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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Does South Carolina limit or cap how much punitive damages I can get for an accident case? If so, what’s the limit?
South Carolina law does limit punitive damages in accident cases, but there are exceptions you need to know.
South Carolina Punitive Damage Award Limits for Most Cases
For most accident cases, South Carolina limits punitive damage awards to the greater of three times the actual damages or $500,000. So, if you get $100,000 in actual damages, the most you can get in punitive damages is $500,000. If you get $200,000 in actual damages, the most punitive damages you can get is $600,000—three times the actual damages of $200,000.
The jury isn’t told about this limit. I’m about to tell you why.
Exceptions to Increase the Limit
If the jury comes back with a punitive damages award higher than the limit, the judge can increase the limit to the greater of four times actual damages or $2,000,000, if the judge determines:
- The defendant’s wrongful conduct was motived primarily by greed, and the defendant acted unreasonably dangerous with a high likelihood of injury resulting from it, with the knowledge or approval of high-ranking employees or supervisors, or
- The defendant could be subjected to a felony conviction for the act or conduct that caused the accident.
In this scenario, if the jury awarded $1 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages, the judge could allow $4 million in punitive damages—four times the actual damages of $1 million. If the jury gave $100,000 in actual damages and $5 million in punitive damages, the judge could allow $2 million in punitive damages.
Exceptions That Eliminate the Limit
If the trial judge determines one of the following occurred, there is no limit on punitive damages:
- The accident occurred because the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is often the most likely exception, usually due to a drunk driver who causes a car accident, which might result in a dram shop action or lawsuit against any bars or restaurants we can prove overserved the DUI driver.
- The defendant intended to harm you. Warning: This usually gets cases excluded from insurance coverage, which pays most settlements. You’ve got to be extremely cautious in most cases to avoid this since most defendants can’t pay from their own pockets. You don’t want to hit a grand slam but break your back in the process.
- The defendant was convicted of a felony for the act or conduct that hurt you.
Cases Where Punitive Damages Are Unavailable
South Carolina law shields some defendants from punitive damages, no matter what. In these cases, actual damages are also limited. So, the law’s against you, and these entities also have insurance companies to make it worse on you—working to grind down the settlement you can get.
The lucky defendants who get a free pass for recklessness include:
- Government offices. This includes car accidents caused by city, county, or state employees while driving government vehicles (including the police) or falls at public buildings owned by cities, counties, or states. It also includes public schools. And here’s a shocker. The definition of “government entity” is so broad it includes agencies you might never think—like some hospitals.
- Charities. Again, the law is very broad, defining “charity” as any tax-exempt organization. That includes most charities, but also churches.
While these organizations are largely good and necessary, all these laws really do is protect their insurance companies from paying what they should to innocent victims. That includes government offices—generally, taxpayers don’t foot the bill for accident and injury settlements. As we all know, the government and even the best charity are run by people, and people sometimes ignore safety, causing life-changing injuries or even wrongful death. These groups shouldn’t be any less responsible, but this is a situation where the law is what it is.
Punitive Damages Are Complicated. Get Professional Help to Build Your Case.
If you’ve got a case potentially involving punitive damages in South Carolina, here’s our three-step process to evaluate it:
- We customize your case to determine whether it fits the legal purpose of punitive damages.
- We analyze fault to determine if we can prove whether it rises to the level of “recklessness” required to get punitive damages.
- To estimate the potential punitive damages value, if we evaluate your case under the microscope of the 12 factors South Carolina law gives for setting the amount of punitive damages.
Whether your case involves punitive damages or not, our goal is to always maximize the value if we both decide you and your case are the right fit for us. To get started on that, call toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form or you can schedule a FREE, EASY strategy session. Also, if you’re wondering what it’s like to work with us, look no further: go to these websites we don’t own—an attorney review website and Google +.
Can you sue a business if you get hurt in an accident caused by a company driver or an employee driving his employer’s car or truck?
Yes, if the at-fault driver was driving for work. It’s based on the ancient legal doctrine of “respondeat superior,” which holds employers liable, or legally responsible, for the acts of employees. The reason behind it is, if an employee hurts someone on the job, the employer is more likely to be financially capable of bearing the responsibility to pay a settlement.
Today, car, motorcycle, and tractor-trailer accident settlements come from insurance. But the truth of respondeat superior remains: businesses with company vehicles often have enormous amounts of insurance to pay settlements.
However, they aren’t going to give it away—even if you were badly hurt. (Keep reading to find out why!) You also need to look out for whether the employer is actually directly responsible for your injuries.
The Employer May Be Directly Responsible for Your Injuries
If you’re seriously hurt by a company car, semi-truck, delivery van, or any other company vehicle, you need every avenue of potential fault explored. And your case may allow you to hold the employer directly liable for carelessness in managing its employees or equipment.
We see this a lot in our trucking cases. Trucking companies can be legally responsible for tractor-trailer accidents caused by violations of federal safety regulations, like allowing or forcing truckers to drive excessively long hours or failing to require proper pre-trip inspections. Proving violations caused the crash can be vital to your case, as it can lead to punitive damages.
But any employer can be held liable for careless training or supervision of employees who drive. That includes giving a company vehicle to an incompetent or dangerous driver.
Warning: If You’re in a Serious Accident With a Company Vehicle, They’re Probably Protected—and You’re Not.
Many victims are shocked to discover businesses often start defending themselves before the ambulance drives the victim off from the crash scene. It’s a cold, hard fact: corporations and insurance companies will protect their money, not help you. They will circle the wagons and unleash a hail of professionals to avoid responsibility for the crash: insurance adjusters, attorneys, experts, investigators, and whoever it takes.
Don’t let them pull off the cover-up and cheat you. Get your questions answered by a Spartanburg, South Carolina car accident and tractor-trailer accident attorney who’s used to handling cases against employers for company vehicle accidents.
I’ve written a book for folks just like you that covers the basics of car accident cases, and you can download it here for free. Check out how other folks like you rate their experiences with us on an attorney review website we don’t own and Google+.
What should I do if I’m involved in a semi-truck wreck?
A lot. A proper investigation and protection of your rights require a ton of work that can be overwhelming to an untrained victim, especially a seriously hurt or grieving one. These cases are way more complicated than a car accident. And here’s a harsh truth you’ve got to confront: you may already be way behind the semi-trailer insurance company’s defense.
If you can’t do all this, don’t worry. That’s why you hire us. We do it for you, and make up for what you couldn’t do as best we can. That said, here’s what you should do immediately if you’ve been involved in a semi-trailer accident:
- Call an attorney. I promise you I’m usually not this insistent. But this is the truth: the trucking company’s insurance may already have an attorney and a team of investigators and other experts already working to beat you.
- Get pictures of the scene and vehicles immediately. Pictures of the scene can be vital in showing the immediate aftermath of the enormous impact, including locations of the vehicles that can help with crash reconstruction and establishment of legal fault. If necessary, go to the tow yard where your vehicle is stored. You can bet the trucking company and its insurance company will move their truck fast to get it away from any prying eyes who might want to prove a case using it.
- Get the investigating officer’s name and contact info. This can help get the crash report quicker and help your attorney reach him for an interview. Law enforcement investigations can be a goldmine for victims, especially if your case is severe enough to be investigated by the South Carolina Highway Patrol MAIT team.
- Make sure evidence doesn’t get destroyed. Law enforcement often destroys their files after traffic tickets are paid. And please understand this, as hard as it is to believe: the trucking insurance company is motivated to make harmful evidence disappear. You need more evidence than you think to prove the trucking company’s fault and enhance your chance for punitive damages. Much of that evidence is kept by the trucking company. That’s the fox guarding the henhouse. You can protect yourself with a letter sent to the trucking company and law enforcement, instructing them to preserve all evidence related to the crash. For the letter to be effective, you’ve got to be sure to send it to the right person at each organization.
- Don’t let the semi-truck insurance company get your vehicle. The best evidence of the impact is likely the tangled mess of your car or motorcycle. The trucker’s insurance company will try to make that disappear with a quick settlement offer, often allowing it to take your vehicle. Then that crucial evidence is gone forever. The only impact evidence left is a semi-truck that’s barely scratched or fully repaired.
- Take pictures of visible injuries. Don’t leave anyone guessing. Capture the gore in living color for bad cuts, bruises, and broken bones. Remember, these usually look worst at first—and you want everyone to know exactly what the immediate aftermath of the accident looked like for your body.
- Video painful treatments, if providers let you. You may be surprised—they often will. It shows the long, hard, agonizing road you got forced onto by the tractor-trailer hitting you. While medical records may describe the treatment, a video brings the viewer into the experience with you. If a picture is a thousand words, a video speaks volumes.
- Get informed. Since you’re reading our website, you’re already doing that! We have a lot more to offer you, so take a good look around. You should also download our FREE BOOK on crash cases, which contains a chapter on 18-wheeler accidents. It answers lots of questions folks like you have, so you can arm yourself with information to help you along as your case develops. It will also prepare you for confronting the insurance company claims rep or adjuster and the dirty tricks they employ to settle your case cheaply.
Just Do It. It May Prevent a Lifetime of Regret.
I get it. When you’re hurt or grieving, the last thing you want is to add an attorney to your list of things to do. But, like going to the doctor, sometimes you just need a professional to help you through a situation you’re really not equipped to handle yourself.
How do you get a workers’ comp settlement?
Settlement negotiations generally start after we issue our demand letter. That’s our official offer to the insurance company containing our analysis of your case with all the evidence that supports the money we’re asking the insurance company to pay.
The process doesn’t start in most cases until you reach maximum medical improvement, meaning the doctor decides you’re as good as you’re going to get.
After that, there’s a flurry of activity on your case, since the insurance company can request a hearing to decide your case that must be scheduled within 60 days. That’s not a lot of time to prepare. That’s why we prepare your case all along—so by the time you get released from treatment, we usually have only your last few medical records to gather before launching settlement negotiations.
Here’s our process to do it.
1. Get the Rest of Your Medical Records Analyzed
Two words should jump out at you here.
- “Rest.” That indicates that we already have some of your medical records, so there’s not as much to get. Preparing your case as it develops instead of waiting until the end relieves pressure on us. It gives us the luxury of taking time to make sure critical details get noticed, giving you and your case critical care when you need it most.
- “Analyzed.” Medical evidence is vital to your case. We don’t just collect your records; we make sure they are read and summarized to evaluate this crucial aspect—and use clinical evidence to support our case for a solid settlement.
2. Analyze Your Impairment Rating
Doctor impairment ratings often drive settlement value. They are based on a book, the AMA Guide to Permanent Impairment. I have it. When I get your rating, I compare it to the range of ratings given by the Guide. Based on that review, I determine if we can make arguments for a higher rating based on the Guide, or if we should get a second opinion for a more accurate rating.
3. Find Out Your Permanent Work Restrictions and Physical Limitations
Your doctor supplies your work restrictions. But your injuries affect not just work, but also your life. The physical limitations come from you. We’ve got a process allowing you to tell us how you can’t do things in life like you used to. We use that to assess your next step.
4. Develop a Strategy for the Highest Workers’ Compensation Disability Rating to Maximize Your Settlement
Based on the severity of your permanent injury, you may qualify for maximum financial and medical benefits such as workers’ comp total disability or wage loss. If so, strengthening our case for those may require me to refer you for a vocational evaluation.
But many settlements involve an injury to a single body part—resulting in a settlement centered around your impairment rating, work restrictions, and limitations. The workers’ compensation disability rating should be higher than the impairment rating because it measures the impact on your ability to work and live.
We create a strategy taking all this into account to help achieve your case goals.
5. Focus on the Goals of the Most Important Person in the Case—You
Before I issue the demand letter, I determine what you want to achieve, since workers’ compensation offers complex settlement options even in a typical case. A key consideration is often whether to keep your right to future care or “clinch” the case, meaning give up medical care for additional money.
6. Last Step Before the Demand Letter—a Written Settlement Evaluation
I give my folks a written settlement evaluation explaining your rights, the strengths and weaknesses of our case, and a range of amounts to settle for. I send it with the final draft of the demand letter, or with a copy of the demand you’ve already approved.
7. The Demand Letter
This formal letter to the insurance company, often sent to its lawyer, has one chief aim: justify a maximum settlement for your case. The letter summarizes your case, especially its strengths. It includes:
- A little background on you.
- A description of how you got hurt.
- An analysis of your medical records. If you’re seriously hurt and go forward without an attorney, you need to be able to do that. How else can you expect the insurance company to grasp how bad you’re hurt?
- A description of your injuries. Importantly, it describes your pain and permanent limitations in meaningful terms that I know the workers’ compensation commission bases its decisions on. You’ve got to prove to the insurance company and its lawyer you can prove your case in court before they’ll take you seriously.
Using all this ammunition, we justify the money amount we’re asking for.
Despite all my work, I never forget we’re a team and who’s the boss. We don’t issue the demand letter until you approve the draft. Once you do, I send it immediately, and settlement negotiations start.
8. Settlement Negotiations
As these go on, I keep you updated every step of the way. I notify you of insurance company counteroffers, and I have you approve any response. Many cases end in settlement. If so, our next step is minimizing how long it takes to get your settlement check.
If the insurance company won't do the right thing to settle it, we request a hearing for a workers’ compensation commissioner to decide it. Don’t worry. I’ll be ready, and so will you.
Yes, It’s Complicated. Get Help From a Professional.
Workers’ comp is confusing even when you’re not hurt and worried about paying your bills. That’s why I try to make it easy for everyone who needs my help. You can get free legal info without even leaving your chair—download my FREE BOOK on workers' comp cases.
Does it matter whether your case is a slip and fall or trip and fall?
If you’ve gotten hurt in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident, you might wonder if there’s a legal difference. Maybe you’ve done some asking around or looked on the internet. Well, your search is over, at least for South Carolina cases.
In my experience, the key difference between a slip or trip is what caused the fall:
- A slip and fall accident usually results from a substance on the floor that makes it slippery.
- A trip and fall accident usually results from an object on the floor that your foot gets caught on.
Both are dangerous. Slip and fall injuries include torn knee cartilage like a meniscus or ligaments like the ACL, broken hips, legs, and broken arms. Trips can cause violent falls directly onto your head, causing a traumatic brain injury and sometimes even death.
This Is Complicated. Get Legal Help.
Proving fault is often the biggest challenge to getting a settlement for slip and fall or trip and fall injuries. And it’s your job as the victim to prove fault, as unfair as that sounds. This is called “legal liability.” Worse, slip, trip, and fall law is complicated—and tough on victims who don’t know what they’re doing. Luckily, experienced attorneys know exceptions that can help you win your case if they apply.
Just proving liability in a slip or trip and fall case involves skillfully piecing many factors together. You need a professional to mold the evidence into a solid case for fault so you can have a shot at a good settlement.
There are two things our firm wants to define getting your questions answered and your case evaluated by an experienced professional: FREE and EASY. To do that, just call toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form. You’ll get your questions answered and if you want, you can schedule a strategy session with an experienced accident injury lawyer—and you don’t have to worry what it will be like.
Always check out what it’s like to work with any attorney—here’s what real clients say about us in reviews we don’t buy or edit.
What can I take to my first attorney meeting about a fatal accident or wrongful death case?
If you’re asking this question, you need simplicity, and I’m going to give it to you. Bring every piece of paper or evidence that might relate to your loved one’s accident, the medical care for it, and untimely death. Below you’ll find a list of some things you can bring to help the attorney start an evaluation of the case, but first, a little information for you about how these cases work.
The Basics of Accidental Death Cases in South Carolina
This is called a wrongful death case. It gives certain family members the legal right to be compensated for the loss of a family member. The law gives rights to specific compensation in a settlement for a fatal case.
There are a host of reasons why you need an attorney for a wrongful death case, and you can read about the most important ones in this article.
Meeting with an attorney about a wrongful death case should be free. Most lawyers call this a consultation. At my firm, the meeting is a free strategy session because that’s what we’re going to do—start building your case from the ground up, painting a picture of what it will look like going forward. I’ve worked awful hard to make sure these meetings are easy, comfortable, and informative for you. Because that’s who it’s about—you. And if you hire us, no, you won’t need any money to do it.
Now, on to what you can bring to help us get started on your case evaluation.
Things You Can Bring to Help the Attorney Get Started on Your Wrongful Death Case
The first thing to remember is, if you don’t have some or any of these documents, don’t worry. A good lawyer does a thorough investigation to help you gather these things, but below are documents and evidence that can really help jumpstart your case:
- Your appointment by the Probate Court as personal representative of the estate. In a wrongful death case, the actual client is the personal representative of the estate. Before the case can be officially started, you need to get this from the probate court. If you don’t have it, we can help you get it.
- Death certificate. This is an official document for any death in our state. We use it to help prove the actual cause of death is linked to the accident. This is especially important in medical malpractice and nursing home or assisted living facility cases. But even if the death certificate doesn’t list the accident as causing the death, you can still have a case. You owe it to yourself and your family to pursue it if you feel the death was caused by someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing.
- Other documents and evidence needed, depending on the type of case. Wrongful death cases get caused for a variety of reasons, whether it’s car, motorcycle or tractor-trailer trucking accidents, slip or trip and fall cases, medical malpractice, or nursing home/assisted living facility neglect. To help you figure out what we might need depending on those cases, here are articles on what you need depending on the case:
- Car, motorcycle, or semi-trailer wreck
- Slip or trip and fall, medical malpractice, or nursing home neglect
ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE THAT’S ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT: Evidence of what your loved one earned at their job. This helps us prove all the potential lost income created by this tragic death.
You’ve Already Got a Lot of Things to Worry About—What It’s Like to Deal With a Lawyer Shouldn’t Be One of Them
Meeting with a lawyer is hard, even when you’re not overwhelmed by grief and the avalanche of responsibilities that comes with picking up the pieces of an unexpected death. If you’re hesitant to come to see us because you worry about how you’ll be treated, watch this brief video on how we helped a family who went through something like you.
And if it’s still too early for you to think about coming to our office but you’ve still got questions you need answers to, no worries. You can just call toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.
What should I bring to my first meeting with an accident injury attorney?
Here’s the simplest answer: any document or piece of evidence you think might relate to your case. When your case involves a slip or trip and fall, defective product, medical malpractice, or a loved one who got hurt at a nursing home or assisted living facility, it’s especially important to make sure you can give an accident injury attorney all the facts about how the injury occurred. (We actually have separate articles if you get hurt in a car, motorcycle, or semi-truck accident or get hurt at work.)
Below is a list of items you can gather to bring to your first meeting if you have them. If you don’t, no worries—one of the critical things a good attorney does is a sound investigation to help gather all the evidence you need. This list is ideal, but you don’t need to worry if you’re missing some of these items.
Evidence You Can Bring to Your First Meeting With a Personal Injury Attorney
To help you more, I’ve listed them in the order of importance from my years of experience helping folks like you.
- An accident report, if one exists and if you’ve got it. Sometimes our slip or trip and fall victims get an incident report from where they got hurt. This can be a key piece of information, as it often contains your statement about the incident. Sometimes it even contains what other employees or management said about it, which can be critical evidence. And if you haven’t reported it yet, here's why you need to right now.
- Pictures related to your case. This could be from the scene or depict anything related to your injuries. Folks often don’t have pictures from the scene of a fall, and they certainly don’t have any from how medical malpractice occurred. But if you’ve got severe injuries, some of the most powerful evidence in your case can be pictures showing gory wounds, broken bones, and what your injured limbs look like when stitches or casts are removed. These pictures can often be an important timeline of the treatment you endured to recover from your injuries. It’s also powerful to capture your limitations and suffering, like using crutches, a cane, or a wheelchair, or sleeping in a recliner because your bed hurts due to your injuries.
- Contact information for any witnesses. While you will almost never get helpful statements from anyone who works for the business, hospital, assisted living facility, or doctor who hurt you, some of the most important witnesses in your case can be people in your life who’ve seen your struggle overcoming injuries and the pain and suffering they created. We need to get in touch with them immediately so we can start building your case for pain and suffering—which we really don’t call pain and suffering.
- A short typed or written statement summarizing your accident. Because the facts of an injury are of utmost importance in these cases, it’s vital for you to make sure you’ve had time to think about them and record them, so the attorney has a clear understanding of exactly how you got hurt. That’s how we begin to evaluate whether we can prove fault that opens the possibility for a legal financial recovery for you. Make sure you put “WRITTEN FOR LEGAL ADVICE” on it.
- A medical provider list summarizing your treatment. This helps us figure out who we need to get medical bills and records from faster. It’s especially critical for you to take a little time to compile a complete list if you’ve gone a long time without hiring a lawyer because you’ve undergone extensive treatment from multiple providers over a long time.
- Any communications from an insurance company. This could be letters, emails, or texts. This can give us an idea how they intend to defend against your case. Plus, it lets us know who we need to get in contact with at the insurance company if we represent you, so the claims rep or adjuster knows they don’t deal with you anymore, they deal with us. This is often the first great relief to our clients, who no longer have to worry about falling prey to the adjuster’s dirty tricks.
- Any medical records you have. While we don’t expect anyone to have all or even most of their medical records, if you can share anything you have with us, it’s a help. We may be able to figure out the nature and extent of your injuries, which helps our evaluation. It also gives us valuable contact information for your providers so we can get these records and bills requested faster.
- Any medical bills or proofs of payment you have. Again, this helps us identify providers we need to get bills and records from.
- Information related to your health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare. Hopefully, if you’ve got these options, you’ve used them to pay for your injury care. While you do have to pay them back, this is the best way to pay your accident-related medical bills. Giving us this information lets us get in contact with them so we can begin the subrogation process to repay them and protect you from failing to pay them back.
- If you lost income because you couldn’t work due to your injuries, documentation of lost wages. Many people can’t work as a result of injuries, and you can legally recover your lost wages. If your doctor wrote you out of work, get us any information you have related to this. It may be copies of his excuses, letters, or other documentation of your missed work that could even come from your employer. You can bring us pay stubs or even tax documents if they clearly show the wages you lost. Don’t worry. We’ll make this process easy on you too.
- Copies of your photo ID, such as your driver’s license. We may need this for our file to help identify you.
If you have the time to do it, you can massively impress your personal injury attorney by organizing everything by category into a folder or file. That’ll help attorneys like me, who actually review this information before we meet. When we get that done faster, we can get to answering your questions quicker.
If you’re worried about the meeting, don’t be! If you’re thinking about coming to see me, here’s how that meeting works.
If you’re not ready to meet, you don’t need to worry about that, either. Feel free to call toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form. You’ll get your questions answered by an experienced accident injury attorney.
And if you need a little more encouragement about what it’s like to work with us, check on these reviews from people who actually hired us or just met with us, posted on websites we don’t own: Avvo.com and Google + reviews.
What should I bring to my first meeting with a workers’ compensation attorney?
The best answer is any document or piece of evidence that might relate to your work injury, the medical treatment for it, documents from your employer about it, and any communication from an insurance company about it. I’ve got a list of more specific items below. If you don’t have some or even all these items, don’t worry—one of the most important things a good lawyer does is investigate to get all the information that you don’t have. We’ll get it for you.
But first, congratulations! You’ve made the right decision to take control of your work injury case and get some guidance from a professional on how to handle it. By the way, if you’re still a little anxious about how the meeting will work, you can relax. If it’s with me: just check out this article where I pull back the veil on what our first meeting is like—it’s a strategy session where the keywords are “free” and “easy.”
What You Might Bring
Again, if you don’t have all this, don’t let it stop you from the meeting:
- Any communication from the workers’ comp insurance company. This includes letters, emails, and texts. This helps us identify the adjuster we’ll be going against in your case. You may have already found out the hard way they’re really not on your side.
- Any medical records you have. You almost surely don’t have them all. And that’s okay. We’ll get them for you. But bring anything you have, since this helps us identify providers we need to get records from. Any notes you might have can give us an idea of the nature and extent of your injuries and your work restrictions, which helps us evaluate your case to determine how we can help you.
- A list of medical providers, summarizing your treatment. This streamlines our requesting the records. It’s especially important if you’ve waited a while to consider an attorney, and have received extensive treatment from several providers over a long time.
- Any medical bills workers’ comp didn’t pay. One of the primary benefits of workers’ compensation is free medical care related to your work injury. Sometimes the insurance company doesn’t do its job. We need to make sure they do so that you don’t get saddled with medical debt you should never have.
- A timeline of the work you’ve missed. This helps us protect your right to your weekly check if you’ve been shorted by the insurance company. They may be up to date on your checks. If not, bring any documentation you have of missed work, which might include paystubs showing the times you missed for the injury.
- Your photo ID, like a driver’s license. We may need a copy of this for your file, which can help identify you if that’s required.
- Accident report or documentation of the injury. This may come from your employer. But if you are involved in a car accident while working, it’s at least the form you got from the officer at the scene. You may even have a full crash report. Bring what you have.
- Pictures, if you have them. Most folks don’t have pictures of the scene of the injury because it happens at work where you don’t have a camera—and all you care about is getting to the hospital! But you might have pictures of gory wounds or broken bones, or how your wounds healed as time went on, such as removal of stitches or a cast. These can be useful to document the extent of your injuries. It’s sometimes especially helpful to document things that are hard to describe, like the extent of painful swelling to an ankle that’s “as good as it will get” but still balloons to the size of a grapefruit if you stand it for more than a half-hour.
- Contact info for any witnesses. Witnesses are often unnecessary in these cases because many accidents are admitted. And you don’t have to prove the injury was anyone’s fault. In fact, it can even be yours! Plus, as you might imagine, getting your co-workers to testify against your employer generally just doesn’t work. For what’s it worth, you’re very likely not going against your employer—your benefits usually get paid by an insurance company.
- A quick summary in your own words. IF YOU WANT TO GIVE YOUR LAWYER SOME BONUS INFO, type or write up a short statement summarizing your accident, injuries, and treatment. We cover all that in our first meeting.
- Additional relevant info. We might need a little more information if your injury got caused by someone else who doesn’t work for your employer. The classic example of this is if you drive for work and someone else causes a car crash. In that case, we can pursue the at-fault driver for additional compensation, called a “third-party case.” A third-party case complicates and improves your case at the same time. For a car crash, we will need information about the wreck.
Now you’re ready! If you really want to “wow” your potential lawyer, organize this stuff by category into a folder or file. This saves a tremendous amount of time, so I can hit the ground running in our strategy session and move it as fast as possible for you to get the answers you need.
Take Control of Your Case
Even if you’re not ready to meet with an attorney, you still need your questions answered. You’re an injured amateur against a colossal insurance company, and you need help! We have a lot available for you, and not just on this website. Be sure to download my workers’ compensation book for free, which answers a lot of questions you are likely already asking—or should ask.
It won’t cost you a thing to meet with us, and it certainly won’t cost you anything but a little time to get your questions answered. Call toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form. We’ll get your questions answered and get you pointed in the right direction.
What should I bring to my first meeting with a car, motorcycle, or semi-truck accident attorney?
The easy, short answer is: for your first meeting with a car, motorcycle, or tractor-trailer accident attorney, bring every piece of paper that might be related to your case. If you don’t have many papers, or even any papers, don’t worry—one thing good lawyers do is chase down the evidence. We’ll do it for you! Don’t think you need to delay meeting because you don’t have enough evidence just yet.
Documents and Evidence You Can Bring
To help you get organized for the meeting, below are documents and evidence that are most helpful for an accident attorney to evaluate your case at the first meeting. Again, don’t worry if you don’t have all of these. They are listed pretty much in order of importance:
- Accident or collision report. The officer should have given you a form at the scene. That isn’t actually the full report, but it’s a start. If you have gotten the full report, bring it. Don’t worry if it says you’re at fault—the report could be wrong, and we might be able to right it.
- Pictures of anything related to your case. That includes pictures of your wrecked car and the at-fault driver’s car if you are lucky enough to get that. Pictures from the crash scene can be especially powerful. Pictures of your injuries can speak volumes—especially if you have gory cuts or broken bones. Don’t forget pictures related to your treatment, like cast or stitches removal. Another extremely powerful piece of evidence can be pictures showing your disabilities such as using a cane or walker or sleeping in a recliner.
- Contact information for any witnesses. Hopefully, the most important witnesses are recorded by the investigating officer on the crash report. But we also need witnesses who can testify about their observation of the pain and suffering inflicted on you by the accident, especially any physical difficulties or disabilities as a result.
- A medical provider list summarizing your treatment. This can be especially helpful, especially if you’ve undergone extensive treatment from many providers over a long time. This helps us hit the ground running on getting some of the most important evidence in your case—medical evidence of your injuries from clinical professionals. It also lets us know who we need to request medical bills from so we can help you get compensated for those.
- Letters or emails from insurance companies. This helps identify the claims rep, or adjuster, handling your case, and may give us a clue how they intend to defend against it.
- Any medical records you have. Don’t worry about not having all of your medical records—we can get those for you. But you have any notes from any doctor, bring them along because that helps give us a clue sometimes of the extent of your treatment and the nature of your injuries.
- Medical bills and receipts for payment. This helps us identify providers and prove that you paid them.
- Your health insurance card or your Medicaid or Medicare card. If you have any of these options to pay your medical bills, use them because that’s what they are for and they are the very best option. While you do have to repay them from your settlement, it just works out a whole lot better for you to do it that way, I promise.
- Lost wage documentation, if you lost time from work as a result of the injuries. You can be compensated for lost wages. Try to let us know a rough estimate of the total time you missed from work. You can bring pay stubs or even tax documents proving your lost income.
- Color copies of your photo ID, like a driver’s license. We likely need this for our file. It just helps identify you and may help us find information on the crash using your driver’s license number.
- Your declarations page for your own insurance. This is also called a “dec page.” It summarizes your coverage on your own auto policy. You get it from your auto insurance company when your policy renews. Believe it or not, seriously injured victims can recover compensation from their own insurance policy if they have the right kind of coverage. It’s called underinsurance, or UIM, and you need to KNOW WHAT IT IS. Having this coverage can make all the difference in the world, as shown by these cases we’ve handled:
- Drunk Driving Crash Victim's Settlement Tripled By Extra Coverage
- Attorney Finds More Insurance to Help Severely Injured Kids
- Multiple UIM Policies Used to Help Motorcycle Accident Brain Injury Victim
If you have time, organize everything into different categories and put it in a folder or file. This could save us a whole lot of time getting ready when you come in for your first meeting.
Get Your Questions Answered- Schedule a Free Strategy Session Today
If you’re worried what the meeting will be like, stop. It's free, and I’ve worked very hard to make it a breeze for you. Here’s a sneak peek what goes on at that meeting, which will assure you that gathering this information won’t be for nothing—because I’ll actually read it!
If you’ve got any other questions about crash cases in general, be sure to download my FREE BOOK on crash cases. To get your questions answered, always feel free to call toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.
How is a mediated settlement agreement in family court approved over the objection of the other party?
South Carolina law requires mediation in almost all custody and/or divorce actions before the parties may have a trial on contested issues. As we have previously discussed, the goal of mediation is to reach a settlement agreement between the parties. When this happens, the agreement can and should be produced in writing and signed by the parties and lawyers.
Approving Agreements Over the Objections of One Party
From time to time, one party changes their mind and wishes to repudiate—or back out of—the agreement. When this occurs, the party wishing for the agreement to be approved may seek approval of the settlement agreement notwithstanding the other party’s objection. This makes sense; otherwise, the mandatory mediation loses much of its effectiveness in resolving disputes.
When one party attempts to back out of a mediated settlement agreement, the Court should approve the agreement if it finds four factors have been met:
- Is there an agreement?
- Did the parties freely and voluntarily enter into the agreement?
- Is the agreement fair from procedurally and substantive perspectives?
- Is the agreement detrimental to children? (only if relevant)
Why You Need a Strong Advocate
If you are involved in a divorce and/or custody case, it is important to have a lawyer who will advocate for you. If you have an experienced family court attorney by your side during mediation, you are less likely to be guided down the path where you would wish to back out of an agreement.
Likewise, if you need to enforce an agreement, an experienced family law attorney will know how to present evidence in such a way as to give you the best shot at having the agreement approved. Don’t go at it alone—there is too much at stake.
If you have questions about your divorce and/or custody case, please do not hesitate to call toll-free at 888-230-1841 and set up a consultation with an experienced family court attorney.