Comparative Negligence in Birth Injury Cases in South Carolina
The birth of a child should be a moment of joy and celebration. Unfortunately, birth injuries can turn this beautiful occasion into a lifetime of challenges. While medical professionals strive to provide the best care, mistakes can happen. In South Carolina, the legal concept of comparative negligence often comes into play in birth injury cases. This blog aims to shed light on what comparative negligence is and how it can impact a birth injury claim in the Palmetto State.
What is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence refers to the idea that more than one party can be at fault for an injury. In the context of birth injuries, this could mean that both the healthcare provider and the patient contributed to the resulting harm. Under South Carolina law, a plaintiff’s negligence does not bar recovery, so long as their negligence is not greater than the combined negligence of the defendant. However, any awarded damages will be reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s degree of fault.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Birth Injury Cases
Identifying Multiple Factors
It is not uncommon for a birth injury to have multiple contributing factors. For example, if a healthcare provider did not perform a C-section in a timely manner and the parents did not follow prenatal care guidelines, both parties could be considered negligent.
Apportionment of Fault
Should a birth injury case go to trial, the jury will be tasked with apportioning fault between the parties involved. If a healthcare provider is found to be 70% at fault and the parents are found to be 30% at fault, any awarded damages would be reduced by 30%.
The concept of comparative negligence often comes up during settlement talks. Being aware of how fault might be apportioned can help both parties arrive at a fair settlement without the need for a protracted court battle.
Crucial Steps in a Birth Injury Case
Consult Medical Experts: Get a second or even third opinion to understand the medical intricacies of the birth injury. This can also help in disproving or validating claims of negligence.
- Legal Consultation: Seek advice from an attorney well-versed in South Carolina’s medical malpractice laws and the concept of comparative negligence.
- Gather Evidence: Collect all pertinent medical records, eyewitness accounts, and any other evidence that can prove negligence on part of the healthcare provider.
- File a Claim: The attorney will guide you through the process, from sending a notice of intent to initiating the lawsuit. South Carolina has a statute of limitations for birth injury claims, generally within six years of the child’s minor status.
Understanding comparative negligence is critical in the context of birth injury cases in South Carolina. It can impact the damages you are entitled to, as well as the legal strategy employed in your case. Always consult with legal professionals to better understand your rights and the complexities of your specific situation.