Many people are aware of the general concept of a personal-injury case: If you suffer harm due to another person’s negligence, then you may be entitled to compensation. However, most people underestimate the complexities of these proceedings until they experience them firsthand.
There are several factors to consider before you file an injury lawsuit. One important concept is the damages cap, which is the maximum about of money that a plaintiff can receive from an injury claim.
If you plan to file a lawsuit in South Carolina, it is important to know how the state’s damages cap may affect your judgment or settlement. Attorney Doug Churdar of the Churdar Law Firm is a Greenville personal-injury lawyer who can explain whether the cap could potentially affect your case.
To schedule an appointment, call our office at 864-233-0203. We can assess your case to determine if you may have a legitimate claim. If so, you may be entitled to health-care costs, lost wages and other damages from the at-fault party.
This article will explain two important personal-injury damages caps that may affect your case:
What Are Punitive Damages?
According to Cornell University Law School, punitive damages are compensation that a judge awards to the plaintiff as a means of punishing the defendant for significant negligent or reckless behavior. They are separate from actual damages, which compensate the plaintiff for proven injury, loss or harm.
Because there is no direct link between punitive damages and the pain, suffering or specific injury-related expenses, many states place a cap on the maximum amount that a plaintiff can receive in punitive damages.
Punitive Damages Cap in South Carolina
South Carolina’s Code of Laws requires the plaintiff to provide clear and convincing evidence when seeking punitive damages. The maximum amount that the plaintiff can receive depends on several factors, such as the type of case. In most personal-injury cases, the cap on punitive damages is equal to three times the compensatory damages – or up to $500,000.
Comparative Negligence May Also Affect the Judgment or Settlement
South Carolina is a comparative negligence state, which means that if the plaintiff was partially responsible for the incident that caused the injuries, then the court may reduce the amount of damages by the plaintiff’s percent of fault. For example, if the court determines that the plaintiff was 20 percent responsible, then the final compensation may reduce by 20 percent. In lawsuits that involve multiple parties, the negligence of the plaintiff must be lower than the combined negligence of defendants.
It is likely that the attorneys who represent the defendant and plaintiff will use a similar approach to calculate damages during settlement negotiations. If these negotiations are unsuccessful, then it is likely that the case will go to trial.
If you have suffered injuries due to another person’s negligence, and you have questions about the claims process, contact the Churdar Law Firm at 864-233-0203.