When a child gets hurt in an accident, it can be a traumatic and challenging experience for the entire family. You may be overwhelmed with worry about your child’s well-being and future. Moreover, you may be grappling with the complexities of the legal system in South Carolina when seeking compensation for your child’s injuries.
This comprehensive guide aims to walk you through the process of claiming for a child hurt in a South Carolina accident, discussing key aspects of the process, relevant laws, and essential steps to take.
Understanding South Carolina’s Personal Injury Laws
If you have been injured in South Carolina due to the negligence of another party, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. However, it is important to understand the state’s personal injury laws and how they may impact your case.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in South Carolina for personal injury claims is generally three years from the accident date. However, when a minor is involved, the clock doesn’t start running until the child turns 18. This means a child has until their 21st birthday to file a claim for personal injury.
South Carolina follows a modified comparative negligence rule. This means that if the injured party is found to be partially at fault for the accident, their compensation will be reduced to their percentage of fault. If the injured party’s fault exceeds 50%, they cannot recover compensation.
Liability and Damages
In a personal injury claim, you must establish that the defendant was negligent and their negligence directly caused your child’s injuries. If your claim is successful, your child may be entitled to receive compensation for medical expenses, future medical care, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages.
Steps to Take After Your Child’s Accident
If your child has been in an accident, your priority is to ensure your child’s health and well-being, but it is also important to take steps to protect their legal rights and interests.
Seek Medical Attention
Timely medical attention is essential for your child’s health and for documenting the injuries, which can be critical evidence in your claim.
Collect as much evidence as possible from the accident scene, including photographs, videos, witness statements, and other relevant information. This will help build a strong case for your child’s claim.
Report the Accident
Depending on the type of accident, you may be required to report it to the appropriate authorities. For example, if your child was injured in a car accident, you must report it to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) within 15 days if there was more than $1,000 in property damage or if anyone was injured or killed.
Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney
Navigating the complexities of South Carolina’s legal system can be challenging, especially when you are dealing with the emotional turmoil of your child’s injury. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your child’s rights.
Filing a Claim on Behalf of Your Child
As a parent, it can be heartbreaking to see your child suffer an injury due to someone else’s negligence. If your child has been hurt in an accident, you may need to file a personal injury claim to ensure they receive the compensation they need for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. Filing a claim for a child can be more complex than filing for an adult, but there are steps you can take to protect your child’s rights and interests.
Establishing a Guardianship
Since minors cannot file a lawsuit or make legal decisions, a parent or legal guardian must file the claim. In some cases, the court may require the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s best interests in the legal proceedings.
Settlements and Trust Accounts
If a settlement is reached in your child’s case, the court must approve the settlement amount to ensure it is in the child’s best interest. The court may also require that the funds be placed in a trust account or annuity to ensure the money is used solely for the child’s benefit.
The Role of an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
An experienced personal injury attorney can be crucial in representing a child hurt in a South Carolina accident. Here are some of the key roles an attorney can play in this situation:
- Legal Representation: A personal injury attorney can represent the child and their family in legal proceedings and negotiations with insurance companies, helping to ensure that the child’s rights are protected and that they receive fair compensation.
- Communication: An experienced attorney can communicate with the child’s parents or guardians to keep them informed about the legal process and answer any questions.
- Investigation: An attorney can investigate the accident’s circumstances, including interviewing witnesses, reviewing medical records, and gathering evidence to build a strong case.
- Case Preparation: An experienced attorney can prepare a case for trial, including researching and preparing legal arguments, drafting pleadings, and preparing witnesses for testimony.
- Negotiation: Many personal injury cases are settled through negotiations with insurance companies or the responsible parties. An experienced attorney can negotiate for the child and their family to ensure they receive fair compensation for their injuries.
- Advocacy: A personal injury attorney can advocate for the child in court, presenting their case to a judge and jury and fighting for their rights and interests.
- Protection of Settlement Funds: If the child receives a settlement or award, an attorney can help protect those funds by establishing a trust or other financial arrangement to ensure the money is used appropriately for the child’s benefit.
An experienced personal injury attorney can provide critical assistance to a child and their family in the aftermath of an accident, helping to ensure that their rights are protected and that they receive the compensation they need to recover from their injuries. Shelly Leeke Law Firm is a great resource for learning more.