Accidents can happen anywhere, and when they do, the damage can be severe. You could find yourself suffering serious injuries that require ongoing medical care and treatment, while preventing you from working or engaging in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed. If your injuries resulted from the reckless or negligent actions of another, you may be tempted to settle your claim with their insurance provider. Unfortunately, these settlements often do not come close to providing the total amount of compensation you need to recover.
Through a personal injury claim, our attorneys fight to get you the total amount of compensation you are entitled to for the injuries you have suffered. Before making any statements, accepting any offers, or signing any documents presented to you by insurance company representatives, it is important to be aware of the types of compensation that may be available to you in your case.
The Role of Negligence in Personal Injury Claims
Personal injuries occur under a variety of circumstances; these may include injuries resulting from car accidents, slipping and falling on a wet floor, being struck by a falling object, or being bitten by a neighbor’s dog. While often attributed as accidental, the fact is that these injuries are often due to the negligence of another party. Black’s Law Dictionary defines negligence as either doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to others, and examples of negligent parties include the motorist who drives drunk, the shopkeeper who fails to warn customers of potentially hazardous conditions, and the neighbor who allows their dog to run loose.
When injuries do occur, the person whose negligent actions resulted in the ‘accident’ can be held legally liable for any injuries that result. Determining fault and proving negligence are key elements in personal injury cases, as well as being a factor in the type and amount of damages you may be entitled to receive.
Types of Damages Under South Carolina Law
In personal injury cases involving negligence, the term ‘damages’ refers to the types of compensation victims are entitled to receive. As listed under Section 15-32-210 and 510 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, these include the following:
Economic Damages: These are intended to cover actual and future costs that may arise as the result of your injuries. They include:
- Medical care and hospital expenses;
- Rehabilitative services;
- Home health care and assisted living services;
- Lost wages;
- Educational and training costs, if you are unable to return to your previous position;
- Loss of benefits, including retirement income;
- Costs to repair or replace damaged property;
- Loss of services provided to your spouse.
Non-Economic Damages: These damages are those that do not have a specific dollar amount attached to them, and instead rely on estimated values used to compensate you for your losses. These include:
- Pain, suffering, and inconvenience you endured as the result of your injuries and treatment for them;
- Mental anguish and emotional distress;
- Loss of society and companionship, due to activities you can longer participate in;
- Loss of quality or enjoyment of life;
- Loss of consortium, which provides compensation for losses suffered in your personal and intimate relationship with your spouse.
Punitive Damages: These are damages awarded by a jury in addition to non-economic damages. They are meant to punish the at fault party for conduct that was particularly reckless or negligent, while deterring others from similar actions. Factors considered in awarding punitive damages include:
- The level of harm suffered by the victim;
- The degree of culpability of the at fault party in causing that harm;
- The existence of similar, past conduct.
It is important to note that the above types of damages are only available in court and by filing a personal injury lawsuit. While an insurance company settlement may cover some of your actual costs, it will not include non-economic and punitive damages. It is also important to note that any amount you are entitled to recover will be reduced if you are found to be even partially to blame.
Our South Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help You Today
If you or someone you care about has been injured as the result of an accident or due to someone’s reckless or negligent conduct, contact our South Carolina personal injury attorneys right away. At the Joye Law Firm, we provide the professional legal representation you need to protect your rights and interests, and can advise you on how to get the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.