Personal Injury Attorneys
and how they can help…
What is a personal injury case?
At its most basic level, a personal injury case occurs when one person was harmed by another person. When you’ve been injured it is important to talk with a Personal Injury Lawyer about your case. A Personal Injury Attorney can explain factors about your case, the process, and help navigate the insurance/settlement after one caused you harm. The harm can take on a multitude of forms, from debilitating physical injury to relatively minor harm.
Examples from a personal injury lawyer in Greenville, SC
Personal injury is a very wide umbrella that can encompass many different kinds of cases. One very common example of a personal injury case is an auto accident case. Auto accident cases include those accidents involving tractor-trailers, motorcycles, buses and even pedestrians. Premises liability cases are another big group of personal injury claims. Premises liability cases can include things like slip-and-fall claims, dog bites, or any other harm that occurs to someone while on another person’s property. Product liability cases are a third category of personal injury claims. These cases concern poorly designed or defective products that cause harm to consumers. In each of the above examples, a plaintiff was harmed due to the action (or inaction) of a defendant, thus giving rise to the personal injury claim.
Why it’s important to seek medical attention sooner rather than later
If you’ve been involved in an accident that resulted in injury to yourself or others, it is crucial that the injured party receive medical attention quickly. Unfortunately, people often ignore this advice, afraid that they’ll seem dramatic or that they will have wasted a doctor’s time. This is almost always a mistake. If you’ve been injured and suspect that you might benefit from a doctor’s care, do not waste time, and go get help right away.
Delaying care can prove costly in a number of ways. First, and most importantly, your health may be jeopardized by delay. What may have started as a minor injury can become much more severe if ignored. By going to the doctor soon after an incident occurs, you can receive assessment and treatment right away, minimizing your harm and putting you on the path to recovery. By delaying, any treatment will also be delayed, potentially putting yourself in a worse position than you would otherwise have been.
Second, it is important to seek medical assistance promptly because it reduces the likelihood that an insurance company or defendant will use the delay against you. Insurance companies and those responsible for causing harm will try to minimize the amount of money they are required to pay. One way of doing this is to argue that your injuries are either nonexistent or not as severe as you are claiming. By failing to go seek medical treatment early on, you open the door for an insurance company to argue that your injuries must not be serious. The argument made by defendants is that if the injury had actually been serious, the person would have sought assistance immediately, rather than waiting days or weeks to get a proper evaluation. Don’t give the insurance companies the chance to use this argument, seek medical care right away.
A third reason why seeking medical help quickly can be so beneficial is because it gets your injuries down on paper, recording in medical notes what happened and when. If you delay, it is possible that an insurance company or defendant could argue that while your injuries are real, they are the result of some third, unrelated party. An example would be if you were harmed in a car accident, but delayed going to the doctor and later went and discovered that you had seriously damaged your back. An insurance company could claim that this back injury was real but that the accident didn’t cause the harm, instead saying that you were harmed either at work or on your own time.
How can a personal injury attorney help?
If you’ve been involved in an incident that left you recovering from injuries, you may be confused about where to turn for help. Some people believe that it is a waste of time and money to consider consulting a personal injury lawyer, preferring to handle a personal injury case on their own. Though this is certainly possible, it may not be the best choice for you and your family.
One thing that a personal injury lawyer can help with is navigating the confusing court and legal system. Personal injury cases require an understanding of not only the law in South Carolina, but also South Carolina court rules and procedures and filing deadlines. Beyond when to do things, you’ll also need to know what to say, how to draft motions and petitions and how best to lay out arguments and counter those arguments made by the opposing party. Relying on an experienced personal injury attorney can be a tremendous help as they have been down the road before. Having a relationship with other attorneys, court staff and insurance companies can prove invaluable and allows a lawyer to navigate an otherwise complicated case much more smoothly and successfully than when trying to do so on your own.
Another big, though seldom discussed, benefit of hiring an attorney to handle your Greenville, SC personal injury case is that you can give you peace of mind, knowing that your case is in capable hands. Rather than worrying about deadlines and motions and responding to calls and emails from insurance companies or lawyers, you can leave this to your experienced attorney. Those who have suffered physical harm due to the actions of someone else should focus their time and energy on healing, not handling an exhausting legal claim. For many people, the stress relief of handing a case off to someone else, freeing you up to worry about other things, is reason enough to consider hiring a personal injury attorney. It’s the reason we often say “We take care of your case so you can take care of you.”
What do you need to prove to win a personal injury claim?
If you want to win your Greenville, SC personal injury case, you’ll need to make sure that you have evidence proving several things. First, you need to demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. An example of that might be a business that owes a duty of care to its customers and is required to protect against obvious dangers. Next, you’ll need to demonstrate that the defendant violated that duty of care in some way. Following along with the same example, if the business allowed water to drip from the ceiling and collect on a slick tile floor, that would be a good indication that the owners breached the duty of care owed to shoppers. Next, you’ll need to somehow tie the breach of that duty of care to harm that was suffered by the plaintiff, harm that can be quantified with some kind of damages. In the previous example, if the wet tile floors led to a customer slipping and falling, breaking his or her arm, and resulted in expensive medical bills, that would be a clear example of the breach of duty of care resulting in damages to a plaintiff.
Damages in a personal injury case
If you’ve been injured in South Carolina and are considering filing a claim for compensation, you will likely be curious to understand what your case may be worth. Though this is a very common question, it can be difficult to answer with any precision. The value of a case depends entirely on its specific facts, so no one-size-fits-all answer is possible.
That being said, let’s walk through some of the components of a damage award. First, there’s a difference between two main types of damage: economic and non-economic. Economic damages include those that are relatively easy to quantify. These are damages that you can usually point to receipts or estimates for, taking out a lot of the guesswork. Non-economic damages are those that aren’t so easy to nail down. These include things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and other harms that are subjective and defy simple addition or subtraction to calculate. These will need to be proven by testimony from friends, family members or even expert witnesses and are often subject to debate.
Now that we’ve discussed the two broad categories of damages, what are some specific examples of damages? First, there are medical bills. Anything related to medical treatment associated with the incident, hospitalization, surgical costs, pharmaceutical costs or rehabilitation expenses can all be compensated. Second, there are lost wages. If you lost time off of work, this can be compensated. Similarly, if your future earning capacity has been diminished due to an accident, this too can be compensated. Third, expenses associated with property damage can also be compensated. That means if you had a vehicle or clothing or other item of property that was harmed, the cost of this can also be included in your personal injury claim.
Is there a time limit to filing your Greenville, SC personal injury case?
Yes. Let’s be very clear here as this is incredibly important to understand. There are time limits that impact the filing of your South Carolina personal injury claim. These time limits are critical to understand as ignoring them can result in your case being tossed out of court.
So what’s the time limit? In South Carolina, the law says that injured plaintiffs have three years to file a claim in court. Does this mean that the claim must be over and done within three years? No. It just means that the personal injury case must have been filed within the three year time period.
When does the clock start ticking? Many people wonder when the three years begins. Typically, the time period of the statute of limitation begins running on the date of the incident that caused the injury. In the case of a slip-and-fall case, that means the day you slipped and fell is the date that starts the clock ticking. However, some cases are more complicated than that and some injuries can result in harm that is not immediately apparent. For instance, if you were injured in a way that did not result in obvious harm and it took several weeks or even months to go to a doctor, the date may be pushed back to account for this. In these cases, the day that a person became aware of the harm they suffered, or should have become aware of it, is when the clock starts to tick.
What happens if you don’t move quickly enough? Sadly, if you fail to take into account the importance of time limits in a South Carolina personal injury case, you may find yourself out of luck. The law is clear that cases filed after the statute of limitation has expired will be barred from court. This rule applies even if your case is rock solid or if the defendant is clearly guilty. The rule is the rule and no matter how strong your case is, the judge will be forced to throw out the case, leaving you with no way to receive compensation. To avoid this, be sure and turn your case over to a skilled Greenville, SC personal injury attorney early on, letting him or her worry about keeping up with deadlines.