Personal Injury or Tort Law
Personal Injury Lawyer in North and South Carolina
No one wants to think about laws surrounding accidents and injury. However, when an accident affects you, understanding the law will help you navigate the situation correctly and to your benefit. How do I file a personal injury claim? What can a personal injury lawyer do for me? What are the specific laws in my state that will affect me? Here are the answers to common questions about personal injury law in North Carolina or South Carolina.
How Do You Seek Compensation for Personal Injury?
“Personal Injury” refers to the area of law that governs the financially compensation for any harm that was suffered due to another’s negligent behavior or through the use of defective products. Ideally, personal injury law will help make an injured person “whole” again, at least as much as can be accomplished through a monetary award.
What is a personal injury claim?
After a car accident, you may incur damages such as property damage, medical bills, future medical care, or losing pay from not being able to work. There’s even pain and suffering to consider—all of which falls under the personal injury claim that you can make with the insurance provider of whoever was at fault for the accident. Filing for compensation can help you get back to your regular life as best you can.
Common types of personal injury claims
Almost always, personal injury claims are the result of accidents caused by motor vehicles. The most common, of course, is cars—but motorcycle and truck accidents also fall under this. You can also file a claim because of an accident resulting from dangerous property—referred to as a premises liability claim. Slip-and-falls, or trip-and-falls, also fall under this kind of claim. What kind of injuries can you file a personal injury claim for, specifically? Without creating an exhaustive list, most of the common injuries are broken bones, whiplash, herniated discs, post-traumatic stress disorder, tissue damage, concussions, and other neck or back injuries. Not sure about what you are suffering from? Contact a personal injury attorney for help knowing where your injury falls.
Do You Qualify for Compensation?
The first step to qualify for compensation is proving that harm has occurred and that another person (or company) caused that harm through negligence or intent.
The plaintiffs (or, in this case, the injury lawyers) must also prove the extend of the damage, whether that involves physical pain and suffering or financial damages.
To be more specific, the law will consider certain types of damages as personal injury. These include (but are not limited to):
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of earnings and future earnings
- Medical expenses (now and in the future)
- Loss of companionship
- Household expenses
How to file a personal injury claim in North and South Carolina
There are a few general steps to take to file a personal injury claim. Make sure you’ve reported your injury to the police and gotten medical help, keeping all records you receive as well as taking pictures of the accident. Next, in both South Carolina and North Carolina, you’ll want to contact a personal injury lawyer if you believe it to be a difficult claim before submitting the actual document and required documents to the insurance company.
Establishing Your Case
The personal injury laws in both North and South Carolina require to plaintiff to establish the defendant’s duty of care in order to show negligence. They must also be able to show a breach of that duty and a link from the breach to the injuries or damages that were suffered.
South Carolina also follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence. This, in effect, means that if the defendants can show that the plaintiff was at least partially responsible for the injuries, the amount of the compensation can be reduced.
If you are found to have been at least 50% at fault, you may not be able to recover any compensation, but you will still be eligible if you are found to be anything less than that.
North Carolina, on the other hand, is currently one of the very few states in the nation that applies the theory of “contributory negligence.” This concept holds that a person whose own negligence contributed (however slightly) to his or her injury will not be allowed to recover anything from another person, even though that other person’s negligence may have been the overwhelming factor in causing clearly-proven harm.
While some costs can be established with a fair amount of certainty, other amounts are open to interpretation: for example, how does one place a monetary value on the permanent disfigurement of a face, or evaluate how much money a student would have earned in the workforce if not for a brain injury suffered, perhaps, in a car accident?
Types of Personal Injury Compensation in North and South Carolina
In South Carolina and North Carolina, you could possibly get compensation for all medical expenses caused by the accident (even in the future), for any wages lost because of the accident, and for the loss of potential future income. You also might be able to recover the cost of repairs for property damaged because of negligence. It’s also possible to recoup the cost of accommodations that need to be installed into your home because of disabilities caused by the accident. You might also be eligible for pain and suffering compensation, which a personal injury law firm can help you calculate.
Caps on Injury Damages in North and South Carolina
While there isn’t a cap for economic damages (such as medical bills or income loss), there is a limit to compensation for other damages. For example, pain and suffering damages have a compensation cap, but the maximum sum is generous—in North Carolina, the limit is $500,000, but in South Carolina, the limit is $350,000. Usually, this comes up in medical malpractice cases than auto accidents.
How to Calculate the Value of Your North Carolina Personal Injury Claim
When calculating damages for a claim made in North Carolina, first consider the billed costs and financial losses as the tangible part of the claim—easy to calculate. However, the intangibles may be more difficult, as people often estimate lower than a personal injury lawyer would recommend. When calculating problems that extend into the future and their effect on your well-being, take the total economic losses and multiply them according to how long they will affect you. For short-term problems, multiply by 1 or 2, but for long-term or lifelong problems, multiply by 4 or 5.
Personal Injury FAQs:
What damages can I recover in a personal injury lawsuit?
There are three types of damages you can recover in a personal injury lawsuit: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic damages are anything that you can prove has resulted in financial loss, such as medical expenses, income loss, future capacity to earn, and future medical treatment. Non-economic damages cover the intangibles of your injuries, such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages are specific to lawsuits. Essentially, punitive damages punish the defendant to deter them from repeating egregious behavior on top of negligence.
Is there a damage cap (maximum recovery amount) for a lawsuit?
The short answer is yes. In North Carolina, for instance, you cannot go above three times the compensatory damages for the punitive damage amount, or above $250,000 if that is greater—drunk driving being the exception to the rule. With medical malpractices, there is a cap of $500,000 for non-economic damages, though there isn’t any for the actual bills.
How do I prove a personal injury claim?
The steps to prove a personal injury claim are as follows:
- You must prove that the defendant acted negligently in their conduct by showing they did not follow their duty of care, made a breach of duty that caused the injury, and the injury cost money to you.
- A personal injury attorney must be able to prove that your side of events is “more likely than not.”
What if the accident was partially my fault?
If you had any liability for the accident, even 1%, you wouldn’t be able to recover damages in the state of North Carolina.
Should I try to settle my claim out of court or proceed with a trial?
Your first go-to should never be a lawsuit, and a personal injury firm will never recommend it as the first course of action. It takes a lot less time and money to settle out of court, not to mention a loss of privacy, so not until two parties reach an impasse should you go this route.
How much will a personal injury lawsuit cost?
How much you will pay for a personal injury lawsuit is quite dependent on the personal injury lawyer you go to. Some lawyers are paid through contingency and some through an hourly rate. Others are paid a percentage of the money you are awarded if you win. Often there is a fee, and it is raised if the settlement goes to trial, so look at the contract they give you before signing.
What is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations is three years from the accident that caused your injuries. If you don’t file a claim in this time period, it will be dismissed.
What is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, the statute of limitations is three years from the accident that caused your injuries. You have this long to file a claim.
Laws for Recovering Pain and Suffering Damages
When evaluating your pain and suffering damages, North Carolina considers the physical, mental, and emotional pain that you experienced. To calculate this, they have two different methods. First, the multiplier method looks at injuries according to their time length: for short-term injuries, they multiply the financial costs by 1 or 2, but for long-term or lifelong injuries, they multiply by 4 or 5. The second method is the Per Diem Method, which assigns a cost per day of what you suffered and multiplies that amount by the number of days it took for you to reach a full recovery.
Don’t Wait to Seek Compensation for Personal Injury
There are limits, called “statutes of limitations,” that define the time in which an injured person can seek compensation. On top of that, the more time that passes, the more difficult it becomes to gather the evidence to support your claim.
Don’t wait to get this started.
At Lee Law Offices, we represent people injured in North and South Carolina. We can start working on your case immediately. Contact us today and find out what a personal injury attorney can do for you.