Honest Answers From Your South Carolina Lawyer
When you’re faced with a major life event, you’re filled with questions and uncertainty. Get the straight answers you’re looking for from a South Carolina attorney.
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Can I get a settlement if an accident re-injured a prior injury or just made it worse?
Yes, but you’ll likely need expert medical testimony to prove how it made your prior injury worse, and verify how much worse it got as a result.
Insurance Companies Try to Deny Pre-Existing Injury Claims
Insurance company claims representatives will shake their heads and tell you that you can’t recover when a motor vehicle crash or slip and fall accident makes an old injury worse. Their word for it is pre-existing condition, and they will try to tell you that your injuries were already there. They may even say it was only a matter of time before your medical problems started to happen. You may get the same type of response after being involved in a workplace accident that affects a previous injury. That's because insurance companies make money by charging premiums and paying out as little in claims as possible.
For example, say you’d had chronic neck pain for years. Then you get rear-ended and need a serious spinal operation to fix blown spinal discs. Your pre-existing neck condition makes this case much more complicated and harder to prove. In order to get compensated for the worsening of your medical condition, you need a skilled personal injury attorney who understands how to obtain proper medical evidence that’ll be admissible in court and can make it clear that the accident made you worse. Otherwise, the insurance company will just deny your claim—or force you to settle way cheap.
We Show How the Accident Affected Your Life
At Holland & Usry, we’re comfortable sifting through mounds of complex medical records to learn the clinical side of your injuries. We often meet with your doctor to personally understand the exact harm the accident caused you. Then, we develop simple, but powerful medical questionnaires that empower your doctor to establish the accident’s impact on your life.
It’s just another way we work to increase your chances when insurance companies tell you it’s a lost cause. If you’re worried about losing your settlement due to a prior injury getting worsened or re-injured, feel free to start a live chat or email us to get your questions answered by an injury attorney unafraid of the challenges presented by a case like yours.
What do I do about fixing or replacing my vehicle after an accident?
That’s actually two questions. Welcome to the often-complicated world of auto insurance, where you’ll learn first-hand how hard insurance companies can be when you attempt to use their product as intended.
Here’s how a car, truck, or motorcycle accident property damage claim breaks down:
Which Insurance Do You File With?
You can file your property damage claim with your own auto insurance company or the at-fault driver’s. The biggest consideration here is, filing with your own company might get it done faster because you’re their customer. But your recovery may be limited by your policy.
Also, you’ll probably have to pay a deductible, meaning an amount insurance doesn’t cover. It’s usually $500 or so.
Your policy may have other limits on your recovery. Ask your insurance agent.
If you file with the at-fault driver’s insurance, you can expect to deal with an adjuster who’s not on your side. Here’s more on him, including whether you should contact an attorney before speaking with him and how to outwit adjusters and their tricks. For the most part, insurance companies usually handle property damage claims pretty fairly without the need of a lawyer—but don’t count on that for your injury case.
What Will a Property Damage Settlement Recover?
This is a list of items you might get if you make a claim against the at-fault driver:
- Repairs. If your car is repairable, you can recover the value of repairs, even if you don’t get them. But you need at least an estimate of the cost, done by a qualified mechanic.
- Vehicle replacement. If your vehicle is “totaled,” meaning totally destroyed or repairs exceed its fair market value, you can recover the fair market value of the vehicle on the date of the crash. A good source for estimates is Kelley Blue Book.
- Loss of use. This is compensation for the time you were deprived of the vehicle’s use while it was repaired or replaced. A good estimate of this is the cost of renting the same or similar vehicle. You might recover this even if you didn’t actually rent a car, or you borrowed someone else’s for free.
- Depreciation. This is for the reduction in fair market value after repairs. If your vehicle is in as good condition as before the crash, you don’t qualify for this.
- Punitive damages, in rare cases. This recovery is reserved for some of the worst behavior, usually criminal. If your car got wrecked by a DUI driver, you might qualify for punitive damages. But you can expect a big fight over it and you’ll likely need a lawyer to give you the best shot at obtaining them. We handle these cases differently than ordinary crash cases. Contact us by email, live chat, or calling (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to find out more.
If you’ve been involved in a serious accident, handling the property damage aspect may be the easiest part of your case. If you are overwhelmed with your injuries or the idea of handling the insurance company, you don’t have to go it alone. Send us an email or start a live chat right where you are so we can start answering your questions and point you in the right direction.
How will the insurance company contact me after I get hurt in an auto accident? What if I’m too hurt to talk about it?
The insurance company contacts you through its claims adjuster, also called claims rep or claims handler. The adjuster typically works for the liability insurance company of the at-fault driver who hurt you. Oddly, in an underinsurance or uninsured claim, the adjuster actually works for your insurance company.
Regardless of who he works for, the adjuster’s primary goal is very simple—get the insurance company out of this as quickly and cheaply as possible. The adjuster may be friendly, but he is not your friend. You must deal with him accordingly. Check out these typical tactics they use, and how to deal with them.
Here’s tips on whether you should speak to the adjuster now, or consider hiring someone to do it for you:
- If you have a simple claim—like you went to the ER and then a couple visits of physical therapy for a sore back—you may be able to handle the adjuster by yourself.
- If you have serious injuries, like a broken bone or anything requiring a referral to a specialist, you owe it to yourself and your family to get your own professional on your side: an experienced car accident attorney. You need to focus on recovery and not worry about having your rights violated, or responding to repeated demands for information, or waiting for the adjuster to call you back.
- If you are unsure how seriously you are hurt, you risk torpedoing your claim by giving uncertain information to the adjuster. Like trying to be tough, telling him you feel okay, only to discover later you actually need a spinal operation. Yep, that’s happened.
Final analysis: If you are seriously hurt, unsure how your medical treatment will turn out, or unsure how to do deal with the adjuster, then don’t immediately talk to the adjuster.
Here's more info on the process to get your claim settled.
Remember: information is power, especially when you’re dealing with an experienced professional who’s handled potentially thousands of claims and is skilled at shortchanging injury victims like you. Talking to an experienced car accident lawyer first is in your best interest. At Holland & Usry, we help people like you. Contact us with a live chat or email to answer your questions, or even set up a free meeting to discuss your claim and evaluate every possible insurance policy that could provide money to help you. Even if we don’t accept your case or you decide not to hire us, it might give you peace of mind and some free pointers.
How much does it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?
It depends, but you don’t need to bring your own money to do it. Personal injury lawyers get paid with a “contingency fee.” It’s a cut from the financial settlement the lawyer earns for you. Additionally, you reimburse the lawyer from the settlement for money he spends to help your case.
The beauty of a contingency fee is that it should drive your lawyer to get the best settlement possible. The more money you get, the more he earns. Plus there’s less risk to you—you pay nothing from your pocket, which may be empty from losing work due to your injuries.
Here’s more specifics how this works.
You Don’t Need Money to Hire an Accident Injury Lawyer
Fee percentages vary among lawyers. Our fees are usually one-third of your settlement. If the case gets within 10 days of trial, the extra work may justify increasing the fee to 40%. At Holland and Usry, we pledge that our clients get more in their pockets than our fee. You’ve lived through it, so you deserve more than us.
Typical Personal Injury Case Costs
“Costs” are money we spend to help your case. At Holland and Usry, we work to minimize these costs—without hurting your case—to help get you get the most money possible.
Typical costs include:
- Fees for evidence. In traffic crash cases, we get the officer’s accident report. Sometimes we get public documents for other evidence through Freedom of Information Act requests, like more extensive crash reports in serious DUI accident cases or coroner’s files in wrongful death cases. In cases where we file a lawsuit, we may subpoena information. All these requests usually generate a research and copying fee.
- Fees charged by medical providers for records and bills. The extent of your injuries is often molded by an expert in them—your doctor. We can’t present your case without medical records. No insurance company will pay without clinical proof the accident caused your injuries.
- Fees charged by your doctor to meet with him. Sometimes we meet with your doctor to fully understand the professional view of your injuries. A brief questionnaire developed from this meeting can provide powerful evidence of the severity of your injuries, permanent damage, and your need for future care.
- Filing fees. When we file a lawsuit, the clerk of court charges a fee to do it. If your case requires motions to be argued before a judge, we also pay a filing fee for that.
- Depositions. Depositions are out-of-court sworn testimony where each side finds out what the other side’s trial testimony will likely be. Done right, it can require hours of preparation. The most costly and often most important depositions are doctor depositions. They testify at trial through a deposition, which we often record on video for a more powerful effect on the jury.
- Experts. Some cases require a professional with special knowledge or training to prove your case. For example, medical malpractice cases can’t be filed without a doctor’s sworn statement your doctor did something wrong to hurt you. Because experts can make costs skyrocket, we use them cautiously.
- Mediation. Courts require that we try to use the mediation process to resolve a civil claim before it goes to trial. The parties hire an experienced mediator (usually a lawyer or former judge) with no interest in the outcome to try to help them settle it. We pay the mediation fee up front, but we get reimbursed from your final settlement or verdict.
Bonus For You: Your Injury Lawyer Works for Free Until Your Case Is Over
If you’re hurt in an accident, it costs you nothing up front to hire a trained professional to solve your problem. That’s a much better deal than your doctor offers. And handling a serious injury case on your own is like operating on yourself. You wouldn’t do that, would you?
So you literally have nothing to lose—and potentially more than you think to gain—by sitting down with a skilled professional whose job is helping folks like you. Give yourself a shot by contacting us by live chat or email right where you are so we can start answering your questions and talk about what we can do to help.
Why do medical malpractice cases cost so much?
Because they require experts to win. Just claiming a doctor, nurse, or a hospital hurt you or caused the death of someone isn’t enough. The experts we need are usually fellow doctors and nurses. And they probably won’t be from South Carolina because providers generally don’t testify against each other here.
Good experts, like anyone else who’s good at a highly technical and scientific job, are very expensive. They get paid based on the time they invest in the case, and their time is extremely valuable.
Most folks just don’t have the money to pay experts, so your malpractice lawyer pays them, then gets reimbursed from your verdict or settlement. To put on a malpractice case, we’ve got to pay an expert to review your medical records to see if you even have a case. If you do, the expert’s called to do even more extensive work, like…
- Reviewing any other evidence related to his testimony. During the discovery process, the other side will have to hand over information to us. Any medical malpractice claim will involve going through additional documents or even old medical records. We’re trial lawyers, not medical experts; we will sometimes have to pay to get a real expert to read through this material. That’s how we will figure out that the defense is planning to blame the harm on someone else on or a different condition.
- Preparing for his deposition. An expert will usually give formal sworn testimony outside court and answer questions from the other side. Don't worry: we also get to demand that the other side’s experts give a deposition for us. Even though an expert witness may have done this dozens of times before, he or she will need time to prepare for the specifics of your case.
- Preparing for trial. If the case can’t be settled earlier, the expert will also need to get ready for the courtroom by thoroughly reviewing all the evidence in the case.
Expenses stretch dramatically when the out-of-state expert is called to travel here to testify.
And we may need more than one expert. For example, if you lose a family member to an undiagnosed heart attack in the emergency room, that could require experts on emergency room care, nursing, and cardiology (heart medicine).
Because of these costs to the law firm and the fact we don’t get paid for a tremendous amount of very complicated work unless you get a settlement, good malpractice lawyers are very careful about selecting only the most meritorious cases.
But don’t let that discourage you from seeking legal answers if you or someone you love got hurt—or worse—from medical care. You owe it to yourself to find out. And malpractice cases can keep it from happening to someone else. Remember: nothing changes if nobody says anything about it. If you feel you may have been harmed or lost a loved one from a medical mistake, start a live chat right now about your situation to see if you qualify to be one of our clients.
How will I know if I got hurt due to a defective car or truck?
If you’re asking, you should find out. The truth is, it’s hard to tell if cars are defective without engineering or industry experts, which an experienced injury lawyer can find. A commonsense rule is this: if you suffer injury or the death of a loved one from an inexplicable crash or failure of a safety device that should have prevented or minimized injury, you may have a case.
Here are common defective car cases:
- Defective airbags. Airbags don’t deploy in a serious crash, causing death, brain injuries, paralysis, broken or crushed jaws and faces, or chest crush injuries. Or sometimes they deploy improperly, shooting metal particles into victims’ faces like the Takata airbag. And sometimes they deploy for no reason at all, which could cause a serious or lethal traffic accident, facial burns, and broken bones in the face or jaw.
- Defective tires. Tire tread separation or blowouts can cause violent crashes with lethal or life-threatening injuries.
- Rollovers. Cars designed with faulty handling, suspension, or stability systems can tip over for no justifiable reason or from low speed fender-benders. Tragedy can result from rollover injuries, including paralysis or even death.
- Defective seatbelts. Safety latches fail to keep victims buckled in crashes, causing needless injury or worse.
- Defective door latches. A door opening for no reason while a car is in motion is scary. If it happens in a crash, a misadventure can become a catastrophe if a passenger is thrown out to crash onto pavement, down an embankment, or even get run over.
- Defective cruise control. If it doesn’t shut off when you tell it to, your car becomes an unstoppable menace until it meets an immovable object, like a stopped car or a tree, often causing a devastating crash.
- Extreme damage from low-speed wrecks. If damage to the car—and the occupants—is far greater than the impact justifies, the car may be defectively designed. Cases like this can feature crushed roofs when the car tips over, or intrusion by car components like the dash or door into its passengers.
- Fires. Movies are not real life. If a car explodes or bursts into flame from a little fender-bender or for no reason at all, there may be a defect explaining it.
Get Help By Helping Yourself
If you wonder whether you got hurt or lost a loved one because your car or truck is defective, take two simple steps that may save your case:
- Keep the car at a place where it can be protected from thieves and weather. Do not get it repaired before it can be examined thoroughly.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer to investigate your case.
When you come to Holland & Usry, PA, we begin with a free strategy session to get the facts and begin our investigation to protect your rights and get you some answers. Feel free to start with an email right where you are so we can schedule your free meeting. You can’t solve this yourself, and any calls to Detroit will go unanswered. You need a professional who can tell you whether you’ve got a legal case worth the investment of your time and who might just give you peace of mind, whether you have a case or not.
I got charged with a felony. How will you defend me?
When people get charged with serious crimes in South Carolina General Sessions Court, be it drugs, assault, domestic violence, sex crimes, or worse, they want to know what we’ll do to defend them. Here’s how it works through the major steps of your case. We’ve written before on how the courts handle it. Here’s how we handle it.
Step by Step Through South Carolina’s Criminal Justice System
- Managing the police investigation. If you get approached by law enforcement, get ahead. Let us handle them so you don’t make a mistake that could gut your defense. We may even be able to prevent you from ever being charged.
- Bond. This is also called bail. If we get involved before arrest, we can often arrange to turn you in, giving you major advantages. It prevents the embarrassment of being hauled off from work or yanked out of your home in the wee hours. It can minimize your time in jail waiting on the judge. It can help reduce your bond amount, which we urge the judge to minimize using the proper legal standards.
- Build a defense around your goals. We get your side of the story, including what you aim to achieve in your defense. We hunt down helpful witnesses. We gather helpful evidence.
- Plan B. Sometimes you’ve got to plead guilty, but that’s not giving up. We develop the evidence for the only sentencing argument that matters: why you shouldn’t go to prison. (“I don’t want to” is never enough. If you don’t know what is, that’s why you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer).
- Demand discovery. We file a motion to get all the evidence the State has, including evidence that helps you. Sometimes we file more than one motion if we suspect the State hasn’t shared all the evidence or it owes you more.
- Scrutinize the evidence. We go through all the evidence to expose any holes in the State’s case we can exploit at trial. We also look closely for any legal arguments that might get your case dismissed or the evidence thrown out, like for illegal searches.
- Evaluate your best option to exceed your goal. After we have all the evidence, we develop a strategy to exceed your goals. It may be we just prepare for trial.
- Manage court appearances. You’ll have at least two. The first is very early, to dispose of basic administrative issues. The second announces whether the case is a plea or trial, though this can change.
- Plea or trial. However your case ends, we have you ready, armed with the best strategy to prevail. You’ll be thoroughly prepped in your role.
A lot of work to protect you goes into a guilty plea.
Trial preparation for us is intense and all-consuming. Your innocence is on the line, and we take it seriously.
Still a Do-It-Yourselfer?
Even if you still think you can handle all this on your own, the question remains, can you do it well? Well enough to feel secure in protecting your freedom and reputation from the government, which has its own lawyer?
The truth is, this is really hard. But since we do it for a living, it’s a lot easier for us to do it really well, to protect you, than it is for you. You have nothing to lose and potentially your life to regain by enlisting an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your case. If you’re curious, feel free to contact us right where you’re sitting to arrange a free strategy session about your case. Time’s growing short, so act fast to preserve your freedom and restore your peace of mind now.
What’s the process for defending my first DUI case?
DUI first offense cases generate a lot of anxiety, and over the years, I’ve found some of it actually has to do with me. It’s not that I’m hard to deal with or talk to (see what my clients say); it’s just people get nervous about the unknown. I’ve realized nobody really knows what will happen when they come to my office. While I work hard to make my people comfortable and confident, I now know seeing me for the first time is not a whole lot better than going to a new dentist.
To reduce that strain for you, here’s the basic steps I take to defend your case, so you can rest a little easier about what we’ll talk about and how I’ll do it.
Let’s Start Here
I want to hear your side of the story
Many folks with DUIs feel as if the officer ignored their explanation for the driving mistake that got them pulled over. They feel their arrest was destined from the start, no matter what. I listen to you, because it’s my job to tell your story to the extent it helps win your case. So your side is our starting point.
I will get you through the administrative hearing
If your license got suspended at arrest, you’ve got deadlines to meet or you face serious consequences. Our initial prime objective is requesting that administrative hearing to get you back on the road. Once it’s scheduled, we defend you at it. You’ll know how that works before we even request the hearing, because we talk about it at our first meeting.
We don’t always take this step—I only use this if I feel it will work. Most folks have a single goal: prevent a DUI conviction. They’re happy to resolve their case with a dismissal and plea to a lesser charge like reckless driving. If I feel this could be within reach, we attend your initial court date. There, I try to negotiate a reduction with the officer.
A vital part of this can be showing the officer you’re worth it. This can involve your attending programs to show you’re making this a learning experience to be a better driver.
If it fails, or if we decide not to pursue this option, we go the next step.
Request a jury trial
Sometimes justice must be won. A jury trial usually delays your case by several months, which can also help. As time passes, the officer’s determination to convict you at any cost can fade into reasoned judgment to let you have a reduced charge.
This is a motion I file with several pages of legalese boiling down to this: it makes the State give me all the evidence it has in the case, whether it helps or hurts. The most important parts are the videos.
When I get the discovery response, I analyze it. You get copies, too, because I want your input. Because your videos can unlock secret defenses you probably don’t know, I watch them extremely carefully. I also make extensive notes showing how you don’t look impaired—and what the officer did wrong. Did you know there’s a right way and many wrong ways to give field sobriety tests?
By the time we get a trial notice, I’ve done a lot of the groundwork already. We fine-tune it for trial. Again, I do the hard part getting ready to talk to the jury and cross-examine the officer. It’s what you hired me to do, right? Your case can be resolved at any point before, during, and even after the trial while the jury deliberates.
You’ll know our strategy and have a voice in it. That includes whether you testify. If you do, you’ll be ready.
If we get to this point, you can read this article on what to expect. Know this: we go in ready and expecting to win.
Yep, It’s a Lot to Handle, So Let a Professional Do It
The best way to get the best result in a DUI case is have an experienced advocate who can press your side and manage all the little things you don’t know how to. Give your case to me so you can get on with your life…because most of these cases are marathons, not sprints.
What’s the process for handling my accident injury or workers comp case?
We can’t speak for how other firms work, but here’s the process once we accept your case. We limit our cases to the ones we can give the most value to our clients.
Not every injury case needs a lawyer; many cases can actually be settled without a lawyer, especially if medical care is minimal—like one ER visit and maybe a couple follow-ups with a few physical therapy sessions. For those cases, you don’t need the expense of a lawyer, and we can give you free pointers to help you on the way. So even if you don’t think you need an attorney for your accident, it never hurts to call us for free information—and, you never know: you just might need a lawyer.
Step by Step
Here’s our basic six-step process for most personal injury or workers’ compensation cases:
1. Investigate the facts
We gain a thorough understanding of how the accident occurred by talking to you. Then we gather other evidence, like police reports and pictures of the accident scene if it’s easily accessed and helpful. (In workers’ comp cases, it’s usually not). We also track down witnesses and get their statements. For workers comp, we often get a copy of the official comp commission file, which can contain valuable information.
2. Obtain and analyze medical evidence
We contact all your providers to get your medical records and bills—but we usually don’t get bills in workers’ compensation cases because those are already paid by the insurance company. This is a process in itself, often requiring multiple follow-ups. Then we study the records for a clinical understanding of your injuries.
We may even meet with your doctors to get questionnaires answered that could convince an insurance company settlement is wise.
3. Develop the impact of injuries on you
One of the biggest parts of your case is your pain and limitations. We work closely with you to understand what you’re going through, so we can present your condition thoroughly and compellingly to maximize your settlement. For severe injuries, this may require more than one meeting over time.
4. Evaluate and discuss settlement
After we’ve got all the evidence, we give you a settlement evaluation in realistic terms. Together, we set a goal and go for it!
5. Send a demand letter to the insurance company
For severe injuries, this may be several letters as we get your bills and records in—we often send them to the insurance company with our analysis of your injuries and maybe the current impact of them on you. It helps move your case faster than dumping thousands of pages on an adjuster, then waiting for him to evaluate it all at once.
Regardless how we deploy it, the demand summarizes why it’s a good idea to for insurance to pay instead of fight.
6. Negotiations and the next step
We keep you as up-to-date as you want as we negotiate your case with the insurance company. Hopefully, our discussions end with the satisfaction of a settlement. If not, we file suit or request a workers’ compensation hearing to begin the litigation process. By then, we’ve got your case soundly developed so all we need to do is tell a judge, jury, or a commissioner what we already know, which is what you’ve lived through.
Sound Like A Lot Of Work?
It is! But it’s our work, so we’re happy to do it for folks like you. If you’ve been hurt, feel free to start a live chat to so we can strategize with you for free. Or just check out the other pages on this site, which give lots of information folks want to know about their cases.
I got hurt bad on the job. The doctor says I can go back with restrictions. Do I have to go back to work if I’m worried I can’t do my job?
Yes, you must go back if your employer has work you can do within your restrictions. If you refuse to return to work at a job the doctor indicates you’re able to perform, you can be denied workers’ compensation benefits.
Few things inspire more anxiety for hurt workers than returning to work. Many are so anxious to get back to work it drives them crazy when the doctor won’t let them, or gives them restrictions their job can’t accommodate. And other folks worry they’re being released too early, that the work could worsen their condition, or that they just can’t do the job anymore. And returning to work after an injury can be a little awkward and even intimidating, even if it’s not your fault and you’re doing all you can to get back.
We’ve found information eases fears, so here’s some basics on how getting back to work goes.
The Doctor’s Work Restrictions Protect You
Here’s some important terms you might encounter:
Your doctor may allow you to do this type work while he’s still treating you. It means you’ve got restrictions keeping you from doing your normal work. So if you work in a warehouse but can’t lift due to a shoulder injury, light duty might mean you answer phones or sweep the floors. Hopefully, you’ll return to your prior job once you reach maximum medical improvement. If your employer has no light duty, you remain on temporary total disability, getting a weekly check.
When the doctor releases you, he gives these as your lifelong limitations from the injury. Once you have them, you should report to work to see if your employer has a job that can accommodate them. If so, congrats! You dodged a bullet by not having to look for a new job.
Some people aren’t so lucky. You may have a grave, complicated injury with lifelong consequences. You may count as totally disabled under workers’ compensation law, a term that doesn’t mean what you may think. If you don’t already have one, you need an experienced lawyer to get you the most permanent disability benefits possible to help protect your financial security.
What If I Try to Work But Just Can’t Do It?
If you give work an honest try, but can’t do it, be honest about it. Report it to your supervisor. You may need more treatment, and you should ask to go back to the doctor for a reevaluation. For income, hurt employees who try working but can’t make it 15 days ordinarily qualify automatically for temporary total disability benefits.
The Cure for Legal Worries Is Professional Help
If you’re worried about going back to work or anything else related to your workers’ comp case, stop and take action. Email us your questions so we can answer them and start giving you guidance. Let us help give you peace of mind and get you the maximum available benefits you can obtain in your one-time chance to do right by yourself after a work injury.