No 2 personal injuries are exactly the same. They come in many shapes, sizes and levels of severity. Filing a lawsuit can be costly and time consuming, so it might not make sense to do so if your injury was minor or is fully covered by your insurance, workers’ compensation or another option.
However, if your injuries are so severe and recovery is so costly that it’s impacting your finances—such as a pile of unpaid medical bills, missing days at work, an inability to return to your “normal” life due to pain and suffering—then compensation (referred to as “damages”) from a personal injury action can be a financial lifeline in the storm of uncertainty that follows a debilitating injury.
Specifically, personal injury lawsuits can benefit plaintiffs in 2 major ways:
The purpose of a personal injury lawsuit is not to make someone rich but, rather, to restore the injured person to the financial position they were in prior to the injury. In addition to the physical and emotional pain, serious and deadly injuries take a tremendous financial toll on the victim and their families. A personal injury lawsuit can help reduce the stress and anxiety of making ends meet and paying the bills following a serious injury so that you can focus on your recovery.
No amount of money will erase the harm or pain you experienced. But securing compensation can help accident survivors and the loved ones of individuals killed due to negligence by providing a sense of justice and closure. By filing a lawsuit, you can hold the person responsible for your injury accountable for their actions. In some cases, punitive damages might be available, which are intended to punish the at-fault party for grossly negligent and malicious behavior.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious and catastrophic injury and need help, we urge you to schedule your free consultation with the experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate Columbia personal injury attorneys at Chappell Arden & Smith, P.A. today. Our South Carolina law firm has handled THOUSANDS of personal injury cases since the firm was established in 1993, and we’ve recovered tens of MILLIONS in compensation for our clients.
In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about the most common types and causes of personal injuries in South Carolina.
Common Types of Personal Injuries
Some of the most common examples of personal injuries that give rise to litigation include:
Head and neck injuries are among the most likely injuries to cause fatalities. Head injuries may include skull fractures and brain trauma. A broken neck may result from whiplash, which may cause damage to a person’s upper spinal cord. Whether caused by a sports accident, a fall or a car crash, these types of injuries are particularly painful and debilitating, often impacting many areas of a person’s life (such as their job, hobbies and quality of life).
Traumatic brain injuries can be difficult to detect because physical symptoms typically don’t manifest. TBI can result in non-neurological symptoms that occur in the pulmonary, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal and dermatologic systems in the body, as well as neurological symptoms such as sensory, motor and autonomic function disorders. Individuals suffering from TBI may also have cognitive symptoms such as memory, concentration, language and visual perception difficulties. They may also suffer from behavioral or social deficits, such as mood disorders, aggression, learning difficulties, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.
A traumatic amputation, or the surgical removal of a limb or body part, may be necessary after a car wreck, serious fall or other major accident. The most common body parts or extremities affected by traumatic amputations include arms, hands, legs, feet and toes. Amputation is a major medical procedure that is expensive—not to mention extremely painful for the patient, affecting their quality of life, mobility, freedom and future.
Cuts and lacerations
Car accidents may cause loose objects such as cups, eyeglasses, books, cell phones or GPS systems to become airborne. These objects may come in contact with the vehicle’s occupants, causing cuts or lacerations of varying severity. In a slip and fall, a hard or sharp object could cut or puncture someone’s skin on their way down, causing further injury. While some cuts and lacerations may be minor and heal on their own, others are far more serious and could damage muscles and tendons.
Toxic exposure illnesses
Accident and injury victims may be exposed to hazardous materials, including explosives and flammable or combustible substances. If hazardous exposure is suspected, victims should avoid the area and seek shelter in a safer environment, if possible. Illnesses and diseases that arise from toxic exposure can take a long time to materialize, making such cases difficult to prove. For example, mesothelioma patients who were exposed to asbestos on the job may not be diagnosed until years or decades after their exposure.
The least severe type of burn is a 1st-degree burn, which causes damage to the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis. Second-degree burns cause damage to the epidermis and the 2nd layer of skin called the dermis; this type of burn may cause severe pain and scarring. Third-degree burns destroy both the epidermis and dermis and may cause nerve damage. Fourth-degree burns are the most severe and may require multiple surgeries or may even cause death.
Internal bleeding and organ damage
Internal injuries may be caused by blunt force trauma in an accident, such as when a car crash victim slams against the steering wheel or a falling person hits the ground. Common internal injuries include internal bleeding (hemorrhaging), damage to abdominal organs, broken ribs, chest injuries (such as a broken sternum or ruptured diaphragm) and traumatic brain injuries. Hemorrhage is responsible for 30 to 40 percent of trauma mortality.
Musculoskeletal injuries are common after a serious accident, whether it’s a slip and fall, dog attack, workplace incident or motor vehicle crash. These injuries affect movement and may include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, ligament sprain, epicondylitis and ruptured, bulging or herniated disks. People suffering from musculoskeletal injuries may experience increased pain during activity, inflammation and swelling.
Spinal cord injuries
Spinal cord injuries are extremely serious and include damage to vertebrae, ligaments or disks. The majority of spinal cord injuries are due to preventable causes. The Mayo Clinic reports that car and motorcycle accidents account for more than 35 percent of spinal cord injuries each year, making motor vehicle accidents the leading cause of spinal injuries. Slip-and-fall accidents are a close 2nd.
The moment of labor and delivery, and the weeks and months leading up to it, can be challenging for both mother and baby. If medical negligence or malpractice resulted in a serious injury to your baby, then you may be able to seek compensation. Common examples of birth injuries caused by medical negligence include cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and brain damage.
Whether caused by trying to brace yourself during a fall or impact with another vehicle, shoulder and rotator cuff injuries can be extremely painful and negatively impact your mobility. This loss of mobility often affects work and a person’s overall quality of life. Shoulder injury treatments can be costly and intensive, often requiring surgery and physical therapy.
The loss of one’s life is by far the worst personal injury of all. Up to 40 percent of annual deaths from the top 5 leading causes of fatality in the U.S. are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fatal crashes, drivers and passengers may suffer fatal injuries instantly in accidents caused by distracted driving, driving under the influence, speeding, rollovers, or adverse weather conditions.
Common Causes of Personal Injuries
Motor vehicle accidents are by far the most common cause of personal injury in the United States. More than 3 million people in the U.S. are injured in car accidents, truck wrecks and motorcycle crashes each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Depending on the type of accident, drivers and passengers may suffer a wide range of injuries.
Slip-and-fall accidents, which typically fall under South Carolina’s premises liability laws, are another common type of accident that gives rise to personal injury claims. For example, when a customer suffers a slip-and-fall injury in Walmart or another store, the company and/or owner of the store may be liable if the plaintiff’s attorney can prove that the store was negligent in cleaning up a spill or warning customers about a potential hazard.
Other common events and incidents that result in personal injury litigation include:
Can You Represent Yourself In a South Carolina Personal Injury Case?
If I have a legal claim, can I represent myself?
Sure, you certainly can. Of course, you could also attempt to perform your own appendectomy with a kitchen knife…but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
At some point in life, every single one of us is going to possess a legal claim—be it a property damage dispute from a thunderstorm or an accident that happened at work. One of the biggest decisions that we all face is whether to hire an attorney to help us with that claim. Our law firm is asked this very question daily—and we always respond with a simple question of our own: If the price of losing your case is more costly than hiring a lawyer, then you need to seek legal representation.
Here are several categories of cases to keep in mind when determining the cost of losing:
When an attorney is legally required
If your legal claim is on behalf of any organized business entity—such as a corporation or limited liability company—you absolutely must have an attorney. Both federal and state rules prohibit organized businesses from representing themselves in court. Thus, whether your business is a plaintiff or a defendant, you must hire an attorney or your case will be thrown out of court.
When an attorney is a practical necessity
Serious personal injury claims
Serious personal injury claims typically involve a stay of several days in the hospital, surgery and visits to several different healthcare providers. Medical bills can easily exceed $50,000 in such cases, much of which may not be covered by most health insurance policies.
Even when liability appears clear in these types of cases, as a claimant, you’re forced into a position of negotiating with the defendant’s liability insurance company (who wants to pay you as little as possible), your medical providers (who want to charge you as much as possible) and your health insurance company (who wants to recover as much as possible from any money you receive).
Attempting to juggle all of these competing interests—while you’re attempting to recover from a serious injury—is a recipe for disaster. In such a case, representing yourself could easily leave you owing tens of thousands of dollars to medical providers with nothing to show for the pain, suffering and potentially permanent disability you’ve incurred.
Workers’ compensation/Social Security
Workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability are unique areas of the law that even most lawyers don’t properly understand. Litigating a claim within these 2 areas of the law is very rule-and-form driven. Attorneys who practice in these areas generally specialize in them.
If you attempt to represent yourself in a workers’ compensation or Social Security Disability claim, you risk running afoul of one of the many technicalities in this complex area of law. Unfortunately, if you mess up one of these minute details, it often means that your claim will be denied.
When you may be able to represent yourself
Property damage insurance claims
Property damage insurance claims are a different “ball of wax” than what we see in most personal injury cases. The “dispute,” if there is one, is typically over 1 of 2 issues:
- Whether your property damage is covered by your insurance policy
- The value of your property damage
Now, if you have an unusually large claim—say, a house fire—then you may want to hire an attorney to handle the property damage case. But a typical claim—such as a tree branch falling on a car, for example—will not typically require the intervention of a lawyer.
Of course, you can always consult an attorney if you feel that you aren’t getting the benefits owed to you under your policy in a property damage insurance claim.
If you’re uncomfortable deciding when you do or don’t need legal representation, the best thing to do is develop a relationship with a law firm in your state, as they are well-versed in the state laws that almost always apply to legal claims. At Chappell Smith and Arden, P.A., we routinely handle inquiries free of charge—including from individuals who don’t know if they have a claim or don’t know if they need an attorney.
The best rule of thumb, however, is to ask yourself: What is the price of losing? If the price is one you aren’t willing to pay, then you should probably speak to an attorney near you.
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!”
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.
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.
Our Top-Rated South Carolina Attorneys Seek Compensation for All Types of Personal Injuries
Victims of car accidents, slip and falls and other types of accidents may suffer from many injuries that often require expensive medical attention. Our personal injury lawyers in Columbia are committed to helping you obtain the financial compensation you need to assist in your recovery. We’ve been representing personal injury and accident victims for over 3 decades.