Honest Answers From Your South Carolina Personal 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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Should I use Medicaid or Medicare to pay medical bills for accident injuries?
Yes. Medicare and Medicaid are government benefits designed to pay for medical needs. That includes injuries that aren’t your fault, be it a wreck, fall, injury caused by a healthcare provider, and even care for fatal accidents.
These benefits are considered the same as health insurance in legal cases. We’ve already noted that using health benefits can make life easier after a personal injury.
And don’t let a provider refuse to take your Medicare or Medicaid payment. Just politely explain these benefits are to pay medical bills—even for accidents—and you insist on using them as designed.
If you’ve got other questions you need answered about your accident, fill out our Get Help Now form on this page or just call (800) 230-184 or (864) 582-0416 to schedule a free, no-pressure strategy session to start building your case and get your questions answered.
Will I have to pay health insurance- including Medicare or Medicaid- back for my accident?
Yes, but it probably won’t be as bad as you think. It’s much, much better than expecting the person who hurt you to pay—because he won’t. It’s also better than telling your doctors you’ll pay them from your settlement—because you’ll get stuck with the whole bill, and possibly sent to collections, which can hurt your credit.
As for paying it back, here’s why it’s a pretty good deal for you.
First, health insurance pays your medical bills at a discount. INSIDER TIP: This is inadmissible in court, so your case is valued on the full amount of the bill, as if insurance never paid. Read the reason behind this unique law called the collateral source rule.
The right of the health insurance company to be repaid from your settlement is called subrogation. But it doesn’t exist in every case, and a sharp injury attorney can help you figure out whether you even have to worry about it.
In our cases where health insurance does get the right to be paid back, we’re often able to negotiate a discount on the repayment. So our clients benefit from a discount off a discount—giving you more money from your settlement to catch up your bills and regain financial stability after a severe injury that may have devastating economic effects for you and your family.
If you need help figuring out whether your health insurance must be repaid from an accident—or if you have any other questions about your case—feel free to send us a live chat message right where you are to get your questions answered by an experienced accident injury lawyer.
When do I get paid for my accident settlement?
Let me first assure you that you’re not being rude. This is an answer you need to know.
And here’s the answer: at our firm, we get your check to you ASAP, but ethical regulations and finalizing the settlement takes a little time.
Here’s basically how it works with our firm:
- We reach a settlement agreement with the other side.
- If a case involves an injured child or death, a judge likely has to approve the settlement. We get a hearing scheduled ASAP. For more, here's how the court process works for fatality settlement proceedings and children's settlement proceedings.
- We get the settlement documents to end the case. We review them closely to protect your rights. If the documents don’t fully protect your rights or don’t reflect the agreement, we make changes.
- The check usually comes with the documents. We deposit that in our trust account, a special bank account safeguarding your money until we can pay you. Ethical regulations require us to wait a few days to be sure it clears before paying you.
- Once the documents are ready for you to sign, you sign. Before you sign, we explain them to you, since they’re often written in incredibly complex “legalese”—which can be just plain ridiculous. We return them for you.
- You usually get your check around the same time you sign the settlement documents.
You get copies of all the documents, and we prove where all the money goes. Because this is an important moment in your life with serious financial consequences, we want to make sure you have all the information related to the settlement. We give you a packet with all the important settlement documents in it. On top is a sheet showing who gets paid from the settlement—and how much—so you can account for every penny of it, including our fees and costs paid from the check.
The packet includes proof we repaid anyone you’re required to repay from the settlement, like your health insurance company that may have covered your medical bills.
It Doesn’t Take That Long, But It’s Mighty Important
While it sounds like a lot, the settlement process doesn’t take that long. Once we agree to settle, you will typically get your check within a month—sometimes less. Cases requiring court approval can take longer due to scheduling conflicts, but we always aim to achieve our driving goal: getting you compensated as soon as possible.
If you’ve got any questions about a potential settlement or your case, start a live chat right where you are to get those questions answered. We know it’s important to you, and we’re here to help.
Can I be repaid for income lost as a result of an accident injury?
Yes, but you’ve got to be able to prove you lost wages as a result of the accident.
And before we go any further, if your accident happened at work, your case works different because it’s likely a workers’ compensation case; see our article on recovering lost wages in workers' comp. BUT you might get more than comp offers if you got hurt at work by someone besides a co-worker—for example, if you were injured in car crash. If you qualify for one of these cases under comp law, you do stand to recover the full amount of wages you lost from the accident. For more info, read our article on how you can sue non-coworkers, called "third parties", who hurt you at work.
Here’s how you can recover lost wages from non-work accidents works in South Carolina:
- Who qualifies? Only the accident victim can recover lost wages, even though their spouses often miss a lot of work caring for the victim. Spouses naturally help out more at home, like taking off work early to get children to ballgames and other activities an injured spouse can’t. But you can be compensated for damage to your mariage caused by your spouse's injuries.
- The accident must have caused the loss in income. Insurance companies will fight you if you can’t prove the accident forced you to miss work. That’s why we work to assure everyone every penny is legitimate. The very best way to do that is a copy of your doctor’s orders or medical records showing the doctor ordered you to stay out of work while you recovered—or gave you work restrictions so you just couldn’t do your job.
- Lost wages can include doctor and therapy visits. When you have to miss work in order to keep a appointment for treatment, the income you lose can be recovered in your accident claim.
- You must have records to prove the amount of money you forfeited. Naturally, this is an important part of proving your claim, and we take great care to help you document your lost income. We have a form we use for employers to verify the dates and times you missed work, with a place for the employer to calculate the amount of wages you lost from the accident. That way, the insurance company has an independent measure of your lost income from the expert in it—the one who actually writes your paycheck. It also strips the insurance company of the argument you made it up or you can’t prove it. We’ve got a clear, simple form signed by a company officer. That’s undeniable proof.
- If you’re not a factory worker or hourly employee, the calculation can be more complicated. What if you’re paid by salary, or you earn commissions? We might need your tax returns and even an independent accountant to determine the income lost as a result of your accident. And that’s yet another reason to get a lawyer if you’ve been seriously hurt. We know how to find the people who can help you the most, so you don’t have to worry about it and you can be assured you’re not getting shortchanged.
- You also may deserve compensation for future earnings if your injury is permanent. A serious physical injury or a brain injury can limit your job options for the future—or make you unable to work ever again. Sadly, some injuries are so extreme they can’t be overcome. We help folks when spine, brain, or other severe injuries prevent them from doing the jobs they always did.
More on Permanent Changes in Your Ability to Work
Lost wages can include pay reductions you suffer when you can’t do your primary job but take another one with fewer physical or mental requirements. We always encourage productivity—it shows you’re a fighter trying to overcome your injuries. Plus it can really make you feel better as a person that you’re contributing to work even though you’re not at full strength.
Tragically, sometimes the lasting effects of your accident prevent you from doing any job.
If accident injuries leave you permanently disabled or stuck with a lower-paying job, we’ll consider hiring an expert called a vocational consultant. Basically, vocational consultants can help prove your inability to work—or, if you can only work a lower-paying job, they can assess the amount of wages you’ll lose as a result.
To give you the best chance at recovering the most in these cases, we’ll obtain medical records or even a doctor attestation supporting your inability to work, to strip the insurance company of the argument you’re making this up or can’t prove it.
No doubt about it, the insurance companies fight the worst injuries the hardest because it makes them do what they hate—pay out large amounts to compensate grievously hurt people for permanent damage.
Full Disclosure: Taxes
One thing we can’t help with is taxes for a lost wage settlement. We’re lawyers, not accountants! Only an accountant can tell you whether you’ve got to pay taxes on a settlement for lost wages. If you’re hurt seriously, taxes are the least of your worries, and we handle the legal worries.
Yep, This Is Complicated—But We’re Here to Help
It’s bad enough you got hurt bad, and now it seems like you’re the bad guy having to prove you did nothing wrong just to recover income and other compensation for your injuries.
That’s why it helps to have a professional in your corner. It’s our job, not yours, to gather all the proof necessary to make a convincing case to recover your lost wages. We can compile your medical records for the medical evidence to support your claim, contact your employer to get the proper forms filled out so you don’t have to be anxious or embarrassed about it, and, if needed, bringing in experts to calculate complex income losses.
If you’re concerned about recovering lost wages from accident injuries, or have any other questions related to a legal claim, feel free to start a live chat right where you are or just send us an email. We’d be glad to set you up with a free strategy session to get your questions answered by an attorney who can handle your case.
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.
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.
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.
Do I have to prove my injury case beyond a reasonable doubt, like a criminal case?
No. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard of proof required for the government to convict you of a crime. In an injury case, you need only prove it’s more likely than not the wrongdoer caused the accident and your injuries, harms, and losses. This is true no matter what type of case you have—a trucking accident, car wreck, slip or trip and fall, medical malpractice, or workers’ compensation.
Here’s a few more points so you can amaze your friends with your knowledge—and be informed about your case:
- Legal terms. The legal system calls the amount of evidence to prove your accident case the “burden of proof.” The lower amount required for you is called the “preponderance of the evidence.”
- The reason why less evidence is needed for accident claims. Our country was founded on freedom. In our view, that’s why the legal system requires more proof from the government to take freedom away from a criminal defendant than it does for an innocent injury victim to be compensated by a careless person, driver, or company.
- Exceptions. That’s what the law is famous for, right? There are a few times when injury cases ask for a different standard of proof. Punitive damages, which basically punish for reckless conduct, must be proven by clear and convincing evidence—more than preponderance but less than beyond a reasonable doubt. Proving your need for future medical care requires medical testimony it’s “reasonably certain,” which can include possibilities of less than 50%.
- It’s still no picnic. You’ve still got to prove your injuries to tight-fisted insurance companies (who hate paying even if you deserve it) or to skeptical jurors. And you’ve got to be very careful about medical proof. Improper medical testimony can lose your right to compensation.
The best way to protect yourself is hire a proven professional who earns a living gathering this evidence and presenting it convincingly, so you don’t worry about being shortchanged. If you’ve got questions about your case, start a live chat to see what we can do to answer them.
How much is my personal injury case worth?
It depends. This is a question that we get from clients in the majority of our personal injury cases, whether it’s an auto accident, 18-wheeler crash, slip and fall, nursing home injury, medical malpractice, or even a death case, which is valued differently from an injury case.
The truth is, injury cases are about people, and because all people are different, all cases are different—each case depends on its own facts and circumstances. There are so many factors that must be considered, the most important of which we list later. But first, let’s talk about when we start looking at what your injury case is worth.
Don’t Jump The Gun
Early on in a personal injury case, it is the most difficult to tell what a good settlement amount will be, for two critical reasons:
- Ongoing medical treatment. You may not be done with all medical treatment. Thus we do not know the full extent of your bills, and more importantly, we don’t know whether you have any permanent injuries for which we can seek compensation.
- Insurance coverage. Often, at the start of a personal injury case—especially auto accident cases—we are unaware of what insurance coverage is available. (One of the great tragedies we see for car crash victims is when there is not enough insurance to cover their loss…which is why we encourage you to get the most important auto insurance available to you .)
From that point, we begin our investigation into the specifics of your case. Those details are what will really allow us to put a dollar figure on the losses you have suffered. So along the way, we begin to develop evidence that will enable us to get you the most compensation possible in your settlement or verdict.
Seven Factors in Valuing Most Personal Injury Cases
In almost every case, we look at seven details in order to assign a proper value to your total injuries. Again, this is just how we initially approach the average case; what we discover along the way will suggest other areas to explore.
Those seven key factors:
1.Evidence of fault, including any fault on your part, which can reduce your settlement…or sometimes prevent any recovery at all.
2.The extent of your injuries. The worse the injury, the greater the potential settlement value. That’s why we look with a keen eye at whether any injuries you suffer can be permanent, or even cause permanent conditions later. It’s a vital reason why you’ve got to be honest with your doctor and why we need your doctor as an integral part of your case.
3.Whether you’ll need future medical care.
4.The amount of medical bills—and not just the amount your health insurance pays.
5.Whether the at fault party was reckless or breaking the law at the time you were injured, which could lead to punitive damages. And yes, if the evidence is presented the right way, you can get a settlement taking punitive damages into account.
6.The income or wages you lost as a result of your injuries. This generally requires a doctor’s excuse. It’s not just a measure of the financial impact of your injuries. Most of our clients are hardworking people determined to fulfill their responsibilities, so being forced out of work also displays how badly they got hurt.
7.Possibly the biggest part of your case that’s also hardest to prove—human loss. You’ve probably heard it described as “pain and suffering,” or “noneconomic damages.” We prefer to call it human loss because this aspect of compensation makes up for the loss to you as a person. Human loss contains its own set of factors that can be as unique to your case as you are a person, because that’s what your case is about—you.
It bears repeating: this list of seven factors is not meant to be exhaustive. These are some of the basic things we look for when evaluating your case.
It May Be Harder Than It Looks, So Let Us Make It Easy On You
Does it sound exhausting to compile all this evidence, especially the technical medical stuff? It is, for most folks. For us, it’s another good day’s work. And we know the work’s got to be done right, because seriously injured folks face skeptical juries who’ve seen too many TV commercials with actors flashing big smiles saying they got hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for his injury case.
We know that’s misleading. In reality, being severely injured or suffering the death of a loved one is nothing to smile about. We take it seriously, to deliver your legal care with same determination and devotion you expect from medical caregivers. That’s why we go to great lengths to understand you, your injuries, and the effect they have on your life, then, now, and going forward.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of somebody else, do not go at it alone. The stakes are high. There are so many factors and variables to be weighed, and the system is complicated. If you need a lawyer, please contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry, PA, at (864) 582-0416 or toll-free at (888) 230-1841 for your free, confidential consultation.