The internet was buzzing in early September following news that an Andersen County, South Carolina jury had awarded a plaintiff more than $4.6 million in damages after she had suffered a needle-stick injury. The plaintiff initiated her personal injury claim against Target Corporation in 2014 after her young daughter picked up a used hypodermic syringe that she found in the parking lot outside of the store in Anderson. She swiped at the child’s hand to get her to drop the syringe, but in the process lodged the hypodermic needle in her own hand.
She immediately reported the injury to Target employees and was later tested for HIV and hepatitis. Her physicians prescribed medication to ward off infections, but those medications made her ill and her husband missed work while he stayed home to care for her. To her good fortune, she did not contract any diseases or infections as a result of the needle stick. Her attorney negotiated with Target in an attempt to have her and her family made whole, accounting for her and her husband’s lost income and medical expenses. He reported that the store adopted a hard line stance. Before the case went to trial, the store’s highest damages offer was just $12,000. He believes that the jury had attempted to send the store a message to chastise it about its attitude toward his client and her injuries.
The jury award may not survive an expected appeal, and the parties in this case will likely settle for an amount less than $4.6 million. The progress of this case and its verdict are instructive for other parties who suffer injuries on a business’s premises and the attitudes of those businesses toward those injuries. At least in South Carolina, a business has an obligation to maintain a safe and secure premises for its clients and customers. When it fails to fulfill that obligation and a customer suffers an injury as a result, the business is liable for the customer’s damages. Any attempt by the business to denigrate the injury or to downgrade the damages amount will not be viewed favorably by a court or a jury.
The attorneys at the Clardy Law Firm have represented numerous clients in South Carolina who have suffered injuries that were the result of another party’s failure to maintain safe and secure premises. Please contact us to schedule a consultation if you have suffered a similar injury. We have offices in Greenville and represent injured parties throughout the state.