Extending Your Student Visa

A student visa that lets you study at the university of your choice is a terrific thing for you. But what happens if your studies take longer than you planned? On top of exams and term papers, you may have to worry about your student visa expiring. That’s where an immigration lawyer can be your best friend. Understanding how immigration laws work can be the first step to making sure that you keep your student visa in good standing. My blog is all about immigration issues, especially those faced by foreign students. Check out the articles for more information that you can use to complete your studies in the country you chose to study in.

Injured In A South Carolina Auto Accident? What Should You Know About Tort Procedure?

Law Articles

Being involved in an auto accident is a uniformly unpleasant experience -- especially when this accident results in some serious or long-term injuries. You may already be seeking out the advice of a personal injury attorney to determine your scope of options. However, some fairly recent reforms to South Carolina's procedures for requesting the award of punitive damages -- as well as caps on the total amount that can be recovered -- could affect the way your case proceeds if you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit. Read on to learn more about tort caps, bifurcated trials, and what you can expect from a South Carolina personal injury trial. 

What laws govern personal injury proceedings in South Carolina? 

Each state has its own laws that address personal injury lawsuits -- from specific procedures for medical malpractice cases to more general laws on trial procedures and the types of damages that can be recovered from a liable personal injury defendant. 

For example, some states permit injured plaintiffs to sue for both compensatory and punitive damages; while the amount in compensatory damages available must be based on the actual cost incurred by the plaintiff (or some multiple of this amount), punitive damages may have no limit. Other states prohibit punitive damages except in the most serious cases. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are designed not to compensate the plaintiff for harm suffered and costs borne, but to punish the defendant and prevent similar events from happening in the future. 

South Carolina permits punitive damages to be awarded to injured plaintiffs under certain circumstances, but there are some state-specific rules you'll need to follow to be eligible for these damages. A failure to request punitive damages at the time the complaint is filed could prevent the later award of these damages, even if the court determines they would otherwise be reasonable or necessary. 

If you do request punitive damages and the court decides the defendant's behavior was negligent or egregious enough to justify an additional damages award, this amount will be capped at a maximum of three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded, or $500,000, whichever amount is lower. Therefore, if you're awarded a judgment of $150,000 to help compensate you for medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses directly stemming from the accident, you could be eligible for up to $450,000 in additional punitive damages. 

Are there any exceptions to these laws?

Although these guidelines govern all personal injury proceedings in South Carolina, there are a few exceptions designed for extreme circumstances that may be able to help you increase the potential amount of your judgment. 

If the driver who hit you was involved in the commission of a felony at the time of the accident -- leaving the scene of another accident, driving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, or transporting guns or narcotics -- your case is no longer subject to either the 3x compensatory damages rule or the $500,000 cap on punitive damages. These restrictions also won't apply if you can provide evidence that shows the defendant intended to cause you harm. 

Because civil juries can't be instructed about the punitive damages limit, these juries will sometimes return a punitive damages award that exceeds this cap. When this happens, the judge may take some additional factors into account (like the defendant's degree of negligence and whether he or she intended you harm) and has the discretion to increase the cap to 4x compensatory damages or a maximum of $2,000,000. 

For these reasons, it's very important for you to seek legal counsel, such as at Gabrielson Law Offices, Ltd, before filing a personal injury claim in South Carolina -- your attorney will be able to gather and present any and all evidence that could help you avoid caps on punitive damages, therefore increasing the amount you'll be able to eventually recover from the defendant. 


4 December 2015