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Holland & Usry, P.A.

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 rear-ended by an 18-wheeler. The trucker says he tried to stop but had bad brakes. Is anyone responsible for this?

    Yes—both the trucker and trucking company he works for may be responsible for the crash. Don’t let their insurance company representative shrug his shoulders and tell you, “Accidents happen. We couldn’t prevent it.”

    Truckers have a legal responsibility to inspect the truck to be sure it’s safe to operate, and the trucking company has an obligation to fix any defects. Truckers are required to inspect their brakes to be sure they are in working order before their trip and at the end of the day. Truckers must note broken safety equipment—like brakes—on a written report.

    Broken safety equipment must be fixed before a semi can be driven. The trucking company must certify the repairs are done on the written report. The next trucker to drive the truck must sign the report to confirm the repairs were done.

    Here, the trucker may not have properly inspected the truck or the trucking company may have chosen not to do the repairs, or did them improperly. This could mean one or both of them are legally responsible for your injuries.

    At Holland & Usry, we know an 18-wheeler accident is not your typical car accident. Because the trucking industry is highly regulated to protect the safety of innocent motorists like you, your lawyer needs a firm grasp of all the safety rules involved in your case and how to take advantage of them to help you. Handling a trucking accident case requires extensive knowledge of those safety regulations to help prove how violations caused your injury.

    Truckers and trucking companies are also required to maintain a wealth of information that can help your case…if you have an experienced lawyer who knows how to get those records and use them. Truck crash injuries are often far more severe than those from other traffic accidents, so it may require examining thousands of pages of medical records and familiarity with complex medical terms and procedures to develop a convincing case about the extent of your injuries.

    If you or someone you love has been hurt or worse in an 18-wheeler crash in Spartanburg, Greenville, Gaffney, Union, or anywhere in South Carolina, call us for a free meeting to discuss how we can help get you compensated for the harm done. To get a feel for some basic issues in your case, check out our free report on traffic accident cases, which includes a chapter on trucking. Truckers and trucking companies sometimes choose to gamble with lives and safety, and we must not let this recklessness go unchallenged. Feel free to send us an email or live chat right from where you’re sitting.

     

  • Can I get criminal charges removed from my record?

    Possibly. South Carolina law allows criminal charges to be removed from your record under certain circumstances. The process of removing the charges from your record—and destroying all evidence of them in the public record—is called expungement.

    We’ll explore more specific examples of expungement in different situations in other articles in our website, but the following are generally eligible for expungement:

    • Charges that get dismissed or result in acquittal at trial. But be careful: charges dismissed as part of a plea bargain might not qualify.
    • Certain first offense convictions carrying a penalty of up to 30 days in jail or a $1000 fine or both. Qualifying convictions include check fraud, criminal domestic violence, and simple possession of marijuana. But not DUI- another reason to fight that charge.
    • A conviction where you got sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA). YOA is open only to offenders under age 25, and only for certain offenses.
    • First offense failure to stop for a blue light.
    • Diversion programs. This includes pretrial intervention (PTI), alcohol education program (AEP), traffic education program (TEP), and conditional discharges, which can be available for some  drug charges and criminal domestic violence.
    • Certain juvenile convictions. Many, but not all, juvenile convictions in family court offer the chance to expunge your record.

    The easiest way to qualify for expungement is to win your case by dismissal or acquittal at trial. The next easiest is to qualify for a diversion program, like PTI. If you have multiple charges and might need to make a plea bargain, your expungement options should be considered. This complicates your case.

    The best way to give yourself the best shot at expungement is to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows the expungement law and can work to get you qualified even if you plead guilty or get convicted. As with any court process, expungement requires sending a proposed order to the proper authorities to get the necessary approvals to get your record erased. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you make sure you get it done right and fast.

    But the most important reason to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer is to win your case…because you might not be guilty.

    At Holland & Usry, we work to win and if we can’t, we work to make sure our clients suffer as little punishment as possible—with the hope they can qualify for expungement in the future. If you’ve been charged with a crime and wonder if you’ll ever get it off your record, call us at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting to discuss your defenses and your expungement options.

     

  • I was recently pulled over and arrested. The police searched my car. Can they do that?

    Sometimes. When a police officer makes a lawful arrest of an occupant or the occupants of an automobile he may, at the same time of the arrest, search passenger compartments of the vehicle. He may also examine the contents of any container (such as a purse, backpack, or briefcase) found within the passenger compartment. But the police may do this only if the occupant who was arrested is within reaching distance of a passenger compartment at the time of the search, or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest. Otherwise, the search may be unreasonable.

    If the search is unreasonable, it is a violation of your Fourth Amendment right to protection against unreasonable search and seizures. Thus, any evidence obtained during the unreasonable search should be excluded from your trial, meaning that evidence can’t be used against you. The suppression of evidence often leads to a dismissal of charges or a not guilty verdict.

    For example, consider a person who is arrested for driving under suspension. He is handcuffed and locked in a patrol car. At that point, he does not have access to his car to retrieve weapons or evidence any longer. Generally speaking, this would make any subsequent search of the automobile invalid. So, if this person was arrested and locked in a patrol car, and if the police search the pocket of a jacket on the back seat and find cocaine, the possession of such cocaine would be inadmissible in a trial, and thus the defendant would not be found guilty of possession of cocaine.

    If you have been charged with a crime and searched and evidence was seized, the search may have been unlawful. If the search was unreasonable, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to exclude that evidence from being used against you. This is helpful in reaching a dismissal, a not-guilty verdict, or a favorable plea bargain. If you wish to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers of Holland & Usry, P.A. at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for your FREE confidential consultation.

     

  • I’m out of work on workers’ comp, but the insurance company has refused to pay me a weekly check for over a month. Is there anything I can do?

    Yes. You should probably contact a lawyer to discuss requesting a hearing to get your check. It’s bad enough you’re hurt, and it’s worse the insurance company doesn’t care whether you have money to eat and keep a roof over your head.

    The insurance company can stop paying workers’ comp weekly checks under only limited situations, discussed in a link below. If the refusal to pay your weekly check is unjustified, the insurance company is required to pay what it owes you plus a 25 percent penalty on that amount. So if you prove the insurance company owes you $1,000 in weekly checks, and that refusal is unjustified, the insurance company will owe you an additional $250, for a total of $1,250.

    Unfortunately, delay in getting your comp check is a regular part of most workers’ comp cases. If your checks get behind a week or two, it’s probably due to an administrative oversight or even the mail being slow. You should just keep careful track of your communications with your employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier to make sure you get your check and give the insurer a chance to make good on a mistake. But for longstanding, outright refusals to pay, you should take action. You have legally enforceable rights and the insurance company cannot ignore you.

    We’ve handled cases like this and know how desperate things can get when you don’t get a weekly check for a long time—homes can be lost and families can fall into despair. If you’re having this kind of trouble getting your check or if you’re just worried about dealing with the insurance company in any way, check out the other links on our site for free pointers and always feel free to call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting to discuss your case.

     

  • Can a bar be held responsible if it over-serves an intoxicated person who, after leaving the bar, causes a drunk driving accident injuring another?

    Yes. It is possible to hold a bar responsible when its staff over-serves individuals who go on to drive and hurt others.

    South Carolina law prohibits a person or establishment licensed to sell alcohol from selling alcoholic beverages to persons in an intoxicated condition. If you prove that this occurred and you were injured by the over-served person, then the establishment or restaurant is negligent per se, or negligent by law.

    This does two things: it proves negligence on the part of the establishment and it allows the you to seek punitive damages. Also, because South Carolina law treats conduct involving the use, sale, or possession of alcohol differently from other claims; if a jury attributes any fault to the restaurant or establishment, you may recover the entire award from them even if the jury finds the driver more at fault. This also means that the injured person may recover the entire amount awarded against the driver as well, if the jury finds the establishment more at fault. The reason this matters is because if the restaurant or bar has more insurance coverage than the driver or vice versa, you have a greater chance of recovering.

    South Carolina refers to this as dram shop liability. An experienced law firm can help victims of drunk driving—whether a bar or restaurant contributed to the accident or not—be compensated for their injuries and losses.

    If you or a loved one have been injured or you have lost a loved one due to a drunk driver, please contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841 for your FREE, confidential consultation. For more information on injury cases download our free report.

     

  • Will I get fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?

    No. South Carolina law forbids your employer from firing you just because you filed a valid workers compensation claim. This is called “retaliatory discharge.” If that happens, you can file a lawsuit to prove your employer violated this law. If you win, you can recover wages you lost as a result of the violation, and you might get a court order reinstating you to your former position.

    If your employer truly cares about his employees, he’ll want to do everything he can to help make sure you’re okay. It’s pretty simple: you work hard for him and he needs to take care of you when you get hurt doing his work.

    You have the legal right—and likely the need—to partial wage replacement when you can’t work, medical care to get you back to work, and compensation for any permanent disability. Finally, remember it’s probably not your boss personally footing the bill; it’s almost always paid for by the worker’s compensation insurance coverage he bought just for this.

    If you got hurt at work in Spartanburg, Greenville, Gaffney, or nearby, and are worried how your employer will respond, call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free meeting to discuss how we can handle your case with your employer and the insurance company. That way, you can focus on getting better so you can get back to work.

     

  • I was convicted of failure to stop for a blue light. I’m really worried about future employers seeing it on my criminal record. Can I get that charge off my record?

    Quite possibly. If your conviction is for a first offense with no great bodily injury or death, you may be eligible to have the charge wiped from your criminal record. This process is called “expungement.” South Carolina law allows expunging this charge just one time.

    To qualify, you must wait three years after completing your entire sentence and have no other convictions during those three years.

    The expungement process requires obtaining a court order. If you think you might be eligible, you should contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in expungement to make sure the order is prepared correctly and submitted through the proper administrative channels. You should act the instant you are eligible to prevent the chance of any other conviction that could make you ineligible.

    At Holland & Usry, our criminal defense attorneys regularly handle expungement requests in Spartanburg and other nearby towns, so we’ve developed a system to get it done as fast as possible for low cost. If you are eligible or curious about expungement for this or any other charge, feel free to call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 to discuss your options.

     

  • I got arrested for felony DUI. The officers gave me a breath test, then took me to the hospital and made me give a blood and urine test. Can they do that?

    Yes. In a felony DUI case, officers can ask for a test of breath, blood, or urine. They also have the right to ask for just one or a combination of any two. Unlike a typical DUI, where officers are required to first offer a breath test before asking for any others, an officer in a felony DUI can go straight for a blood or urine test.

    You still have defenses, some of which are described in the related articles listed below. If you refused any of these tests, you will need an experienced felony DUI lawyer to help you explain why—in a meaningful way a jury will identify with, especially considering the grave circumstances of your case, with severely injured victims or worse.

    Even if you have no defenses, you need a defense lawyer with knowledge and experience in felony DUI because these charges are dire: they carry long prison terms and other penalties. Worse, the public despises these cases, and they often attract heavy media attention. This puts pressure on law enforcement and the Solicitor to push for harsh punishment.

    If you’ve been charged with felony DUI, you need a talented professional to stand up for you and make your voice heard to win your trial or preserve your freedom as much as possible. One of the best free offers you’ve ever received might be sitting down with us to discuss your options, defenses, and how we can help you overcome this enormous roadblock in your life. Call us at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841 to schedule your free meeting to get started on building the case of your life.

    If you want more information on basic DUI issues, check out our FREE report, The Terrible Price of a DUI/DUAC Conviction and Defenses You Might Not Know About.

     

  • I got hurt at work and I don’t feel like the workers’ comp doctor is looking out for my best interest. Can I get a second opinion?

    Maybe, but you need to be really careful. You should talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer first, as you are now face-to-face with the two-headed monster of South Carolina workers’ compensation law: the insurance company has the right to choose the doctor, and refusing treatment can get your benefits stopped.

    Free pointer: Maintain open and honest communication with the doctor. Express your concerns without blaming the doctor. Sincerely expressing your concerns and asking meaningful questions without attacking the doctor might clear the air and get you what you need.

    If that fails, you should talk to a lawyer first. Getting treatment on your own outside workers’ comp is an enormous risk. Here are ways we’ve gotten second opinions and gotten additional treatment approved when the insurance company initially denied it:

    • We got the insurance company to agree to it. Sometimes the insurance company just needs to be shown the light by someone whose job is to show them the right way. Other times, we can make the case that a second opinion and an adjustment in the treatment plan will save the insurance company money in the long run.
    • We can file for a contested hearing to get treatment approved. One purpose of the Workers’ Compensation Commission is to settle medical treatment disputes. But to get treatment you need, your case must be presented convincingly, supported by evidence satisfying the Commission’s legal standard. That’s our job, and we know how to do it right.

    If you’ve been seriously hurt on the job in Spartanburg, Greenville, or any nearby community and if you question your medical care, there’s no doubt that must be addressed. But it needs to be addressed the right way, and since you only get one body and you only have one workers’ compensation case, you need to make sure both are protected to the fullest extent possible.

    Call us at 864.582.0146 or toll free at 888.230.1841 for a free, confidential meeting to discuss how we can protect your rights to medical care and maximize the value of your settlement. Still unsure? Read how previous clients have gratefully endorsed our help.

     

  • I am going through a divorce. My spouse and I disagree on who should have custody. The court just appointed a guardian ad litem. What should I expect?

    When people are engaged in a custody dispute, it is very common for the court to order a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the best interest of the children. We have previously discussed the obligations imposed on the guardian ad litem, along with the rights that the guardian ad litem has and the way the court relies upon the GAL’s investigation in making a determination. But practically, what can you expect?

    Guardian Ad Litem in South Carolina Custody Cases

    The court will issue an order appointing the guardian. Sometimes this occurs early in the divorce process, often at a temporary hearing if custody or visitation is contested. At other times, the lawyers recognize that a guardian ad litem is required, so the parties consent to the appointment of a guardian ad litem.

    Once the order is signed by a judge appointing the GAL, our office will provide the guardian ad litem with information about your case, such as affidavits prepared for court, court paperwork, and prior orders. We will also provide the guardian with your contact information. We will copy you with the cover letter to the GAL with the information about your case and your contact information.

    While certain things are required of a GAL, each guardian will conduct his own investigate in his own unique style. I have found that the GAL will usually contact our client directly. However, it is not a bad idea for the client to contact the GAL if the client has not heard from the GAL within a week or 10 days of the guardian’s being appointed and provided information about the parent or party.

    It is important to cooperate with the guardian ad litem and to follow your court orders. If the court order requires you to provide something to the guardian, do it in a timely manner. Cooperate with reasonable requests. Be on time. This is common sense, and should not be done simply for the sake of getting on the Guardian’s good side; rather, this demonstrates to the GAL and also the court that you are responsible and your intent is directed towards the best interest of the children.

    Often, the court will direct in its first order that the GAL prepare a preliminary report and file it with the court within a fixed amount of time—for example, within 45 days of the order.

    The GAL is not a judge and is not expected to micromanage every aspect of conflict between the parents. So the GAL should not be inundated with every minor disagreement. Ask the guardian ad litem at your first meeting what sort of things she would like brought to her attention while your case is pending. Ask your lawyer for guidance on this issue if you’re unsure.

    The guardian ad litem also participates in court hearings and in the merits trial.

    The role of the guardian ad litem is very important: it keeps the focus on the children in a custody case or any family court dispute. Although the guardian is not exactly on “your side”—certainly not in the way your attorneys are dedicated to your side—the guardian is committed to the best interest of your child or children. You have to respect that.

    Contact Our South Carolina Family Law Attorneys For Help

    If you are engaged in a custody or visitation dispute and you would like to talk to a lawyer about your case, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry, P.A. at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.

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