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’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.
Related Links:As a Worker in South Carolina, You’re Entitled to These Workers’ Comp Benefits
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.
Related Links:The Basics of Typical South Carolina Workers’ Comp Settlements
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.
Related Links:Options for Future Medical Care for Hurt Workers
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.
I have been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. I know I hurt the guy pretty badly, but he was coming at me with a knife. Do I have a defense?
Yes. You have the defense of self-defense. Self-defense is the force one uses to protect himself or others. The force must be reasonable in consideration of the threat of harm.
In South Carolina, if there is evidence to support self-defense, it is your right to assert it. According to South Carolina law, if the defendant and his criminal defense attorney argue self defense the state must disprove at least one of the following:
- The defendant is without fault in bringing on the difficulty.
- The defendant believed he was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering serious injury, or actually was in imminent danger.
- If based on belief of imminent danger, a reasonable person would have entertained the same belief.
- If based on actual imminent danger, under similar circumstances a person of ordinary prudence, firmness, and courage would be justified in acting as the defendant did to save himself.
- The defendant had no other probable means of avoiding the danger.
If the self-defense claim is successful, then the actions the defendant took in order to avoid his being harmed will be considered legal use of force. A winning self-defense claim can result in a not guilty verdict when a person is charged with the various degrees of assault and battery, attempted murder, or murder.
If you have been charged with one of these offenses, it is important for you to talk to a lawyer. You cannot reasonably expect to handle your own criminal case to a satisfactory conclusion. If you would like to discuss a criminal matter with one of the attorneys of Holland & Usry, please use the instant chat feature on this page or call us as soon as possible at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841.
The way some truckers drive, it seems like anybody can be one. Are there any minimum requirements to be a trucker?
Yes. Federal regulations set the minimum general requirements to be a trucker. Under those regulations, you are qualified to be one if you meet all of these rules:
- You are at least 21 years old.
- You can read and speak English well enough to talk with the general public, understand traffic signs and signals, and create reports and records.
- You can safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.
- You have been found physically qualified by a certified medical examiner as required by the regulations.
- You have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) issued by a single state (this makes it easier to track safety violations).
- You gave your trucking company employer a report containing all your traffic law violations for the last 12 months.
- You are not disqualified to drive due to license suspension or certain criminal offenses, including alcohol and drug related charges.
- You passed a road test or proved to your employer’s satisfaction you had either a CDL or passed a prior road test in the last three years.
These Regulations Are Not As Rigorous As They Sound—And Sometimes Ignored
This list of rules may seem like it provides a lot of assurance that truckers will be safe on the road. Sadly, all too often long hours and the overwhelming need to meet a deadline can overcome a trucker’s wealth of safety training and cause him to forget his enormous responsibility to keep everyone safe while driving his powerful machine. Worse, there are dishonest truckers who drive when they don't meet the qualifications, and there are irresponsible trucking companies who know it, or should know it, but let them do it anyway.
If you have been hurt—or, worse, if you have lost a loved one—in one of these 18-wheeler accidents in Spartanburg, Greenville, Union, or beyond, then you’ve probably spent restless nights wondering whether a trucker should be behind the wheel. We want to remind you that you have rights. A skilled trucking lawyer may be able to use these federal safety regulations to help make compelling case to maximize your compensation. Getting a full and fair settlement or trial award may be the best measure of justice you can achieve, since the trucker will most likely get a traffic ticket for a few hundred bucks at worst.
But obtaining compensation in these cases is not easy. Trucking cases are not your typical car crash—they can be far more complex due to extensive safety regulations that can impact your case, the severity of your injuries, and many times, an insurance company that fights you tooth and nail. For more information, check out our free report on South Carolina traffic accident cases, which includes a chapter on 18-wheeler crashes.
Please contact us when you’re ready to discuss your rights and learn how we can build a strong case for you. You can call us locally at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841, or start a live chat or email right from this site.
Related Links:Federal Law Tries to Protect You From Overworked Truckers
What is ignition interlock for South Carolina DUIs?
Effective October 1, 2014, South Carolina law changed to make ignition interlock a factor in every DUI case. The change impacts arrests made October 1 or after. For arrests before October 1, only repeat offenders have to worry about ignition interlock.
Ignition Interlock Basics
Here are the basics of ignition interlock, if you have to get it:
- How it works. Ignition interlock is a device installed in the ignition system of your car that gives you a breath alcohol test before your car will start. Compared to the breath test machine officers try to get you to blow into at arrest, it’s relatively small. But if you have someone with you, there’s no way to hide that you’re blowing into it. If the device detects even a small amount of alcohol, your car won’t start.
- Getting a device. Ignition interlock devices must be approved by the State. The agency responsible for monitoring ignition interlock is the agency best known for its watchful eye: the probation department. The Probation Department has information online about currently approved interlock devices. To be approved, the device must take your picture when you give the test, so the State can more easily detect violators who get someone else to blow for them.
- Cost and maintenance. Ignition interlock installation is expensive and burdensome. You pay a monthly fee for the system. Device manufacturers generally do not publish the costs. Devices must be inspected regularly, forcing you to take the time to take your car for inspection. Failure to get timely inspections could mean your car won’t start.
- Penalties for violations. Attempting to start the car with a blood alcohol concentration as low as .02% causes an increasing scale of violation points against you. The more points you get, the more penalties you get. Penalties range from lengthening your interlock requirement, to requiring an alcohol drug safety action program assessment that could lead to you to completing a costly, time-consuming treatment program, up to license suspension.
- It is a crime to avoid the device. If you’re required to use an interlock, driving without one is a criminal offense punishable by up to a year in prison plus an extension of interlock for an additional six months. And that’s for a first offense. There are only a few limited exceptions. Trying to sidestep interlock requirements in other ways is also a crime, including having someone else blow in the device or even asking him to.
Ignition interlock is an extremely tough new penalty for DUI offenders. Often the best hope in avoiding it is by presenting the best defenses to fight off an initial license suspension and conviction. Unfortunately, DUI cases tend to be very complex legally. Worse, if you’re not experienced defending these cases, it can be a daunting task to convince a jury that a police officer was mistaken, since the jury’s full of drivers who want to protect themselves from drunk drivers.
If you’re facing a potential sentence involving ignition interlock in Spartanburg or Greenville or nearby, feel free to schedule a free meeting to discuss how we might give you the best shot at avoiding ignition interlock. You can call us at 864-582-0416 or toll free at 888-230-1841, or use our live chat feature right from where you are.
For other questions, check out our free report on these cases, right on this page.
Related Links:A Spartanburg Lawyer Can Help Your DUI Case