In a matter of seconds, an accident can cause catastrophic injuries, possibly changing your life forever. These losses can be especially difficult to bear if the accident could’ve been prevented had someone behaved responsibly.
When another person’s negligent behavior or reckless mistake causes you harm, the Columbia personal injury lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. are here for you, ready to vigorously advocate for your right to justice and full compensation. Skilled at holding negligent parties accountable in any legal setting, our attorneys have the experience and resources to succeed with even the most complex personal injury claims.
Our Clients Love Us
“Chappell Smith & Arden made my case absolutely painless. They were professional, diligent, compassionate and extremely attentive. Mark Chappell and his team went above and way beyond to make sure I was compensated for someone else’s wrongdoing.”
“They are absolutely AMAZING! It’s very rare to not only ﬁnd great customer service, but genuine people who care about their clients. They truly go above and beyond to help, even after they’ve helped with your claim.”
“Chappell Smith & Arden were our attorneys for our car accident case. They were very reassuring and patient with us during a long and stressful negotiation with the drivers Insurance company and were highly successful in arranging a deserved ﬁnancial settlement. We recommend Chappell Smith & Arden for whatever legal representation is needed.”
“Chappell Smith represented me in a workers comp case they did a wonderful job. Kind courteous and they actually care about their clients. They understand the stress these cases bring, especially for someone like me that suffers from PTSD. They actually take time and listen and are genuine when they ask if they can help you.”
“One of the “BEST” Law Firms. They treat you like family. They are always available when you need them. They work hard to get what you need and deserve. If you are looking for excellent representation, look no further. Chappell, Smith and Arden are here for YOU!”
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury is any type of harm that affects a person’s physical, mental, emotional or financial health and well-being. For instance, whiplash caused by a car accident would be considered a personal injury, as would post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from an accident.
When a personal injury is caused by someone’s irresponsible or negligent actions, the person suffering the injury may be entitled to compensation (known as “damages”) through a personal injury lawsuit filed in civil court.
Most personal injuries are caused by a catastrophic accident. Even if there was no intent to cause harm, a person can be held liable if they failed to live up to a duty they owed to others—and this failure resulted in serious injuries.
Physically and emotionally recovering from a personal injury can be difficult and take some time, as the nature of the injury may require months—if not years—of treatment. And that’s only if treatment is even possible. In some cases, the injury may be permanent and lifelong.
A personal injury lawsuit can help people cover their expenses as they focus on healing. It can also provide them with some sense of justice after being harmed by negligence.
What Types of Personal Injury Cases Do We Handle?
Our South Carolina-based personal injury lawyers have decades of experience bringing various types of personal injury cases to successful resolutions, including (but not limited to) those involving:
If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident, our Columbia car crash injury attorneys can help you recover compensation.
Trucking accidents caused by negligence can be devastating. Our Columbia truck accident attorneys help victims achieve the financial justice they deserve.
As seasoned motorcycle injury attorneys in South Carolina, we understand just how challenging a motorcycle crash can be—both for you and your family.
If a loved one dies due to the negligence or carelessness of another, you may pursue a wrongful death claim. Our Columbia wrongful death attorneys provide compassion, advocacy and litigation guidance throughout your suit.
After on-the-job injuries, our Columbia workers’ comp attorneys will work to pursue your full benefits or appeals for wrongful denial/termination of benefits.
When manufacturers, designers or distributors fail to comply with state/federal rules and regulations for product safety, our Columbia product liability attorneys help clients hold these companies liable for injuries and damages.
Incidents of abuse and neglect in nursing homes continue to increase in the U.S. Our Columbia nursing home abuse attorneys help keep you and your loved ones safe, pursuing justice for negligence.
Our Columbia premises liability attorneys are committed to helping victims injured in slip-and-fall accidents claim the maximum compensation from property owners who fail to ensure that visitors are safe from injury.
Our South Carolina class action attorneys advocate for physically or financially injured victims against negligent companies and corporations, including complex litigation involving multi-party lawsuits.
Motor vehicle accidents are by far the leading cause of injuries where our Columbia personal injury lawyers can help victims successfully seek compensation. We also often assist when clients suffer injuries on the job or are harmed by dangerous medical devices, slip-and-fall accidents, defective products, or negligent care in nursing homes or daycare centers.
Essentially, any time someone’s negligent conduct causes you or a loved one harm, our personal injury lawyers may be able to help you recover compensation.
Holding Negligent Parties Accountable
$150 million Bridge collapse
$56 million Military class action
$14.5 million Insurance bad faith
$5 million Forklift accident
$3.5 million Head-on-collision
$1.3 million Multiple vehicle wreck
This list is not a description or characterization of the quality of the ﬁrm’s representation and is in no way a guarantee of a speciﬁc result for your case. Every case is diﬀerent, and our South Carolina injury lawyers and the court will evaluate each case on its own merit.
How We Will Help Your Personal Injury Case
A person or company may be considered negligent when they owe a duty to the victim, they fail to fulfill that duty and their failure causes harm. For example, drivers owe a duty to others on the road to pay attention to traffic. If they’re texting while driving and that failure to act responsibly results in an accident, the distracted driver can be held accountable (or liable) under South Carolina personal injury law.
To recover compensation for an accident victim, a personal injury lawyer must prove that another person’s conduct caused the victim’s injuries. The lawyer will first establish that the responsible person owed a duty of care to the victim and then present evidence to show how the person breached that duty and how that breach led to the accident and resulting injuries.
Evidence used to establish causation might include:
- Photos of an accident scene
- Video footage from surveillance cameras
- Witness statements
- Accident report
- Medical diagnoses and reports
It’s critical to collect and prepare evidence to establish fault, and this is best done right after the accident. As time passes, the accident scene will change; it can be difficult to locate witnesses, and video footage may be lost or recorded over. These are just some of the reasons why it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney near you as soon as possible to discuss your case.
Our Attorneys Are Here to Help You
Founded in 1993, the mission of Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. is to help injured clients get the justice they deserve. Our exceptional, experienced attorneys are licensed to practice in several areas, including all federal and state courts in South Carolina, all state courts in North Carolina, and federal district and appeals courts across the nation. We are also qualiﬁed to serve clients in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Personal Injury Lawsuit FAQ Common Questions and Answers for Injured People
Below are some helpful answers for injured people who may be considering moving forward with a personal injury case.
How do I know if I have a personal injury case?
The best way to find out if you have a viable personal injury claim is to contact one of our accident attorneys in Columbia, South Carolina, today for your free, no-obligation case evaluation. Every case is different, so no attorney can ethically tell you that you have a case without knowing the details of your accident or injury. Be wary of firms that say otherwise.
What we can tell you, however, is that you likely have a case if your injuries were caused by the negligence of some other party. Some of the more common types of accidents or incidents that serve as the basis for personal injury claims include (but are by no means exclusive to):
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Dangerous or defective products
- Nursing home abuse
- Unsafe premises (premises liability)
Will my case have to go to trial?
Maybe. Whether a case goes to trial will hinge on the defendant’s (i.e., the negligent party) willingness to resolve the case versus fight it. This, in turn, can depend on the nature of the negligence and the specific defendant(s) involved.
Oftentimes, whether a case will need to proceed to trial will not become clear until the personal injury claim is already well underway and there have been some attempts to negotiate a pre-trial settlement.
If the defendant is incorporated, are they protected from liability?
Nope, not by a long shot! Protection from liability via incorporation is one of the great myths of law that far too many people believe. Particularly in the case of small businesses, incorporation (or organization of a limited liability company, or LLC) actually provides very little protection from liability.
Seasoned plaintiffs’ attorneys like us are keenly aware of the slings and arrows of corporate immunity, and whether a defendant enjoys such immunity is one of our first avenues of discovery in every pending case. If you’re bringing a lawsuit against a business entity, you need to ensure that your attorney is well-versed in corporate law—otherwise, you may be missing a major weak spot in your opponent’s case.
If you’re attempting to protect yourself from a lawsuit, you need to be aware that incorporating your business still leaves massive opportunities for you to be sued personally. So, after incorporating, what can someone be sued for?
There are 2 major categories:
Even if someone has incorporated their business, they incur potential personal liabilities each and every day if they are personally involved in that business.
John Doe is the owner of a towing company. Mr. Doe owns 1 tow truck and is the only employee in his business, but he wants to protect himself from personal liability. So, he forms a limited liability company called John Doe Trucking, LLC.
Three years after forming his LLC, Mr. Doe inadvertently runs a red light while towing a vehicle and crashes into another car. There’s no dispute that this wreck occurred while Mr. Doe was on the job.
So is he protected from personal liability? Not even close.
Anytime you’re personally performing a task, you personally assume a duty of due care. In this example, Mr. Doe breached his duty to use due care in operating his tow truck, so he can be personally sued despite having formed an LLC.
This is a fact that many—if not most—single-owner corporations and companies don’t realize. If you are your own boss and your only employee, the incorporation of your business provides you with very limited protection from personal liability.
Another fact that many entrepreneurs, owners and business people overlook is their duties to maintain corporate or company formalities after they’ve formed their business. Corporations and companies are what the law refers to as “legal fictions.” In other words, they aren’t real people, but legally they are treated as persons completely distinct from their owners.
But there’s an important caveat:
In order for an owner to maintain the protection they receive from their company’s incorporated status, they must treat the company as a completely distinct person.
There are several relatively easy ways to maintain this corporate distinction but, again, many business owners are completely unaware. First, owners should be maintaining a set of financial records and accounts that are completely separate from their individual records and accounts. Company funds should be used to pay for company expenses rather than “siphoned off” by the owner. The company should maintain its solvency and adequate levels of capital to continue its business.
If a business owner is using their business as a mere façade or alter ego in order to provide protection from the personal liability of the business, then a plaintiff can “pierce the corporate veil” to reach the assets of the owner.
So what do business owners actually gain from incorporating a corporation or organizing a limited liability company?
There are 2 major categories of benefits.
- Debts and liabilities of the company itself. If a business owner is smart, they’ll be careful to execute as many agreements as possible between 3rd parties and their company. Contractual agreements between a company and a 3rd party are only binding against the company so long as the business owner has been appropriately managing his business. This is a major benefit of corporate immunity.
- Liabilities of the company’s employees. If an owner has incorporated their business, they are also personally immune from the negligent acts of their employees. In our earlier example, if John Doe hired a 2nd employee who was driving the tow truck that caused the wreck, the only 2 potentially liable parties would be the new employee and the corporation. John Doe’s personal assets would be safe.
So what does all of this mean for you?
Though subjects such as corporate law and personal injury law may seem miles apart, they’re actually intimately connected. Regardless of what side of a lawsuit you find yourself on, you need to make sure your attorneys understand the ins and outs of corporate immunity.
What is the statute of limitations for personal injury in South Carolina?
Another important reason to consult an attorney near you quickly is that the state of South Carolina requires most accident victims to file a personal injury claim within 3 years of the date of their injury. This deadline is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” Outside of this window of time, injured people will typically lose their chances to seek compensation via a personal injury lawsuit (though there are a few rare exceptions to this general rule).
In a medical malpractice case, the 3-year time limit starts to run from the time the victim knew or should have discovered the injuries. In a wrongful death claim, the 3-year period starts at the date of death.
After 3 years, accident victims lose the right to recover compensation—no matter how severe their injuries.
However, you should know that the sooner these cases are filed, the stronger they tend to be because there is usually more available evidence to support injured people’s claims. This, in turn, can end up meaning that injured people have way much better chances of securing the full amount of compensation to which they’re entitled when they move forward with their cases sooner rather than waiting months or years to file.
What damages are available in a personal injury case?
Compensation provided to victims in a personal injury case is usually referred to as “damages,” regardless of whether the amount is awarded by a court or received through a settlement. After demonstrating liability, a personal injury lawyer may help a client collect damages for a variety of different effects stemming from the injury.
- Economic damages refer to losses such as medical expenses and wages lost due to time off work. Our personal injury attorneys can calculate the value of losses anticipated in the future as well as those already incurred.
- Non-economic damages refer to compensation for intangible losses such as pain, suffering, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment.
- Punitive damages aim to compensate a victim if the harm was caused by deliberate actions or egregious neglect. Punitive damages are also intended to deter others from bad behavior in the future.
When should I talk to a personal injury attorney?
Sometimes, the skills of an experienced personal injury lawyer—or at least the threat to an insurance company that such a lawyer may present—are well worth the money you must pay that lawyer to represent you.
Perhaps you need a lawyer because of the complex legal rules involved in your particular claim or because the severity of your injuries might cause your compensation to vary greatly from the norm. Or perhaps the insurance company refuses to settle a matter in good faith.
There are countless scenarios where consulting with a personal injury lawyer can be beneficial for you and your family, but here are 3 examples when you REALLY should talk to an attorney:
- Long-term or permanently disabling injuries. Some accidents result in injuries that significantly affect your physical mobility or appearance for a long time (such as a year or longer) or even permanently. Figuring out how much a long-term or permanent injury costs you can be a difficult business since you must also anticipate future expenses on top of calculating the loss you’ve already suffered. You’ll probably require some assistance from an experienced lawyer to get the most out of your claim.
- Severe or catastrophic injuries. The amount of your accident compensation is mostly determined by how severe your injuries were. And the severity of your injuries is measured by the amount of your medical bills, the type of injuries you have and the length of time it takes for you to recover. As the amount of your potential compensation increases, the range within which that compensation may fall becomes wider. In such cases, it may be worth the expense to have a lawyer handle your claim and make sure you receive compensation at the highest end of the range.
- Toxic exposure. In the increasingly chemical world, people sometimes become ill because of exposure to contaminants in air, soil, water, products or food. Claims based on toxic exposure are difficult to prove, however, and often require complex scientific data. And since chemical manufacturers and other industries have erected huge defenses to protect themselves from legal exposure while they continue to expose the public to potentially harmful chemicals, the required evidence is often very hard to come by without expert help.
What’s the best way for me to get started?
Contact us today by simply filling out the form at the bottom of this page. If you have a case and choose to move forward with one of our Columbia personal injury lawyers, you can be confident that we will handle everything necessary to get your case started for you. With us by your side, you can also rest assured that you’ll be kept informed about your case as it moves forward, and you’ll have the best chance of maximizing your financial recovery.
Meet South Carolina’s Premier Personal Injury Law Firm
At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., we tailor our services to meet the needs of each client and the specific details and challenges of their case. However, we always strive to aggressively defend our clients’ rights in every legal setting.
Our team is prepared to conduct thorough investigations into the accident or incident central to your case, compile all available evidence and retain expert witnesses such as doctors, investigators and accident reconstruction engineers. We’ll stand up to even the most formidable opponents on your behalf.
What to bring to your free consultation
Our Columbia attorneys are fierce litigators and skilled negotiators, making us highly effective at securing the best possible outcomes for all types of clients in personal injury cases.
What’s more, our attorneys’ experience with personal injury cases is backed up by our firm’s strong commitment to our clients. We’re known for:
- Being accessible and responsive. Our lawyers are available to address our clients’ concerns as their cases proceed, and we always promptly respond to clients’ calls/emails so that they can get the answers they need as soon as possible.
- Keeping our clients up-to-date about the status of their cases. Our attorneys keep our clients involved in and informed about their cases so that they always know how their cases are progressing and are aware of their best options at every stage.
If you or a loved one was injured as a result of another party’s negligent or careless actions, contact a Columbia personal injury lawyer at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. to find out more about your potential case and your best options for financial recovery. Our law firm is experienced in all types of personal injury claims, from a bridge collapse at a NASCAR track that injured hundreds of innocent people and resulted in a $150 million settlement to an $875,000 settlement in a trucking accident that occurred as a result of negligent maintenance by the trucking company.