Imagine you are shopping at your local grocery store. There is frequently water on the floor, and you are concerned that one of the older patrons will slip and fall. You have even mentioned this numerous time to the store management. Well, just as bad luck would strike, on your next visit you slip and fall. When you hit the ground, you hear your arm fracturing, and then you feel the pain. Now, the question remains, what can you do? Who will pay for all the medical expenses?
Personal Injury Laws in South Carolina
In the state of South Carolina, you have three years to file a lawsuit for personal injuries. It is important for you to file the lawsuit as soon as possible. The statute of limitations might be three years, but remember that there must be enough time to file an appeal should the need be. No court will hear your case if you file after the three years.
There are various types of lawsuits that you can file, which includes product liability and injury during a car accident.
Comparative Fault Rule
South Carolina has comparative fault laws, which means that the percentage of fault for all parties involved must first be determined before you can claim. If found that you are 51% or more at fault for your injuries, then you can claim nothing at all.
If you have fallen on the wet floor, but you have ignored the warning signs that were put up by the store. The jury could find that you were 30% at fault and the grocery store were 70% at fault. You will then be able to claim 70% of your damages. However, if the jury finds that you were 60% at fault and the grocery store were 40% at fault, you will not be able to claim at all.
This comparative fault rule is taken into account for all personal injury claims, whether it was a car accident or you fell in the store. Having a good personal injury lawyer will ensure that the correct percentage of fault is given to all parties.
What Must I Do If I Get Injured?
First, it is important to take care of your injuries. Phone the emergency services or ask someone do so on your behalf. Then get the medical help that you need. Remember to not admit fault during this time. Do not apologize to the store owner for ignoring the signs. If you apologize, it can be seen as you are admitting that it was your fault. Take note of what is being said and done when the emergency services arrive. If you can, take photos of your surroundings. It is important to see the detail and hear what people say. It might be that the manager has told one of the employees to put up the signs, but the employee has failed to do so. When the employee apologizes or the manager is reprimanding the employee, you must take note of this.
The moment you can make a call, you need to call an experienced injury attorney. It is important to inform them as soon as possible. Tell them about your intention of filing a personal injury claim. They will be able to start the process. They will also be able to gather the information that you were not able to, such as video footage, witness information and other information that they deem important.
How Does the Personal Injury Claim Process Work?
The first step in filing a claim would be to file it with the insurance company of the other person or store, which is usually an administrative process where you fill in the paperwork and then send it through to the company. Your lawyer will be able to assist you with this, and they will ensure that all the correct information is sent with the claim.
You will be able to claim for medical expenses, general damage as well as property damage. The claim amount is determined by using a straightforward formula. All the medical expenses are multiplied by a number. This number is the representation of your injury. If you were injured severely, the number can be an 8 or a 10. For less severe injuries the number can be a 2. The equation will look like this: medical expenses x (number) = general damages. The calculation, in the end, will be like this:
Medical expenses + general damages + property damage = settlement offer
If there were no property damage, then this will be either left out, or the value will be a zero.
The insurance company will send a claims adjuster to investigate the claim. You or your lawyer can negotiate with this person. Remember that they only use the evidence that is presented to them. After they have evaluated and investigated the claim, they will report to the insurance company. The company will then send you a settlement offer. Do not sign this if you are not happy with the amount. If you are unhappy with the settlement, your lawyer will let the company know. Then you can start with the filing of the lawsuit. If the person is uninsured, you can either file a lawsuit directly or claim from your insurance company if you have that benefit on your policy.
Remember that if you choose to claim from your own insurance company, you will sign away your right to sue. The insurance company will then file a lawsuit to recover costs.
Limitations on Personal Injury Settlements
South Carolina has set limitations on the settlement amounts for personal injury claims. Punitive damages may not exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500 000. Certain circumstances such as a felony conviction, the cap is four times compensatory damages or $2 million.
With certain claims, there are no limitations at all. Your attorney will be able to tell you under which cap your claim falls. There is usually a cap of nine times compensatory damages. However, there are extreme circumstances where all the limits will not be applicable.
When Must I Call A Personal Injury Lawyer?
Whether you were injured in a car accident or you slip and fall in the grocery store, it is always wise to contact a personal injury attorney. The lawyer will be able to tell you whether you have a claim or not. And if you have a claim, they will be able to estimate what your claim is worth.
Remember that you must choose an attorney that has the necessary experience in personal injury claims. They mostly work on a contingency basis, which means you do not need to pay them until your claim has been successful. This also ensures that the lawyer works hard for you to have a successful claim. If you fell and were injured, call the experienced lawyers at the David Aylor Law Offices today to discuss the specifics of your case.
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.