How Personal Injury Settlements Are Calculated in Myrtle Beach

Personal injury settlements are crucial for compensating individuals who have suffered harm due to another party’s negligence or intentional actions. In Myrtle Beach Personal Injury Attorneys, South Carolina, these settlements are determined through a multifaceted process that considers various factors to ensure fair compensation for the injured party. This article will delve into the intricate details of how personal injury settlements are calculated in Myrtle Beach, exploring the legal framework, the types of damages considered, the role of insurance companies, and the influence of contributory negligence.

Legal Framework for Personal Injury in Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, part of Horry County, follows the legal statutes and principles set forth by the state of South Carolina regarding personal injury claims. These claims are typically based on the theory of negligence, which requires proving four key elements:

  1. Duty of Care: The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
  2. Breach of Duty: The defendant breached that duty through action or inaction.
  3. Causation: The breach directly caused the plaintiff’s injury.
  4. Damages: The plaintiff suffered actual damages (physical, emotional, or financial) as a result.

The South Carolina Code of Laws, particularly Title 15, covers civil remedies and procedures and provides the statutory basis for personal injury claims. The state’s adherence to the comparative negligence rule, specifically the modified comparative negligence standard, is also crucial. Under this rule, a plaintiff can recover damages if they are less than 50% at fault for the incident, but their compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

Types of Damages in Personal Injury Settlements

In Myrtle Beach, personal injury lawyers charleston sc can include several types of damages, broadly categorized into economic and non-economic damages. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are quantifiable financial losses incurred by the plaintiff. These include:

  1. Medical Expenses: Compensation for all medical costs related to the injury, including hospital bills, surgeries, doctor visits, medications, physical therapy, and any future medical expenses related to the injury.
  2. Lost Wages: Reimbursement for income lost due to the inability to work during recovery. This can also cover loss of earning capacity if the injury results in long-term or permanent disability.
  3. Property Damage: Costs associated with repairing or replacing damaged property, such as a vehicle in a car accident.
  4. Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Any additional expenses directly resulting from the injury, such as transportation costs for medical visits or hiring help for household chores.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages compensate for intangible losses that do not have a direct monetary value. These include:

  1. Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress experienced as a result of the injury.
  2. Emotional Distress: Anxiety, depression, and other emotional impacts stemming from the incident.
  3. Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Compensation for the reduced ability to enjoy day-to-day activities and hobbies.
  4. Loss of Consortium: Damages awarded to the spouse or family members for the loss of companionship, support, and affection due to the injury.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious or reckless. These damages are not meant to compensate the plaintiff but to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future. In South Carolina, punitive damages are capped at either three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater, except in cases involving intentional harm or impaired driving.

Role of Insurance Companies

Insurance companies play a pivotal role in personal injury settlements. They are often the primary source of compensation, as most defendants have some form of liability insurance, whether it be auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or business liability insurance. The process typically involves:

  1. Filing a Claim: The injured party files a claim with the defendant’s insurance company.
  2. Investigation: The insurance company conducts an investigation to assess the validity of the claim and the extent of the damages.
  3. Settlement Negotiation: The insurance company may offer a settlement amount. This is often lower than what might be awarded in court, so negotiation is common.
  4. Settlement Agreement: If an agreement is reached, both parties sign a settlement agreement, and the insurance company pays the agreed amount. If not, the case may proceed to litigation.

Insurance adjusters aim to minimize payouts to protect the company’s financial interests, often requiring the plaintiff and their attorney to provide substantial evidence to support their claim. This can include medical records, witness statements, expert testimony, and more.

Calculation of Settlements

The calculation of personal injury settlements in Myrtle Beach involves several steps and factors. Here’s an in-depth look at the process:

1. Determining Economic Damages

Economic damages are calculated by adding up all the tangible, out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the injury. This typically involves:

  • Medical Bills: Collecting all medical receipts, invoices, and future medical cost estimates from healthcare providers.
  • Lost Income: Providing pay stubs, tax returns, and employer statements to document lost wages and any potential future earnings lost due to long-term disability.
  • Property Damage: Estimating repair or replacement costs based on receipts and expert appraisals.
  • Other Expenses: Documenting additional expenses like transportation or caregiving costs.

2. Assessing Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are more subjective and harder to quantify. Various methods can be used, including:

  • Multiplier Method: This method multiplies the total economic damages by a factor (usually between 1.5 and 5) based on the severity of the injury, the extent of pain and suffering, and the impact on the plaintiff’s life. For instance, severe, long-term injuries may warrant a higher multiplier.
  • Per Diem Method: This assigns a daily dollar amount to the plaintiff’s pain and suffering and multiplies it by the number of days the plaintiff is expected to endure these hardships.

3. Factoring in Contributory Negligence

South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence rule requires adjusting the settlement amount based on the plaintiff’s degree of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault for an accident, their total compensation will be reduced by 20%. If the total damages are $100,000, the plaintiff would receive $80,000.

4. Considering Policy Limits

Insurance policy limits can also affect the settlement amount. If the defendant’s insurance policy has a cap lower than the calculated damages, the settlement may be limited to that cap unless the plaintiff pursues additional compensation directly from the defendant’s assets.

Impact of Legal Representation

Having skilled legal representation can significantly influence the outcome of a personal injury settlement. Experienced personal injury attorneys in Myrtle Beach bring several advantages:

  • Expertise in Law: Attorneys understand the legal landscape, statutes of limitations, and procedural requirements.
  • Negotiation Skills: Lawyers are adept at negotiating with insurance companies to secure higher settlements.
  • Evidence Collection: Attorneys gather and present compelling evidence to support the claim.
  • Litigation Readiness: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, an attorney can take the case to trial.

Case Examples

To illustrate how personal injury settlements are calculated in Myrtle Beach, consider the following hypothetical cases:

Case 1: Car Accident

A 35-year-old woman is injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. Her economic damages include $30,000 in medical bills, $10,000 in lost wages, and $5,000 in vehicle repair costs. She suffers from chronic pain and emotional distress, warranting a non-economic multiplier of 3.

  • Economic Damages: $30,000 (medical) + $10,000 (wages) + $5,000 (property) = $45,000
  • Non-Economic Damages: $45,000 × 3 = $135,000
  • Total Damages: $45,000 + $135,000 = $180,000

If she is found to be 10% at fault, her compensation would be reduced by 10%, resulting in a final settlement of $162,000.

Case 2: Slip and Fall

A 50-year-old man slips and falls in a grocery store due to a wet floor with no warning signs. He incurs $20,000 in medical expenses, loses $8,000 in wages, and experiences significant pain and suffering. Using a multiplier of 2.5:

  • Economic Damages: $20,000 (medical) + $8,000 (wages) = $28,000
  • Non-Economic Damages: $28,000 × 2.5 = $70,000
  • Total Damages: $28,000 + $70,000 = $98,000

If the grocery store’s insurance policy has a $100,000 limit, the settlement amount is fully covered.


Calculating settlements in North charleston personal injury attorney assessment of economic and non-economic damages, consideration of contributory negligence, and negotiation with insurance companies. The legal framework of South Carolina provides a structured approach to ensure that victims receive fair compensation for their injuries. However, the complexity of the process underscores the importance of experienced legal representation to navigate the intricacies of personal injury claims and achieve just outcomes for plaintiffs.

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