What are the types of damages in a South Carolina Car Accident Claim?

When someone causes a car accident, that driver may be found negligent, and you may be entitled to compensation (compensatory damages) for both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages

Economic damages in a car accident are damages that have a monetary cost. Medical expenses are usually the most significant economic losses in an accident, including accident-related future medical expenses. Another example is compensation for lost income, including compensation for future lost wages. A number of factors are taken into account, including salary, career trajectory prior to the injury, age, education, and career skills.

Additional specific examples of economic damages are:

  • Medication costs
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Surgery
  • Ambulance fees

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t settle a case until your attorney can accurately, or as accurately as possible, calculate all of your damages. Therefore, do not accept a settlement offer until you know all of your expenses and other potential damages due to the accident.

Non-economic damages

While you may be able to immediately assess the cost of your economic losses, you may also suffer from non-economic damages as a result of the accident. Non-economic damages can be more difficult to prove in your claim, and include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of quality of life, disfigurement, and/or disability. These are damages that don’t have a precise monetary value, but are of importance and value to you. Your attorney will gather evidence of your damages to prove this portion of your case.

Punitive damages

  • Unlike other types of damages, punitive damages are not intended as compensation for specific losses, but are instead targeted at punishing the defendant for wrongful acts and deterring future wrongful acts of the defendant and others in the community.
  • There are limits, and punitive damages are not appropriate in every case. Section 15-32-510 of the South Carolina Code of Laws states that plaintiffs may seek punitive damages in personal injury complaints, but should not demand an exact amount.
  • The judge or jury will consider many factors in determining an appropriate amount of punitive damages, including:
    • Severity of the harm caused.
    • Defendant’s degree of culpability.
    • Duration of the defendant’s conduct.
    • Whether the defendant concealed the wrongful acts or attempted to.
    • Extent to which the plaintiff’s own actions contributed to the accident and injuries.
    • How aware the defendant was of the risk he/she created.
    • Whether the defendant profited from the conduct.
    • The ability of the defendant to pay punitive damages.
    • How likely it is that the punitive damages will deter the defendant or others from acting in a similar way.
    • Whether any criminal penalties were imposed on the defendant.
    • Whether the defendant faced any civil fines because of the actions.

Subject to certain fact-specific and important exceptions, South Carolina law stipulates that punitive damages may not exceed $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages that a plaintiff receives, whichever is higher. Again though, certain exceptions exist in regards to this “cap” on punitive damages awards, and every case should be analyzed very carefully to determine whether an exception might apply.

A serious accident can be devastating and potentially life-changing. If you or a loved one were hurt in an accident, do not delay in contacting Thurmond Kirchner & Timbes, P.A., for a consultation with a personal injury attorney in South Carolina. Our compassionate and experienced legal team is ready to assist you in determining the compensation that you may be owed for your damages.

The information provided on this website is intended to help you better understand general information about the law. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer. Every case is different, and you should consult an attorney before applying the information contained herein to any particular circumstance affecting you.