Thousands of people are injured in accidents every day. Many are caused due to the negligence of another, either from a vehicle accident, work accident, or numerous other types of accidents. If you have suffered from such an accident and have been seriously injured, it is important for you to contact a Gardner Law personal injury attorney to assist you with your claim. There are many factors that can affect the outcome of your case, and failing to have the proper legal representation could adversely affect the amount of compensatory damages you receive. At Gardner Law, we pride ourselves in offering personalized service to each of our clients, helping them through this difficult time with dedication and concern for their future.
Do not Settle Your Personal Injury Claim Before Speaking to an Attorney
You are entitled to full and fair compensation if another person or company's negligent actions resulted in injury, death, or property damage. When another party is at fault, often their insurance company will immediately contact you to secure a release before you can talk to a personal injury attorney. Do not sign anything and do not make any statements about the incident until you have retained counsel. Insurance companies are not there to help you and they are not acting in your best interest. Their interest is to preserve their bottom line and minimize their own exposure often at the expense of people who have been injured and who they are obligated to compensate.
Personal Injury Damages
In any type of accident, people can suffer a wide range of injuries some that are immediately apparent and some that may not appear immediately. Physical injuries that accident victims suffer include fractures, injury to internal organs, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burns, neck injuries, and back injuries. Some accident victims will require extensive and expensive medical care such as ER visits, hospital stays, surgeries, rehabilitation, medical equipment, and long term care if the person is disabled. Many people are unable to work during their recovery from an accident, forcing them to lose their source of income, and their future earning capacity may be reduced because of the injuries.
Full compensation means payment for monetary loss that has already happened such as hospital visits, medical care, or property damage, but it also means payment for future losses such as long term care and complications that may arise because of the injuries. Full compensation also includes noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering and mental anguish, and it may also include compensation for your spouse. In cases of intentional conduct or gross negligence on the part of the at-fault party, punitive damages may also be awarded.
Determining how much the at-fault party owes you requires an in-depth review of the facts of your case and the applicable law. Even after proving liability, you will have to prove each element of damages that you are entitled to before you can collect full compensation. Insurance companies will sometimes deny liability and attempt to not pay your claim at all. Even when liability is clear, they will still do everything possible to devalue your damages and pay you the least amount possible.
The auto accident lawyers at the Johnny Gardner Law Group understand the emotional trauma and distress that can result from an auto accident. It is vitally important that you seek the medical attention that you need right away. Understanding the financial burden that this will have on you and your family, it is also important to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to make sure that you receive full and fair compensation from the at-fault party.
Every Auto Accident is Different
Every car crash is different, and we have just about seen them all. Accidents can be caused by another driver's poor choices such as driving while drunk or under the influence of medications. They can be caused when a driver allows themselves to become distracted while behind the wheel by texting or talking on the phone, and they can be caused when a person gets behind the wheel when they haven't had enough sleep. There are single-car accidents, multi-car pile-ups, head-on collisions, rollovers, and tire blow-outs. A driver can cause an accident by not following the rules of the road, speeding, or disregarding traffic signals. Dangerous road conditions or vehicle defects can cause accidents as well. Regardless of how your accident happened, we have seen it before and know how to help you.
Understanding Insurance Companies
Our auto accident attorneys understand insurance law and we understand how insurance companies work. When a person files a claim, it is in the insurance company's best interest to not pay that claim, to pay only a part of what the person is entitled to, or to delay payment for as long as possible. Your attorney at the Johnny Gardner Law Group knows the law and will fight for you to obtain full compensation for your injuries.
What Should I do if I was Involved in an Accident?
If you have been in an auto accident, you should:
- Seek medical assistance immediately. Even if you do not need emergency medical assistance, you should immediately contact your doctor and get a check-up. Whip-lash and other neck injuries, back injuries, and soft-tissue damage are common injuries that may have a delayed onset and you will need documentation from a medical professional to pursue your case.
- Call the police. Accident reports are a key source of information in any auto accident claim. Make sure that you give input to the responding officers if possible to ensure that the information is accurate.
- Report the accident to your insurance company. Don't give them a detailed statement, just make sure that you immediately report that the accident happened. Even your own insurance company is going to be looking out for their own bottom line, so do not provide any statements to the insurance company until you have consulted with your attorney.
- Gather any evidence that you can. Get contact information and even statements from any witnesses on the scene. Take photographs or video of the scene if you are able, and take photographs of your injuries immediately after the accident. Begin gathering your medical records so that you can provide them to your attorney.
Motorcycle and Moped Accidents
Motorcycle accident lawyers know that motorcyclists and riders on mopeds are more exposed and therefore more vulnerable than any other type of driver on the roads. Because there is no protective barrier such as in a car, accidents involving a motorcycle tend to result in more severe injuries for the motorcyclist and a higher rate of fatalities. To compound the problem, there is always the danger that jurors will blame the motorcyclist solely because they were riding a motorcycle even when the blame lies with the negligent driver who should have been more vigilant. The truth is that motorcycle accidents are not always preventable by the rider, the at-fault driver is liable for all damages that were the consequence of their negligence, and you should not settle for anything less than full and fair compensation from the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries and Compensation
Full compensation for a motorcyclist's injuries caused by a negligent driver may include extensive medical treatment, hospital stays, surgeries, rehabilitation, and, in some cases, long-term care. The injured rider may lose their income during their recovery. Fatalities are far more common in motorcycle crashes and, when this happens, the surviving family may bring a wrongful death action to hold the negligent driver accountable and to recover full financial compensation for their loss.
One of the more serious injuries that a motorcyclist can suffer is traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI can result from a motorcycle crash even if the rider is wearing a helmet; however, wearing a helmet does decrease the chance of TBI. TBI can result when an object forcefully strikes the head or when the skull is punctured by an object. TBI has long lasting effects that may last for the rest of the injured person’s life, including a decrease in cognitive and physical abilities and emotional upheaval. Full and fair compensation following a TBI must take into consideration future care, treatment, and surgeries that the accident victim may need over their lifetime.
Other injuries that are common in motorcycle crashes include:
- Road rash. When a motorcyclist is knocked from their bike and slides on a paved road, the skin can literally be ripped from their bodies wherever their body touches the pavement. It is extremely painful, may require surgery and skin grafts, and may result in permanent scars.
- Internal injuries. The sheer force of an impact in a motorcycle crash can cause internal organs to be damaged or punctured by objects, which often leads to internal bleeding.
- Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord is a delicate and critical part of the human anatomy. When it is damaged, it can require multiple costly surgeries, and it can result in full or partial paralysis that the accident victim must live with for the rest of their life.
- Broken bones. The severity of an impact on a motorcyclist’s body often results in broken bones and sometimes multiple fractures. Broken ribs are common and may in turn pierce internal organs leading to further damage.
Wrongful death attorneys know that the loss of a loved one is always painful, but the worst tragedy is when that death was caused by the unfair and careless actions of another person. For the wrongful death lawyer, there is no case more deserving of justice than one seeking to help the loved ones of someone who has died because of the wrongful actions of another person. There is no justice in a wrongful death case. No amount of money can replace a loved one, but a wrongful death lawsuit can compensate the survivors for medical and funeral expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses that were incurred. More importantly perhaps, a successful wrongful death lawsuit can hold the guilty party accountable and begin to bring some closure to grieving family members.
South Carolina Wrongful Death Laws
South Carolina law allows the survivors to bring a wrongful death action any time that a death is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another person if the deceased person would have been entitled to damages had they survived. The wrongful death lawsuit must be filed in the name of the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate, on behalf of the deceased person’s spouse and children or other heirs if there are no surviving spouse or children. The damages that are recovered in the wrongful death action are then divided among the spouse and children or other heirs as if the funds had been inherited without a will through the deceased person’s estate.
Wrongful death actions cover a wide range of different types of cases including auto accidents, motorcycle or moped accidents, truck accidents, drunk driving accidents, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, police misconduct, and virtually every area of personal injury law.
The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death action are those that were suffered by the survivors. They may include:
- Medical expenses for the deceased person.
- Funeral and burial costs.
- Loss of financial support from the deceased.
- Loss of companionship.
- Pain and suffering and mental anguish.
- Punitive damages when the defendant’s actions were reckless, willful, or malicious.
As in any other type of civil claim, the insurance company will deny the claim, attempt to pay partial compensation, or delay your claim for as long as possible. While the family is grieving and going through a difficult and vulnerable time, it is your attorney’s responsibility to ensure that the responsible party or their insurance company makes full and fair financial compensation. You can and should turn your case over to an experienced and compassionate wrongful death lawyer who will carry this burden for you.
Premises liability claims include any injury that occurred on a person’s property that is the result of an unsafe condition that the owner should have repaired or warned the public about. It includes slip and fall cases, dog or other animal bites, swimming pool injuries, playground accidents, amusement park accidents, and any other injury caused by a property owner’s negligence. The injury may have happened just about anywhere such as a private residence, a place of business, a public space or roadway, a grocery store, a construction site, a parking lot, or a public or private sidewalk.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip (or trip) and fall accidents are a common type of premises liability. Slipping hazards can result from spills of liquids or other slippery materials, snow and ice tracked into a front lobby, or rainwater accumulating on the floor from umbrellas on a rainy day. Tripping hazards may include items or equipment left in store aisles, uneven walkways, or uncovered holes in the ground or pavement. When a hazardous condition exists on someone’s property, the property owner is given a reasonable amount of time to remedy the situation by cleaning it up, repairing the damage, or warning of the danger if it is not possible to immediately correct the problem. If the property owner does not comply with their legal duty to fix the problem or post warnings, they are liable for any injuries that are caused as a result of their negligence.
Dog owners can also be held liable for injuries caused by their animals. South Carolina has what are called strict liability dog bite laws. This means that a dog owner can be liable for injuries caused by their pet even without prior notice that their dog was potentially aggressive. This is different from some other states which allow for dog owner liability only when they had knowledge of the dog’s temperament and did not take steps to protect the public. A dog’s owner can be liable for resulting damages when a dog bites or “otherwise attacks” a person. Even if the dog does not bite a person, if the dog were to knock a person down and cause injuries, that dog’s owner is responsible for the resulting damages.
There are two defenses to dog bite liability in South Carolina: provocation and trespassing. Because the dog bite statute states that the injured person must be on public property or lawfully on private property when they are attacked by the dog, a person who is trespassing on property without permission could not bring suit. Obviously, if a person is harassing or mistreating the dog, they are at fault in the incident and could not recover in a lawsuit.
Other Types of Premises Liability Cases
There are thousands of potential ways that a property owner could create or ignore a hazardous condition that results in injury to a person. Equipment such as elevators, escalators, playground equipment, and amusement park rides can cause severe injuries if they are designed poorly or not properly maintained. Swimming pool hazards can cause drowning or a pool may be too shallow to dive and yet not have warnings posted. Railings on stairs, porches, or decks may be improperly designed or not maintained properly. Any tenant, customer, visitor, or pedestrian has the right to not be injured by the property owner’s negligence, and every property owner has a duty to protect the public and visitors from unsafe hazards on their property.
Drunk Driving Accidents
We all make choices in life, but when an individual makes the choice to drive while drunk the consequences can be deadly. Drunk drivers need to be held accountable for their actions and they must compensate any victims who are made to suffer because of the drunk driver’s choices. The drunk driving accident lawyers at the Johnny Gardner Law Group have a proven record of recovering full and fair compensation for victims of drunk driving accidents. We will aggressively pursue your claim against the drunk driver, and we will fight to ensure that the at-fault driver is held accountable.
How is a Drunk Driving Claim Different?
Insurance companies understand the exposure that they face when their insured has injured or killed a person while driving drunk. Drunk driving accidents may result in more severe injuries than other types of accidents because the at-fault driver may be driving recklessly at excessive speeds and may not have been capable of hitting the brakes or taking other action to mitigate the damage caused by the accident. More importantly, a drunk driver is just about the least sympathetic defendant in front of a civil jury. In addition to damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other types of damages that are recoverable in an accident case, the insurance company knows that jurors are more likely to award punitive damages based on the driver’s reckless and inexcusable conduct.
It can be very frustrating for a victim of a drunk driving accident to see the drunk driver receive a light punishment in criminal court or even to have their charge dismissed based on what the victim surely sees as a technicality. When this happens, it becomes even more important for the drunk driving victim or their surviving family to see that justice is done in civil court. No amount of money can make what happened right, but a full and fair settlement or verdict against the drunk driver can bring some financial security to the injured party or to grieving family members. When victims and their families feel that the criminal justice system has let them down, our hope is that a successful civil lawsuit can bring some amount of closure for them.
The Drunk Driver’s Criminal Prosecution
Although only the solicitor’s office can prosecute a drunk driver criminally, we understand that the criminal prosecution is important to you and your family and that the outcome of the criminal case could have an impact on your civil claim. We will follow the progress of the criminal case, provide the prosecution with any evidence that may assist them, and keep you informed as the case progresses. Although the prosecutor will ultimately make all decisions regarding negotiations with the defendant in the criminal case, the victim also has rights under South Carolina law and the South Carolina Constitution to be kept informed, to be notified of the defendant’s court dates, and to be consulted about decisions that the prosecutor makes.