personal injury lawyer, workers comp lawyer, damages, compensation

Personal injury lawyers in SC know there are damage caps on cases but do you?

What damages can I recover for a South Carolina personal injury claim?
When you are injured because of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation for your financial loss and also for other damages, if they are a direct result of your injury.
What are financial losses in a South Carolina personal injury claim?
• Past, current, and future medical expenses, including prescription drug expense
• Past, current, and future lost wages, if you are unable to work due to injury
• Loss of future income or earning potential
• The cost of hiring others to take care of you and your home if you are unable to
• Home modifications if needed to accommodate disability due to injury
• Vehicle purchase or modifications if needed to accommodate disability due to injury
• The cost of hiring others to take care of you and your home if you are unable to
• Property that was damaged as a result of someone else’s negligence

Can I recover for pain or other non-financial results of a South Carolina personal injury claim?
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to collect compensation for:

• Pain
• Disability
• Emotional and Mental Distress
• Disfigurement
• Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Is there a limit on how much compensation I can collect in a South Carolina personal injury claim?
There are laws in South Carolina that limit compensation in certain circumstances. Both financial loss and other losses may be limited if the negligent party was a government entity or government employee. There also may be limits, depending on the circumstances, when the personal injury is from a South Carolina medical malpractice claim or a South Carolina nursing home abuse or neglect claim. Of course, what you can collect also depends on the financial worth of the negligent party, the insurance coverage available, and many other circumstances.

What are the damage caps?
By statute, there are three types of damage caps in South Carolina. There are caps on damages against charitable institutions and governmental entities, and also caps on non-economic damages for medical malpractice and nursing home claims.

How do the governmental damage caps work?
If an injury is caused by the negligence of a governmental employee or entity, the total recoverable damages in a lawsuit are capped at $300,000 per claim and $600,000 total for an adverse event. If a government employee, in the scope of his employment, is at fault in a car wreck injuring several people there is a $300,000 damage limit for each person and a total limit for all claims of $600,000.

Different rules apply if a government physician is negligent. In that case the cap for total damages is $1.2 million.

These caps apply no matter the severity of the injuries and even if medical bills and economic loss far exceed the cap.

If there is a death, damages may be recovered up to $300,000 under the South Carolina wrongful death statute but, if there is conscious pain and suffering or medical expenses incurred prior to death, a separate claim of up to $300,000 may be made.

How does the damage cap apply to charitable institutions?

The South Carolina damage caps apply to charitable institutions – non-profits – the same as it does to governmental entities.

However, in the case of non-profits, if there is proof that an employee acted with conscious disregard, a claim may be pursued against the individual irrespective of the caps. Recovery against any personal assets or any private insurance may also be available.

What is the cap on non-economic damages?
In lawsuits for medical malpractice or against a nursing home there is no limit on claims for economic loss but there is a cap on claims for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, mental distress, disfigurement, impairment, or grief and sorrow in a wrongful death case.
The non-economic damage cap started as $350,000 in 2006 and increases or decreases each year according to the Consumer Price Index. The cap in 2011 was $403,115.

The non-economic damage cap is applied per claimant. Where there are multiple at fault parties the total cap against all parties is $1,209,345.

Does my spouse have a claim?
Depending on the circumstances and the severity of your personal injury, your spouse may be able to collect compensation for the impact on the marital relations and relationship. This is called a loss of consortium claim.

What if I was also negligent? Can I still recover compensation for my injuries?
Depending on how your negligence compares with the negligence of the third party, you still may be able to collect compensation but in a reduced amount.