If you’ve been injured in an accident, choosing the right personal injury attorney to represent you is crucial.
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that a personal injury can have on your life, and we’re dedicated to providing you with the support and guidance you need to recover and move forward.
Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys has a proven track record of success in handling a wide range of personal injury cases, from car accidents to slip-and-falls to medical malpractice.
Insurance companies have attorneys working around the clock to protect their interests, and you should too. Let us fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you rightfully deserve.
What is a personal injury lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is a lawsuit that you can file after you’ve been hurt by someone else’s negligence. This negligence can take many forms, including medical malpractice, defective products, car accidents, nursing home neglect and more.
Depending on your type of case, the “injury” that you’ve suffered might be physical, mental, financial or all of the above.
You can file a claim for damages based on whatever is appropriate for your circumstances. For example, if you’ve been paralyzed after a car accident, you can seek compensation for a number of damages, including your medical care, lost wages, rehabilitation, and pain and suffering, just to name a few.
Personal injury lawsuits are filed in civil court, and every case is unique. So everything from timelines to court procedures to maximum compensation amounts can vary based on the individual circumstances surrounding your claim.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys can explain the process and ensure that all necessary procedures are followed to protect your rights after an accident.
Types of personal injury cases we handle
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we handle a wide variety of personal injury cases, including:
- Car accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in South Carolina. We can file claims for both minor and catastrophic injuries resulting from crashes, collisions and more.
- Trucking accidents. Due to their size and weight, truck accidents frequently lead to catastrophic injuries and death. We can help you file a claim for accidents involving semis, tractor-trailers, and 18-wheelers, just to name a few.
- Motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle accidents pose unique challenges in personal injury lawsuits. Our attorneys can help protect you from the bias that exists against motorcyclists and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
- Product liability. There are standards in place to prevent manufacturers and retailers from making and selling harmful products. When these standards aren’t followed and you suffer an injury, our attorneys can help you sue for negligence.
- Slip-and-fall accidents. Slip-and-fall accidents are common at work sites, but they can happen on public or private property as well. Our attorneys have extensive experience with slip-and-fall claims and will work to get you maximum compensation.
- Nursing home abuse and neglect. Has your loved one been injured or neglected in a nursing home? We can help you gather proof, organize a claim and seek damages from the establishment.
- Workers’ compensation. Were you denied benefits after a work injury or fired after filing a workers’ comp claim? Our workers’ compensation attorneys can help ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
- Wrongful death. Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed against employers, healthcare workers, negligent drivers, companies that sell defective products, and more. Our attorneys can help you understand your rights and get your loved one the justice they deserve.
How is fault determined in my accident?
South Carolina is considered an “at-fault state,” which means you need to prove negligence in any personal injury claim. Generally speaking, negligence is based on the assumption that the other person had a “duty of care” toward you, and they failed in this duty in some way.
For example, pharmaceutical companies are required to thoroughly test their medications to ensure they’re free of dangerous side effects. Likewise, drivers are expected to follow traffic laws to prevent putting other drivers in danger. When a party fails to uphold their duty of care to keep others safe, their actions are considered negligent, and they may be liable in a personal injury lawsuit.
What kind of compensation can I expect in my personal injury case?
Every personal injury case is unique, so it’s impossible to give compensation estimates without knowing the unique details of your case. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can usually give you an estimate of how much your case should be worth based on similar cases.
Your compensation could come in many different forms, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Disability payments
- Future loss of income
- Property or possession damages
- Pain and suffering
Another factor to consider is that South Carolina applies something called a comparative negligence rule when determining fault for an accident. Under this rule, both sides in a personal injury lawsuit will be assigned a certain percentage of fault. Ultimately, your percentage of fault will be deducted from your final compensation.
For example, if you are determined to be 10% at fault for your car accident because you were speeding when you were hit by a drunk driver, your final compensation would be reduced by your percentage of fault, which in this case is 10%. So if you would have been awarded $100,000, your final award would be $90,000.
What evidence do I need to prove my case?
Since South Carolina is an at-fault state, you’ll need to prove that you suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence to win your personal injury case. Here are a few potential forms of evidence:
- Medical records
- Incident reports
- Witness statements
- Police reports
- Expert testimony
- Pictures and videos from the accident
- Physical evidence from cars, clothes, equipment or tools
How can I maximize my personal injury claim?
Negligent parties almost always try to deny their fault, minimize damages, and give lowball offers to injured claimants. This is why you need a skilled personal injury lawyer to fight for you.
If you’re looking to maximize the compensation that you receive for a personal injury claim, your best bet is hiring the right lawyer for the job. An attorney can do the following to help you get maximum compensation:
- Gather evidence
- File all necessary paperwork on time
- Negotiate with insurers on your behalf
- Consult experts
- Prepare a case for trial if necessary
How long does a personal injury claim take in South Carolina?
On average, it can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months for a personal injury claim to go to trial. Insurance companies will often try to delay the process even more.
The good news is that many personal injury lawsuits never see a courtroom. Instead, they’re settled out of court after both sides reach an agreement on terms.
Effective negotiations can speed up the timeframe of a personal injury settlement significantly, which is why it’s crucial to hire a firm like ours that has a history of successfully negotiating personal injury cases.
Will I have to go to court to settle my personal injury claim?
Not every personal injury case goes to court. In fact, most are resolved through settlements before the case ever reaches a courtroom.
The basic process of a personal injury lawsuit
Your attorney will draft and send a demand letter to the negligent party and their insurance company.
If the parties aren’t able to agree on damages, your attorney will file a lawsuit.
Each party will then depose witnesses and gather evidence to support their claims. Negotiations continue throughout this discovery process.
If an agreement still can’t be reached, a mediator may be appointed to help the parties negotiate a fair settlement.
If your claim still can’t be resolved, your case will go to trial, but this only occurs in a small number of personal injury cases.
What is South Carolina’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims?
In most cases, you have 3 years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina. However, there are some exceptions depending on your type of case.
With a medical malpractice lawsuit, for example, the 3-year clock only starts when you discover your injury, not necessarily when your injury occurred.
It’s always best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident to ensure you don’t miss your chance to file a lawsuit.
FAQs about personal injury lawsuits
Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that you won’t be charged anything upfront. Instead, they’ll take a certain amount of your final compensation. This amount is usually in the range of 25 to 35% and depends on a number of factors, including whether your case goes to trial or settles out of court.
Insurance companies are usually the ones that foot the bill for personal injury claims. Another driver might be at fault for your car accident, for example, but you won’t sue them as an individual. You’ll sue the insurance company that covers them.
While the case is pending, you may be accumulating medical bills. Your attorney may have you use your health insurance (if you have any) until the case is settled and you can be reimbursed. Otherwise, you might have to temporarily pay out of pocket, or your attorney might be able to contact your health care providers and work out a deal to delay payments until after the lawsuit is finalized.
This is a common question for people who have filed a personal injury claim, and there’s no right answer for everyone. Every case is different. Talk to your lawyer about what you’ve been offered, whether it’s a fair and reasonable amount of compensation, and what the odds are that you could successfully negotiate for more.
It’s always a good idea to hire an attorney for legal matters, including personal injury matters. Doing it yourself comes with risks like missing deadlines, misfiling documents, mishandling evidence or misunderstanding the laws applicable to your case.
Reach out to our law firm if you’re ready to talk with a lawyer about your personal injury case. We offer free consultations, so you have absolutely nothing to lose.
Get a free consultation with our Columbia personal injury attorneys
If you or a loved one has been injured in South Carolina due to the negligence of others, you deserve compassionate and effective legal representation. Our Columbia personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping you get the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.
At Smith, Born, Leventis, Taylor & Vega, we understand the emotional and financial toll that an accident can take on you and your family, which is why we fight relentlessly to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you get back on your feet.