In the summer of 2022, Scott received a call from Mark “Uncle Mark” Demery, who is the father of Cory and Kyle Demery. Brothers Cory and Kyle built custom cars with Scott as teenagers and later were his closest friends when the three attended the College of Charleston together. However, Mark was calling to relay the unfortunate news that his mother, aunt, and their childhood best friend had been rear-ended by a tractor-trailer while stopped for traffic in a construction zone on Interstate 26 in Columbia. Our firm immediately became involved in preserving all electronic data in existence, including SC DOT camera footage, Electronic Data recorder information for our client’s car, and electronic data recorder information from the tractor-trailer.
We also armed our clients with the right questions to ask as they sought follow-up care with their medical providers and received permission to speak directly with these providers to come up with a future plan of care. While we have many brilliant physicians in our state, medicine often thinks in terms of a patient’s current condition and not what that patient may need in the future. However, South Carolina law provides that injured persons only have one opportunity to be made whole, and an injured person cannot come back and seek further compensation in the event they end up needing a future surgery, a future round of physical therapy, or a future round of extensive and often expensive pain management after their case has concluded. Instead, jurors are instructed as follows:
A plaintiff cannot recover conjectural or speculative damages. However, if you find the plaintiff is entitled to a verdict for actual damages, your verdict should include an amount to cover any damages that the evidence shows will be reasonably certain to occur in the future.
Complying with this directive requires that an injured party introduce medical evidence that predicts any future care and treatment that they may need but does not cross over into the realm of medical services that are speculative, inflated, or only possibly likely to be incurred. Unsuspecting treating physicians can cause great damage to a case by either failing to consider treatment that is likely to occur or by recommending extensive procedures that are not likely to be needed and will therefore not be allowed into evidence by the Judge. Complying with our state’s law requires a delicate balance.
The tractor-trailer collision case noted here settled just before Christmas, and all three clients insisted that Scott join the Demery family for the annual Christmas celebration in Marion, South Carolina. He even managed to sneak into the back row for the yearly family picture. While it is always a pleasure to work with our friends and family like the Demery family, we hope all of our clients come to know us like family by the end of our representation.