As personal injury attorneys, located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, we know that filing a personal injury lawsuit can be intimidating as there seems to be an endless maze of paperwork; it does not have to be, though. In this article, we will explain the statutes of limitations, shared fault rules, the types of damages that may be recovered, and the difference between arbitration and mediation in South Carolina personal injury lawsuits.
WHAT ARE THE STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS ON A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
When considering a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina, it is important to know that our state has a statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. A statute of limitations is the time limit for filing your lawsuit and, in South Carolina, the time limit is three years. If you do not file a personal injury claim within three years, you give up your right to do so. The statute of limitations begins when a person knew or should have known, that they suffered harm.
WHAT ARE SHARED FAULT RULES IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
In some personal injury cases, the person you are filing a claim against argues that you are the one to blame for the incident that led to your injuries. If it is determined that you do share some degree of liability, it may affect the total amount of compensation received from any other at-fault parties.
In shared fault injury cases, South Carolina follows a “modified comparative negligence” rule. Modified comparative negligence determines the amount of compensation you are entitled to but it will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault. If it is determined that you bear more than 50% of the blame, you cannot collect anything from other at-fault parties.
WHAT TYPES OF DAMAGES CAN BE AWARDED IN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
A personal injury lawsuit may ask for compensatory damages, which are compensation for lost wages, medical expenses or damaged property.
Punitive damages are also allowed in a personal injury lawsuit. These are non-economic damages, emotional distress or pain, and suffering, are also permitted. Punitive damages were designed to keep people from repeating the injurious behavior. To learn more about the difference between compensatory and punitive damages, please refer to our article entitled, “What is the Difference Between Compensatory and Punitive Damages in South Carolina?”.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A PERSONAL INJURY TRIAL IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
Many procedures take place as both parties prepare to go to court, including an exchange of information and evidence. This exchange process is known as “discovery” and it may include several elements:
Medical examinations. After an accident, an initial medical examination is often performed by a doctor of the injured person’s choosing. Unsurprisingly, the defendant and/or insurance company will want a second opinion.
The qualification requirements of a medical professional performing the independent medical examination should be performed by a medical doctor.
Additionally, the person performing the independent medical examiner should have qualifications in two areas:
- Medical knowledge or training in a specific area relating to the subject of the case.
- Experience, training, and preferably special credentials in the area of independent medical examinations.
Documentation. Copies of insurance policies and other pertinent documents to your case are useful in a personal injury case. Documentation will significantly assist your attorney in bringing your case forward and will help prove to the court and/or insurance company that you have the right to file a claim for reimbursement.
Expert witnesses. Expert witnesses may testify about their conclusions in a case as long as their analysis is scientifically accurate. In reaching their conclusions, experts may rely on the same types of evidence that people in their profession normally rely on in their work, even if the evidence is otherwise inadmissible in court.
Interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions used in a personal injury lawsuit to get information from each party to the lawsuit. The party answering the interrogatories must answer truthfully and may be held accountable by the court if the answers are untruthful.
Depositions. A deposition is the witness’s sworn out-of-court testimony. It used to gather information as part of the discovery process and, in limited circumstances, may be used at trial. The witness being deposed is called the “deponent.”
WHAT IS AN ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR) IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
Not many personal injury cases to go to trial; the vast majority will either be settled out of court or resolved through arbitration or mediation. In fact, mediation is required in any South Carolina civil litigation. This process saves time and money for all parties, including the judicial system. Arbitration and mediation are the best options to avoid a possibly lengthy trial.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION IN SOUTH CAROLINA?
Arbitration. Arbitration was designed to provide a streamlined and cost-effective option to deal with legal issues.
General principles of arbitration include:
- Obtaining a fair resolution of disputes by an impartial third party without unnecessary expense or delay.
- Parties should be free to agree on how their disputes are resolved, subject only to such protections as are necessary for the public interest.
- Courts should not interfere with the arbitration.
Mediation. In personal injury cases, attorneys and their clients will usually attend mediation. Mediation can be done with either a private mediator or a judge who is not assigned to that case.
The mediator meets with all sides at the beginning of the process and then meets separately with the plaintiff and the defendant to see if a settlement can be reached.
While mediation does not always work, it has a very good record in getting personal injury cases settled.
There are a lot of moving parts to a personal injury lawsuit and it is wise to settle the complaint out of court to save time and money. However, it is important to mount a solid case should it go to trial. In a personal injury lawsuit, you will need an experienced litigator by your side. Contact the Lewis Law Firm for the experience needed for a successful resolution.