The Most Important Fact in Every Wreck Case
Where your car accident occurred is flat out the most critical fact in most car wreck cases. It seems strange to the general public, but the first question–yes, the very first question–that defense lawyers and insurance companies ask about a typical wreck case is “What’s the venue?”, by which they mean, generally, “where did the wreck happen?”
Why is “venue” such a critical factor in motor vehicle collision cases? Because the most important people in lawsuits like these are the twelve who sit on the jury, and the composition of the jury is determined by the venue in which the case is filed. South Carolina has strict limitations on where cases can be filed, and the most frequent determinant in a car wreck case is the location of the accident. If the accident occurs in Mt. Pleasant or North Charleston, Charleston County is your venue. If the accident occurs in Pawley’s Island or Choppee, your venue is probably Georgetown County. If your accident occurs in Walterboro or Cottageville, you’re most likely in Colleton County.
It is not a small difference. Charleston County jurors have a well-earned reputation for smaller, more conservative verdicts than, say, the more liberal outcomes that are expected in Colleton County, so much so that the precise same accident, with the precise same injuries, has vastly different settlement value in Charleston versus Colleton. Another illustration: take a wreck which occurs on the stretch of Highway 41 near Andrews called “County Line Road”. If it occurs in the Northbound lane (moderately conservative Georgetown County) it has between ten and fifty percent less settlement value than the same wreck if it had occurred in the Southbound lane of the same roadway (highly liberal Williamsburg County). Obviously that is quite a spread in case value for only ten or twenty feet of actual distance.
The team at Traywick & Traywick has no view of which counties’ approach is “right” and which is “wrong”. Strong arguments can be made in support of venues both liberal and conservative. The important thing is that injured people understand their case and make informed decisions about the best lawyer to represent them. And make no mistake: defense lawyers and insurance companies are keenly aware of the impact that venue has on case value. In fact, most insurance adjusters who handle claims in South Carolina have a map of our State’s counties which reflects each county’s jury tendencies. It is one of the most important tools at their disposal for setting the reserves from which settlement funds will be drawn.
Venue’s importance to a lawsuit does not only come into play when the case gets in front of the jury. Knowledgeable, skillful attorneys for injured people can use venue considerations as an important tool in settlement negotiations. Similarly, while our courts and legislature have become more rigid in enforcing venue limitations in recent years, our team is creative in using every procedural tool available to ensure that your recovery is maximized.
Call Traywick & Traywick today for a free consultation. We will give you the attention you deserve.