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Frequently Asked Questions

0088At Clawson and Staubes, LLC: Injury Group, our Charleston personal injury lawyers know how overwhelming a serious accident can be, and how important it will be for you and your family to make an informed decision about taking legal action. To help you in making this decision, we have provided the following answers to some of the questions we are asked most frequently by our clients and potential clients. To discuss any of these questions in greater detail, or to discuss any other aspect of your case, please call our offices at (843) 720-0810 today.

Will it ever be too late to file my claim?

Under the laws of our state, you must file your personal injury claim within three years of the date you learn that you have been injured. This time limit is known as a “statute of limitation.” Bearing this in mind, if you allow three years to pass before you file your claim, you will no longer be eligible to pursue compensation for your injury. It is important to note that this time period begins when you became aware of the injury, or should have reasonably become aware of the injury. For instance, workers who are exposed to dangerous chemicals in the workplace over a number of years may not develop an ailment until later on in their lives, so the statute of limitations does take effect from the date of their exposure.

Can I still file a claim if I am partially at fault for the accident?

As long as you are not found to be more at fault for the accident—as in 51% or more responsible—you could be eligible to recover at least some compensation through a personal injury claim. However, the amount of compensation that you will be eligible to recover will directly reflect the degree of fault you are found to share in the incident. For instance, if the court awarded $10,000 to you for an accident that you were 25% responsible for, you could only hope to recover 75% of the total amount awarded, or $7,500.

What kind of compensation will I be able to recover?

Without knowing any more about the particulars of your accident, we cannot say with any degree of accuracy what kind of compensation you may be able to recover with your claim. That being said, almost all personal injury claims seek to recover compensation for things like the cost of the victim’s medical care, any loss of income during the victim’s recovery, and any diminishment to the victim’s quality of life. However, every claim is unique, and our legal team can develop a claim to help you pursue compensation for all of the pain and suffering you were forced to endure.

Will it be possible to settle my claim out of court?

The answer to this question will depend upon the particular circumstances of your claim and the party that is found to be ultimately responsible for your accident. For example, if you were hurt in an accident that was caused by a defective car part, the company responsible for the defect may offer to settle your claim out of court as long as you agree not to sue the company in return. Under some circumstances, this might be the best choice you could make, but under others, you may be better off taking your claim to court. In both circumstances, an attorney will be able to help you make an informed decision about what will be in your best interests.

How long does it take to get a ruling on a personal injury case?

Depending on the willingness of the defendant and the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, a case can be settled in weeks or it can take over a year in court. Your personal injury lawyer, after gathering all necessary information on the damages, will attempt to settle with the accused party. If both sides’ legal teams cannot reach a settlement, the compensation amount will be settled in a civil court by a judge.

What evidence will I be able to use to my advantage?

Though the court will want to know what you yourself have to say about your situation, just about any piece of evidence that you can use to independently corroborate your claim will be to your advantage. For example, you will want to be sure and collect things like police statements provided at the time of the accident, any witness statements and their contact information, any photographs that were taken of the accident or incident, and all receipts for related medical care. That being said, our legal team will be there to help you figure out what evidence you need and how that evidence may affect the outcome of your claim.

What can an attorney do if I was injured at work?

If you were hurt at work, you are likely to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, which can help pay for things like emergency care, hospitalization, rehabilitation, doctor appointments, and the cost of traveling back and forth from medical appointments. While workers’ comp benefits are usually administered soon after the accident without the worker having to do much, it is important to make sure that you are getting all of the benefits you deserve by law. That being said, you should consider working with an attorney who can help you work through the entire process of claiming all of the workers’ comp benefits available to you. Outside of these benefits, it may be possible to claim additional compensation if your injury was caused by a third party. In any event, our team can determine what legal action you are eligible to pursue and then help you take decisive action to pursue fair compensation for your injury.

Can a restaurant or bar be held accountable for over-serving alcohol to the person who hit me?

If we can prove that the person that caused your car accident was intentionally over-served alcohol by a bar or restaurant, there is a good chance that you may be able to pursue legal action against that bar or restaurant, in addition to whatever legal action you pursue against the drunk driver. In order to establish a liquor liability claim against a restaurant, bar, or social host, we will need to prove that the establishment or serving-party should have known their patron was intoxicated because of the type of drink, number of drinks, and period of time over which the drinks were consumed.

Why do I need an attorney if my case is straightforward?

Even if it seems obvious enough that you deserve compensation from the person who hurt you, the actual legal process of claiming compensation for all of your pain and suffering can become exceedingly complex. For starters, you should expect that the other party will be retaining legal representation in an effort to counteract your claim. As such, not only will you need to figure out how to effectively argue your own claim, but you will also need to figure out how to counter the arguments the defense makes against your claim. Keeping that in mind, even seemingly straightforward claims can be legally complicated and may necessitate legal representation in order to have the best shot at recovering fair compensation.

What will the court consider “negligence?”

An individual is negligent when they fail to respect the safety of those around them or fail to provide “standard care” to others. This umbrella term can include distracted drivers, construction companies failing to properly block off a construction zone (thereby endangering pedestrians and private property), or even a nurse or caregiver in a hospital failing to provide proper care for a patient. If negligence results in injury or fatality, the victim or the victim’s family may be eligible for financial compensation.

How is a personal injury suit different from a criminal suit?

A personal injury lawsuit is a case that takes place in civil court. Civil cases begin when one party, the plaintiff, accuses another, the defendant, of failing to perform their legal obligations. For example, if an employer fails to provide adequate worker’s compensation to someone injured on the job, an employee may file a case in the civil court against this employer or the insurer. On the other hand, in criminal cases, a person is brought into court after being accused of committing a crime that violates state or federal laws. It is not the responsibility of a victim to bring a criminal case to court. Rather, it is the duty of the government to prosecute the defendant. Whereas civil cases are usually for the purpose of financial compensation, criminal cases aim to impose jail time, fines, and other punishments upon a defendant if he or she is found guilty.

Is there a minimum settlement amount for personal injury claims?

While there is not a minimum settlement amount, some state laws may impose a maximum on some types of lawsuits. Your settlement amount will depend on various factors, including the type and seriousness of your injuries, how long your injury will affect you, and how large your financial losses are. If you experienced losses due to an injury, a lawyer can help you file a claim and discuss an estimated settlement amount.

What compensation will I receive if I win my personal injury case?

The exact amount of money you receive will depend on the jury and the specifics of your case. Compensation usually covers lost wages, medical bills, and even money for wages that may be lost in the future due to your injury. Physical pain and suffering often lead to a higher payout for damages. If your injury caused a disability or disfigurement, you will likely receive compensation for those issues as well.

What does case settlement mean?

In a settlement, you agree to drop legal action against the person who caused your injury in return for compensation. A lawyer will help you decide if the settlement is beneficial to you, and you will have the option to accept the settlement offer. You will then sign a release, which frees any liable parties from legal accountability. You may settle a case any time, including before, during, and even after filing and trying a suit.

What is negligence?

In order to hold a responsible party liable for any harm or injury they have inflicted on another, then it is often on the basis of a theory of negligence. Negligence is defined as a careless action that damages someone and the perpetrator is thus legally accountable for that person’s suffering. In short, if the plaintiff can prove the defendant was acting negligently, then it’s much more likely they’ll win the case. In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove four components that include duty, breach, causation, and damages.

What should I do after a car accident?

The first thing you do in the event of a car accident is to first evaluate your physical condition the best you can. Your well-being is the most important thing at this point, and getting medical treatment is almost always necessary after being involved in a crash. When you are able, it is important to keep track of all your medical records and make note of any caregiver you received treatment from. Documenting your suffering is also important, as this is usually harder to prove in court if there is a lack of plenty evidence. Once you have your information in order, consider hiring an attorney for further guidance on your position.

What kinds of product liability claims are there?

Product liability is when a consumer receives a faulty product from a manufacturer who becomes legally liable for any injury they caused. There are many ways to which a product can be proven defective, but the common categories are manufacturing, design, and warnings/instructions. A manufacturing error is characterized by the faulty way the product was created that caused the purchaser injury. A defective design is defined as an entire line of products that are consistently dangerous in some way. Lastly, faulty warnings or instructions is when a business provides inadequate or misleading information on the product which causes it to be potentially hazardous. You should contact an attorney to discuss the type of claim that is right for you.

Why should I pursue civil litigation if the drunk driver who hit me is currently in jail?

If you have been in a drunk driving accident, you are entitled to compensation for the damages the drunk driver inflicted on you. Criminal proceedings will issue fines and punishments to the drunk driver, but none of this will benefit any victims of the accident. It is only through civil litigation that a victim may pursue charges against a drunk driver so they can recover compensation for medical bills, repair costs, lost wages, and other general claims.

How can we prove defamation?

To prove you are a victim of defamation, an attorney must prove a couple of things in a court of law. First and foremost, the attorney must prove the slander or libel was inherently false. Secondly, the attorney must prove the defendant issued the slander or libel to deliberately defame the character of the plaintiff. Lastly, the slander or libel must have caused concrete harm to the plaintiff in order for any damages to be awarded. It is not enough for the statement to potentially cause you harm—the slander or libel must have already caused significant damage to the plaintiff’s character in order to have a defamation case.

How can an attorney help in claiming workers compensation?

While initiating a workers’ compensation claim may be relatively straightforward, there are many minor nuisances that can prove difficult to handle without a legal professional at your side. Many employers may offer amounts that do not fully satisfy all medical costs or lost wages, or simply not issue settlement offers at all. In any of these instances, it is imperative to have an attorney build a legal strategy so you can begin recovering the full amount of your workers’ compensation as soon as possible.

Who enforces Title IX?

Because Title IX was part of a widespread educational reform, the Department of Education is in charge of enforcing the measure. Namely, there is a specific branch of the Department of Education—the Office for Civil Rights (OCR)—that investigates complaints of alleged Title IX violations and ensures compliance of the non-discrimination laws outlined. There are regional branches of OCR scattered around the country, but the office that directly addresses grievances in South Carolina is in Washington D.C.

What if my school doesn’t take action after I report a sexual assault?

Title IX specifically addresses sexual violence and elucidates how academic institutions are required to handle reports of sexual assault. In light of nationwide reports of universities and colleges failing to take action following reported sexual assault, Title IX has sought to provide extra protections for victims of sexual abuse. The law now mandates academic institutions to promptly address and investigate allegations of sexual violence. Additionally, the academic institution must make resources available for those who wish to remain confidential and have official policies and procedures in place if a sexual assault is reported. A victim reporting sexual abuse to the police does not exempt the school from taking action. If a school does not comply with measures outlined in Title IX, a complaint can be made with the Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Education and the institution can lose federal funding if found in violation.

Who does Title IX protect?

Title IX applies to all federally-funded academic institutions, including elementary, middle, and high schools, colleges, universities, and programs that are affiliated with a federally-funded institution. The measure protects students, faculty, men, women, and all gender-nonconforming individuals associated with an academic institution from discrimination. Title IX also grants them the right to equal access and learning in a non-hostile environment.

What is the difference between assault and battery?

Assault is the intentional act of causing “fear or imminent harm” to another person. No physical contact is necessary to consider an act assault. Rather, the offender need only cause the victim to feel threatened by immediate physical harm. On the other hand, spoken words are not enough to constitute an assault. The offender must back up their threatening words with actions that could cause the victim fear. By comparison, battery is the act of offensive or inappropriate contact of people without their consent. Injuries are not required for an act to constitute battery. An offender needs to have the intent to contact another person harmfully, whether the contact happens or not.

Can assault and battery charges be treated as a civil case?

Yes, you can seek damages from injuries and other losses in an assault and battery case. As a personal injury, the act is treated as an intentional tort. If the crime results in extensive medical treatment or hospitalization, a civil case could be the best way to obtain compensation for medical bills and rehabilitation costs. You need to prove the offender caused you to fear immediate bodily harm, or that contact from the offender was intentional and “offensive or inappropriate.”

What is the difference between simple assault and aggravated assault?

An assault is considered a simple assault unless the offender uses a weapon, causes a large degree of harm, or the assault happened with the intent of causing serious harm. In these circumstances, the charges would be considered aggravated assault. Aggravated assault may also appropriately define crimes that occur in the course of a special relationship, such as a caregiver to patient relationship.