Personal Injury and Personal Injury Lawsuits
lawyer at the top rated Joe Griffith Law Firm has a wealth of
experience in the legal fields of personal injury and wrongful
deaths. Our lawyers are located in Charleston and Mt. Pleasant,
South Carolina, and devote 100% of their practices to litigation.
Serious and catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death
litigation are a major focus of our practice. Lead by former federal
prosecutor Joseph P. Griffith, Jr., the Joe Griffith Law Firm is
designated as an AV rated firm by the prestigious
Martindale-Hubbell® attorney rating company, signifying the highest
possible ranking for legal ability and ethics as judged by peers in
the legal profession. Every attorney at our firm is dedicated to
providing outstanding legal service to each of our clients and will
fight to obtain all of the compensation due our clients under the
law. Client satisfaction is our number one goal.
We serve victims of accidents, including
boating / maritime,
and train and railroad
accidents; birth injury;
prescription drug negligence;
spinal cord injury;
traumatic brain injury;
worker's compensation and
A personal injury, which generally involves a physical and/or
emotional injury to the victim and/or damage to the victim’s
property, usually results from one or more of the following:
- A party’s negligent, careless or reckless conduct
- A defective product
- An ultra-hazardous activity or condition
- A party’s intentionally wrongful conduct
A personal injury victim’s right to recover compensation for
injuries sustained is primarily governed by state common law, state
statutory law and federal statutory law. The personal injury victim
is commonly referenced as a “plaintiff” and the person or entity
that caused the harm is commonly referenced as a “defendant.”
Personal Injury from Negligence
To recover for a personal injury negligence claim in this state,
the South Carolina Supreme Court has set forth the elements which
must be proved by the plaintiff as follows:
- A duty of care is owed to the plaintiff by the defendant
- The defendant breached his duty of care
- The defendant’s breach of the duty of care caused the
- The plaintiff’s injuries resulting from defendant’s breach of
the duty of care were reasonably foreseeable by the defendant
and therefore the proximate or legal cause of the injuries
Adrade v. Johnson , 356 S.C. 238, 245, 588 S.E.2d 588, 592
Negligence is the failure to use due care or reasonable care,
which is that care which a reasonably careful person would use under
like circumstances. Proctor v. Department of Health and
Environmental Control, 2006 WL 706734 (S.C.App.)
For instance, take a hypothetical defendant who is driving an
automobile, runs a red light, crashes into the plaintiff (who is
abiding by all traffic laws), and causes the plaintiff to injure her
head and back as a result of the accident. The defendant owed the
plaintiff a duty of care to drive safely and in compliance with all
traffic regulations and laws. By running the red light and crashing
into the plaintiff, the plaintiff breached his duty of care to the
plaintiff and caused her injuries. It would have been reasonably
foreseeable that the defendant’s failure to stop at the traffic
light, as required by law, and the resulting crash and injuries were
proximately or legally caused by the defendant.
The plaintiff in a personal injury negligence suit must prove the
elements of his or her claim by a preponderance of the evidence or
the greater weight of the evidence. In percentage terms, the
plaintiff must prove his claim by more that 50%. In South Carolina,
there is a common law concept known as “contributory negligence,”
which is when the plaintiff’s own negligence contributes to or
causes, in whole or in part, the plaintiff’s injury. Nelson v.
Concrete Supply Co., 303 S.C. 243, 399 S.E.2d 783 (1991). When a
plaintiff’s contributory negligence occurs, the common law concept
of comparative negligence becomes applicable to the case. If a
plaintiff’s contributory negligence is greater than the defendant’s
negligence, then the plaintiff is awarded no recovery. If the
plaintiff’s negligence is equal to or less than the defendant’s
negligence, then the plaintiff’s recovery is reduced by the
percentage of the plaintiff’s negligence. For instance, if a jury
were to find $10,000,000 in total damages to the plaintiff, and
further found the defendant’s negligence to equal 80% and the
plaintiff’s negligence to equal 20%, then the plaintiff’s total
recovery would be $8,000,000.
Personal Injury from a Defective Product
A personal injury lawsuit can also arise from defective or unsafe
products. South Carolina passed the Defective Product Act (“DPA”),
S.C. Code §§ 15-73-10 to -30, in 1974. The purpose of the DPA is to
protect consumers from unreasonably dangerous defective products by
eliminating the injured plaintiff’s need to prove negligence, making
the standard of due care irrelevant, and making the defendant
strictly liable for defective products which cause injuries.
Section 15-73-10 provides as follows:
(1) One who sells any product in a defective condition
unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is
subject to liability for physical harm caused to the ultimate user
or consumer, or to his property, if
(a) The seller is engaged in the business of selling such a
(b) It is expected to and does reach the user or consumer without
substantial change in the condition in which it is sold.
(2) The rule stated in subsection (1) shall apply although
(a) The seller has exercised all possible care in the preparation
and sale of his product, and
(b) The user or consumer has not bought the product from or entered
into any contractual relation with the seller.
Section 15-73-20 provides as follows:
If the user or consumer discovers the defect and is aware of the
danger, and nevertheless proceeds unreasonably to make use of the
product and is injured by it, he is barred from recovery.
Section 15-73-30 provides as follows
Comments to § 402A of the Restatement of Torts, Second, are
incorporated herein by reference thereto as the legislative intent
of this chapter.
While the South Carolina DPA is short, it packs a big wallop. It
provides that manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of products
may be held strictly liable for damages arising from the use of
defective products. Almost all consumer products are covered by the
DPA. An injured user does not need to be the original purchaser of
the defective product and generally does not need to prove
negligence. The DPA provides strict liability which means that if
the product is defective and that defect caused an injury, the
injured user may sue for damages as long as the product was used as
it was meant to be used and not substantially changed from its
If an injured plaintiff was using the product in a manner not
intended by the manufacturer or retailer, or had altered the product
so that safety features were disabled, the plaintiff’s defective
product claim may be defeated.
A product liability case may also be brought pursuant to causes
of action based in negligence and breach of warranty. A manufacturer
of a defective product may be shown to have been negligent in
adequately testing its product or in supplying directions for its
use. The negligence generally must have occurred before the product
left the manufacturer’s control. Likewise, a product manufacturer
makes an implied warranty for fitness of use and freedom from defect
when a product is sold, and if the item proves to be defective or is
unfit for the purpose intended, a breach of warranty action may be
If a claim of strict liability is to be pursued under the DPA,
the plaintiff will need to show that the product was unreasonably
dangerous for its intended use, due to a defect. In defective
product cases, there are various areas of defects that can occur.
The three general areas in which a product can be unreasonably
- Manufacturing defects
- Design defects
- Warning defects
Warning defects can occur when the manufacturer or seller fails
to warn about the dangers associated with a product’s use.
Manufacturers and sellers must provide adequate warnings about
possible dangers of the product, and to provide clear and adequate
instructions for the use thereof. A manufacturing defect usually
arises during the manufacturing or assembly process wherein the
product fails to meet the company’s specifications. On the other
hand, a design defect usually causes a product to be unreasonably
dangerous even though it is manufactured to the company’s
specifications. The reasonableness of a defective product’s design
is usually a question for the jury. Fleming v. Borden, Inc., 316
S.C. 452, 524 S.E.2d 589 (1994).
In all defective product personal injury cases, it is essential
that the product be preserved and that all paperwork showing the
origin of the product be retained. Receipts showing the date and
place of purchase, repair records, and other similar documents are
essential to having a successful defective product case.
Personal Injury from an Ultra-Hazardous Activity
A personal injury case can also arise from an ultra-hazardous
activity, such as blasting dynamite. If a plaintiff proves an injury
from an ultra-hazardous activity, then the defendant will be held
strictly liable for the damages. Generally, an ultra-hazardous
activity is one that involves a substantial risk of serious harm to
a person or property no matter how much reasonable care is
exercised. Wallace v. A.H. Guion & Co., 237 S.C. 349, 117 S.E.2d 359
(1960). Other types of potentially ultra-hazardous activities
include crop dusting, and the use, storage or disposal of hazardous
materials or potent pesticides.
Personal Injury from an Intentional Tort
A personal injury case can also arise from an intentional tort,
such as an assault and battery. Again, there is no due care
requirement, and a defendant will be subject to strict liability if
a plaintiff proves the intentional tort. A plaintiff need only show
that the defendant intentionally acted against the plaintiff, which
ultimately caused the plaintiff damages. A plaintiff may recover
compensation from an intentional tort, even if there are no physical
injuries to him, which are sometimes called nominal damages.
Compensation for a Personal Injury
In a personal injury lawsuit, a victim seeks compensation for the
injury or injuries he or she has suffered. Compensation can include
past and future medical expenses, disability or deformity, loss of
income, emotional and mental anguish, loss of a spouse’s comfort and
society, past and future pain and suffering, and an amount which
would be necessary to make the person whole as respects a permanent
personal injury. McNeil v. United States, 519 F.Supp. 283 (D.S.C.
1981). In cases where the defendant acted recklessly, maliciously or
willfully, punitive damages may also be awarded. Punitive damages in
personal injury lawsuits are intended to punish the responsible
party and deter others from committing the same acts. Gamble v.
Stevenson, 305 S.C. 104, 406 S.E.2d 350 (1991). If a wrongful death
results from the personal injury, the decedent’s beneficiaries are
entitled to compensation. See our
Wrongful Death Overview.
Causes of Personal
Time Limits for Bringing Suit
There are time limits on bringing a personal injury lawsuit in
the state of South Carolina known as statutes of limitations. See
S.C. Code §§ 15-3-530(5); 15-3-535. While a personal injury suit is
generally subject to a three year statute of limitations, there may
be exceptions depending on the circumstances, such as a medical
malpractice case where the negligent conduct may be covered by a
concept known as the “discovery rule.” See S.C. Code § 15-3-545. The
statutes of limitations are different for negligence suits against a
South Carolina state government agency pursuant to the South
Carolina Tort Claims Act (“TCA”) and the federal government pursuant
to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). Under the TCA, a suit must
generally be filed within two years, unless a verified claim is
filed within a year of the injury, then the statute of limitations
is three years. S.C. Code § 15-78-110. Under the FTCA, an
administrative tort claim must generally be presented to the subject
federal agency within two years. Once a timely administrative tort
claim has been filed, there is no statute of limitations on bringing
a suit unless the federal agency denies the claim, in which case a
suit must be brought in federal court within six months after the
denial. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 1402, 2401, 2675.
If You or a Loved One Suffers a Personal Injury
The Joe Griffith Law Firm is a Charleston, South Carolina (“SC”) law
firm that focuses on personal injury and wrongful death cases. Each of
our lawyers has years of experience handling these types of cases.
Our attorneys will investigate the facts, assess your claim,
determine which parties and insurance companies are to be held
responsible, organize all of the details of your case and pursue it
vigorously in settlement negotiations or at trial. If you believe
that you or a loved one may have a personal injury or wrongful death
case, please contact the Joe Griffith Law Firm.
- Seek appropriate medical treatment immediately.
- Contact the Joe Griffith Law Firm, LLC as soon as you can and retain us
as your legal counsel. It is important to have an investigator
visit the scene of any accident as soon as possible.
- Take, or have taken, photographs or videos of any accident
scene and physical injuries incurred. Photographs and videos of
the scene of an automobile accident can make the difference in
winning and losing your case.
- Write down all of the pertinent facts of any accident and
personal injury as soon as you are able to do so and particularly
while the facts are fresh in your mind. Witness names, addresses
and telephone numbers, car licenses, insurance policies, police
officer names, addresses and telephone numbers should be recorded
- Do not give any written, recorded or verbal statements to
anyone concerning your accident or injuries without first getting
our approval, except with respect to police in the event of an
accident. Do not discuss the case with anyone other than your law
firm and your doctors. If an insurance adjuster contacts you,
direct her questions to your law firm.
- Save and itemize all of your medical expenses and lost wages,
and save all wheel chairs, casts, braces, crutches, x-rays, pill
bottles, and any other items from your doctors.
- Do not make any false statements to any treating doctor or
health care provider who may treat or examine you respecting any
prior injuries or accidents.
- Keep your law firm immediately informed of any change in your
address, telephone number, employment and medical treatment.
- Keep your doctor appointments, follow your doctor’s orders,
instructions and advice, and fully disclose to your doctor all of
your pain and injuries you received from your accident.
- Do not sign any legal documents unless approved by your law
For more information, please see our
Personal Injury FAQs.
If you have additional questions, please
contact us to discuss your case.
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