We provide comprehensive and effective legal representation for individuals and businesses facing personal injury claims in South Carolina. If you have been injured or are being sued as a result of a vehicle collision, premises-related accident, or alleged product defect, we can use our extensive experience in personal injury litigation to help you.
If you or your company has been accused of negligence or manufacturing or selling a defective product, you need to mount a strategic defense in order to avoid (or mitigate) your liability. Individuals and businesses are finding themselves involved in personal injury litigation with increasing frequency, and plaintiffs’ attorneys will aggressively pursue claims against those they suspect of causing their clients harm.
At Howser, Newman & Besley, LLC, we fight for individuals and businesses that are facing the prospect of significant liability. We rely on decades of experience to represent our clients as completely and efficiently as possible. If you or your company is involved in a personal injury lawsuit, it is important that you begin building your case immediately. You only have a limited amount of time to respond if a lawsuit has already been filed against you (in order to avoid a default judgment in the plaintiff’s favor); and you need to make sure you preserve critical evidence before it disappears.
Personal Injury Defense Lawyers Serving All of South Carolina
We represent individual and corporate clients in personal injury litigation throughout South Carolina. Our practice is focused on litigation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and our attorneys work to assess the strength of your case and test aggressive new strategies to protect our clients’ interests. While we are litigators who routinely represent clients in state and federal court, we recognize that informal methods of resolution tend produce the most cost-effective outcomes. Therefore, we will quickly secure favorable out-of-court resolutions whenever possible.
Types of Personal Injury Claims We Handle
We have experience representing clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving most types of catastrophic accidents.
Car and Motorcycle Accidents
Car and motorcycle accident claims against individuals and employers can involve a broad range of theories of liability. Allegations of distracted driving are becoming increasingly common; and drunk driving, drowsy driving, and other negligence-based claims continue to be common as well. Personal injury claims involving car and motorcycle accidents routinely focus on allegations such as:
- Merging and lane-change errors
- Careless, inattentive, and reckless driving
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Traffic violations
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
Pedestrian and bicycle accident cases typically involve the same types of allegations as cases involving injuries to motorists. Due to the potential for severe injuries, these cases often involve claims for substantial damages. If you have been sued personally for hitting a pedestrian or cyclist, or if your company is being sued as the result of an accident involving one of your employees, we can vigorously challenge the evidence of fault and ensure that you are not unjustly subjected to liability.
Premises Liability Claims
While there are numerous types of real property-related accidents, most premises liability claims involve injuries from slips, trips, and falls. We represent individuals, homeowners, landlords, and commercial property owners in all types of premises liability claims, including those involving:
- Allegations of inadequate property maintenance
- Allegations of inadequate security
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Falls from heights
- Stairway accidents
- Slips due to spills, recent cleanings, scattered debris, and other factors
- Trips due to damaged walking surfaces and walkway obstructions
Product Defect Claims
Unlike other types of personal injury claims, product defect claims are governed by the law of strict liability. This means that product designers, manufacturers, and sellers (any party involved in the “chain of distribution”) can be held liable for injuries caused by defective products – even without proof of negligence. However, personal injury plaintiffs still face a variety of hurdles when seeking to establish liability for product defects, and we focus on finding ways to challenge all aspects of their claims for compensation.
Truck accident lawsuits often involve claims against multiple parties based on theories of negligence and strict liability. From the engineering complexities of large commercial trucks to the unique insurance and subrogation issues involved, these cases can present a variety of challenges. Mounting a successful defense typically requires skilled and strategic legal representation which our firm offers.
Answers to Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs): Personal Injury
Q: Does South Carolina law recognize the principle of comparative negligence?
With regard to comparative negligence, South Carolina follows the rule referred to as “modified comparative fault.” This means that a personal injury plaintiff is entitled to recover at least a portion of their damages – unless it can be proven that they were 51 percent or more at fault in the accident. When a plaintiff is 50 percent at fault, he or she is entitled recover to half of his or her losses. When a plaintiff is 51 percent at fault, the defendants’ liability is zero.
As you can see, the apportionment of fault can have a drastic impact on the outcome of a personal injury claim in South Carolina.
Q: What damages can personal injury plaintiffs recover in South Carolina?
Under South Carolina law, successful personal injury plaintiffs are entitled to recover full compensation for all of the financial and non-financial losses flowing from their accident-related injuries. This includes:
- Current and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Other out-of-pocket expenses and forms of emotional harm
In the case of a severe injury – such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis – claimant’s losses can easily climb into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. However, the fact that these losses have been incurred, standing alone, is not enough to establish liability. Unless the plaintiff can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was to blame for what happened, no award of damages is appropriate.
Q: Can a personal injury plaintiff seek punitive damages in South Carolina?
Yes, under appropriate circumstances. South Carolina is one of the limited number of states that allow for punitive damages in personal injury cases. However, in order to secure punitive damages, the plaintiff must be able to prove, “by clear and convincing evidence that his harm was the result of the defendant’s willful, wanton, or reckless conduct.” When a case goes to verdict on the issue of punitive damages, the jury will consider factors including (but not limited to):
- The defendant’s degree of culpability
- The severity of the plaintiff’s injury
- Any evidence of comparative negligence
- Any evidence of concealment by the defendant
- Any evidence of past similar conduct
- Whether the defendant profited from the harmful conduct
- The likely deterrent effect of awarding punitive damages
- The defendant’s ability to pay
In any case, with a few limited exceptions, South Carolina law caps punitive damages in personal injury cases at the greater of $500,000 or three times the plaintiff’s compensatory damages.
Q: Can employees who are entitled to workers’ compensation file personal injury claims?
Yes, with the caveat that employees who are eligible for workers’ compensation generally cannot sue their employers for personal injury damages. However, due to the fact that workers’ compensation benefits are limited, it is not uncommon for plaintiffs’ attorneys to look for ways around employers’ statutory immunity under South Carolina’s workers’ compensation law.
In a case where an injured employee is entitled to workers’ compensation, he or she may also pursue a personal injury or product liability claim against any third party that caused or contributed to his or her injuries. As a result, injured employees will frequently pursue claims against:
- Vehicle drivers
- Contractors and subcontractors
- Property owners
- Product designers, manufacturers, and sellers
Q: Aren’t personal injury claims covered by my auto insurance or commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy?
Most likely, yes. However, if a plaintiff’s losses exceed the amount of coverage that is available, he or she may choose to pursue a claim against you or your company directly. In cases where insurance coverage is available, we seek to limit the plaintiff’s recovery (if any) so that it is fully covered by insurance; and when necessary, we also represent our clients in insurance coverage disputes with their insurers.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Case
If you need to speak with an attorney about a personal injury or wrongful death claim in South Carolina, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential consultation. We handle cases in state and federal court, and we also routinely represent clients in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings. You can reach our Columbia office at (866) 207-6209 and our Charleston office at (877) 216-6970; or if you prefer, you can send an email directly to one of our attorneys.