personal liability cases; and
- Trip or slip and fall accidents.
If you are not sure how your case is classified, call our office to ask if we handle that type of case.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You
You might think that your case is a minor case and something you can sort out with the insurance company yourself. However, keep in mind that insurance companies are in business to make money. That means that regardless of how much you think you should receive for damages, the insurance company may do its best to deny your claim. If it cannot find a good enough reason to deny your claim, it may offer you as little as possible—a token amount to make you go away.
Working with Insurance Companies
When conducting settlement negotiations, it is not as simple as a phone call. You must send a demand letter to the insurance companies involved. The insurance company will respond and may tell you one of two things: That you do not have a right to recover damages, or they will say that the amount you want is too much and you do not deserve that much.
The insurance company will call you and ask you about the accident. The representative may attempt to twist what you say in an attempt to put all of the blame for the accident at your feet. This tactic does not work with attorneys. Because an attorney knows the law, they know what to say and not say, making it difficult for the insurance company to blame you when their client is at fault.
Why Insurance Companies Settle for More Fair and Reasonable Amounts When You Retain a Personal Injury Lawyer
Insurance companies know that when you retain an attorney to recover damages, they cannot get away with offering a pittance. They also know that a denial is going to cost them more in attorneys’ fees and costs than coming to a fair and reasonable settlement. However, they will try to get away with paying as little as possible.
The number of times you go back and forth with the insurance company depends on you. You can go back and forth several times, or if you decide that after the second unfair offer that the insurance company is stalling, you can go right to litigation and file a lawsuit against the company.
The insurance company knows this, so they tend to offer a fairer and more reasonable amount right off the bat. Sometimes, however, the offer is still not fair, especially if your doctors expect your accident injuries to cause long-term or permanent disabilities.
An insurance company may decide that it is not worth fighting in a lawsuit and they might offer an amount that adequately covers your damages.
Injuries You Could Sustain in an Accident
Accident injuries could range from minor cuts and bruises to catastrophic injuries. However, even the most minor cut could turn into something major if it gets infected. In addition to the initial injuries you might sustain in an accident, you could also sustain secondary injuries, including infections and exacerbation of existing injuries and diseases.
You can also recover the money it costs to treat these types of injuries because you would not have had the extra expense and pain and suffering from these pre-existing conditions if it were not for the actions or inactions of the defendant.
Injuries you might suffer in an accident include:
- Cuts, scrapes, bruises, and bumps.
- Pressure sores from hospital or nursing home neglect.
- Road rash.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions and penetrating brain injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Strains, sprains, pulled muscles, torn muscles, and other soft-tissue injuries.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Crushed bones.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Amputation of a digit or a limb.
- Nerve injuries.
In South Carolina, you can recover two types of damages: Compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are further divided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. The court orders compensatory damages in an attempt to make you whole again, while it orders punitive damages to punish the defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional actions or inactions.
Special damages, often referred to as economic damages, are those that have a monetary value and can include:
- Medical Expenses. You could collect past medical expenses for those you incur because of the accident until you settle or win a trial award and future medical expenses for those incurred after a settlement or trial award. Medical expenses can include surgeries, follow-up appointments, appointments with medical professionals, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, occupational therapy, psychological therapy, and upgrades to your home or vehicle such as ramps, wider doors, and vehicle hand controls.
- Wages. You could collect past lost wages for those you lost because of accident injuries up until you settle or win a trial award. If doctors expect your injuries to lead to long-term or permanent disabilities, you could also collect compensation for loss of earning capacity.
- Personal Property. Depending on the type of accident you are in, it could destroy or damage personal property. For example, you could recover compensation to repair or replace your vehicle, the computer you were carrying in the car, clothing you just picked up from the dry cleaners, and other personal items in the vehicle.
- End-of-Life Costs. If you lost a loved one in an accident, you could recover costs for the funeral, burial, and/or cremation. You might also recover costs for filing the probate case and other expenses related to the death of your loved one.
General damages, often referred to as non-economic damages, do not have a monetary value. It is impossible to put a price tag on pain and suffering and other losses.
Non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress. You could also collect compensation for emotional distress if you lost a loved one in an accident or incident.
- Loss of quality of life if the accident caused you to make major life changes, such as using ambulatory aids or taking prescriptions for the rest of your life.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy or take part in family activities and events.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of use of a body part or a bodily function.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you normally do, such as house cleaning, lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, and home repair and maintenance.
- Amputation of a digit or a limb, whether in the accident or due to gangrene or another issue after the accident.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
South Carolina law also allows you to collect punitive damages if the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional. However, you would have to take an extra step because you cannot collect punitive damages unless the court orders compensatory damages.
You plead for punitive damages in the original complaint, but you cannot ask for a specific amount. In the bifurcated trial, the court hears about your damages and determines if the defendant pays compensatory damages and how much. In the second part of the bifurcated trial, the court determines if the defendant should pay punitive damages and how much he or she should pay as a punishment for causing injuries and other damages.
Statute of Limitations
South Carolina limits the amount of time you have to start settlement negotiations or file a lawsuit. Most personal injury cases and wrongful death cases have a three-year statute of limitations. You must begin to settle your case or file a lawsuit within three years of the accident that caused your injuries.
You should contact a personal injury attorney immediately after an accident for several reasons, including:
- Most insurance companies give you very little time to start the claim process. In many cases, it is 30 days or less.
- You are more apt to forget pertinent facts that could benefit your case the longer you wait.
- Evidence tends to disappear. It could be because of weather washing it away, someone inadvertently destroying the evidence because he or she does not think that you are pursuing the matter, or someone intentionally destroying evidence to hide wrongdoing.
If you are still in the hospital and can speak, we can visit you there or set up a video call. If you cannot speak, a loved one or someone who holds power of attorney for you can contact us to discuss filing a case or starting settlement negotiations.
If you suffered injuries in an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer near you for your free case evaluation.
Nathan Hughey, an attorney and fourth-generation South Carolinian, founded Hughey Law Firm in 2007. Before that, he spent five years defending nursing homes and insurance companies. Leveraging his experience, he now advocates for those injured or wronged by such entities, securing over $220 million in verdicts and settlements.