The process of seeking compensation through a lawsuit is one that most people are not very familiar with. If you’re considering a legal claim, you probably have many questions at this stage. The information provided on this page is meant to assist you in your fact-finding mission.
For answers to your specific questions, keep in mind that a free case review with an attorney at Joye Law Firm is only a call or a click away.
Often, the insurance company for the person who caused the injury will try to settle with you before you have an opportunity to hire an attorney. The reason for this is that the insurance company knows it can probably settle the case for less money if you do not have a lawyer.
Research shows that personal injury victims who hire an attorney get larger settlements. For example, a study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that insurance payouts in car accident claims are on average 3.5 times higher for clients who hired an attorney than for those who did not.
The main ways that an attorney can help an accident victim include:
- Conducting an independent investigation of the accident to find out what really happened.
- Consulting with medical experts and others, such as accident reconstructionists and engineers.
- Filing paperwork on your behalf, making sure to meet all applicable deadlines.
- Negotiating a settlement with the other party or the other party’s insurance company.
- Helping victims get the medical treatment they need, including treatment from specialists.
- Providing information and advice about your case.
- Protecting your rights.
You’ve probably never been through a lawsuit before, which puts you at a serious disadvantage when dealing with insurance adjusters and defense attorneys. Hiring representation of your own simply helps to level the playing field.
You may have to go to court, although it is by no means a foregone conclusion. Joye Law Firm’s lawyers will first attempt to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. Should our negotiations produce a settlement offer that you approve of, the case will be resolved and you will not have to go to court. If a satisfactory settlement is not possible, we may proceed with filing a lawsuit (again, with your approval). Once a lawsuit is formally filed, it may be necessary to go to court. However, it is important to remember that most cases settle without the need to file a lawsuit, and if a lawsuit is filed, there is no guarantee that a trial will actually happen. In fact, many cases settle days or weeks before a trial date, or even on the courthouse steps.
A case concludes when a settlement is reached or a verdict is reached by a jury. Note that you can decide to accept a settlement before filing a lawsuit, after filing a lawsuit, and even after a case has been tried but before a jury reaches a verdict. Once a jury reaches a verdict, however, the decision is final – unless you or the other party decides to appeal.
A competent adult who is over the age of 18 and injured may bring the lawsuit in his or her name. Minors and incompetent adults must have a suit brought by either their parents or a court-appointed guardian. If the victim is deceased, South Carolina law allows certain close relatives to bring a wrongful death action.
There are several important differences between these types of cases. One of the main ones is that civil cases – such as personal injury cases – do not result in criminal sentences (fines or jail time, for example). Civil cases involve private disputes between persons and/or organizations. They allege that a legal duty has not been upheld and seek money damages to “make the victim whole again.” Criminal cases are brought by the government, not by victims.
Some injuries, such as those from assaults and drunk driving accidents, for example, may involve both criminal and civil cases. These are separate matters in the eyes of the law.
While a successful personal injury case involves many aspects, the overall goal is to show that the person who injured you was negligent, and that his or her negligence caused your injury.
Negligence, in a legal sense, means that someone, whether by his or her actions or omissions, failed to behave with a level of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised under the same circumstances. For example, a person who runs a red light at an intersection is probably negligent, because a reasonably cautious person would stop for a red light, knowing that failure to do so could harm somebody else.
Maybe. Under South Carolina’s comparative negligence rules, you still have a case as long as you were not more than 51 percent responsible for the accident. Any settlement or award you receive, however, may be reduced in proportion to your own fault. For instance, if your damages are $100,000 and you are found to be 25 percent at fault, the award would be reduced by $25,000 (25 percent of $100,000) to $75,000.
At Joye Law Firm, we offer the No Fee Promise. One of our most-commonly asked questions, this is also one of the most difficult to answer. The simple truth is that every case is different, and we cannot speculate about any particular case without first knowing the facts.
With that said, personal injury victims typically are eligible to receive two types of compensation:
- Economic damages, which cover losses such as medical bills and lost wages.
- Non-economic damages, which cover losses such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
A third type of damages, punitive damages, are occasionally awarded in personal injury cases, but only those that involve intentional acts of harm or other egregious behavior.
For examples of some of the top settlements and verdicts we’ve helped clients to obtain, please see our results page.
Different types of cases are subject to different filing deadlines. For personal injury actions in South Carolina, you usually have three years from the date the injury occurred. For workers’ compensation claims, you must give notice within 90 days of the accident. Claims against the government must be filed within one year of the accident.
Each of these deadlines may be extended if an injury or loss is not immediately apparent. In this case, the deadline begins when you “discover”—or should reasonably have discovered — the loss or injury. For example, this could occur in the case of an occupational disease, which may take months or even years to develop.
In any event, it’s a good idea to file a claim as soon as possible. Missing the statute of limitations may result in you losing the ability to file a claim.
I was hurt while on vacation in South Carolina. Should I hire a local lawyer or one from my home state?
Typically, you’ll need to file a lawsuit in the state where the accident happened. It makes sense to hire a lawyer from that state, because he or she is familiar with the state’s laws and courts. Also, an attorney from out-of-state may not be eligible to practice law in South Carolina without the permission of the court and association with a local lawyer. If you were hurt in South Carolina, it makes sense to hire a South Carolina attorney.
There are no up-front costs to retain our services, and if a recovery is not made in your injury claim, you pay nothing for our lawyers’ time and services. Your only cost will be the responsibility for reimbursing the law firm for its out-of-pocket costs, such as court filing expenses, photocopy charges and the like. If your claim is successful, our fee will be an agreed-upon percentage of the compensation you recover in most cases.
In the event your injury prevents you from traveling to our office, a firm member can meet with you at your house, the hospital, or any meeting place that is convenient for you.
Joye Law Firm opened its doors in 1968. Our lawyers have nearly 250 years of combined legal experience.
Just Call Joye Law Firm for a Free Consultation
Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact a South Carolina personal injury attorney at our firm. Just call Joye Law Firm now or fill out our free online case evaluation form.