Personal Injury Evidence Rules | South Carolina Accident Attorneys

When you bring an accident case, you have the burden of proof and must follow personal injury evidence rules. Because the rules are complex, we explain here how presenting your case properly is so important. Hence winning your case means you must present the right evidence. However, sometimes the best evidence is not admissible. So we explain the recent case of Busillo v. City of North Charleston where the rules of personal injury evidence played a critical role.

personal injury evidencePersonal Injury Evidence Rules

While on patrol for the City of North Charleston, Officer Terrell attempted a U-turn. Consequently, he hit Busillo’s car causing property damage and personal injury. Subsequently, Busillo filed a lawsuit for his property damage, and a panel found that the City liable. In addition, Busillo also filed a claim in circuit court for personal injury. However, in this case, Busillo submitted evidence of property damage to her car. While the evidence included a summary of expenses, an expert witness also testified about depreciation to Busillo’s car. Because the jury returned a verdict for Busillo, the City appealed.

First, the City claimed the court made a mistake in admitting the two pieces of evidence. However, the Court of Appeals did not agree and upheld the trial court. Regarding the expert witness, the court found that City did not preserve their argument. In order to appeal something, a party must first raise the issue at trial to preserve it. Although the City had three arguments, they did not properly raise the first. In addition, the City failed to raise the other two arguments as well. As a result, the City was not allowed to raise the issues on appeal. Rather, trial courts have a lot of room when it comes to admitting evidence. Looks like mistakes made the difference. Fortunately, the injured person won their case. Hooray for justice. But it doesn’t always work out this way. And you only get one shot.

Experience Counts in Court

Because personal injury evidence rules can make the difference, trial experience matters. While most cases settle, sometimes a trial is necessary. So when you get to court, make sure your lawyer knows the rules. Otherwise, you could lose. Better safe than sorry. Because it matters, choose your lawyer carefully. Don’t worry. We’ve got you. And we’ll be there until the end. That’s our pledge and promise to you.

Texting and Driving “Drivers Mode” | SC Personal Injury Attorneys

Texting and Driving “Drivers Mode” | SC Personal Injury Attorneys

While everyone knows about texting and driving, here’s something the phone makers could do.

Texting While Driving Dangers

Because we already know the dangers, this blog won’t remind you of the obvious. And it appears older adults are actually worse than teenagers this time. However, despite new laws and harsher penalties, people still keep texting and driving. Rather, no matter what, we just can’t seem to stop ourselves. So what else is there to do? While there are many ideas out there, here is one that actually would seem to work.

Technology Solutions and “Drivers Mode”

Currently, I own two vehicles. While I still love my 12 year old Lexus, it still has a cassette player. Certainly, it is “old school” but still rides like a dream. And if I have my key on me, it unlocks the doors as I approach. For years, I thought this was pretty fancy stuff. However, I recently bought a new Chevy truck which is pretty amazing. Now, once I plug in my phone, most things are by voice command. Furthermore, the truck resets most functions including BlueTooth and streaming music. So why not set my phone to “drivers mode” that would stop any texting while in motion? After all, technology already prevents other activities in the car. Finally, we may have a solution to stop ourselves.

In addition to serious personal injury claims, our firm also defends DUI charges. As part of that practice, we have learned the many physical and mental divided tasks needed to drive. Consequently, there are studies that show texting is actually more dangerous than driving impaired. While I initially questioned those findings, I now agree. Why? Because someone knows they are not safe, they at least try to focus on driving. However, people texting think they are fine and look away for “just a few seconds.” However, at highway speeds, they can go several hundred yards down the road without looking. And that’s when very bad things can happen. Consequently, lives are changed forever in an instant. Sadly, it’s too late then.

What is Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?

According to S.C. SECTION 42‑5‑10, Workers’ Compensation states that it is up to the employer to secure payment of compensation to the extent of liability.reeves-sc-workers-comp-cover

Specifically, the statute states that “Every employer who accepts the compensation provisions of this Title shall secure the payment of compensation to his employees in the manner provided in this chapter.  While such security remains in force he or those conducting his business shall only be liable to any employee who elects to come under this Title for personal injury or death by accident to the extent and in the manner specified in this Title.” S.C.  SECTION 42‑5‑10

In other words, what Workers’ Compensation really is, is an insurance policy that your employer essentially takes out on you when they have a certain amount of employees in working for their company. The employers pay out to the Workers’ Compensation, in the event that a person is injured on the job.

Most states will assess the damages occurred to the employee who was injured while working within the scope of their employment. In the event that an employee is injured while working on the job, they will be entitled to recover for their personal injury, or the estate for a death of the employee, only to the extent of the injury.

This places no blame on the employer, and then business is only liable to the employee who utilizes the statutes for recovery.

If you have been injured while on the job, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for more information on compensation options.

What is Considered to be a “Personal Injury.”

According to various sources, including statutes and case law, a personal injury is simply a legal term that is used for any injury to a person’s body or mind (including emotions.) SC Personal Injury Attorney

Injury to property however is considered to be something entirely different and is a different type of “damage” that is typically covered by the defendant’s insurance company.

Typically, the legal term refers to an action of negligence by one person, called the defendant, against another person, referred to as the plaintiff. The plaintiff suffers an injury at the accidental fault of the defendant through the defendant’s negligent act, and then sues the defendant to recover damages for their losses.

What most people think of when they hear the phrase “personal injury,” is that someone has been involved in a major car accident where the plaintiff was seriously injured. They would be entirely correct to make this assumption.

Roadway accidents, accidents at work, “slip and fall” accidents, and holiday accidents are statistically proven to be the most common types of “personal injuries.”

However, the term “personal injury,” expands to encompass much more than simply the “run-of-the-mill” car accident. A personal injury can include anything from a car accident or motorcycle accident all the way to intentional infliction of emotional distress (referred to as IIED) and negligent infliction of emotional distress (or NIED.)

These two claims often arise when the plaintiff has suffered mental injuries, and these injuries are proven by medical attention reporting such injuries. These injuries could include anything from PTSD to depression due to the accident.

If you have suffered any sort of serious personal injury, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP to speak with one of our personal injury attorneys directly at 803-548-5444 or toll-free at 877-374-5999 today.

Violent South Carolina Crash Injures Everyone in the Car

Five people were seriously injured in an extremely violent crash in a Lancaster County, SC neighborhood on Wednesday evening when a Toyota Camry veered off Country Club Drive and hit a ditch, istock-car on sidesubsequently going airborne tumbling into a yard.

The car slammed into a man’s pick-up truck, thrusting two people from the car.  The car was smashed, and a man at the scene could not get people out of the car.  The people who witnessed the crash called 911, and neighbors began to emerge from their homes.

Troopers say a 21-year-old man was driving the car when he lost control and veered from the road, ejecting himself and an 18-year-old from the car.  Also injured was a 20-year-old man, another younger teenager, and a 17-month-old-baby.

Under South Carolina law, it is up to the fact finder to determine who was more at fault.  Under the theory of ” modified comparative negligence,” the law states that whomever is more at fault, will not be able to recover, and whomever is less, so long as they are suing as the plaintiff, should have no serious issue recovering for pain and suffering either directly from the defendant, or their insurance company. Here, the driver of the car may be found to be at fault for all of the injuries sustained in the crash, as long as someone in the car did not pull the wheel or did something that would make the driver less at fault than 50%.

An auto accident can change your life forever in an instant. If you are on the road, you are at risk. We see it everyday. Someone is going too fast, not paying attention to the road, or is on their cell phone texting. Others are impaired or otherwise unsafe to drive, whether from alcohol or drugs. Sadly, you or your family member can be seriously injured or killed even if you do everything right. Fortunately, the trial lawyers of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower LLP are experienced auto accident attorneys who practice personal injury law and can help.

If you or someone close to you has been involved in a serious accident such as this one, know your rights.  Call the personal injury firm of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP.  You can reach our South Carolina office at 803-548-4444, or call us toll-free at 877-374-5999.

What is “Stacking” Insurance Policies in South Carolina?

“Stacking” insurance policies is something somewhat unique that South Carolina allows an insured person to recover damages under more than one policy in succession until all the damages are satisfied by the amount set by the fact finder; or until the total limits of all policies have been exhausted.Personal Injury Attorney

So what does all this mean? In other words, an insured can recover for both the liability of the at-fault driver who hit them in the car accident, as well as any UIM coverage or benefits from the same policy if certain criteria apply. Namely, stacking policies is appropriate when a person is involved in an accident, and there is not enough coverage simply through liability OR UIM coverage. Only member of a “Class 1″ ranking will be permitted to stack.

Class 1 insured people include ” the named insured, the resident spouse, and any resident relative.” This residency is not quite as broad as one may hope. It requires that the residency is more then transient in nature of the residence.  In other words, the courts will look to the person’s driver’s license, mailing address, and where the registered to vote in order to see if they meet the “residency” requirement to stack policies. This typically comes in when a college student is using a “temporary” address while off at school, and want to use their parent’s vehicles to stack coverage.

A Class 1 insured that has UIM coverage on their vehicle that is involved in the accident has damages in excess of their coverage, they may stack UIM coverage from other policies in an amount equal to the coverage on the car that was involved in the accident, which is referred to as the ” measuring vehicle.” The Class 1 members are ONLY allowed to use the UM to stack if they were involved in the accident, yet did not own the vehicle that was involved in the accident.

So for example, if a mother and her two daughters are going shopping in the eldest daughter’s personally owned vehicle, and are in an accident and the mother( front seat passenger) is injured, she is allowed to recover not only from her daughter’s UIM, but can also use the UIM on her vehicle at home, as well as any other vehicles that the family owns with UIM coverage, and stack all the coverage together to reach the needed amount. So, in the example, mom would recover 25,000 from her daughter’s UIM, and assuming she has a vehicle at home with 50,000 UIM, and the father has another vehicle with 30,000 UIM coverage, the mother would be permitted to receive up to 95,000 if that does not exceed the amount of coverage on the daughter’s car( as the measuring vehicle.)

Another important note to make here is that a person is not permitted to recover through both a UIM and UM coverage. The rationale behind this is that a person can not simultaneously be both an Uninsured Motorist( UM) and an Underinsured Motorist( UIM). You can not have a little bit of insurance and no insurance at the same time.

This may all sound very confusing; and in fact, it is confusing. If you find yourself involved in a personal injury suit due to a serious car accident, contact the attorneys at Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for a free consultation, and to see if you qualify as a Class 1 member entitled to stack.