When someone is injured or killed due to the negligence or reckless actions of another party, the party at-fault is responsible to fully compensate the injury victim (or their loved ones) for the losses. The term most commonly used for compensation from personal injury is “damages”. Some types of damages are quantifiable and fairly easy to calculate. These are known as economic damages. Some types of damages are hard to assign a dollar amount to. These are known as non-economic damages.
Categories of economic damages include:
- Medical Bills: One of the most common types of compensation received in South Carolina accident cases is for medical expenses. The cost of medical treatment can total tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. This may include the cost of immediate treatment after the accident, rehabilitation costs, and in some cases, ongoing medical expenses if the victim suffers a permanent injury.
- Lost Wages: Injury victims should be compensated for time missed from work after the accident. In the case of a minor injury, this could be a handful of days missed for doctor appointments, treatment, etc. If the injury results in a temporary or permanent disability, compensation should be provided for the number of weeks or months (or longer) the victim has to miss work, or for total loss of earning capacity.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses: If the accident resulted in a fatality, the victim’s loved ones should be compensated for funeral and burial costs related their death.
- Property Loss: Injury victims may also recover compensation for any property that was damaged or destroyed because of an accident. For example, if your vehicle was totaled after an automobile accident, the responsible party should cover the cost to replace it with one of equal or greater value.
Categories of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and Suffering: Victims who suffer serious and catastrophic injuries after an accident often have to endure severe and ongoing physical pain. It can be difficult to put a price tag on the pain someone suffers after an accident, and juries have been known to award significant amounts in the most horrific cases.
- Emotional Distress: This is the psychological pain and suffering an injury victim experiences after an accident. Examples of emotional distress may include fear, anxiety, lost sleep, and many others. Again, it is hard to assign a value to emotional distress, but its extent can often be shown with psychiatric records.
- Loss of Enjoyment: This is compensation for diminished quality of life after an accident. For example, if an injury victim liked to spend time surfing at Myrtle Beach and is no longer able to participate in this or similar activities, they may be able to recover damages for loss of enjoyment.
- Loss of Consortium: This type of compensation if for victims whose close relationships have been severely and negatively impacted by the accident. Loss of consortium damages are common in cases in which the victim has a severe debilitating injury (such as paralysis) or wrongful death.
A third category of damages may be awarded in rare cases in which the reckless actions or omissions of the party responsible were especially egregious. Punitive damages are awarded to “punish” the wrongdoer and deter them (or others) from similarly egregious behavior in the future.
South Carolina Shared Fault Laws and Damage Caps
There are some state-specific factors that may affect the amount of damages awarded in a South Carolina personal injury case. The first is South Carolina’s “modified comparative negligence” standard. With modified comparative negligence, injury victims are able to recover damages as long as they are 50% or less at-fault for the accident. However, damages recovered are reduced in proportion to the percentage victims are found to be at-fault. For example, if the total amount of compensation for your injury is $100,000 and you are found to be 20% at-fault, you are only allowed to recover $80,000. South Carolina also places caps on certain types of damages.
Speak with an Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident in which another party was responsible, you need a skilled attorney by your side who understands the complexities of these types of cases, and how to accurately calculate damages. At Peake & Fowler, we have stood up for injury victims in South Carolina since 2000. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we put our extensive experience to work to pursue maximum compensation on behalf of each client we serve. Call our office today at 803-998-2412 for a free consultation, or you may send us a secure and confidential message using our online contact form.