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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What are the factors the courts consider in equitable division of marital assets and debts?
South Carolina law sets forth factors for the court to consider when dividing married folks’ assets and debts. The factors the court considers are as follows:
(1) the duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance or other marital action between the parties;
(2) marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce as such, if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage; provided, that no evidence of personal conduct which would otherwise be relevant and material for purposes of this subsection shall be considered with regard to this subsection if such conduct shall have taken place subsequent to the happening of the earliest of:
(a) entry of a pendente lite order in a divorce or separate maintenance action;
(b) formal signing of a written property or marital settlement agreement; or
(c) entry of a permanent order of separate maintenance and support or of a permanent order approving a property or marital settlement agreement between the parties;
(3) the value of the marital property, whether the property be within or without the State. The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in value of the marital property, including the contribution of the spouse as homemaker; provided, that the court shall consider the quality of the contribution as well as its factual existence;
(4) the income of each spouse, the earning potential of each spouse, and the opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets;
(5) the health, both physical and emotional, of each spouse;
(6) the need of each spouse or either spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouses' income potential;
(7) the nonmarital property of each spouse;
(8) the existence or nonexistence of vested retirement benefits for each or either spouse;
(9) whether separate maintenance or alimony has been awarded;
(10) the desirability of awarding the family home as part of equitable distribution or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the spouse having custody of any children;
(11) the tax consequences to each or either party as a result of any particular form of equitable apportionment;
(12) the existence and extent of any support obligations, from a prior marriage or for any other reason or reasons, of either party;
(13) liens and any other encumbrances upon the marital property, which themselves must be equitably divided, or upon the separate property of either of the parties, and any other existing debts incurred by the parties or either of them during the course of the marriage;
(14) child custody arrangements and obligations at the time of the entry of the order; and
(15) such other relevant factors as the trial court shall expressly enumerate in its order.
Why You Need to Consult an Attorney
When facing the breakdown of a marriage, many things are at stake—one of which is the apportionment of marital assets and debts. The court can make a determination as to who receives the marital home, decide whether or not retirement accounts are divided, address ownership of family businesses, and divide any other asset which is deemed marital property. Likewise, the court can require one party to be responsible for certain debts over the other, and vice versa. For this reason, when you are facing a divorce or other marital litigation where the division of assets and debts needs to be determined, you must have an attorney who can advocate for you.
Your attorney should be able to explain the factors as set forth above and how they are often considered by the courts. Additionally, your attorney needs to know how to best present evidence to the family court as to the facts in your case and how they are applied to the factors for consideration in order to obtain the best possible result for you under the circumstances.
If you have questions about divorce or would like to discuss the division of assets and debts, please call toll-free 888-230-1841 to set up a consultation.
Will my accident injury settlement affect my Social Security Disability benefits?
It depends. Folks who receive Social Security Disability need those monthly benefits—it might be the only income you can get due to a disabling health condition or prior injury. The law doesn’t discourage Social Security Disability recipients from seeking justice, but you’ve got to protect your rights—or your settlement could create a financial strain you can’t afford.
Here’s How a Settlement Could Affect Your Social Security Disability Benefits
If you’re hurt on the job, monthly Social Security benefits can be reduced by your workers’ compensation settlement, even if you don’t get Social Security until after your workers’ compensation case is over. But there’s good news! An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will know how to minimize that reduction with an important legal maneuver. The resulting money put back in your pocket makes the workers’ compensation case well worth pursuing.
Any other accident settlement may impact you, depending on the type of benefits you're getting.
- If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the settlement has NO effect on your benefits. Whether it’s a car or motorcycle accident, an 18-wheeler or commercial truck crash, a slip or trip and fall, medical malpractice, or any other type of injury, your settlement won’t reduce your benefits at all.
- If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your benefits could be impacted. You must report the settlement to Social Security. You'll need to take that into consideration and get professional legal advice on the best way to minimize the effect.
One important thing to remember if you’re on disability—don’t forget Medicare or Medicaid, because they won’t forget you. You’ve got a looming disaster hanging over your case if you don’t properly protect Medicare or Medicaid’s rights. And if you’re on Medicare, your case may require a complicated negotiation with Medicare about future medical treatment related to your injury, called a Medicare Set-Aside.
The takeaway here is, Social Security Disability recipients are just as worthy of compensation for your medical bills and injuries as anyone else, but your case has an extra wrinkle for those disability benefits.
If You’re Seriously Hurt, Don’t Risk It Going Alone
Though you have the right to pursue your case, you’ve still got to make sure you do it right—and be certain you protect your Social Security Disability rights at the same time. Here are the best reasons to hire an injury attorney or car accident attorney.
If you’re on Social Security Disability and get seriously hurt, your case has a lot of moving parts. Get started now on free advice from a professional who’s experienced at solving problems like yours. It will only cost you a little time to get your questions answered—call us toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form for a free strategy session about your case.
You can also scout us out with real client reviews on an attorney review service we don’t own.
What are the factors in determining child custody in South Carolina?
South Carolina law requires that family court judges consider the best interest of a child or children in making a custody determination. The courts are provided 17 factors that they may consider in making such a determination. A family court judge is not precluded from considering other factors if he/she believes they are relevant in considering the child’s best interest.
Factors Used to Determine Child Custody in South Carolina
Factors set forth by South Carolina law to consider in a child custody case are:
- the temperament and developmental needs of the child;
- the capacity and the disposition of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child;
- the preferences of each child;
- the wishes of the parents as to custody;
- the past and current interaction and relationship of the child with each parent, the child's siblings, and any other person, including a grandparent, who may significantly affect the best interest of the child;
- the actions of each parent to encourage the continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, as is appropriate, including compliance with court orders;
- the manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents' dispute;
- any effort by one parent to disparage the other parent in front of the child;
- the ability of each parent to be actively involved in the life of the child;
- the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community environments;
- the stability of the child's existing and proposed residences;
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, must not be determinative of custody unless the proposed custodial arrangement is not in the best interest of the child;
- the child's cultural and spiritual background;
- whether the child or a sibling of the child has been abused or neglected;
- whether one parent has perpetrated domestic violence or child abuse or the effect on the child of the actions of an abuser if any domestic violence has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual or between the parent and the child;
- whether one parent has relocated more than one hundred miles from the child's primary residence in the past year, unless the parent relocated for safety reasons; and
- other factors as the court considers necessary.
One of the most important issues a family court attorney deals with is the issue of custody. The development of children into healthy and prosperous adults is all any parent can ask for.
How We Can Help
If you are facing a custody dispute, it is important to have an attorney who will advocate for you. Your attorney should be able to explain the factors as set forth above and how they are often considered by the courts. You need an attorney who knows how to present evidence to the family court as to these factors to present the best case possible for you under the circumstances in your custody case.
If you have questions about custody, please do not hesitate to call toll-free 888-230-1841 to set up a consultation to discuss your legal rights with an attorney.
What are the grounds for divorce in South Carolina?
South Carolina law recognizes five grounds for divorce. Four of these are fault ground and one is a no-fault ground. The grounds are as follows:
- One-year continuous separation (no-fault ground)
- Desertion for a period of one year (rarely used because of the availability of the no-fault divorce)
- Physical cruelty
- Habitual drunkenness which also includes the use of narcotic drugs
All five of the grounds above require corroboration although, generally speaking, it requires stronger evidence to prove the four fault grounds. The one-year continuous separation divorce cannot be filed until after the parties have been apart for one year. Adultery, drunkenness, and physical cruelty can be filed while the parties are residing together.
How the Grounds for Divorce Affect Your Case
The obtaining of a fault ground divorce may have an impact on equitable division, alimony, custody, and other issues. Certain defenses may be available to the spouse alleged to have committed behavior entitling the other to a fault ground divorce. If grounds are unavailable to a spouse who wishes to institute an action in the family court, they may file a Decree of Separate Maintenance action to address things such as child and financial related matters, however, they must be separated from their spouse.
If you have questions about the various grounds for divorce, please do not hesitate to call toll-free at 888-230-1841 to set up a consultation to discuss your legal rights with an attorney.
Can I sue a drunk driver for a car accident?
Yes. Your case will be complicated because it involves both aspects of the American justice system: criminal and civil. Worse, it’ll also involve an insurance company with no desire to do right by you.
- The criminal case is brought by the State to convict and punish the DUI driver. If convicted, the defendant faces fines or even prison if someone got seriously hurt. But this aspect of the law won’t require the defendant to compensate you for all your losses and harm.
- The civil case fills that gap by giving you the right to compensation for your injuries, like property damage to your car, medical bills, lost wages, damage to your marriage, human loss, and potentially the biggest factor in your case, punitive damages.
Why DUI Wreck Victims Should Hire An Experienced Lawyer
In the criminal case, the State has a lawyer called a solicitor or prosecutor, to help convict the driver. While that lawyer is on your side, she isn’t your personal lawyer. She can’t bring a civil case to compensate you.
There’s a lot of reasons you need an attorney of your own, but here are six major ones:
- The key reason is the DUI driver has a major advantage over you: he’s backed by a multi-billion dollar monster—his auto insurance company. It’s got one goal in your case: stonewall you and beat you down into a cheap settlement. Their claims representatives prey on folks who don’t know their rights or are just too hurt to fight. (Read about the tricks up their sleeves.) To avoid cheating yourself out of the money you and your family deserve and likely need, hire a professional of your own to level the playing field and go on the offensive. If the adjuster finds out, he'll fight to prevent it- find out why, and how to handle these tactics.
- You’ll especially benefit from a drunk driving accident attorney who can find and develop the evidence supporting punitive damages to increase your settlement, even if you’re not hurt in the crash- you can discover how we've done that in a real case. An experienced car crash lawyer can get evidence from the criminal case to potentially enhance your settlement. You need an attorney who knows what to look for and how to use it. The key is knowing how to present it to the insurance company in a convincing way to compel a good settlement.
- An experienced DUI car accident attorney can give you the most vital guidance on a solid settlement value. Valuing a case is an art and a science. To gain the peace of mind it’s done right, you need a professional.
- A skilled car accident attorney can help find all aspects of auto insurance coverage available to pay your settlement. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance, hopefully you’ve got coverage on your own policy called underinsurance. While the available underinsurance may bring initial relief, I’ll spare you the shock on how this turns out—your own insurance company turns against you to contest your claim as if they were the insurance company for the at-fault driver.
- To add insult to injury, some DUI victims are shocked to learn the at-fault driver didn’t even have insurance. In that situation, you can use your own policy, with a coverage called uninsurance. Again, just because it’s your own insurance company, they are not your friend anymore.
- You also need an investigation into where the defendant drank alcohol. If he got drunk at a bar that let him drive away, you might have a case against the bar. An experienced attorney can help you find this needle in the haystack.
There’s a Lot More to Your Case
I’ve written a book answering many questions car crash victims ask—and need to ask, but don’t know to. Download the book I’ve written as service to folks like you.
The truth is, without professional help, you’re just not much of a threat to an insurance company. Why play around? Call me toll-free at 888-230-1841 to schedule a free strategy session to start building your case or fill out a Get Help Now form to get your questions answered.
If you’re wondering what it is like to work with me, check out these reviews from folks I’ve worked with on a website I don’t own.
Can I make a claim or sue for a hit-and-run accident in South Carolina?
Yes, but South Carolina law contains some harsh requirements you need to know, or you will lose your rights:
- Report the accident to the police immediately. It’s best to notify the law enforcement agency that would ordinarily investigate the crash at its location. It could be local police, the sheriff’s department, or the highway patrol.
- If you suspect you know who hit you, or you know someone else like a witness who might know, report it. You can’t be careless in helping police determine the identity of the other car or the identity of the other driver.
- Here’s a shocking inside tip: if your crash wasn’t caused by physical contact with the unknown vehicle, you need an independent witness to the crash. What kinds of crashes are we talking about here? The classic example is getting run off the road into a tree by a driver who just keeps going. No, he never hit you, but he ran you into the tree. That witness must sign an affidavit—a sworn statement—describing the facts of the hit-and-run accident. The affidavit must contain a specific disclaimer: “A false statement concerning the facts contained in this affidavit may subject the person making the false statement to criminal penalties as provided by law.”
A Real Spoiler Alert: Where the Money Comes From
This is the first shock many victims get. The compensation for your injuries comes from your own policy. It’s good that the law provides the right to recover from a policy you paid for when you get victimized by an unknown driver. But, it soon becomes stunning for many victims when their own insurance company turns on them. That’s when many realize while the agent is their friend when she sells them the policy, the insurance company becomes an enemy when they try to use it.
These cases are like any other case. You’ve got to fight for yourself and make sure all your evidence is properly presented to give yourself the best shot at proper compensation. That’s why it's always a good idea to contact an experienced auto accident attorney before you consider dealing with the insurance claims rep, called an adjuster.
Going It Alone Can Get You Nothing, or Close to It
While the law seems to further victimize the victim, it’s got to be followed, or you could lose your right to compensation you might desperately need to repay medical bills and make up for lost income, not to mention what I call human loss and, potentially, what could be a huge issue in your case the insurance company will fight hard against—punitive damages.
If you’ve got questions about your auto accident case, download our FREE BOOK on crash cases.
Don’t risk losing your rights or cheating yourself from inexperience. Enlist a professional whose job it is to protect you by calling toll-free at 888-230-1841 or by filling out a Get Help Now form.
What happens when a semi-truck crash causes a brain injury, and what should I do about it?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be a tragic consequence of a horrific big rig accident. It throws victims and families into what can be a terrifying life-or-death struggle, followed by hard, confusing medical decisions about the future. And over it all, the legal whirlwind looms.
We want to be a resource for you, so here’s a compilation of free information on brain injuries and the legal system pulled from our website.
How Accidents Cause Brain Injuries and How They Get Diagnosed
To get free information, just click the link:
- How accidents can cause Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
- Parts of the brain and how injury to them affects you
- Brain injury warning signs
- Common types of traumatic brain injuries from accidents
- Concussion defined and symptoms
- Initial tests to determine brain injury severity
- Common tests and scans used to more definitively diagnose TBIs
Potential Long-Term Treatment for Brain Injuries
- Typical brain injury medical care and rehab
- Meet the brain injury care team
- Specialized neuropsychological testing can help determine the extent of the injury, and how to treat it
- How to pay medical bills for brain injury care
Now for the “Legal Stuff,” Which Is Second Only to Medical Care
Even as you struggle with your injury—or your family member’s injury—the clock begins ticking on your legal rights. The sooner you act to preserve them, the better. Believe it or not, delay risks evidence disappearing. And sadly, trucking companies and their insurance companies plant their heels in the ground to battle seriously hurt victims. Their goal is to take advantage of your inexperience, ignorance, desperation, or fatigue to get away with a cheap settlement.
To prevent that for you, here are a few more vital resources:
- Our trucking page highlights the complexity of these cases and arms you with free information about them.
- Our FREE BOOK on crash cases contains a chapter on 18-wheeler wrecks.
- To get your questions answered, call toll free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.
We are here for you and we want you to feel comfortable about contacting us—check out these reviews to see what we're like from clients, and even people who didn’t hire us.
I was in an accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury. How will I possibly pay all the medical bills for it?
It depends, but don’t be frightened it’ll all come from your pocket. You’ve likely got some good options to help you pay them.
If Your Brain Injury Is From a Work Accident
Stop worrying—this should all be paid by your job’s workers’ compensation insurance.
For more answers to questions you may have—or should have—about work injuries, download our FREE BOOK on workers' comp cases.
If You Were Hurt in an Accident Outside Work
1. Health insurance. If you’ve got it, use it. This is what it’s for. And, it pays a whole lot quicker than an injury case settlement, which can be a long and drawn-out process.
Using it will keep you from worrying if your medical care will get cut off for lack of funds. While you may have to repay health insurance from your settlement, it’s still your best bet.
2. Medicare, Medicaid, or other government benefits. Use this for the same reasons as number 1 above.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’ve got health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or other government benefits, DO NOT take “no” for an answer from a provider who says they’ll just wait to get paid from your settlement. Explain to them they agreed to take these benefits long before you got hurt, and that’s what they’re for. If they still refuse, just politely tell them you will call your health benefits provider to help them get it straightened out.
Remember, you’re doing nothing wrong—you’re just trying to help the system work the way it should, and most importantly, protect yourself.
You need to keep providers out of your settlement as much as possible. You’ll need that money to make up for lost income- especially lost future income- and potentially help pay for future medical care.
3. Ask the hospital for help. Hospitals know brain injury care can bankrupt most patients and the hospital needs to be paid, too.
Many hospitals have a “benefits coordinator” or similar person whose job is helping folks like you.
Even if you’ve got a pay source, you should talk with the benefits coordinator. She might be able to find financial aid or bill forgiveness programs within the hospital to wipe out medical debt, or help you qualify for public assistance or government benefits to help pay.
The benefits coordinator might offer much-needed help in pointing you to programs that give aid and support to brain injury survivors and their families.
We’re Here to Help
Figuring out how to pay for brain injury care is just the tip of the iceberg. Due to the huge costs and losses from these injuries, you need a legal professional to protect your right to the compensation you need.
Don’t risk sinking your one chance at securing payment of past and future medical care, plus compensation for lost income and the harm done to your life.
You need answers. You might not even know the right questions to ask. We can help you with your legal problems and help you get support for the others associated with brain injury. To get an idea of how we treat people, read the reviews on a website we don’t own. To contact us, do what’s easiest for you, call toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.
Who can be a tractor-trailer safety expert witness in my accident case, and how can I afford one ?
A tractor-trailer safety expert can help your case in many ways, as I’ve pointed out before.
Your attorney should be able to find one for you. It can be hard for an attorney, even an experienced one, to know what trucking safety issues will arise in your case. Ideally, your lawyer will look for an expert witness with many years working in the trucking industry, handling a variety of matters commonly found in these cases.
Qualifications for Tractor-Trailer Safety Expert Witnesses
In general, not just anyone can be one. Expert witnesses must satisfy a surpisingly high legal standard to a judge before they can testify in court as an expert. Here are some basic qualifications your expert will likely need:
- Work experience. An excellent candidate might’ve owned a trucking company. He or she should’ve held an executive or supervisor-level position in the industry, like serving as a safety director or human resources officer or personnel director.
- Court experience. Extensive experience testifying as an expert helps, too.
The key is whether the expert is an authoritative witness the jury will believe knows what he or she is testifying about.
How Much Money Will I Need?
Like most experts, the typical tractor-trailer safety expert may charge a retainer fee, then get paid at an hourly rate for the time spent working on your case.
Luckily, you shouldn’t need any of your own money. Your attorney pays the expert for you, then gets paid back from your settlement or verdict as part of your contingency fee agreement.
Hire a Lawyer You Trust—Because That’s Who Hires the Expert
Skilled attorneys choose experts carefully, aiming for the right mix of experience and communication skills to explain complicated things clearly and simply.
Here are tips on hiring an experienced accident attorney you can trust. If you want to know what it’s like to work with us, check out these reviews on a website we don’t own.
Can I be arrested based on an anonymous tip?
Maybe, but a tipster can’t just “call in” an arrest—police must prove an anonymous tip is reliable before they act on it.
In the real world, an anonymous tipster needs a crystal ball—and verification by police that the tipster is telling the truth.
Evidence Police Need to Act on an Anonymous Tip
Courts are mainly concerned with the reliability of anonymous tips. Plainly stated, the law doesn’t like these shadowy figures—maintaining a secret identity makes it easy to lie. So, the law’s installed some protections.
Before the police can rely on an anonymous tip, basically two things must happen:
- The tipster must reveal their crystal ball and predict how the suspect will act in the future.
- Police have to verify it.
Let’s see how it works using real cases.
When an Anonymous Tip Proved Reliable
In a 1990 United States Supreme Court case called Alabama v. White, the Supreme Court validated an arrest based on an anonymous phone tip. Why? The caller gave highly specific information about what the suspect would do in the future. The caller told police the suspect would:
- Be at a specific place—an apartment complex.
- Leave at a specific time.
- Go to another specific place—a motel.
- Carry a certain amount of drugs on her in a specific place—about an ounce of cocaine in a brown suitcase.
- Drive a specific vehicle—a brown Plymouth station wagon with a broken taillight.
Next, and most important, police verified the tip. They found the car at the stated apartment complex, followed the suspect as she drove directly to the motel, and stopped the car shortly before she reached it. A search revealed weed in a suitcase and cocaine in the suspect’s purse.
Note the Court approved the arrest despite the fact the tipster didn’t get every detail right. Mainly, the tipster was wrong about where the drugs were. Only weed was in the suitcase, and cocaine was in her purse, not the suitcase.
The major importance of this case is that the Supreme Court ruled a tipster’s ability to predict future behavior shows the tipster knows inside information about a suspect’s business. When police verified that information, they had reason to believe the caller was honest and well-informed—justifying the stop.
When an Anonymous Tipster Wasn’t Reliable
In 2000, the South Carolina Court of Appeals overturned a drug conviction based on an anonymous tip in a case called State v. Green. In that case, an anonymous caller gave police the suspect’s name, a description of his car, the location he would leave from, and promised he had lots of money and drugs.
The Court was unimpressed. It ruled the tipster gave no predictive information. It determined the tipster’s information was easily discoverable. The place the suspect left only had two possible exits. The investigating officer had no reason to suspect criminal activity aside from the tip.
In declaring this anonymous tipster unreliable, the Court blasted the risk of lying created by police relying on it: “The only information available to the officer was the statement of an unknown, unaccountable informant who neither explained how he knew about the money and narcotics, nor supplied any basis for the officer to believe he had inside information about Green. Since the telephone call was anonymous, the caller did not place his credibility at risk and could lie with impunity. Therefore, we cannot judge the credibility of the caller, and the risk of fabrication becomes unacceptable.”
Don’t overlook this. It didn’t even matter that the tip turned out to be right. The Court dismissed the case anyway.
You Need a Determined, Skilled Attorney to Investigate Your Tipster
If an anonymous tipster jeopardized your rights and future with drug charges that includes a potential prison sentence, you need to make sure you hire a criminal defense attorney who knows how to evaluate the tipster’s knowledge to make the most powerful arguments that police never should have relied on him. That could be the difference between winning and losing for you. To schedule a free strategy session to start building your defense, call toll free at 888-230-1841.