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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I got a DUI in my driveway. Can officers really arrest me for DUI when I made it home?
Yes. As pointless as it may seem, you can get a DUI no matter how close you are to home—even your driveway.
I’ve had clients charged who:
- Told officers they were almost home,
- Pointed to their homes on the street where they got pulled,
- Got taken from their driveway in handcuffs.
Here’s why it can happen (not that it helps you feels better, but it’s the truth): some officers have their minds made up you drove under the influence and don’t care if you made it safely to your destination.
And you can still be convicted. If convicted, you get no breaks for making it home. You can still face the same harsh penalties which can include administrative license suspension, criminal punishment, and even ignition interlock.
You need help. The arresting officer already ignored your pleas for mercy. It’s time to invest in a professional who stands on your side and who can design a defense to win your case at trial—or maybe get the officer to back down and reduce the DUI to a charge you can live with.
And here’s what we can do to help. We have the knowledge to find defenses you don’t even know, and the skills to present them effectively in court.
I’ve even written a book on these cases I’ll give you for free. Call us now at (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to schedule a free meeting to answer your questions and build your defense, or just send us an email or live chat right where you are.
How can I be charged with drug distribution or trafficking if there’s no proof I’m a dealer or ever sold drugs?
Shockingly, in South Carolina, you can be convicted of drug “distribution” or even “trafficking” charges just due to the weight of drugs you’re caught with.
Basically, the law assumes you are a dealer, even if you’re not. It’s really kind of alarming, especially since it seems to defeat two bedrocks of our justice system—the presumption of innocence and the requirement the state prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is where getting tough on crime just gets tough on what our country got founded on.
But it’s the law, and we’re stuck with it. Here’s how it can work.
What You Possess May Create a Presumption You’re Dealing
For example, you can be charged with:
- Possession with intent to distribute marijuana, if you got caught with more than one ounce.
- Cocaine trafficking, if you got caught with more than 10 grams.
It gets worse. You can actually be charged with drug distribution for LESS THAN the required amounts if you’re caught with items associated with the drug trade, like digital scales, multiple baggies, and other paraphernalia.
If you’re charged with a drug crime, you may literally be facing punishment for a crime you had no intent to commit. Your luck’s run out. You need a skilled professional to help.
Contact one of our experienced drug defense attorneys to start plotting your defense today. Even if you’re guilty, you’ve still got justified hope a talented drug defense lawyer can preserve your future and your freedom. And a seasoned criminal defense lawyer may be able to find defenses you didn’t even know about.
Start a live chat right now where you are so we can answer your questions and start protecting you today.
How do police get a search warrant?
Believe it or not, police don’t issue search warrants. Judges do. In South Carolina, search warrants are usually issued by magistrates. These important judges also handle traffic tickets and lower-level criminal cases like simple assault, plus civil cases involving a limited amount of money.
Here’s how it works, or how it’s supposed to.
The United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment allows search warrants only if supported by probable cause. South Carolina law requires the police to provide probable cause in an affidavit, a sworn statement. The affidavit can be supplemented by sworn testimony before the issuing judge.
The judge determines probable cause based on whether the affidavit proves a “fair probability” that evidence of a crime will be found in the place to be searched. At a minimum, the affidavit must reasonably describe all of these:
- The place to be searched. This must be described very precisely.
- A general idea of what evidence the police expect to find there, beyond just saying “evidence of a crime”—like “digital scales, bookkeeping records related to illegal drug transactions, and illegal drugs including but not limited to marijuana and cocaine or its derivatives.”
- The reason police expect to find the evidence there. And that reason must clearly tie the place to recent criminal activity, or the warrant will not be valid.
What to Do If Your Home or Vehicle Is Named in the Warrant
There’s three things to remember if you’ve been served with a search warrant:
- The purpose of a warrant is to protect your privacy and your rights. Requiring a warrant based on probable cause keeps police from just barging into our homes to take whatever they want.
- Even if the warrant is issued, you can contest its validity later. If a judge finds it invalid, all the evidence taken as a result of the warrant is thrown out. That can mean a dismissal of your case or a reduction of charges you can live with.
- You need a skilled criminal defense attorney—and you need one now. The police just went through your personal stuff, with a judge’s approval. They’re after you. And you’ll never have any hope of contesting the warrant without a legal tactician on your side.
If you’re the subject of a search warrant or you got charged with a crime based on one, contact us right now so we can start building your defense.
The victim in my case wants to drop charges against me. Won’t that get my charges dismissed?
Not necessarily, for a variety of reasons:
- It’s the State’s case. You should expect the case to get referred to a prosecutor—a lawyer whose job is convicting folks like you. The prosecutor can subpoena the victim to trial to testify against you, even if it’s against the victim’s will.
- The victim could be lying to you. It happens.
- The victim could change his or her mind. That also happens.
Just because a victim promises to drop the charges doesn’t mean you get off. You’ve still got the police and likely a prosecutor aligned against you.
To give yourself the best shot at a good outcome, you need a professional in your corner to fight for you. Before just relying on the word of a person who got you charged with a crime, sit down with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to strategize your defense. While the victim’s cooperation helps, it just doesn’t always win the day, and you can’t take a chance on your freedom or reputation.
If you need an experienced professional to look after you, call (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to schedule a free, no-obligation meeting where we can answer your questions and start building your defense—especially in showing the State the wisdom of granting the victim’s wish.
I got hurt at work due to an unsafe condition my supervisors knew about but didn’t fix. Can I sue the factory?
Yes and no.
Yes, you can make a workers’ compensation claim against your employer, who likely has insurance to pay for your benefits.
No, you can’t file a lawsuit against your employer to recover money for damages, such as pain and suffering or punitive damages. EXCEPTION: If you got hurt at work as a result of someone besides your employer, you may be able to file a lawsuit called a “third party action.” But how you settle those cases is extremely important—if you do it wrong, it could cost you your workers’ comp benefits.
Why Can’t I Sue?
The reason you can’t sue your employer is that workers’ compensation is a bargain in the law made between employees and employers. Employees gave up the right to get more money from lawsuits for unsafe working conditions. But they gained the right to benefits related to work injuries, including free medical care, replacement of most income while they're out of work, and money for permanent disability.
Employers gave up the right to force injured employees prove employer fault in workplace injuries before paying benefits. This is why workers’ compensation is often called a “no-fault system.” You can often get benefits even if it’s your own fault you got hurt. In return, employers gained the ability to be free from potentially huge verdicts in unsafe workplace lawsuits.
In most cases, the system works pretty well. But that doesn’t mean it’s a cakewalk for injured employees. Despite less financial exposure, employer insurance companies tend to take a hard line on paying seriously hurt workers. While the system is designed to help employees, settlements can be complex, and insurance companies fight the hardest for the most expensive benefits for the most severely injured.
These are important rights to protect your health and your financial stability. Don’t give up rights you don’t know about…and don’t get run over by the workers’ compensation insurance company.
If you’ve got more questions about how workers’ compensation works, take advantage of the free info on our site. You can always open up a live chat for answers from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. And you’re always free to come meet with us—there’s no pressure to hire us and it’s free!
The help we give in a single email, phone call, or sit down-chat can be the difference between peace of mind and heartbreak. Our phone number’s right there at the top of the screen. Make the call.
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.