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Types of damages that are available in a sc auto accident or personal injury claim

Types of damages that are available in a sc auto accident or personal injury claim
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

What are the types of damages that you can recover in an auto accident or personal injury claim in SC?

Many people are unaware of the different types of damages that they are entitled to after a car accident – and the insurance company is not going to tell you what you don’t know. You must know the types of damages the other driver is responsible for paying so that 1) the insurance company does not take advantage of you and 2) you don’t leave money on the table because you didn’t know you were entitled to it…

South Carolina auto accident law requires the at-fault party to fully compensate anyone who is injured as a result of their negligence. To the extent possible, the negligent driver must restore the injured person to the same position they were in before the injuries happened.

What are the types of damages you are entitled to? Compensable damages in an auto accident case tend to fall into three general categories:

  • Actual damages or economic damages like past and future medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages,
  • Non-economic damages like pain and suffering or other psychological injuries, and
  • Punitive damages.


Economic damages are your out-of-pocket costs that can be easily proven with bills, invoices, medical billing records, or other documentation. If you are required to pay money or if you lose money because of your car accident, the at-fault driver is required to compensate you for your losses.

Some common types of economic damages that we may recover on your behalf include:

  • Property damage and diminution in value,
  • Emergency medical care,
  • Doctor visits,
  • Surgeries,
  • Medications,
  • Hospital stays,
  • Physical therapy and other rehabilitation costs,
  • Chiropractic care,
  • Medical devices,
  • Nursing care or the costs of other long-term care,
  • Future medical care,
  • Wrongful death damages like burial and funeral costs,
  • Lost wages if you are forced to miss work as a result of your injuries. If you have suffered a long-term disability as the result of another driver’s negligence, they must also compensate you for any loss in earning capacity, and
  • Any other out-of-pocket expenses that you incur as a result of the accident.

You must know the different types of damages that you are entitled to because proving liability is only half the battle – once you have proven that the other driver is liable for your injuries, you will also need to prove your damages before the court will order the at-fault driver to pay you.

Economic damages are easily calculated from documents such as medical records, invoices, receipts, and payroll records. Your auto accident personal injury lawyer on the Axelrod team will help you to gather these records to provide to the insurance carrier (to negotiate a settlement of your claim) or to the jurors at trial if the insurance company refuses to pay your valid claim.


The types of damages in SC include non-economic damages as well as economic damages.

Non-economic damages tend to be more difficult to prove because they are subjective and there are often no invoices or medical bills to provide a dollar amount. How do you put a dollar amount on physical discomfort, emotional loss, lower quality of life, or new limits on your daily activities?

These can be complex arguments, and you will be challenged at every turn by the insurance companies’ attorneys. Your personal injury lawyer at Axelrod and Associates knows how to make a convincing argument about how much you should be compensated for pain and suffering.

The psychological toll of an auto accident can be debilitating and long-lasting. Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or a loss of sleep can lead to therapy visits, other medical treatments, lower quality of life, and a slower road to recovery.

If you are suffering psychological effects from your car crash, you are entitled to recover additional money to compensate you even for injuries that cannot be seen.

Common non-economic damages that we may recover for you include:

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Emotional distress,
  • Psychological trauma caused by mental or emotional injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life,
  • Scarring and disfigurement,
  • Loss of companionship or loss of consortium for a spouse, and
  • Reduced quality of life or limits on your ability to perform normal activities.

Punitive Damages

Another type of non-economic damages in SC is punitive damages. Although punitive damages cannot be quantified with a medical bill or invoice, you are entitled to them in certain cases where the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent or intentional.

Punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault driver for egregious conduct – to be awarded punitive damages, we will have to prove that the defendant’s conduct was willful or reckless.

There are caps on punitive damages in SC – three times the amount of the compensatory damages award or $500,000, whichever is greater. In some cases, the cap on punitive damages is increased or even removed completely, though.

SC Code § 15-32-530 provides for a cap of four times the amount of the compensatory damages or $2,000,000, whichever is greater, when the defendant’s conduct 1) was motivated by unreasonable financial gain or 2) could have been charged as a felony.

SC law removes the cap on punitive damages completely when the defendant 1) intentionally harmed the plaintiff, 2) was convicted of a felony based on the incident, or 3) was under the influence of alcohol or drugs “to the degree that the defendant’s judgment [was] substantially impaired.”


If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, make sure you know the types of damages that you are entitled to receive, and schedule a free consultation with a Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyer on the Axelrod team. Call us at 843-916-9300 or fill out our contact form today.

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