If you’ve suffered an injury as a result of a negligent doctor, you may be considering taking legal action against that party. This type of litigation can be incredibly complex, which is why having skilled legal counsel is crucial. They will be able to explain the laws that apply to your claim and help you build a strong case to prove you deserve compensation for what you were wrongfully put through.
Every state has their own medical malpractice laws. Having a general understanding of these laws can benefit you if you’re planning on filing a claim. If you reside in South Carolina, the following laws will likely apply to your case.
Defining Medical Malpractice in South Carolina
When a South Carolina health care provider injuries a patient as a result of negligent actions or inactions, the patient can sue for medical malpractice. Section 15-79-110 of the South Carolina Code of Laws outlines all medical malpractice actions.
This area of law allows injured patients to obtain monetary relief for what they’ve wrongfully been put through. A health care professional can be deemed negligent when the treatment they provide their patient with is below the standard of care that other professionals in their industry or specialty would use.
Examples of common med mal suits include:
- Birth injuries
- Surgical errors
- Delayed treatment
- Prescription errors
Any health care provider that has injured you can be held liable in South Carolina. This includes doctors, nurses, surgeons, physical therapists, dentists, or any other licensed individual who provided you with care. Cases can also be brought against larger entities like hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities like nursing homes, and medical day care centers.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations establish how long a person has to take legal action against another individual or entity. In South Carolina, an action for personal injury must be filed within three years from the date the action that caused the injury happened. The date could start when the injury was discovered, as opposed to when it occurred; however, no matter what the circumstances are, you will never have more than six years to file a claim.
If you take action after the statute of limitations has passed, a court can dismiss your case and you will have no other legal options to pursue. The reason these time limits exist is to ensure there is credible evidence that establishes a cause of action. As time goes on, it’s possible that your case could become more difficult to prove if the evidence is less compelling.
Proving a Med Mal Incident Occurred
To present a successful cause, your attorney will need to help you prove the following four elements:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed. Questions as to whether a doctor-patient relationship existing are likely to arise. You need to prove you hired the doctor and they agreed to treat you.
- The doctor acted negligently. To prove negligence, an expert witness can discuss how a doctor in a similar field would have acted based on the medical standard of care.
- The doctor’s negligence resulted in the sustained injury. A medical expert can also show how the error resulted in injury.
- The injury led to specific damages. If a doctor performed below the expected standard but the patient didn’t suffer any harm, the claim will not be successful. Types of harm like physical pain and additional bills need to be shown.
Calculating Damages in South Carolina
If your case is successful, you will be awarded damages based on the doctrine of comparative fault. In other words, if you were found to be partially responsible for your injury, you will only receive compensation for the percentage of fault the other party contributed. There are two types of damages you may receive in South Carolina.
Compensatory Damages. This form of compensation is meant to provide victims with the funds they need for their financial state to be as if the injury never occurred. These are split into two categories. Economic damages, which include medical bills, prescription fees, nursing costs, physical therapy expenses, and lost wages, reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses that can be easily calculated. Noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life, compensate you for occurrences that cannot be calculated.
Punitive Damages. These damages intend to punish the guilty party. To be considered for punitive damages, you must meet the burden of persuasion. This means you need to prove with convincing evidence that the guilty party’s actions were reckless or willful.
There are no caps on economic damages; however, noneconomic damages are capped at $350,000.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, help is available. It can be intimidating to go up against a doctor or hospital. We understand what it takes to pursue a successful malpractice claim and will use our knowledge and experience to achieve a favorable outcome for you and your family. To learn more about your legal rights and options or for a free consultation, get in touch with our attorneys today.