A tort is an injury to someone else’s rights that can be addressed in a civil lawsuit. The word tort is related to the words torsion, torture, and extortion. The legal term for someone who causes this type of injury is called a tortfeasor.
There are many types of tort in the American legal system, such as assault, battery, trespass, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Some torts are also crimes, but a violation of criminal law is a wrong against the state, not just a single person. The state handles those charges in criminal court, but an injured party must bring their own lawsuit as a plaintiff “in tort” if they want to recover damages in a civil court.
According to the South Carolina Judicial Department, “a tort arises where there is
- “a duty of due care;
- “a breach of that duty—i.e. negligence;
- “a legally protected injury; and
- “a causal relationship between that injury and the negligence such that the negligence ‘proximately caused’ the injury.”
A personal injury lawsuit is a kind of tort that arises when someone has suffered personal damage because a party that had a duty of due care breached their duty. Common grounds for personal injury lawsuits include:
- Traffic accidents involving cars, motorcycles, bikes, or pedestrians
- Slips and falls
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
How to Make a Personal Injury Claim in South Carolina
Personal injury attorneys like Cavanaugh & Thickens, LLC are often called “plaintiff’s attorneys.” Today, since many people and most corporations carry some kind of liability insurance, it is common for tortfeasors to settle and avoid court proceedings. Plaintiff’s attorneys deal with insurance carriers and corporate lawyers every day, and they work to ensure fair and timely settlements so that their clients can recover the damages they need. But it is still necessary for the plaintiff’s attorney to show that they would likely prevail if they sued in tort.
Under South Carolina’s statute of limitations, most tort lawsuits against private entities must be filed within three years of the date of the injury. For medical malpractice claims, the applicable time period may be extended by the date that you became aware of the injury, although the suit still has to be filed within six years. If you have to sue the state of South Carolina—for example, due to a car accident with a public employee on the job—or the federal government, you must file within different and much shorter periods of time, depending on what exactly took place.
South Carolina is a “modified comparative negligence” state. This means that even if a plaintiff is found to be partly at fault for what happened, they can still claim damages, so long as they were less than 51% at fault. Their damage award will be reduced by their own percentage of fault; for example, a plaintiff with a claim for $10,000 who is found to be 10% at fault can recover $9,000.
Many states cap the damages that a plaintiff can recover for certain tort claims. In South Carolina, there are limits on medical malpractice judgments, adjusted yearly for inflation. Damage caps also apply to the state of South Carolina. You can recover a maximum of $300,000 in a tort claim against the state government for any one occurrence. The Federal Tort Claims Act limits recovery against the United States government in a somewhat similar manner.
Skilled personal injury attorneys know how to navigate the confusing deadlines and limitations, protecting you from pressure at difficult times and making it possible for you to recover as much as you can.
Our attorneys have over 60+ years of combined experience. If you are in need of help, please contact our attorneys in Columbia and Charleston today at (803) 888-2200, and let us see how we can help you by getting started with a free in-depth consultation.