South Carolina civil law allows victims of personal injury to seek compensation for damages when harmed by someone else’s negligence or malintent. The victims of personal injury often face substantial losses and need the help of an experienced Lexington, SC personal injury lawyer to navigate the complex legal system. Every case has unique circumstances that require a personalized strategy, and our legal team can navigate the process with you.
What Does Our Lexington, SC Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Personal injury attorneys practice tort law. We can help you understand the laws that apply to your case and ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses. The steps we take to build your case depend on the unique circumstances of your accident. However, the essential elements of a legal representative’s job include:
- Advocating for you in communication with the insurance provider or any other parties involved in the defense
- Investigating your accident to find evidence of negligence or fault
- Locating all recoverable damages and ensuring the appropriate valuation for your non-economic losses
- Completing all necessary administrative work, including preparing your demands package with all required documentation
- Preparing your case for trial should negotiations not end in a fair settlement offer
During our initial meeting, we will discuss the details of your case and the proper avenues to compensation available. There are no upfront fees for our services, including representation. We only receive payment if we win.
What Types of Cases Do We Handle?
Personal injuries can occur under many different conditions. Consider some common cases we handle as a personal injury law firm in Lexington, SC. Our legal team has extensive experience in all these types of cases and the applicable laws.
The most common type of personal injury claim in South Carolina involves auto accidents. The state follows a fault-based system to navigate these claims, holding the party responsible for the crash liable for all resulting damages. Some common examples of auto accident cases we see often include:
- Single and multi-car collisions. Rear-end, head-on, side-impact and sideswipe crashes can vary significantly in severity. The question of liability is more challenging in some.
- Commercial truck accidents. Collisions involving semis and other large trucks are among the most severe and deadly. Fault determination is often more complex because the trucking company or a third party could share liability.
- Motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists are more vulnerable on the road and are often the victims of inattentive drivers. They commonly suffer substantial losses.
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents. Bicyclists and pedestrians struck by motorists often have significant claims for damages. However, the question of shared fault is not uncommon in these cases.
Our Lexington, SC personal injury lawyer will use a long list of evidence to build auto accident claims. This can include police reports, accident reconstruction expert testimony, eyewitnesses and more.
The legal concept of premises liability refers to a property owner’s duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions on their property for any lawful visitors. Slip and fall accidents are common claims under premises liability. In South Carolina, if an owner fails to repair damaged property or remove a potential hazard within a reasonable timeframe and you slip and fall as a result, you can file a claim with their insurance provider or seek damages through a civil lawsuit.
Product liability refers to the legal responsibility imposed on manufacturers, distributors and retailers for producing or selling a defective product that causes personal injury. This principle protects consumers’ rights and safety and holds the correct party liable for any damages caused by their negligence.
There are three primary types of product defects:
- Design defects occur when there is an inherent flaw in the product’s design that makes it unsafe.
- Manufacturing defects arise during the assembly or production of the product, resulting in its unsafe condition.
- Marketing defects involve inadequate warnings, instructions or safety information, leading to misuse and injury.
Victims seeking compensation under product liability almost always require legal representation. Our experienced Lexington, SC personal injury attorney understands the complex laws governing these cases and can sometimes initiate a class action suit to include other victims, strengthening your claim.
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional, such as a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or medical facility, provides substandard care that results in injury or death to a patient. To establish a medical malpractice claim, you must demonstrate that the provider owed a duty of care, breached that duty by deviating from accepted medical standards and caused your injury or the loss of a loved one.
Common types of medical malpractice our firm sees include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, medication mistakes, birth injuries and failure to obtain informed consent for treatment. Pursuing a medical malpractice claim can be legally complex and generally requires expert testimonies, making it essential for victims to enlist experienced legal assistance.
Dog Bite Accidents
Dog bite accidents are typical for our Lexington, SC personal injury lawyer. State law nearly always sides with the victim in these cases, making the dog owner liable for any damaged property or bodily harm their dog causes. Most cases are relatively straightforward, but several factors, including the victim’s relationship with the dog owner, can complicate the process. In this case, having a legal representative can ease the process for both parties.
Wrongful death is a legal claim that arises when a person’s death results from someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. This falls under the umbrella of personal injury because the circumstances of the victim’s death would constitute a personal injury claim had they survived.
In South Carolina, only the executor of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If they did not have an executor at the time of their death, the court will appoint one. The surviving family members, starting with the spouse and children, will recover any damages awarded to the estate. If no surviving spouse or child exists, the deceased’s parents are the next recipients. Following them are any remaining heirs.
What Laws Govern Personal Injury Cases in South Carolina?
The three laws anyone with a personal injury claim should understand are statute of limitations, comparative negligence rule and strict liability. Every state establishes the laws that govern tort claims, and in South Carolina, these three can significantly impact your ability to seek compensation.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. For a personal injury claim, South Carolina law allows you to file three years from the date of your injury. If you miss the deadline, the court will likely refuse to listen to your case, limiting your ability to recover damages to whatever settlement offer you receive from the insurance company.
Two scenarios can extend the statute of limitations for a personal injury. If the injured person was under 18 or had a legal disability at the time, meaning the court declared them “insane,” they typically have one year to file once their disability ends. If the defendant leaves the state, the court will likely dismiss their period of absence, not counting it against the statute of limitations.
Comparative Negligence Rule
Shared fault is a common defense against a personal injury claim. If you file your demands, and the insurance company or defendant responds with founded claims of shared fault, it can impact your compensation. However, it does not render you ineligible for damages automatically. South Carolina law applies the modified comparative negligence rule to cases where both parties are partially responsible for the accident.
According to the modified comparative negligence rule, you can recover a portion of damages equal to the defendant’s percentage of fault as long as you are less to blame. For example, if you suffered injuries in an auto accident for which you are 30% at fault, you could still recover 70% of the resulting damages. However, if the court found you 55% responsible, that would disqualify you from collecting compensation.
Strict liability is a legal concept most commonly applied to dog bite cases. This means that the dog owner is responsible for the dog’s actions, even if it has no history of violent behavior. Under strict liability, the owner’s attempts to restrain the dog also do not matter. You can typically recover compensation through the dog owner’s homeowner insurance policy. Exceptions to owner liability include trespassing, working police dogs and provocation.
What Damages Can You Recover From a Personal Injury Claim?
Damages refer to the compensatory losses you sustained as a direct result of the other party’s actions. A critical part of the job as a Lexington, SC personal injury lawyer is identifying all recoverable damages, including economic and non-economic losses, available to ensure you receive fair and fast compensation. In some cases, you may also access punitive damages.
Economic damages, or specific damages, refer to your financial losses. These can include:
- Medical expenses: emergency medical services, medications, hospital stays, doctor visits, medical devices, surgeries and rehabilitative care
- Lost income: wages lost from missing work or loss of earning capacity
- Property repair or replacement: the cost of any damaged property, including replacing a vehicle in an auto accident
- Necessary services during recovery: the cost of in-home assistance with chores, childcare or any other services needed to help with responsibilities
As the party filing the claim, you are responsible for proving your right to these damages. Our legal team helps gather the evidence, such as medical bills, pay stubs and property damage estimates, to connect these losses to your accident and ensure you receive adequate compensation. The process for proving economic damages is more straightforward than proving non-economic losses.
Non-economic damages, or general damages, refer to the incident’s impact on your mental and emotional health. Some common examples we see in personal injury cases include:
- The physical pain and suffering endured due to your injuries and medical treatment
- Mental anguish, typically manifesting as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress
- Emotional distress caused by disfigurement, significant scarring or dismemberment
- Loss of the ability to enjoy your life as you did before the accident
Evidence of these losses can come from precedent, expert testimony, written documentation of your experience post-accident and testimonies from people close to you. Non-economic damages also require the added step of assigning reasonable monetary value to these losses. Our Lexington, SC personal injury lawyer can help you understand that process.
Punitive damages are rare in most personal injury claims. Unlike compensatory damages, these do not replace anything lost because of the other party. Instead, the court may order the defendant to pay a substantial amount in addition to the economic and non-economic losses as punishment for gross negligence or especially egregious actions.
For example, if you suffered severe injuries or lost a loved one in an auto accident caused by an intoxicated motorist operating at excessive speeds, the defendant’s actions could qualify as gross negligence. Punitive damages are more common in cases involving medical malpractice and product liability.
Caps on Damages
South Carolina laws limit the amount of non-economic damages you can recover from medical malpractice cases. The amount increases annually, but cases involving a single provider cannot currently request much more than $500,000. When more than one provider or facility is responsible for damages, the total non-economic compensation cannot exceed just over $1.5 million. There are no caps on recoverable economic damages.
State law also limits the amount of punitive damages to three times your economic damages or $500,000. Arguing for punitive damages is often a challenging process, requiring substantial evidence. However, it can come up during settlement negotiations, and you could receive a significant amount with the help of aggressive legal representation.
When Should You Contact Our Lexington, SC Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you recently suffered injuries caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful intent, you can contact our firm anytime to learn more about your legal options. Several factors can complicate tort claims, and the stakes are high when facing physical, emotional and financial consequences. The experienced legal team at Jeffcoat Law Firm PI can help. Contact us to schedule your free consultation with our Lexington, SC personal injury lawyer today.
The Jeffcoat Firm Injury & Car Accident Lawyers
Address: 5465 Sunset Blvd Suite B, Lexington, SC 29072
Phone: (803) 373-1302
Directions: Click here