A South Carolina personal injury case can occur for many things. You have likely heard the term ‘damages’ several times in your life. But what does it mean? In the context of a personal injury lawsuit, the term damages mean the total amount of money that a plaintiff can receive. There are various types of damages. Additionally, every state has different laws regarding the final amount of compensation that can be collected by a plaintiff along with different caps (limitations) on such damages. Let’s dig deeper and take a closer glance at the damages available in South Carolina personal injury cases.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the gravity of unintentional and intentional injuries among adults and children cannot be ignored as these injuries are the leading cause of death in South Carolina. They also cause mortality and morbidity in all ages. In 2014, 3,581 people lost their lives to injury and 553,774 people had sustained non-fatal injuries in South Carolina.
Compensatory Damages in South Carolina Personal Injury Cases; Described by a Greenville Personal Injury Attorney:
Compensatory damages, also known as actual damages, are intended to ease the pain and suffering endured by the victim due to the recklessness and unreasonable behavior of the defendant. Simply put, the aim of such compensation and relief is to provide for the medical and other health care costs of the plaintiff and put them in a place where they were before the accident.
In South Carolina, economic and non-economic are the two types of damages that plaintiffs are permitted to recover.
1. Economic Damages:
Economic or special damages are those damages that are objectively quantifiable and generally measurable. They are to cover for the monetary losses suffered by the victim. An example of economic damages is medical costs. The amount of money spent on medical expenses can be verified through documentary evidence, such as receipts or invoices for medical bills.
Following are the common examples of economic damages:
- Medical Expenses: Everything ranging from hospital visits and surgeries to physical therapy and prescription drugs is covered under the umbrella of medical expenses. Moreover, a plaintiff is able to recover future as well as past medical costs incurred.
- Lost Income: If the victim of the accident misses work because of the accident, they can claim the amount they could have earned if they were not strapped to a hospital bed. Similarly, if the plaintiff’s working capacity has been impaired due to the accident, and they are now being employed at a lower-paying job, the difference between the lower-paying job and the higher paying job the plaintiff could get had they not been injured, can be recovered.
- Property Damage: The victim has a right to collect damages in the event of personal property damage. This suggests that they can also recover an amount to spend on the repair and maintenance of their vehicle.
2. Non-Economic Damages:
These damages are ones that are not easily quantifiable and are divided into the following:
- Emotional Distress and Trauma: Along with physical pain and suffering, such accidents also cause mental suffering. In the state, plaintiffs can also claim a payout for the emotional repercussions of the impact.
- Pain and Suffering: A plaintiff can recover compensation for the pain and suffering they had to go through because of the accident.
- Loss of Enjoyment: The plaintiff can recover compensation for loss of enjoyment or quality of life if caused by the accident.
3. Punitive Damages:
These are separate from compensatory damages. Punitive damages serve a different purpose instead of trying to compensate the plaintiff for their losses. Punitive damages basically have two objectives;
- To punish the defendant
- To prevent the defendant from causing such accidents in the future
Only through ‘substantial and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions were reckless, willful, or wanton can such damages be awarded.
These are the legal jargons that demonstrate actions that are not only careless but also intentional and executed with complete disregard for other’s safety.
South Carolina Damage Caps:
The damage caps can be frustrating for many plaintiffs. South Carolina, along with other states put a limit on the number of certain types of damages that can be collected. As per South Carolina’s law, the following damage caps are applicable:
- When filing a claim against the government or any government officer, damages are restricted to $300,000 per person or $600,000 per occurrence
- In the case of medical malpractice, non-economic damages are capped at $350,000 per defendant. Such non-economic damages cannot surpass the amount of $1.05 million for all defendants
Contact A South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Today:
We at Brumback and Langley are a team consisting of experienced personal injury lawyers in Greenville, SC. Call us today and book a free preliminary session with us to discuss your case.