How Personal Injury Cases Work
In almost every injury case, the defendant or at-fault person has an Insurance Company (for example: every car, motorcycle and truck MUST be insured) that must pay a proven loss. Often the company insuring the victim (Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist) will not pay their own customer and will defend the other side against their customer. (Insurance makes money by collecting your premiums, not paying your claim.)
Under South Carolina Law, the Insurance Company cannot be named in a lawsuit, unless the claim is directly against the Insurance Company (as in a claim by a homeowner), and the case name and the parties are only the people involved. Liability Insurance will pay for a lawyer for the person at fault, but it offers no legal help for those injured through no fault of their own.
In a car crash case “insurance” cannot even be mentioned or named in the case. The court cannot even inform the jury that insurance is involved in a wreck case, because the insurance company is not allowed to be named as a party. This is true even though the insurance will be paying. The jury will never be told, even if they ask.
Defendants are usually represented by Insurance Defense Law Firms (usually out-of-town), paid by Insurance Companies who are footing the bill for the defense case. Plaintiffs are usually represented by lawyers, like me, who will expect their clients to pay only if the clients are compensated for their loss. Most people work and cannot afford to pay a lawyer, especially after suffering a loss. Plaintiffs in injury cases have already lost medical bills, wages and the effects of their injuries. The claim is their one chance to try to make up for some of their loss. I give the injured claimant the best chance to have restitution for their losses and injuries.
Plaintiffs are claimants, who must prove by a “preponderance of evidence” that the at-fault party (said to be the Defendant) is responsible for causing the injury or damage. Preponderance means “more likely than not” or 51% likely (some may say, better than even chance). Civil Court determines if the defendant is more likely than not (51%) responsible for whatever event caused the injury or damage. This is a much lower standard than is required to prove a person committed a crime (beyond a reasonable doubt, or close to 100%). The Plaintiff/Claimant always has the “burden”, or duty, to prove that an event is more likely the defendant’s fault than their own, following the rules described by the judge pertaining to the type of case. A claimant in civil court is never required to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt”, because nobody is going to jail.