Real Cases, Real Results
As an accident and personal injury law firm, Lowcountry Injury Law attorneys are experienced in cases such as wrongful death, brain injury, disabling back injuries, RSD, or other serious injuries, as well as cases involving car accidents, premises liability, defective products, medical malpractice and workplace injuries.
Below are summaries of verdicts and settlements in representative cases handled by Lowcountry Injury Law attorneys, primarily by Dan Denton, including some with co-counsel. Included are some cases that did not involve permanent, life-changing injuries. Contrary to what some may assume, most cases handled by personal injury attorneys do not involve injuries and damages that result in settlements or awards in the six or seven figure dollar range. Cases are listed by category: Premises Liability; Auto Accidents; Workers Comp; other personal injury; and a few business litigation case. Note: Success in a case under the facts of that case is of course no guarantee of success in another similar case. As with people, each case is unique. If you have a question or concern about your case, or would like to have a free case evaluation, please contact us.
Client was 34 year old female who managed a Lillian Vernon store in a new shopping center in Bluffton, SC. The electrical sub-contractor left a grounding rod exposed above the sidewalk behind the store where employees take boxes to a nearby box crusher. The rod was 5.5 inches high and 17 inches from the wall. At dusk, client was pushing a loaded cart on the sidewalk and tripped on the rod and fell, resulting in cervical disc herniations and right shoulder rotator cuff injuries. She required surgeries,resulting in chronic neck pain and right arm pain and numbness. She became totally disabled and required the use of a morphine pain pump. The case was complicated by the fact that client had a previous neck injury requiring surgery 4 years before the accident (but she had an excellent recovery) and she was in two auto accidents during the year after the trip/fall. David H. Berry, Esquire, Hilton Head, SC, was co-counsel.
Result: $5,981,690.00 jury verdict, reduced to $3,589,014.00 due to Plaintiff’s comparative negligence of 40%. Additionally, a workers’ compensation lien was negotiated and client will have life-time medical benefits. See more case details published in SC Lawyer Weeky. The verdict was Upheld on Appeal, with the court ruling in our favor that expert testimony was not required to prove that the rod in the sidewalk was dangerous.
A 43 year old female employee of a Hilton Head time-share marketing company broke the upper part of her leg after tripping on an exterior landscape stairway while entering the building where she worked. The stairway, made with railroad ties, did not have a hand rail and violated several sections of the local building code and various industry building standards. Shortly after her surgery and discharge from the hospital, client was diagnosed with RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), a neurological pain syndrome which caused chronic burning type pain and sensitivity to both of her legs. She became totally and permanently disabled and required intensive pain management. We sued the building owner, the management company and the original tenant that leased the offices to the Plaintiff’s employer. (We could not sue the employer due to immunity afforded by workers’ compensation law.) Co-counsel was David H. Berry, Esquire, Hilton Head, SC.
Result: $1,500,000.00 plus life-time medical benefits. Settlement reached at second mediation conference held one month before scheduled jury trial. (“Slip and fall” cases are high-risk cases and rarely settle for the full value of the client’s damages.)
While riding her bike on a designated public pedestrian/bicycle pathway that was adjacent to a condominium project, the top portion of a tree located on the condo property broke off and struck the Plaintiff in the head. The tree was visibly decayed with a large opening at the base of its trunk and had other signs of decay and defects on many areas of the tree. The management company for the condo regime, which conducted weekly property inspections, and two tree companies it hired in prior years to conduct tree assessments to identify dangerous trees, failed to discover the subject tree. The Plaintiff’s tree experts testified that the advanced state of deterioration would have been visible for a number of years; that the proximity of both the parking lot and bicycle path provided multiple targets for the defective tree; and in combination these factors created a high risk situation that called for the removal of the tree. Testing was inconclusive as to whether the client sustained an actual brain injury, but she was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome with persistent headaches, PTSS, adjustment disorder with depression, and undetermined cognitive deficits, which much improved with intense therapy. The client was represented by Dan Denton and Karl Twenge, Beaufort, and Chad McGowan, Rock Hill, SC;
Result: After the jury was qualified, the defendants settled for $1.8 million. Additionally, the client was awarded Social Security disability with lifetime medical treatment.
In a case that was settled with a confidentiality agreement, preventing the disclosure of facts that might identify the case or parties, client tripped in a parking lot, breaking a bone in her foot and later developed RSD, requiring intensive pain management. Liability was vigorously disputed (as usual in trip & fall cases). The case was complicated by the fact that client had a subsequent fall in another parking lot about a year later, and client’s pain management doctor testified (assuming erroneous facts) that client was doing well until the second fall aggravated/worsened the RSD condition sustained from the first fall. Both sides utilized architectural and engineering experts to give opinions on parking lot design and maintenance issues. Karl Twenge, Esq., was brought in the case as co-counsel three months before mediation and provided valuable assistance by developing the “damages” aspects of the case, including obtaining expert opinions on economic loss, medical causation and future medical care and expenses.
Result: $500,000.00 settlement after over 9 hours of negotiations at court-ordered mediation.
A 57 year old sub-contractor was hired by a company to run computer cable along its warehouse ceiling. The client was lifted to the ceiling with a company forklift while standing inside a wooden crate sitting unattached on the forks. When raised about 15 ft. high, the forklift “lurched” causing the crate and client to fall to the concrete floor, resulting in complicated fractures to his right elbow and left wrist, as well as some other minor fractures that healed without residual problems. The company’s forklift operator was not trained and certified as required by company policies and OSHA regulations. The sub-contractor sought Workers’ Compensation benefits from the company, which were denied, after which client sued the company under common law negligence theories. The company then claimed that client was a “statutory employee” with Workers’ Compensation being his exclusive remedy (where recovery of damages is very limited), but the court struck the defense on a summary judgment. The client had two surgeries to his wrist and multiple surgeries to his elbow, some of which related to treatment of a MRSA infection acquired in the initial surgery involving “fixation” hardware that was removed in a subsequent surgery. Two treating surgeons assigned permanent impairments ranging 13-22% to the left arm and 2-9 % to the right arm, and both doctors stated that client had post-traumatic arthritis which was most likely to get worse. The client was able to return to his usual occupation with no loss of future income anticipated. As in most premises liability cases, assumption of the risk and comparative negligence were serious concerns in plaintiff’s case.
Result: $775,000.00 settlement 5 days before trial after a failed mediation. Defendant company (represented by its insurance company’s attorney who takes his marching orders from the adjuster assigned to the case) refused to discuss any settlement for over 2 years. Policy limits was $1,000,000.
A 35 year old elementary school teacher was shopping for a ten year anniversary card for her husband at Walgreens. As she was bending over to look at a card near the bottom of the card rack, a hard shell suitcase was pushed off the top shelf by a customer in the next isle behind the card rack. The client’s neck sustained a herniated disc and a couple years later she required a cervical diskectomy and fusion surgery. Suit was filed, including a loss of consortium claim for the husband (loss of wife’s household services and happy relationship), alleging that Walgreens failed to exercise reasonable care by stacking the suitcases on the high shelf without proper restraints.
Result: Settled for $300,000.00 during first day of trial. A portion of the settlement was placed into an annuity fund for the client’s childrens’ college expenses.
The plaintiff entered into an agreement to buy a boat, subject to his inspection. For the purpose of an inspection by a boat surveyor hired by the defendant sales agent, the operators of defendant marina’s boat-lift machine had lifted the boat out of the water and rested it over a concrete deck, with plaintiff and 4 other passengers still in the boat. This was despite the warning on the boat-lift machine: “WARNING – DO NOT HOIST WITH PERSONS ON BOARD – MACHINE IS NOT DESIGNED FOR LIFTING OR MOVING PERSONS.” The plaintiff told the operators he wanted off the boat to inspect the boat’s hull himself. A marina employee provided a ladder and the sales agent held the ladder. When trying to disembark the boat, the plaintiff fell off the top of the unstable ladder, falling about eight feet onto the concrete and fractured eight ribs, puncturing his lung. Tragically, but not related to the accident according to two experts, during his 10-day hospitalization a CT scan of the plaintiff’s chest showed some tumors, diagnosed six months later as widespread cancer. He died just a few days short of one year after his accident.
Result: Settlement of $217, 500.00 a few weeks following mediation. The deceased plaintiff’s surviving wife, as sole heir and executor of his estate, was substituted as the plaintiff. Karl Twenge, Esq., served as co-counsel, along with Dan Denton.Esq.
A 79 year old client was visiting her daughter and son-in-law’s home in Beaufort during Christmas holidays. Early one morning, during unusual freezing weather, she went out the front door to get the morning paper and slipped on a porch step that was covered with ice. The ice was formed by water sprayed on the steps by a lawn irrigation sprinkler. Client severely twisted her ankle resulting in a displaced ankle fracture with bone fragments and a fracture at the bottom of her fibular bone. She had to undergo intensive rehabilitation therapy.
Result: $145,000.00 settlement against daughter’s homeowner’s insurance company without having to file suit.
A 70 year old woman was entering a Winn-Dixie grocery store when she tripped on a floor mat that was curled up on the end, causing her to fall and resulting in a fractured shoulder and fractured ribs. Suit was filed against Winn-Dixie and the company that provided and serviced the floor mats. Discovery revealed that the manager whose initials that appeared on the walk-through inspection sheet (at 30 minute intervals) was not in the store the day of the accident.
Result: $200,000.00 settlement at a mediation conference after over a year of litigation and denials of liability.
Client stepped into a pothole in a parking lot when walking to her car, sustaining a severe sprained ankle and broken metatarsal bone. Client had medical expenses of $6,600.00 and no lost wages. Since the parking lot was maintained by the City of Beaufort, suit was filed under the S.C. Tort Claims Act.
Result: Mediation was not successful. After the jury was drawn and sworn in, the client accepted a settlement of $40,000.00.
At the end of a carriage tour ride, the tour guide placed a set of wooden steps on the ground, affixing it to the side of the carriage for passengers to step down from the carriage. After our client exited the carriage and while he was helping his wife down the steps, the unattended horse bolted, causing the staircase to hit his lower body resulting in ankle and shoulder rotator cuff injuries. After rejecting a top offer to settle for $60,000, we filed suit for the client. Among the usual defenses in negligence cases, the tour operator claimed immunity from suit under the South Carolina Equine Immunity Statute which provides horse owners/operators protection from liability for certain activities involving horses because of the inherent danger of riding horses. The majority view of case law from other states holds that such statutes do not apply to passengers of horse-drawn carriages.
Result: After suit was filed, the defendant’s insurance company agreed to an early mediation and the case was settled for $150,000 before commencement of any discovery and without the delay, expense and risk of protracted litigation.
A young man was invited to his friend’s parents’ house, who were away, and they started drinking in early evening and both became intoxicated. The host-driver invited his guest to ride in his car to go to a store a few miles away. On the return trip, the driver was speeding and lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a tree, killing his passenger-guest upon impact. Since the driver’s car was provided to him by his father, who retained title, the defense conceded that the Family Purpose Doctrine applied (exposing the father’s assets and provided additional insurance coverage). Assumption of the risk was a troubling issue, but we argued that the driver had an enhanced duty of care as the host-driver (as in Dram Shop cases) . The parents of the decedent asserted a claim for the wrongful death of their child against the driver and his father. (Actual photo not shown.)
Result: $1 million settlement in a pre-suit mediation conducted by former S.C. Court of Appeals Judge, Bill Howard. At mediation we employed various methods to portray the circumstances of the wreck, the life of the deceased and the nature of the loss to the parents, including the use of Google Earth and its mapping technology to create a “fly over” streetscape view of the road traveled before the collision and the intersection where the impact occurred, in combination with scene photos taken soon after the tragic car accident. We also used Power Point presentations with photos and videos with sound tracks incorporating some of the extensive forensic evidence that we obtained from the Highway Patrol investigators.
Driver-at-fault forced vehicle, in which client was a passenger, off the road causing it to become airborne. When the vehicle bounced on the ground, client’s head hit the roof and she sustained a compression fracture to her vertebrae, requiring fusion surgery. Fortunately, our client was young and had an excellent recovery.
Result: $220,000.00 settlement within a few weeks after filing suit. Recovered $100,000.00 policy limits from other driver’s insurance company, and $120,000.00 from client’s underinsured coverage on her own auto policy.
Client, who had a 20-year history of episodic back pain that always responded well to medication and physical therapy, was violently rear-ended by a large work truck. He immediately felt low-back pain and had conservative treatment over the next 6 months and was released by his doctor. But after a couple of months his pain returned and worsened and an MRI showed he had degenerative disc disease with a bulging disc (a common condition of men over age 50.) Almost 2 years after the car wreck, client had low back surgery to fuse the bulging disc. His first treating doctor testified that the wreck did not worsen his pre-existing condition and the second doctor testified that the wreck exasperated his pre-existing condition, making fusion surgery necessary, but that the client probably would have needed the surgery sooner or later regardless of the car wreck.
Result: The case went to trial and the plaintiff recovered $150,000 under the terms of an high-low agreement despite the fact the jury returned a verdict for only about $15,000.00, the amount the client incurred for medical expenses up to the time his first doctor released him from treatment.
Client was a young married Marine that was out on a date with another woman while his wife was out of town. After they had some drinks at a bar on Hilton Head, client’s date was driving him home when another car turned left into client’s date’s car. Client, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown into the windshield and sustained lacerations to his face, resulting in permanent scars. The other driver was drunk and was charged with third offense DWI and driving under suspension. He was using a truck owned by his employer and was driving it after normal working hours. The employer hired him without running a check of his driving record or checking with a prior employer, who fired him for drunk driving. We sue the driver at fault and his employer – for negligent hiring and negligent entrustment of a vehicle.
Result: $425,000.00 settlement on day of trial.
Out of the same wreck described above, after we settled the passenger’s case, we took over the representation of the driver (client’s date for the night). She sustained some lacerations and multiple abrasions and contusions and claimed psychological damage that required counseling (which opened the door allowing defendants to put in evidence as to her past family and personal problems).
Result: $275,000.00 jury verdict after a week long, hotly contested trial which included $25,000.00 in punitive damages. Defendants filed post-trial motions for a new trial, and we successfully convinced them that if the motions were not withdrawn, we would consent to the motions and go forward with a new trial. (This tactic called Defendants’ bluff on their stated intention to appeal the verdict.)
Client was traveling down a two lane road when a large van, driven by a deacon of a Baptist Church who was transporting children home from church, failed to yield the right-of-way and pulled out onto the highway from a dirt road, and T-boned my client’s vehicle. The impact threw client’s car into an embankment and caused it to overturn. Client sustained multiple rib fractures and a fractured collar bone and recovered with no permanent impairments. He was out of work for 12 weeks and incurred $14,700.00 in medical bills.
Result: $100,000.00 settlement at mediation shortly before a scheduled jury trial.
Client was an attractive 29 year old female who was injured in an auto accident. She worked at an office but did modeling jobs on the side. Client’s face hit the windshield resulting in multiple facial lacerations and her knees hit the dashboard, with one knee requiring arthroscopic surgery. She also had cervical and thoracic strains. Economic damages included medical bills of $12,000, lost wages of $3,500, and potential loss of future income from modeling jobs.
Result: Case settled for policy limits of $100,000.00 without litigation.
Represented 31 year old man who was traveling home from Hilton Head when a car pulled out from Rose Hill Plantation and ran into the left-front of his car. Client sustained a back injury (no surgery needed) and some minor lacerations. He lost $9,600.00 in wages and incurred $7,100.00 in medical bills.
Result: $67,500.00 settlement after a day of trial by jury.
(This is a much older case than the ones listed above, but is included because of its interesting result.) Client/wife, a passenger in her husband’s truck, sustained a shoulder injury when her intoxicated husband ran into the rear of another vehicle. After the insurance company refused to tender the policy limits of $15,000.00 (resting on assumption of risk defense), wife sued husband (there is no spousal immunity in SC).
Result: A jury returned a verdict for $40,000.00. Husband then assigned his bad-faith insurance claim (under South Carolina’s “Tyger River” doctrine) to wife arising from insurance company’s failure to settle the case for policy limits before trial. Soon after defendant’s insurance company filed an appeal, it paid plaintiff wife $25,000.00 to settle the case ($10,000.00 more than policy limits).
A 68 year old and his wife were vacationing on Hilton Head and were rear-ended by a vehicle while stopped at an intersection. The husband suffered a shoulder rotator cuff tear requiring arthroscopic surgery and his wife had a mild whiplash injury to her neck. An early medication conference was held just a few months after filing suit and after minimum discovery.
Result: Settlement of $137,500.00
Painter fell 10 feet from a ladder at work. He fractured his right wrist, had rotator cuff injuries to his shoulder and injured the ligaments in his ankle. We retained a physician for an independent medical exam who gave a 30% impairment to the right arm and 12% impairment to his right leg due to ankle deficiencies. Client had limited education.
Result: Hearing Commissioner awarded maximum benefits allowed under Workers’ Comp law – a total of $222,900.00 for permanent total disability plus medical benefits. The award was appealed to the full Commission, which upheld the award.
While lifting a heavy compressor, client injured low back. As a result of receiving unconventional Prolotherapy injections, approved by employer’s insurance company, client had ligament injuries to his pelvis and hips resulting in chronic pain. He almost completely recovered from his back injury.
Result: Client awarded a total of $282,737.00 in permanent total disability and medical benefits, plus life-time medical benefits.
While lifting boxes of floor tile, female client twisted and injured her knee. Within a couple of weeks she was experiencing severe pain, swelling and skin sensitivity, diagnosed as RSD. The client’s exclusive remedy for the work-related injury was to file a Workers’ Comp claim.
Result: Client was awarded maximum benefits allowed by Workers’ Comp law – $86,220.00 for total permanent disability (TPD), $31,870.00 for medical expenses, and life-time medical treatment for her RSD and psychological problems related to chronic pain and disability. (Awards under Workers’ Comp law are limited to payment of two-thirds of claimant’s average weekly wage (Comp Rate) and only for a certain number of weeks, depending upon which body part is injured. Maximum awards for TPD is 500 weeks times the Comp Rate, usually paid in a lump sum, reduced to present-day value. A minimum wage job results in a low Comp Rate and corresponding lower awards in Workers’ Comp claims.)
Fifty year- old water utility worker injured his back while repairing a water line, requiring fusion surgery, which was only partially successful, as he later required a spinal cord stimulator. Weakened legs caused falls, one of which resulted in a shoulder injury. He had 21% impairment to back and 10% for his shoulder.
Result: Awarded permanent, total disability benefits for 500 weeks, payable in lump sum of $150,207.00 after credit for 45 weeks paid for a prior back injury with the same employer and a credit of 205 weeks for temporary benefits paid; plus lifetime medical treatment for his back.
Client had minor arthroscopic knee surgery at a military hospital and a few days later he phoned in complaints of pain, redness and swelling. He was told it was normal and to keep taking his antibiotics. A couple days later it got worse and he went to the hospital’s ER, but was sent home after being told all was well. A few days later the drainage and odor from an obvious infection caused client to go back to the hospital where he was admitted and had several debridement surgeries to the knee over several days. The infection had destroyed all the cartilage and some bone in the knee, leaving client with a permanent partial impairment. After a claim was filed and denied under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a law suit was filed for medical malpractice.
Result: The case was settled under the terms of a confidentiality agreement.
Client was a Florida corporation that was owed money for housekeeping services provided to the owner of Fripp Island Resort. The resort was sold to a new owner which assumed client’s debt and promised to start making payments if client would continue providing services to the resort under a new agreement. The resort owner defaulted and suit was filed.
Result: $175,000.00 judgment ordered after filing a motion for summary judgment. Defendant then filed for relief from the judgment on grounds that Plaintiff corporation was dissolved prior to filing suit. The motion was denied and after an execution against property was filed, client was paid the full amount plus interest.
Client was talked into selling 3 rental properties in downtown Savannah to a man for $330,000, with $6,000.00 down, and seller financing for the balance with monthly payments to client. Client was promised that the property would be renovated and sold within a year so that he would be paid the balance of the sales price. After the sale, the buyer talked client into subordinating the seller financed mortgage to new mortgage loans to buyer totaling $150,000.00. The buyer and his lender (who was conspiring with buyer) promised client that the new loans would be used for improvements which would increase the value of client’s security. However, exorbitant fees were paid to the lender, no funds were used to improve the property, the buyer pocketed the net loan proceeds and immediately defaulted on all loans. The lender foreclosed and acquired the properties, leaving client with nothing. Prior to signing the documents subordinating his seller-financed mortgage to the new “construction” loans, client consulted a SC attorney who advised him to do so. We sued the buyer (who skipped town with the money and could never be found), the mortgage lender and the attorney.
Result: Mortgage lender conveyed back to client 2 of the 3 properties foreclosed on, valued at $300,000.00 at the time (other property was sold by lender to third party before suit filed); defendant/attorney settled legal malpractice claims for $135,000.00.
Client purchased a restaurant business on Bay Street in Beaufort and seller failed to disclose that the assets were subject to a lien in favor of a prior owner. Seller pocketed net proceeds from the sale in the amount of $140,000.00 without paying off the lien. Seller was a corporation which had no assets when the lawsuit was filed on behalf of client. The corporation was sued, along with its officers, husband and wife, who were sole shareholders. The suit included an action to pierce the corporate veil in order to hold the shareholders personally liable.
Result: $120,000.00 settlement two weeks before trial by jury.
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Our Personal Injury Law Firm serves clients throughout Beaufort County SC, including the City of Beaufort, Town of Port Royal, Lady's Island, Bluffton and Hilton Head SC as well as clients from Ridgeland, Hardeeville, Waltorboro and throughout the Lowcountry of Jasper County, Hampton County, Allendale County and Colleton County SC.
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