Greenville Personal Injury Attorney
Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers is proud to bring more than 50 years of collective personal injury litigation experience to the table to advocate for your rights and those of your loved ones. Our Greenville personal injury attorney is permitted to file civil lawsuits in South Carolina against other persons, government agencies, or private companies when you have been harmed by their intentional acts or oversights.
If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, our expert Greenville personal injury attorney will take your claim to civil court. Auger & Auger is dedicated to advocating for your interests — and we are determined to bridge the gap between discouraging and desirable compensation.
Personal Injuries: What You Need to Know
South Carolina statutes mandate that government agencies, company owners, as well as United States citizens owe each other undisputable considerations. For example, drivers on all public roads must adhere to the state’s safety laws, using goodwill and forethought while navigating the city. This is called a duty of care, which we’ll discuss more, along with other principles of a negligence claim, later in this article.
When our Greenville personal injury attorney pursues a claim, it is with the intention of ‘making you whole.’ The severity of your injuries will play a large part in determining the amount of compensation you are awarded. You should expect to recover the cost of medical bills, lost wages or loss of future income, and damages for distress, pain, and suffering.
Some of the more frequent personal injuries experienced in Greenville have been spinal cord impairment, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and whiplashes. These injuries are typically the result of the following types of incidents:
● ATV Accident
● Auto Accident
● Aviation Accident
● Bicycle Accident
● Boating Accident
● Childcare Accident
● Dangerous Drugs
● Defective Medical Device
● Dog Bite
● Golf Cart Accident
● Motorcycle Accident
● Pedestrian Accident
● Premises Liability
● Workers Compensation
● Wrongful Death
● Truck Accident
● Construction Accident
What Takes Place During a Case?
Our Greenville personal injury attorney files a civil claim against the responsible defendant; another person, a business, or a government office. If the case involves a fatality, then wrongful death compensation would be awarded to the surviving family members. When a spouse is a victim, ‘loss of companionship’ damages may also be claimed.
Many people picture a court case when they think about filing a lawsuit, but in reality, only a small percentage of personal injury claims require a trial. Negotiated settlements are generally the manner in which a personal injury case is resolved; between the defendant, their insurance carrier, and attorneys for both sides. There are situations where arbitration or mediation is used as the in-between step before taking the case to court. Some specific civil disputes even require compulsory arbitration. While the majority of cases can be resolved in one of these ways, there are some situations where it is necessary to settle matters in court.
Should your current Greenville personal injury attorney be reticent about taking your case to court, please rest assured that Auger & Auger will never hesitate to fight for your rights and go up against big insurance carriers or high-profile defendants.
Proving Negligence in a Personal Injury Claim
With some exceptions, most personal injury cases require proving that another party was negligent. In a broad sense, this means that your attorney will work to prove the following:
● The defendant, the person or entity who harmed you, owed you a duty of care. The duty of care varies depending on the type of personal injury case, but usually, it includes obeying the law and making a reasonable effort to avoid actions that might cause harm to others. A person driving a car, for example, has a duty to drive safely and avoid actions that could cause a collision and injure other people.
● The defendant breached this duty of care or failed to take reasonable steps to prevent harm.
● This action or breach of duty harmed you, the defendant.
● The harm you suffered was foreseeable, also known as proximate cause. For example, if a motorist is speeding down the highway at 90 MPH, it’s foreseeable that they could cause a serious accident and hurt someone.
● You suffered damages, or losses, as the result of being harmed by the defendant’s breached duty of care. There are several different categories of damages, including medical costs (current and future), loss of income due to missed time at work or a permanent disability, property damage, pain and suffering (including both physical and mental pain), permanent disability or disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship or consortium if you lost a loved one.
However, there are some personal injury situations where you do not need to prove negligence:
This is a situation that may apply if you were harmed by a defective product. South Carolina uses strict liability law for these types of claims. Strict liability essentially means that a manufacturer or seller of a product is responsible for harm caused by the product, whether or not they took reasonable steps to prevent harm. There are three elements that need to be satisfied for a strict liability claim:
● You were using the product in the same condition it was in when purchased. In other words, the product was dangerous when you acquired it; you didn’t make alterations that caused it to be dangerous.
● The product had some type of defect that proved to be unreasonably dangerous, and this defect led to your injuries. This takes into account that almost any product might be dangerous under certain circumstances, but your injuries were not the result of a freak accident that is unlikely to ever happen again. They were caused by an unreasonably dangerous defect in the product that most likely has caused other injuries or will in the future. Whether or not the product is unreasonably dangerous may be a topic of debate in your case, depending on the specific situation.
● Your injury was caused by using the product in a typical and expected manner. In other words, you did not engage with the product in a bizarrely dangerous way that the manufacturer or seller couldn’t have anticipated.
In South Carolina, strict liability also applies to situations where another person’s dog bites or otherwise injures you. Dog owners are liable for the damage their dog causes, so long as the following requirements are met:
● The injuries happened because the dog bit or attacked you. This does include situations where a dog may actually be friendly but overzealous – for example, if a dog tries to greet you enthusiastically by jumping on you, but they knock you over, causing an injury.
● Your injuries happened when you were in public or lawfully on private property. “Lawfully” generally means that you were not trespassing at the time. The law does acknowledge that a person is not trespassing if they need access to private property to do their job, such as delivering mail or fixing a power line.
● You did not “provoke” the dog to attack you. Provoking can mean teasing or taunting the dog, trying to take its food or water dishes, taking its puppies, yelling or throwing things at the dog, etc. Sometimes the dog’s owner will have a different recollection of what happened than you do, and it may be necessary to prove that there was no provocation. Your Greenville personal injury lawyer will investigate the situation, and the sooner you call about your dog bite, the easier it will be to recover evidence of the attack.
In some cases, the difficulty lies in locating the dog and/or its owner, especially if you needed to get away from the dog after the attack and lost track of it. In these situations, we recommend contacting your local animal control office as soon as possible to report the bite, so they can begin searching for the animal. In the meantime, call a dog bite lawyer right away, so our investigators can get to work compiling evidence for your claim.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se refers to situations where a defendant is assumed to be negligent based on the fact that they were violating some statute when the injury occurred. Usually, this comes up in traffic accidents – the other driver may have broken the law by speeding, running a red light, driving drunk, etc.
What if the other driver wasn’t ticketed for their infraction? This can make your case a bit more complicated, but it doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck with filing a claim. It is important that you contact a Greenville personal injury attorney as soon as possible, so we can put our investigative team to work for you. Often the law enforcement officers sent to an accident scene are swamped with multiple cases, and only have so much time to investigate your accident. They may take statements from both you and the other driver, note that they don’t see any other witnesses, and make their best guess at what happened. Sometimes they don’t have enough information to ticket anyone, especially if both drivers have different stories about what happened and neither can be easily corroborated.
However, our investigations often find evidence like video from traffic or doorbell cameras, witnesses who were missed at the scene, data from each car’s black box, etc. In some cases, we are able to prove what happened even if the police report was inconclusive.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim: Insurance Policies and Your Injuries
As mentioned above, we don’t always begin by filing a lawsuit. In many cases, we start by negotiating with the appropriate insurance carrier that represents the responsible party. If your injuries are covered by a relevant policy, this is usually the easiest and fastest way to seek compensation for your damages. However, there are some situations where it is necessary to sue either the liable party or their insurance company, or both.
When Should You Talk to the Insurance Company?
Not until you’ve spoken with a lawyer. Ideally, your attorney should handle filing the claim and talking with the insurance adjuster for you. The reason for this is that an insurance adjuster is not on your side, despite what they may say. Their job is to find an excuse not to pay your claim.
However, when they call you, they might say that they are ready to pay your claim but need to ask you a few questions as a formality, etc. You might answer their questions and feel that you’ve made it very clear the other driver was at fault. But the insurance adjuster could misinterpret or distort something you’ve said, and claim this indicates you were at fault. Many people have been shocked to learn what the insurance company thought they meant by a random comment.
If it is necessary for you to give the insurance adjuster a statement, your attorney will talk with you about the kinds of questions they’re likely to ask and should be present for the conversation.
Sometimes people contact us after they have already filed a claim with the insurance carrier and received a denial. We encourage you to resist the urge to call the insurance carrier. In many situations, people inadvertently make things more complicated when they do this because it’s easy to get confused about details or forget important facts when you’re angry. If you’ve received a claim denial, please contact a lawyer immediately. We may be able to appeal the decision and seek compensation from the insurance company.
Here are some common reasons insurance companies deny claims (please note that this is not an exhaustive list):
● The liable party (usually the insurance company’s client) claims you were at fault. As noted above, disagreements about fault are very common and often left unresolved by a police report. They are also difficult to navigate on your own, but with the help of an experienced attorney, you may be able to prove the other party was at fault. Sometimes your lawyer can find enough evidence to convince the insurance company that going to court is not in their best interest. If not, your attorney should be willing and able to take your case to trial.
● Partial fault. Sometimes the other driver admits they were at fault, but the insurance company still refuses to pay because they claim that you were more at fault. Under South Carolina’s comparative negligence laws, both parties can share fault for an accident or injury. The party who is less at fault (lower than 50 percent) can collect compensation from the party that is more culpable. But the final award will be reduced by the less-responsible party’s percentage of fault. What this means is that the insurance company can reduce their responsibility to pay your damages by asserting that you were even somewhat to blame. Fortunately, your personal injury lawyer will be familiar with this strategy and will work to get you the compensation you deserve.
● This particular type of accident wasn’t covered for various reasons. In some cases, the insurance company will point to a clause in the insurance policy that states they don’t cover certain situations. Often these preclusions are related to actions the policyholder might take, which you have no control over. Sometimes the insurance company is misinterpreting a clause, and your lawyer may be able to convince them that their argument for not covering the claim is unlikely to hold up in court. But in other cases, the company genuinely isn’t obligated to cover the policyholder’s liability for the accident. If this happens, there may still be several other options for getting your damages paid, including suing the other driver directly or using your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Your lawyer will explain your options.
Beware of the Early Offer From the Insurance Company
Getting an offer from the insurer seems like a good thing, but if you receive one right away, it may not cover all your damages. It’s difficult to know what your case is worth when you may not even know what your future related expenses will be. If you receive any offer from an insurance company, we strongly recommend consulting an attorney before you accept it. Your lawyer will go over the details of your injury and help you determine what a fair amount of compensation should look like. If this does not match the offer you’ve received, your attorney can help you negotiate for a better deal.
Is Insurance Only Important in Car Accident Claims?
No. In many other kinds of personal injury cases, there may be a relevant insurance policy. Often insurance is the best option for seeking compensation, as an individual or even a small business may not have the funds to pay your claim. For this reason, we always look for an insurance policy first. Here are some examples of situations where we may be able to make an insurance claim for your injuries:
● Premises liability. If you are hurt on the property of a business, they may be liable for your injuries. Typically businesses carry liability insurance because even with their best efforts at keeping a store or venue safe, they may not be able to prevent every possible situation that could be dangerous.
● Other business insurance. Some business liability insurance policies also cover damages from defective products or services.
● Homeowner’s insurance. Depending on the policy, this type of insurance sometimes covers a surprisingly broad range of injury situations, including some that don’t take place on the property. In certain cases, for example, homeowner’s insurance may cover accidents with small, non-automobile vehicles like golf carts, ATVs, small boats or jet skis, etc. (However, you should not assume these items are covered by your own insurance – it depends on the specifics of your policy.) Dog bites are sometimes covered by homeowner’s insurance.
● Boat insurance. When homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover a boat, the owner may have insurance specific to that vessel.
● Pedestrian or bicycle accidents. If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your car, but are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist while you are walking or biking, your own uninsured motorist insurance policy will usually cover you even though your car was not involved.
● Worker’s compensation. If you were injured at work, in most cases you should be eligible for worker’s compensation. With few exceptions, the majority of businesses that employ four or more workers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance in South Carolina. Both full-time and part-time employees count toward the number of employees, and both are eligible for worker’s compensation coverage. You do not need to work a minimum number of hours, and you should be eligible for worker’s compensation from your first day of employment. Although this is a no-fault type of insurance, there are still some reasons the insurance company is allowed to reject your claim. If you’re having difficulty accessing your worker’s compensation benefits, please contact us for a free consultation. Depending on the nature of your work accident, it’s possible you may also have a third-party claim if your injury was caused by defective equipment or services.
Greenville Personal Injury Lawyers
Should you sustain injuries from a malicious act or accident — or should your loved one suffer severe or fatal injuries after such an event — our Greenville personal injury attorney is here to advocate on your behalf. Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers is passionately committed to doing what is right and helping to alleviate your stress and financial losses along the way.
One feature we offer to our clients is the zero-fee guarantee — so that you are not left paying more out of pocket if your claim should not end successfully. You don’t pay anything if we don’t win your case, and when we do win, you won’t pay until you’ve been paid. We believe this demonstrates our strong compassion and steadfast intentions to win the compensation you appropriately deserve.
Call (864) 991-3532 today for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!