What to Expect: Personal Injury Cases

If you are injured by someone else’s negligence, and you become a plaintiff in a South Carolina lawsuit, your lawyer will typically:

  • Have you sign a representation agreement (which outlines attorney’s fees, etc.).
  • Obtain your signature on a HIPAA authorization (which allows them to request all of your medical records/bills from your various providers).
  • Request all of your medical records/bills directly from the doctors/hospitals/etc.
  • Gather the necessary documentation to prove your lost wages or other out-of-pocket damages.
  • Determine the parties who negligently caused your injuries.
  • Draft a demand letter to the negligent parties (for the client to approve) which requests a monetary settlement.
  • Negotiate a settlement with the liability insurance carriers for the responsible parties.

Ideally, your case settles within 4 to 6 months of retaining legal counsel without having to resort to litigation; however, if the other side is being unreasonable, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. Assuming your case is filed in state court, the following events will typically transpire:

  • The lawsuit will be filed with the Clerk of Court, and a copy will be served upon the responsible parties.
  • If the responsible parties have insurance coverage, they will normally turn the lawsuit over to their insurance carrier asking them to handle the matter (this typically means that the insurance company will assign defense counsel to the case and pay their bills as the case moves along).
  • Once the lawsuit has been served, each defendant must file and serve their Answer to the lawsuit.
  • After all of the defendants have answered the lawsuit, the parties exchange written discovery (this simply means that each side exchanges copies of documents they have related to the case and answers written questions posed by the other side).
  • Following written discovery, the parties and any witnesses/experts normally give their deposition testimony (these usually take place in a law office conference room in the presence of a court reporter who takes down the testimony of the witness under oath).
  • After depositions have been completed, most cases either settle through: a) written or oral negotiations between the lawyers for the parties; or b) mediation (which is an informal and confidential meeting of the parties in the presence of a mediator–this also usually takes place in a law office, and the mediator works with both sides in an attempt to reach a resolution).
  • If the case does not settle, it is scheduled for trial (in most cases, a trial takes place somewhere between 14 and 22 months after the lawsuit was filed).

If you or your family member were injured by someone else’s negligence, you should speak with legal counsel immediately to determine your/their legal rights.

*DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not legal advice, as each situation is dependent upon the facts and circumstances at hand, and any action should be taken only after consulting with an attorney.