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 didn’t take the breath test in my DUI. Will I be automatically convicted?
No. Refusing a DUI breath test can be a hard choice to make in an already intimidating, pressure-filled situation, but it’s most likely the right thing to do.
You don’t know anything about that machine known as the “breathalyzer.” (The actual name for South Carolina’s breath test machine is the DataMaster.) And don’t forget who asked you to take the test—the officers who want to convict you. Do you really think it’s intended to help you? How do you know it even works?
You’re likely better off fighting it at trial—with a skilled advocate to level the playing field for you. You’ve got rights.
At your DUI trial, the judge should instruct the jury along these lines:
- You, as a citizen charged with a crime, never have to prove your innocence. You don’t have to produce a shred of evidence or a word of testimony. Instead, the police must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- You have the legal right to refuse the test.
The jury is free to decide what importance they want to place on your refusal to take the breath test. That’s why you need an experienced DUI trial lawyer who can explain the refusal in your favor. There are solid reasons we’ve presented at trial for years.
In our experience, refusing the test removes the focus from an untrustworthy, malfunctioning machine and puts it on what DUIs are really about: your driving and whether you acted impaired.
It’s not about field sobriety tests, either.
To win, you need a professional to find the defenses you don’t even know about. For more on those and questions you should be asking, check out my FREE DUI REPORT.
What evidence should I get from the police or prosecutor in my drug case?
Everyone charged with a crime in South Carolina has a right to discovery, meaning access to all of the evidence in your case—both good and bad. It’s called discovery after the motion you file to get it.
Drug cases require specific evidence to convict you. Remember the State’s got to prove you guilty, so they’ve got to produce the evidence. You don’t have to produce a thing.
Let’s look at some typical evidence we expect in drug cases.
Drug Case Evidence
- If your case involves a traffic stop, the officer’s in-car video camera footage. Many drug cases can be won by an experienced criminal defense attorney finding hidden, highly technical defenses here.
- Chain of custody reports showing who took drugs from you and what they did with them. These can provide a sharp legal mind with the missing link to win your case.
- Crime lab drug test reports verifying the identity of the drugs after scientific testing.
- Reports proving the reason behind the severity of your charge— the weight of the drugs.
- Reports proving the alleged “reliability” of a confidential informant, if one’s involved in your case.
- Video or pictures of police drug buys.
- If you’re charged with drugs in proximity of or near a school, documents that name the school and provide maps or measurements to show how close you were to it.
- If your case involves a search warrant, a copy of the warrant and evidence related to how police got it. Sometimes, police fail to observe extremely precise legal requirements that a skilled drug defense lawyer can find and use to get the case thrown out.
- If your case involves a drug dog, evidence related to the reliability of the dog. If the dog’s unreliable, the State might not be able to rely on the dog to convict you, meaning the drug charge gets thrown out.
Now You’ve Got the Evidence, What Do You Do With It?
Your ability to escape a conviction—and even prison—can’t depend on your hope that the prosecutor will throw you a bone or just forget about your case.
Prosecutors think these cases are easy. You need an experienced professional who can show them why your case is hard. That takes a detailed analysis of discovery and a sound legal strategy.
And some of the most important analysis might be a review of the evidence the State didn’t provide. Failure to provide vital discovery can result in evidence being excluded from trial, which can earn you a deal you can live with or even a dismissal.
If you’ve got questions about drug discovery or anything else related to your drug charges, call toll free 888-230-1841 to set up a free, no pressure strategy session described in this brief video or to get your questions answered over the phone.
My mom caused a wreck when I rode with her, and I got badly hurt. Do I still have a case?
Yes. There’s no legal exception for family members who hurt relatives by causing an auto accident. And there shouldn’t be—of all the people who should look after your safety, it’s your relatives!
You don’t have to worry about them paying your medical bills out of their own pockets, either. Their auto liability insurance will do that. By the way, you should use health insurance to pay your bills because it’s a good deal, and it helps you.
You may have access to more insurance than you think to help pay for your injuries. If you’re hurt bad enough, you hopefully have the most important auto insurance of all—underinsurance (UIM)—on your own policy.
If making this claim against a family member makes you uncomfortable, that’s natural. But should your discomfort keep you from replacing your losses, especially when it comes from insurance that’s paid for to cover them?
A chief unspoken benefit of having a lawyer you trust is that we take on the things that make you uncomfortable, so you don’t have to. We protect your rights to maximum compensation, search for all insurance that could cover your injuries, and handle the insurance representative who’s out to take advantage of you.
If you’ve got questions about a wreck, we know you need answers. That’s why I wrote a free book you can download called I Just Got In A South Carolina Car Accident, Now What? And you can always fill out our Get Help Now form to get answers from an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer.
I don’t trust the person handling the estate for my father’s fatal accident case. Can that be changed?
Maybe. Dealing with an accidental death case is a struggle to begin with. But when you’re eligible to recover for your suffering and financial loss and doubt the estate representative is looking out for your best interests, it creates anxiety you can’t afford.
There are two potential ways to get a different estate representative.
Removing the Personal Representative
“Personal Representative” (PR) is the term for the estate representative. South Carolina law allows removal of one under limited circumstances. You’ve got to prove to a probate court judge at a hearing that removal is justified because the PR:
- intentionally misstated important facts in the proceedings leading to appointment,
- disregarded an order of the court,
- has become incapable of handling PR duties,
- mismanaged the estate, or
- failed to perform any PR duty.
If you can’t prove that, there’s another option you might use.
Getting a Special Administrator
This allows the PR to remain in place but transfers responsibility for the wrongful death case to a Special Administrator.
If the PR contests having a Special Administrator, it requires proving to a probate court judge at a hearing that a Special Administrator is needed to preserve the estate or protect its proper administration.
We’ve had a case where family members came to us out of fear the PR would cut them out of a settlement. We reached an agreement with the PR naming our client as Special Administrator to protect the family’s interests.
Either Way, You Need a Skilled Attorney
You can’t expect a PR to let go of a court appointment without a fight. And you’ve got a lot at stake in the hands of someone you don’t trust. It could cost you the financial stability you need.
You need your own professional. If you’re worried about a PR shortchanging you or have any other questions, fill out our Get Help Now form to get answers from an experienced wrongful death attorney.
I fell and got hurt at a business. Should I report it?
Yes, immediately. When you fall and get seriously hurt, it’s embarrassing—and you do need to get medical treatment fast.
But you’ve got to tell the business, restaurant, store, or wherever you fell immediately, or as soon as possible. Here are key reasons to notify the business:
- It lets them know they’ve got a dangerous condition on their floors that is a threat to other customers. You don’t want it to happen to someone else.
- It tells them you expect them to be accountable for your injuries. They can notify their insurance company to set up your claim. You will get the ball rolling on getting your case started. But beware the insurance adjuster who will soon call you.
- It prevents them from asserting a favorite “defense”: “You never told us you got hurt!” It’s not really a defense, though, because it doesn’t disprove the dangerous condition or the fact that you got hurt. But the defense uses it to make your whole case look “fishy,” hoping skeptical jurors will disbelieve you.
Yes, it’s wrong. Yes, it ignores the reality that your priority was getting medical relief from immense pain. Still, it can work to hurt your case. Protect yourself by reporting your injury ASAP.
- It gives them a chance to do their own investigation. This can yield evidence like employee statements and incident reports that can help your case.
- BEST OF ALL, it puts them on notice that they should preserve evidence related to your fall. That could include surveillance video that’s the key to your entire case.
The best way to protect your right to this vital evidence is hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to do it for you.
This Is Only the Beginning
If you fall and get seriously hurt, expect the business to fight tooth and nail. You’ve accused them of ignoring unsafe conditions for customers, and the insurance company knows these cases can be tough to win.
At Holland & Usry, we’re not afraid of taking on severely injured fall victims’ cases. We know how to prove them and how to build a convincing picture of your injuries to help win your case. Fill out our Get Help Now form to get your questions answered or call our toll-free line at 1-888-230-1841 to schedule a free strategy session to plan your road to justice.
Should I talk to or cooperate with an insurance adjuster about my accident injury claim?
It depends. The first thing to remember is the adjuster works for the liability insurance company that insures the person, place, or business that’s responsible for hurting you. For example, if you or your child got hurt in a dog bite case, it’s likely the adjuster works for the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company.
The second thing to remember is the adjuster’s driving force is to pay as little as possible, as fast as possible. The faster they pay you, the less chance there is for you to ask for more—like if you need more medical treatment. And once you sign the documents to get the settlement money, you can’t expect any more—ever—even if you later find out you’re hurt worse than you thought.
Here are some tips on dealing with the adjuster now or retaining a professional to do it for you:
- If you have serious injuries like an inpatient hospitalization, surgery, a broken bone, or got a referral to a medical specialist, you’re at high risk to be taken advantage of by the insurance adjuster. The more they have to pay, the harder they fight you. First, the adjuster fights to pay you cheap and quick. If that fails, adjusters fight against paying you what’s right. Because your case will be more medically complicated, you’ve got to know how to handle medical evidence and present it the right way to prove the extent of your injuries. You’ve also got to keep up with how your injury affects your life over time and know how to present a convincing picture of it to persuade them to pay. Don’t risk selling yourself or your family short because you don’t know how to handle your case. That’s what professionals are for. You need an experienced personal injury attorney for the same reasons you need a medical team—this problem’s too big for an amateur to fix.
- If you don’t have a serious injury—maybe you have soreness or a sprain that only requires a visit to the ER, a couple of visits to your doctor, and even a little physical therapy—you may be able to handle the adjuster by yourself. And if you do, here's tips on how to handle the adjuster, written for a car crash case, but the advice is still the same.
- If you are unsure how seriously you are hurt, don’t consider talking to the adjuster until you KNOW. That way, you can make an informed decision about whether it’s safer for you to talk to the adjuster or talk to an attorney first. Believe it or not, I had a case where my client told an adjuster he felt okay, only to discover he needed a spinal operation!
I’m not afraid of the truth: people don’t want to hire attorneys. They don’t want to go to the doctor, either. But sometimes you just need one.
If you’ve been seriously hurt or just have questions about an injury accident case, fill out our Get Help Now form at the top of this page, call our office at 888-230-1841 or start a live chat. You’ll get answers from an experienced attorney who’s devoted to helping folks just like you.
If I can get into the Solicitor’s Intervention Program for domestic violence charges, what will I have to do and how much does it cost?
It depends. But before I tell you what the program involves, remember what it does: it gets the domestic violence charge dismissed AND wiped off your criminal record. Clients I’ve qualified for the program agree it doesn’t get much better than that.
Here are more specifics about the components and cost of the Solicitor’s Intervention Program (SIP).
What SIP Consists Of
Certain parts of the program are mandatory, while others are used only if the program deems it necessary for you. Here are some typical components of the program:
- Batterer’s Treatment Program, also called “anger management,” is generally once a week for 1.5 hours per class. It takes 26 weeks to complete. This class is mandatory, as it’s the centerpiece of the program.
- Alcohol or substance abuse counseling. You may be required to do this if there are allegations of drug or alcohol use involved in the incident.
- Random drug screens. Again, these may only be required if there are allegations of drug use.
- Mental health evaluation, with the requirement for you to abide by any doctor’s orders. This is not mandatory for every participant, but it may be used if there are mental health concerns from the incident.
- Community service. This is often required. The program may allow you to “buy” up to 30 hours if you have a full-time job or multiple part-time jobs that equal around 40 hours a week. One hour costs $5. Often, the program lets you choose where you want to do the service, so it’s a great chance for you to give back to a place that’s meaningful to you.
- Monthly reporting to a program representative assigned to your case. It’s basically a checkup to make sure you’re completing the program on time and to see how you’re doing overall. You’ll likely do this.
- “Get Smart” program, a presentation by prison inmates about how their crimes affected their lives and the lives of others so that you won’t make the same mistakes. This is often required.
- Written assignment on law and accountability. It’s basically an essay on what you learned from your experience and possibly how it affected you and others. You should count on doing this.
While this might seem like a lot, my clients seem to disagree. I’ve never gotten any complaints that this was too much to do to get the result the program offers.
The Cost of SIP
Here are the costs associated with the program, which you pay over time:
- $100 application fee. This is due when you apply to see if the program will let you in.
- $250 participation fee. Once you’re accepted into the program, you pay this fee. It usually occurs 4-6 weeks after you have paid the application fee.
- Batterers Treatment/Anger Management is $25-$35 per class, depending on which program you get assigned.
- Random drug screens cost $25 per test, but those fees might not be due until the end of the program.
- The last, best cost: expungement order processing fee of around $285. While this is optional, it is the best government fee you’ll ever pay because it gets the charge wiped off your record. Once this processing fee is paid, several weeks later, you’ll get a court order directing law enforcement agencies to remove the charge from your criminal record and destroy all reports of it except for one, which is kept at State Law Enforcement Division headquarters in Columbia for the sole purpose of making sure you don’t go through the SIP program again.
Give Yourself the Best Shot at Wiping the Slate Clean
While it’s a government program, SIP is far from a handout. You’ve got to convince up to three opponents that they should drop the case against you and give you a shot at a new start. You may be facing an angry victim, a determined officer, and a hard-nosed prosecutor—and they don’t want to give up the gratification of a conviction against you.
To give yourself the best shot at a new start, you need a professional who can handle convincing these folks to let go. If you’re wondering what it’s like for us to handle your case, check out the reviews on a website I don’t own. It won’t cost you a thing to sit down with me to get your questions answered—and for the first time in your case, you’ll be talking to a professional whose job it is to get you to a brighter day. To start building your defense, call us at 888-230-1841.
The workers’ comp doctor told me I’m as good as I’ll get and he’ll release me, but I’m convinced I need more treatment. Is there anything I can do?
Few things in a work injury case can make you feel as frightened or helpless as the doctor releasing you when you’re convinced there’s more that can be done to make you better.
But just because that doctor gives up doesn’t mean you should. This is your only case to fix the only body you’ll ever get. It’s time to fight for it!
And yes, there’s a very good option you should use—a second opinion. However, you should be cautious and expect the insurance company to oppose it. After all, you’re telling the insurance company you want it to spend more—maybe tens of thousands more—to help you, right after it gets wind the doctor’s ready to close the book on you. Rest assured the insurance company won’t greet the request looking to lend a helping hand. But not only is it worth considering, it’s worth doing right the first time.
A second opinion can make a big difference in your case, but you should meet with an experienced workers’ comp attorney to help you make the best case to get it. You may end up fighting for it at a contested hearing. Don’t risk wrecking your case because you don’t know better.
Seek Help With A Workers’ Comp Second Opinion to Get More Medical Treatment
Fill out our Get Help Now form at the top of the page or call 888-230-1841 to get your questions answered by a skilled workers’ comp attorney. It could be the difference between restored health and a lifetime of regret.
Are there any laws about safe tractor-trailer tires, and are truckers trained to handle blowouts?
Yes and yes.
Federal regulations help keep highways and interstates safe by setting minimum standards for tires. The standards include:
- No hazardous defects. Tires cannot have belt material exposed through the tread or sidewall, show tread or sidewall separation, or leak audibly.
- Minimum tread depth. For front wheels, tread groove pattern depths must be at least 4/32 of an inch on major tread grooves. Other wheels must have a depth of at least 2/32 of an inch.
The regulations expect truckers to inspect tire safety before every trip in an effort to prevent tragic accidents. And breaking these laws creates the potential for punitive damages.
Truckers Know How to Safely Handle a Tire Blowout
Tire blowouts can cause an 80,000-pound road monster to careen out of control. The South Carolina Commercial Driver’s License manual teaches truck drivers to recognize and respond to tire blowouts.
- Recognition. Tire blowouts often come with a loud “bang.” They can also make the semi thump or vibrate. When a front tire fails, the steering can feel heavy. Frighteningly, rear-tire failure can cause the trailer to slide back and forth uncontrollably in a violent fishtail.
- Response. In a blowout, the truck driver must hold the steering wheel firmly. This is especially true for a front-tire blowout, which can twist the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands. Truckers must resist the urge to brake—hard braking could actually cause loss of control.
Take Action If the Trucker or Trucking Company Didn’t
If you get hurt or worse, lose a loved one in a fatal accident, you can hold the trucker and possibly the trucking company accountable.
If you need questions answered, fill out our Get Help Now form or call 888-230-1841 to set up a free strategy session with an experienced trucking accident lawyer.
How could a tractor-trailer have brakes bad enough to cause an accident?
It’s almost beyond belief—the idea a massive machine the size of 40 elephants, moving at interstate speeds, can’t stop itself. But it’s a real problem, often worsened by the twin evils of speeding and tailgating.
A joint government-sponsored study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed just how big that problem is. The study looked at a representative sample of nearly one thousand tractor-trailer crashes and concluded deficient or failed brakes contributed to an estimated 29% of crashes.
The sad truth is, a variety of factors can cause semi-truck brakes to fail or go bad, causing tragic wrecks. But there are two issues we look for first:
- Inadequate inspections. I’ve written before on federal law requiring pre-trip inspections as well as the inspection processes that have been put in place to promote highway safety. In the federal regulation containing the items to be inspected, the first one listed is the brakes. Careless or nonexistent inspections can overlook faulty brakes. Both the trucker and the trucking company can be held legally accountable for these poor inspections. And proving a safety regulation violation caused the crash enhances a victim's ability to obtain punitive damages.
- Poor maintenance. Finding a brake problem is just half the battle. Turning a brake problem over to a poorly trained or incompetent mechanic won’t solve the problem. Federal law also tries to protect us from this by providing minimum qualifications for big rig brake mechanics. These qualifications include successful completion of an approved apprenticeship or training program.
If you’re involved in a tractor-trailer accident, you can rest assured the trucker won’t volunteer the cause of the crash—just like his insurance company won’t volunteer to pay your medical bills. Get a trained professional who wants to help you. Fill out our Get Help now form, or call toll free 888-230-1841 to start getting some answers and building your case.