Answers to Your Questions on South Carolina Insurance, Negligence, Court Cases, and More
We have heard many questions from our clients over the years. In an effort to keep all injury victims informed, we have compiled the most popular topics into one searchable page. Read through our FAQ for information on gathering evidence, securing expert medical testimony, and other elements of your case.
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How can I report nursing home abuse?
If someone you know has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, S.C. Code Ann. § 43-35-15 provides that you can report the situation to the Vulnerable Adults Investigation Unit, Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, Adult Protective Services through the Department of Social Services, or the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, and the property authorities will coordinate and investigate the situation.
What should I do if I suspect a loved one is a victim of abuse or neglect?
Most importantly, if you suspect someone is in immediate danger or at risk, you should contact the police and report the incident. If the risk is not as imminent, you should tell family members of the victim who can consult the victim and monitor the situation. Also, if you suspect a loved one is at risk of negligence or abuse in a nursing home, you need to remove them from their current residence and find a new home for them immediately. Lastly, if a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or negligence, you need to contact an experienced South Carolina nursing home attorney as soon as possible to advise you on your rights and remedies.
How do I tell if a doctor has committed malpractice?
In some instances it is obvious if a doctor has committed malpractice. However, in the vast majority of circumstances, it is impossible for a patient or their family to tell whether a doctor has committed malpractice. In fact, under many circumstances, it is impossible for an attorney to tell whether a doctor has committed malpractice without reviewing the medical records. The only way to know for sure is to request the medical records and get a doctor to review them and give an independent opinion about the treatment that was received. If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice, I would urge you to hire an experienced South Carolina medical malpractice lawyer to obtain the medical records and get them to a doctor who can give you an initial opinion about the situation.
What are some signs of nursing home abuse or neglect?
Sometimes it is very difficult to tell whether a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. Obviously, the easiest indicator is if your family member can tell you directly if something has happened. However, often times, the person may not be competent enough or in a position to explain to you the details about what has occurred. It is helpful to pay close attention to their mental state and emotions. Other signs can include malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores, infections, rapid weight loss or gain, unsanitary or unclean conditions, reluctance to speak when staff members are present, emotionally upset or agitated, episodes or wandering, or an unexplained injury or death to the patient. Anytime any of these signs have appeared to a loved one in a nursing home setting, you should do your best to investigate the cause and determine whether it is a result of abuse or neglect.
What are common types of medical malpractice?
There are a wide variety of types of medical malpractice. Some of the most common include but are not limited to:
Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis - This can include a delayed diagnosis or treatment of cancer, arthrosclerosis (heart disease), or any other type of chronic disease that results in harm or injury to the patient. It may result from a misreading of diagnostic tests, the failure to order the appropriate tests, or the simple failure to follow up and communicate negative test results to the patient.
Surgical Errors – This can include items left inside a patient during surgery (the most common example is a doctor leaving a surgical sponge inside a patient), a doctor cutting the wrong body part during surgery, a doctor performing surgery on the wrong body part, or a botched plastic surgery.
Prescription Drug and Medication Errors – This can include a pharmacist filling the wrong prescription or giving someone the wrong person’s prescription, a doctor wrongfully discontinuing a drug, or a doctor prescribing a drug that the patient is allergic to.
Failure to Monitor Errors - This can include a doctor failing to properly monitor a patient for infection after surgery, health care employees failing to monitor patients in the hospital that results in trip and falls, or employees failing to mobilize patients and resulting in bedsores or blood clots, or hospital employees failing to maintain and document records in accordance with the hospital’s policies.
Infection – Although infection is a known risk for many types of surgeries, a doctor and health care employees have a duty to monitor patients closely after surgery and diagnose and treat any potential infection in a timely manner. A delay in diagnosis and treatment may result in malpractice.
Obstetrician Mistakes (Birth errors) – Obstetrical malpractice can occur at many different stages of a pregnancy or birth from failure to perform proper prenatal tests, failure to monitor a pregnancy or properly conduct a delivery resulting in injury to the newborn or mother. Notably, pursuant
Emergency Room Errors – Emergency room errors can include a delay in treating a patient, a failure to perform proper medical tests, or any other type of error by a doctor or health care employee when one is seeking treatment in the emergency room. Notably, pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §15-32-230, one must prove a higher degree of negligence known as “gross negligence” when pursing a medical malpractice claim based on emergency room errors.
What should I do if I suspect a doctor has committed malpractice?
If you suspect you or someone you know has been the victim of medical malpractice, I would recommend that you speak with an experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorney who can get you some answers and information. You are always welcome to contact my office and I will be happy to speak with you, or meet with you in person, to answer any questions you might have.
What is a medical malpractice case worth in South Carolina?
There is no calculated formula for determining what a medical malpractice case is worth in South Carolina. The reason is because no two cases are the same. Each case has a different set of facts and circumstances that specifically determine the value of the claim. There are always several factors that come into play when evaluating what a medical malpractice case is worth – the severity of the injury, the financial loss involved, the amount of insurance coverage available, the number of defendants involved, venue, whether there are any prior malpractice claims against the hospital or doctor, plus many more. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to know the different types of damages you may be entitled to in a medical malpractice case under South Carolina law. The different types of damages one may be entitled to when pursing a medical malpractice claim in South Carolina include:
- Economic damages: One is entitle to recover financial damages such as medical bills (past and future), lost income or wages (past and future), lost earning capacity, funeral expenses (if a wrongful death case), and any other financial damages one has suffered from their injury.
- Non-economic damages: One is entitled to recover for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium (for the spouse). Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 15-32-220, non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case are capped to $350,000.00 (adjusted for inflation) against a single health care provider. In instances where multiple health care providers are involved, the total damages may not exceed $1,050,00.00.
- Punitive damages: Although rare in South Carolina, especially in medical malpractice claims, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their actions and/or deter future wrongdoing. Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-32-530, an award of punitive damages is limited to the greater of $500,000.00, or three times actual damages (economic plus non-economic damages).
How do I handle my property damage claim after a car accident?
Depending on what type of automobile insurance you have, you may be able to simply report the accident to your insurance company and they will repair your car. If you have the right coverage, your insurance company will pay for the repairs and then seek repayment from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your insurance company will then have what is known as a subrogation lien against the at fault driver’s insurance company for the property damage. On the other hand, if you do not have adequate coverage, you will have to report the accident directly to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This is usually a longer process, and often the insurance company may dispute liability or costs of repair. If our office handles your personal injury claim, we will help you with your property damage claim for no additional charge.
Why do I need to hire a lawyer after a car accident if I have car insurance?
Many people think that because the law requires you to have automobile insurance that the insurance company will simply pay for any injuries after a car accident. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. Insurance companies stay in business by collecting premiums and paying out as little as possible. In many instances, the insurance company will deny liability completely. Even if the insurance company does accept liability, they are not going to offer an individual the full amount they may be entitled to under the law. Moreover, in certain situation, depending on the amount of medical bills and the amount of available insurance, there will not be enough insurance to cover the full cost of the medical bills. In this instance, it is important to hire an experienced car accident lawyer who is capable of negotiating with medical providers regarding any possible liens. The only way to know you are receiving a fair offer is to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your car accident settlement.
Can I still file a lawsuit if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt?
Yes, you can still file a lawsuit if you were not wearing a seatbelt, however, there is a chance that your potential compensation may be reduced to a certain extent. South Carolina follows what is known as comparative negligence. This means that any potential recovery a plaintiff may be entitled to in a person injury claim will be reduced by the extent that the plaintiff is negligent themselves, so long as the plaintiff is found to be less than fifty percent negligent for their injuries. For example, if a jury finds that the defendant is ninety percent negligent for your injuries but you were ten percent at fault for your injuries, your overall damages may be reduced by ten percent.