Our Personal Injury and Child Abuse FAQs
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What is the statute of limitations for child abuse cases in South Carolina?
When a child suffers abuse, the law dictates just how long he or his representative has to take legal action against those responsible. Known as the statute of limitations, these laws clearly define the time frame in which a personal injury lawsuit can be filed in civil court. In most cases, South Carolinians have three years to file a personal injury claim. However, South Carolina law provides exceptions for abused children and for those seeking to take legal action due to abuse suffered when they were a minor.
Under these exceptions, a victim of child abuse has one year from his 18th birthday—or three years from the date the abuse occurred (or was discovered)—to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for the abuse. The victim can file the claim according to whichever is later: his 18th birthday or three years from the date of the abuse.
The law provides additional exceptions for childhood sexual abuse victims. South Carolina Code Section 15-3-555 states that victims of childhood sexual abuse or incest can file a personal injury lawsuit up to six years after they turn 21 or within three years of learning that an injury was caused by sexual abuse they experienced as a child, whichever comes later.
Even though the law gives child abuse victims years to file a personal injury claim, it’s wise to take action sooner rather than later. Waiting to file a civil suit may result in the victim or witnesses forgetting important details, or evidence being lost or contaminated.
Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If your child was a victim of abuse or if you suffered abuse as a minor, understanding your legal rights is extremely important. The knowledgeable attorneys with Hite and Stone can help you explore your options for compensation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation of your child abuse case.
A member of my family was killed in an accident. Can I file a claim on my loved one’s behalf?
Possibly. When someone is killed in an accident caused by another person or organization’s negligence, South Carolina law allows surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim and seek compensation for a wide range of economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Accident-related medical expenses incurred by the deceased prior to death.
- Accident-related property damages and other losses.
- Funeral fees.
- Burial or cremation costs.
- Lost wages and benefits.
- Pain and suffering.
- Mental anguish.
- Loss of experience, judgment, and guidance.
- Loss of care and companionship.
However, not everyone who is related to the deceased is eligible to file a wrongful death claim in South Carolina. State law limits the right to bring a wrongful death claim to the executor of the deceased’s estate. This executor—also known as a personal representative or estate administrator—pursues the wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family members. If the wrongful death lawsuit is successful, the decedent’s following family members would be eligible to recover damages:
- Surviving spouse and children.
- Parents (in the event that the deceased has no surviving spouse or children).
- Legal heirs (in the event that the deceased has no surviving spouse, children or parents).
Do You Need an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney?
At Hite and Stone, we understand just how traumatic and stressful it can be to lose a loved one because of someone else’s reckless actions. While no amount of restitution could ever make up for the loss of your loved one, the compensation pursued in a wrongful death claim can help ensure that your family has the means to move forward financially after such a tragedy. Contact Hite and Stone, Attorneys at Law, today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation. We’re eager to help you explore your legal options and fight for whatever compensation you deserve.
Who is eligible to file a wrongful death suit?
When someone is killed in a tragic accident caused by another person’s wrongful act or negligence, his death can have a significant emotional and financial impact on their surviving family members. A wrongful death lawsuit allows family members to pursue compensation for financial losses incurred as a result of their loved one’s untimely death, as well as for non-economic damages such as loss of care, companionship, and protection.
However, in South Carolina, the only person eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the executor of the deceased’s estate. The executor—who may also be called a personal representative or estate administrator—must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, and is often named in the deceased’s will or estate plan. The court may choose to appoint an executor in the event that there is no will or estate plan, the existing will or estate plan doesn’t name an executor, or the named executor is unable or unwilling to carry out his duties.
Statute of Limitation Laws in South Carolina
According to South Carolina’s statute of limitation laws, executors have three years from the date of the deceased’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Also, although the executor is the one who brings the wrongful death action, the lawsuit will pursue compensation on behalf of deceased’s surviving family members. In South Carolina, family members eligible to recover compensation in a wrongful death case include:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse or children.
- The deceased’s surviving parents, if the deceased had no surviving spouse or children.
- The deceased’s heirs, if the deceased had no surviving spouse, children, or parents.
Knowledgeable Wrongful Death Attorneys
If your loved one died in an accident caused by someone else’s negligent actions or neglect, your family may be eligible for compensation for a wide range of damages, including funeral and burial or cremation expenses, lost wages and benefits, mental and emotional anguish, and more. Hite & Stone, Attorneys at Law, can help you explore your legal options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial analysis of your case.
How long do I have to file my case?
The term statute of limitations refers to how long you have to file a civil case. Each state has its own statute of limitations laws, so it’s important to make sure you’re reviewing information for South Carolina before deciding how to proceed with your case.
Personal injury claims seek compensation for injuries from car accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, or other incidents caused by another party’s negligence. The statute of limitations for this type of case in South Carolina is three years, but the statute of limitations can be tolled, or suspended, if the victim is a child or declared legally insane. Tolling may also be possible if the defendant lives out of state for one year or more after the injury.
A wrongful death suit is a type of personal injury claim where the family members of the deceased are seeking damages related to the death. South Carolina’s statute of limitations for this type of case is three years from the date of death, unless the discovery rule applies. This means that if the deceased person knew or should have known about the cause of his or her illness or injury before death, the statute of limitations begins running from the time of discovery.
A product liability claim holds the manufacturer of a dangerous product responsible for the harm that it inflicted. This type of case has a three-year statute of limitations in South Carolina.
Medical malpractice refers to injuries caused by a doctor, surgeon, dentist, nurse, chiropractor, or other healthcare professional. In most cases, this type of lawsuit must be brought within three years from the date of the treatment that caused the injury or the date the harm should reasonably have been discovered. Under South Carolina law, the maximum time limit is six years or two years if a foreign object is left in the body.
Retaining Legal Representation
As you can see, different statutes apply to different types of cases. In some circumstances, it may be possible to file more than one type of legal action based on injuries from the same incident. You should speak with one of our attorneys promptly so that we can determine the statute of limitations that applies to your case. Contact Hite & Stone today to request a free, no-obligation consultation.
How are civil and criminal trials different?
If you’ve suffered injuries that were the result of another party’s negligence, the responsible person may face both criminal and civil litigation. The major differences between a criminal trial and a civil trial relate to punishment and the burden of proof.
How Criminal Cases Work
After someone suffers an injury, law enforcement will investigate to determine if any criminal charges should be filed. For example, in a car accident, the at-fault driver may be charged with the criminal offenses of reckless driving or driving under the influence. The injured person will be asked to give a statement to be used as evidence in the state’s case.
To win the case, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a criminal case, a guilty verdict results in jail time and/or a monetary fine. Any fine is kept by the government.
How a Civil Case Works
A personal injury or wrongful death claim is a type of civil case filed by the injured person or the family of the deceased. In a civil trial, the burden of proof is significantly lower than in a criminal trial. Your attorney must only prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable. In legal terms, this is called guilt based on a preponderance of the evidence.
In a civil case, an outcome that finds fault results in a monetary award for the victim or the victim’s estate. In a personal injury claim, the settlement includes compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In a wrongful death case, the settlement includes compensation for medical expenses up to the time of death, funeral and burial expenses, loss of future wages, pain and suffering in the deceased person’s final moments, and the family’s loss of the deceased person’s care and companionship.
How Hite & Stone Can Help
The personal injury attorneys at Hite & Stone are committed to protecting the rights of South Carolina residents who’ve suffered harm caused by the negligence of others. Our personal injury attorneys are available for free consultations today.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim?
Every state has a specific statute of limitations for personal injury claims. In South Carolina, you have three years to file a personal injury claim.
Don’t Rush to Settle
Insurance adjusters will likely try and rush you through processing your case. Their goal is to settle the case as quickly as possible for as little money as possible. They’re hoping that you’ll accept whatever is offered so you can pay immediate expenses and put the matter behind you.
Rushing to settle your claim can prove disastrous if you haven’t reached what’s known as maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point at which you’ve either fully recovered from your injuries or your condition has stabilized enough that it’s possible to accurately predict your future financial needs in terms of medical costs and lost wages. If you settle immediately and your injuries turn out to be more serious than you thought, you’re not allowed to go back and ask for additional money.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
Although the three-year deadline is a firm limit in most cases, certain circumstances can toll the statute of limitations. This means the clock is temporarily paused to give you additional time to file a claim. The following are a few exceptions:
- If the injured person is a child, you have one year from the date he or she turns 18 to file the claim.
- If the injured person is legally insane, you have one year after the date he or she is no longer considered insane to file the claim. However, the deadline can’t be extended more than five years based on insanity.
- If the defendant is absent or resides outside the state for more than one year, this time isn’t considered part of the three-year statute of limitations.
How an Attorney Can Help
Your personal injury settlement should include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You’ve suffered enough, and you deserve to be compensated for your pain. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Hite & Stone to request a free, no-obligation consultation.
Do I need a real estate attorney?
Unlike just about every other state, South Carolina requires an attorney to perform the closing of the sale of all commercial and residential properties. Even without this law, you need an attorney when trying to sort through the complexities of real estate transactions. At Hite & Stone, Attorneys at Law, we have decades of experience protecting our clients’ interests in these real estate matters:
- Purchase and sale of a residence
- Property foreclosures
- Landlord-tenant matters
- Land use and development projects
Reasons You Need a Real Estate Attorney in South Carolina
Your home is probably the most valuable asset you own. Purchasing or selling your home is an important step in your life. You should retain your own attorney because the lawyer conducting the closing does not represent you and will not be looking out for your interests. This is also important in other real estate matters, such as foreclosure, evictions, and complex real estate transactions.
Here are ways an experienced real estate lawyer can help you:
- No personal interest. Other parties, such as the title company and real estate agents, have a financial stake in the sale of residential and commercial property. When you retain an attorney, he has no personal stake in the outcome of the transaction other than protecting your rights. It is important to have someone looking out for your legal interests when you are buying or selling a home, need to evict a tenant, or are developing a commercial project.
- Experience. An experienced real estate attorney will understand the South Carolina real estate laws that apply to your transaction and will have reviewed many real estate documents. This will enable him to spot potential problems and help you avoid complications in your real estate matter.
- Document review. Your attorney can review your real estate documents to be certain that the legal requirements for the transfer of property are met and that your interests are protected. If there is a problem, he can have your paperwork modified. Real estate documents are complicated, and you need someone looking out for your legal rights and being sure that you are not paying more than you should. Your attorney can also explain any confusing legal terms in a way that you can understand.
- Communication with the mortgage company. Whether you are obtaining a mortgage or facing foreclosure, an attorney can communicate with the mortgage company for you. He can coordinate obtaining your mortgage documents to review, work out payment arrangements if you are behind on your mortgage payments, and much more.
Contact Us for Help With Your Real Estate Matter
Do you need legal assistance with a real estate matter? Our experienced real estate attorneys are here to help you whether you are buying your first home, negotiating a complex commercial real estate transaction, or facing foreclosure. To discuss your situation, call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
What should I do if I suspect a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse?
It is never an easy decision to place a loved one in a nursing home, and you want to feel confident that he will receive quality, compassionate care. No matter how well you research the facility, you need to be vigilant because there is always a risk that your family member will be the victim of nursing home abuse. Here, we explain what to do if you suspect that your worries are coming true.
Steps to Take to Protect Your Family Member From Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse are just a few of the many forms that nursing home abuse can take. Your loved one is vulnerable when in a nursing home and is counting on you to protect him from this abusive behavior. Essential steps that you need to take if you suspect abuse include:
- Know the signs. Bedsores, bruises, torn clothing, sudden weight loss, anxiety, withdrawal from others, and insomnia are some of the warning signs that your family member is being abused. If you see any of these signs, you need to investigate further quickly.
- Call 911. If your family member is suffering a medical emergency or is in danger due to the abuse, call 911 to obtain immediate care for him. This can also alert law enforcement officials that they may need to take action against the nursing home or staff members.
- Investigate. When the situation is not an emergency, you should gather information that supports your suspicions. Take pictures of any bruises or any other visible signs of abuse, and talk to trustworthy staff, residents, and others who may have information about the abuse. You will also want to obtain a copy of your loved one’s medical records.
- Discuss your concerns. If you find evidence of abuse, you need to discuss your concerns with nursing home managers and find out that what steps they will do to correct the situation. Follow up your conversation regarding the abuse with a confirming letter, and keep a copy for your records. Also, save any written communications you receive from the nursing home.
- Remove your loved one. You will need to move your family member to a new nursing home if the abuse does not stop. Your primary concern should be your loved one’s safety.
- Contact an attorney. As soon as possible, you should contact a skilled personal injury attorney who has experience handling nursing home abuse claims. He can help you gather the evidence you need to hold the nursing home accountable and can file your loved one’s claim for compensation for any injuries that he suffered.
Do you suspect a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse? Let us assist you in protecting him and pursuing his legal options. Call our office to schedule your free consultation today.
How are truck accidents different from car accidents?
Sadly, truck accidents are a common occurrence in the United States—in fact, police received reports of approximately 415,000 crashes involving large trucks in 2015 alone, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. While people often assume that truck accident cases are just car accident cases on a larger scale, the two types of cases can differ in several key ways.
One way that truck accidents and car accidents differ is in the sizes and weights of the vehicles involved. The passenger vehicles involved in car crashes tend to weigh between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds, whereas truck crashes involve a smaller, lighter-weight passenger vehicle and a large truck or bus that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Such collisions can be catastrophic, resulting in greater property damages, more significant injuries and medical expenses, and a greater likelihood of death than most car accidents.
Additionally, in truck accident cases, liability may extend beyond the driver of the semi-truck, big rig, or 18-wheeler. If the truck accident victim and his attorney can show that the trucking company that employs the commercial driver was negligent in its hiring, training, supervisory, or truck maintenance practices, the company may also potentially be liable for crash-related injuries and damages.
Protect Your Rights After a Truck Accident
Truck accident injuries and damages are often significant and, as a result, most insurance adjusters for the trucking industry will try especially hard to reduce their company’s financial obligation to injured victims. However, working with a knowledgeable and experienced truck accident attorney can help victims ensure their rights are protected.
If you were seriously injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent commercial driver or trucking company, you may be entitled to compensation. Let Hite and Stone, Attorneys at Law, help you explore your legal options. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your truck accident case.
Should I settle with the insurance adjuster instead of retaining an attorney?
After an accident caused by another party’s negligence, it may be tempting to resolve the matter by accepting the insurance adjuster’s first offer. However, this could prove to be a serious mistake.
Insurance Companies Are Motivated by Profit
Remember, insurance companies never have your well-being and future in mind. Their goal is to provide you with the least amount of money required to resolve the matter. The earlier in the process you’re offered a settlement, the less likely it is that the offer will be adequate for your needs.
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement
Another reason why it’s dangerous to settle a claim too early is that you’re not allowed to ask for more money if your injuries turn out to be more serious than you first thought. You should never settle a claim until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point at which you’ve either fully recovered from your injuries or your permanently disabling condition has stabilized to the greatest extent possible.
Calculating the Full Value of Your Settlement
The insurance company’s offer may seem decent at first glance, but after you take into account lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, its offer is likely far below the money you deserve. In cases involving serious permanent disabilities, the only way to accurately know the value of your claim is to consult experts who can calculate the anticipated cost of your future medical needs and the effect your disability will have on your earning captivity.
Protect Yourself by Consulting an Attorney
Although it’s true that the majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court, this doesn’t mean it’s wise to forgo legal representation. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you are fairly compensated for your accident-related expenses. Since cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis, there is no upfront cost associated with protecting your legal rights. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Hite and Stone’s South Carolina personal injury attorneys.