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Debunking Common Myths About Personal Injury Claims


If you've been injured due to someone else's negligence, navigating the legal landscape can feel overwhelming. Amid dealing with the physical and emotional toll, victims of negligence often find themselves ensnared in a web of misinformation and myths surrounding personal injury claims. This widespread dissemination of inaccuracies not only clouds judgment but also potentially deters people from pursuing compensation.

Below, we shed light on the truth about personal injury claims. From misunderstandings about the time frames for filing a claim to underestimations of the importance of legal representation, we hope to empower you to separate fact from fiction and move forward with your claim confidently.

Myth: You Have Plenty of Time to File a Claim.

Truth: You Should Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations.

It is important to note that you do not have to file a claim immediately after an injury or accident. You can take time to heal and to find a reputable attorney that can handle the case legalities. You just can’t wait indefinitely, as you only have a set amount of time to file a claim.

In South Carolina, you must file a personal injury claim within three years of the date of discovery of the negligence-related injury or incident (see S.C. Code § 15-3-530(5)). It is important to note that the discovery rule is slightly different in medical malpractice claims.

With other personal injury claims, on the date you are injured, discover you have a claim, or should discovered you have a claim, the clock essentially starts ticking. However, with medical malpractice claims, claimants must file a claim within three years of their treatment, operation, or the omission which led to the cause of action or within six years of when the injury or issue should have been discovered.

Speaking with a personal injury attorney is important, as they can help ensure you file a claim within the proper timeframe.

Myth: If You’re Partially at Fault, You Can’t Receive Compensation.

Truth: You Can Recover Damages If You Are No More Than 51% at Fault.

South Carolina adheres to the modified comparative fault rule, which means that a person can still claim compensation if they are only partially at fault for the accident. As we mentioned, claimants can not be found to have contributed 51% or more of fault to the accident.

Read our blog, “Comparative Fault in South Carolina,” to learn more.

Myth: Personal Injury Claims Always End Up in Court.

Truth: These Claims Can Be Settled Out of Court (& Often Are).

Litigation is just one way that a case can be resolved, and in many cases, it is often the last resort. Many personal injury cases are resolved outside of a courtroom, which benefits both parties; it saves time and money associated with a trial and allows for a more confidential resolution.

There are several established methods for achieving an out-of-court settlement in a personal injury case. Mediation involves a neutral third party who guides discussions between the injured party and the defendant (or their insurer) to help them reach a mutually agreeable solution.

Arbitration, on the other hand, is a more formal process where a neutral arbitrator makes a binding decision on the case, similar to a judge's ruling in court. Both methods offer a structured approach to resolving disputes without the complexities and uncertainties of a full trial.

An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on the most appropriate path for your specific case, considering factors like the severity of your injuries, the clarity of liability, and your desired timeline for resolution.

Myth: Insurance Companies Have Your Best Interest in Mind.

Truth: They Do Not. They Care About Their Bottom Line.

Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and their primary objective is maximizing shareholder value. This often means keeping payouts on claims as low as possible. While some adjusters may be understanding, their loyalty lies with the company, not the injured party.

Be prepared for tactics designed to minimize your compensation. Lowball offers are common, often arriving early in the process and significantly undervaluing your claim. They may downplay the extent of your injuries, question your version of events, or pressure you to settle quickly before you fully understand the impact of your injuries.

In this situation, retaining an experienced personal injury lawyer is crucial. Unlike insurance companies, an attorney works solely in your best interest. They will investigate your case thoroughly, gather evidence to support your claim, and negotiate aggressively to ensure you receive fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Having a lawyer on your side levels the playing field and protects you from the tactics employed by insurance companies to minimize payouts.

Myth: A Police Report Automatically Proves My Case.

Truth: A Police Report Is Just One Piece of Evidence.

While a police report serves as a valuable record of the accident's details and the responding officer's observations, it should not be considered the sole pillar of your personal injury claim. The report itself might not comprehensively address the cause of the accident or the extent of your injuries.

Building a strong case necessitates a multifaceted approach, incorporating witness statements, medical records documenting your injuries and treatment, and potentially expert testimony to reconstruct the accident scene. This comprehensive evidence strengthens your position and effectively presents a clear picture of the situation.

Myth: Pre-Existing Conditions Disqualify You from Compensation.

Truth: Those with Pre-Existing Conditions Have the Right to File a Claim.

In the unfortunate event of a negligence-related accident, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions have the right to pursue personal injury claims in South Carolina, just like anyone else. The legal system recognizes the principle of "taking the plaintiff as they find them." This means that a pre-existing condition does not bar you from seeking compensation if the accident worsens your condition.

The key factor in such cases is establishing that the accident caused an aggravation of the pre-existing condition. This can be proven through medical documentation demonstrating a worsening of symptoms, the need for additional treatment, or a decline in overall health directly attributable to the accident.

Legal doctrines like the "eggshell skull rule" further support this notion. This rule essentially states that the negligent party is liable for the full extent of the damages caused, regardless of the plaintiff's pre-existing vulnerabilities.

Myth: Social Media Can’t Hurt My Case.

Truth: DMs, Posts, & Everything You Post Online Can Be Used Against You.

There's a mistaken belief that social media activity is irrelevant to personal injury cases. In reality, the information you share online can be a goldmine for opposing counsel. Even seemingly innocuous posts, private messages, and geotagged photos can be used to undermine your claims.

Imagine a scenario where you're suing for injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident, alleging significant limitations in your mobility. The opposing party discovers a recent social media post depicting you engaged in a physically demanding activity. This could cast doubt on the severity of your injuries and potentially reduce the compensation you receive. Similarly, a disgruntled post about the at-fault party or their insurance company might be misconstrued as vindictive behavior, swaying the jury's perception.

It is crucial to understand that social media is a public forum, and even private messages can be subpoenaed in court. Exercising caution during a personal injury case goes beyond just the physical realm; it extends to the digital world as well.

Learn more about how social media can affect your case.

Myth: You Must Have Immediate Injury Symptoms to File a Claim.

Truth: You Can File a Claim If You Experienced Delayed Symptoms.

Some injuries from accidents, like whiplash or internal injuries, may not manifest symptoms until days or even weeks later. Delayed symptoms do not disqualify you from seeking compensation.

Myth: You Can Easily Handle a Claim Yourself.

Truth: You Need & Benefit from the Help of a Personal Injury Attorney.

In the aftermath of a personal injury, navigating the legal complexities of a claim can be overwhelming, especially while focusing on recovery. A personal injury attorney offers invaluable counsel throughout the process.

Their experience in personal injury law allows them to assess the merits of your claim, gather evidence to strengthen your case, and negotiate with insurance companies for fair compensation. This not only increases your chances of a successful outcome but also frees you from the burden of legal intricacies, allowing you to prioritize your health and well-being.

Myth: All Personal Injury Lawyers Are the Same

Truth: They Are Not. Different Attorneys Have Different Strengths.

While personal injury attorneys all share the goal of securing compensation for their clients who have been injured due to negligence, they can differ significantly in their approach and qualifications. Here is a closer look at why not all personal injury attorneys are created equal:

  • Experience. Personal injury law encompasses a wide range of practice areas, from medical malpractice to product liability. Attorneys who focus on a specific area develop deeper expertise and a proven track record in handling those types of cases.
  • Approach to casework. Some attorneys prioritize negotiation and reaching swift settlements outside of court. Others are seasoned litigators prepared to take a case to trial if necessary to achieve the best possible outcome.
  • Communication and client care. The lawyer-client relationship is built on trust and clear communication. Choosing an attorney who is responsive, explains legal complexities in understandable terms, and prioritizes your needs is crucial for a successful case.
  • Firm resources. Law firms have varying resources. Larger firms might have more investigators or experts at their disposal for complex cases, while smaller firms might offer more personalized attention. It is important to note that firm size does not always speak to firm resources.
  • Track record. Lawyers may have different track records of success in obtaining compensation for their clients. It's important to consider a lawyer's past performance when choosing someone to represent you.

Ultimately, the right personal injury attorney for you will depend on the specifics of your case, your desired approach, and your personal communication preferences.

Learn What Our Personal Injury Attorneys Uniquely Offer

At Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC, we understand that legal matters are often stressful and highly personal. That's why they take a client-centered approach, offering personalized counsel tailored to each unique situation.

With over 165 years of combined experience, we have a deep understanding of the law and the ability to translate complex legal issues into clear terms. This allows them to work collaboratively with their clients to develop effective legal strategies.

Our team prioritizes individualized attention, as we recognize that every client deserves to be heard and understood. This means taking the time to thoroughly discuss your case, answer your questions openly and honestly, and keep you informed throughout the legal process. Their commitment to open communication fosters trust and empowers you to make informed decisions about your future.

Let us help you separate fact from fiction and help you make informed case decisions. Call (843) 968-0886 to schedule an initial consultation today.

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