Most, if not all, medical malpractice and personal injury claims in South Carolina and elsewhere are based on the concept of negligence. When people fail to take proper care in doing something, those injured or otherwise adversely affected by those actions may be entitled to pursue compensation for the damages they sustained. However, the plaintiffs must prove the defendant owed them a duty of care and they were injured because of the defendant’s negligence. But what is negligence, and how can a person know if he or she has grounds for medical malpractice or personal injury litigation?
In its simplest terms, negligence is defined as a failure of a person to not follow the standard rules of conduct or act in a way that a reasonable person would do. In legal terms, negligence is defined by the following elements:
- Plaintiff was owed a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty
- A causal relationship exists between the defendant’s actions and the plaintiff’s harm
- The harm was, or should have been, foreseeable by the defendant
- The plaintiff sustained damages because of the defendant’s actions
Like many other states, South Carolina operates under a comparative negligence system. This basically means that the plaintiff potentially bears some responsibility for the accident or mishap. Comparative negligence can be used to lessen the amount of compensation a plaintiff ultimately receives; however, a plaintiff can still receive compensation under this system as opposed to contributory negligence, which bars a plaintiff from receiving any compensation if he or she is found to be even partly responsible for the accident.
This is merely a general explanation of negligence in South Carolina and does not entail all of the various elements and applicable laws involved. Proving negligence and successfully navigating a medical malpractice or personal injury claim is a complicated process. It is important to work directly with an experienced personal injury attorney from the start to ensure one obtains the maximum amount of compensation he or she deserves.