Our Personal Injury and Child Abuse FAQs
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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.
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.
How do I know if I have a valid personal injury claim?
Personal injury claims are civil actions allowing individuals to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering when they’ve suffered injuries caused by another party’s negligence. However, these cases have specific legal requirements you must meet.
Elements of a Personal Injury Claim
In order to have a personal injury claim, there must be a responsible negligent party. This means you must be able to prove another person is liable for you or your loved one’s pain and suffering.
There are four elements to winning your case:
- Duty. The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- Breach of Duty. The defendant’s actions failed to uphold the required duty of care.
- Causation. Your damages are caused solely by the defendant’s actions and not attributed to some other cause.
- Damages. Breach of duty caused you specific harm, such as medical costs and lost wages.
These elements are the same in every type of personal injury claim, including car accidents, slip and fall cases, and dog bite injuries. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a different standard of proof for a civil personal injury case compared to a criminal charge.
To win your personal injury claim, you don’t need to prove fault beyond a reasonable doubt. You must only prove beyond a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is responsible. This means that it’s more likely than not that the defendant’s actions caused your injuries.
Evidence in a Personal Injury Claim
Types of evidence you might use to support your personal injury claim include:
- Photographs from the accident scene
- Surveillance video
- Testimony from witnesses
- Police reports
- Expert testimony
You’ll also need to document your damages by providing proof of financial harm you’ve suffered. This includes copies of medical bills and pay stubs showing lost wages.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
Hite and Stone’s legal team is committed to protecting the rights of South Carolina residents who’ve been injured due to the negligence of others. If you are unsure whether your injuries qualify for compensation, our South Carolina personal injury attorneys are available for free consultations today.