Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Explainer: Collateral Source Rule in South Carolina

In South Carolina, the Collateral Source Rule provides that compensation received by an injured party from a source wholly independent of the wrongdoer will not reduce the amount of damages owed by the wrongdoer. In other words, under the Collateral Source Rule, if an injured plaintiff receives compensation for his injuries from a source wholly independent of the defendant, the payment should not be deducted from the damages which he would otherwise collect from the defendant. A defendant is not entitled to have the damages for which the defendant is liable reduced by proving the plaintiff has received or will receive compensation or indemnity for the loss from a collateral source, wholly independent of the defendant. A defendant may not benefit from the fact that the plaintiff has received money from other sources as a result of the defendant’s wrongful conduct.

The preceding does not constitute legal advice. Consult counsel in your jurisdiction for advice regarding this subject matter.

The Explainer: Plaintiff's Duty to Mitigate Damages

In South Carolina, a party who has suffered injury or damage from the actionable conduct of another is under a duty to make all reasonable efforts to minimize the damages incurred. To the extent that he reasonably could have so minimized those damages and failed to do so, he is not entitled to recover from the other party. In other words, one cannot recover any damages that might have been avoided by the use of reasonable care and diligence. A plaintiff’s failure to mitigate damages allows the defendant to avoid only those damages that reasonably could have been avoided by the plaintiff.

The preceding does not constitute legal advice. Consult counsel in your jurisdiction for advice regarding this subject matter.

The Explainer: General Overview of Punitive Damages in South Carolina

In South Carolina, punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are designed to serve at least three purposes: punishment of the defendant’s reckless, willful, wanton, or malicious conduct; deterrence of similar future conduct by the defendant or others; and compensation for the reckless or willful invasion of the plaintiff’s private rights. The paramount purpose for awarding punitive damages is not to compensate the plaintiff, but to punish and set an example for others.

In addition to the demonstration of reckless, willful, wanton, or malicious conduct, a plaintiff may pursue the award of punitive damages where the plaintiff is able to demonstrate a violation of statute or regulation.

Section 15-33-135 of the South Carolina Code provides: In any civil action where punitive damages are claimed, the plaintiff has the burden of proving such damages by clear and convincing evidence.

The preceding does not constitute legal advice. Consult counsel in your jurisdiction for advice regarding this subject matter.