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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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, 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.
How can an accident attorney help a brain injury victim and her family?
Whether you’re a family member or a survivor, coping with a traumatic brain injury from an accident can be overwhelming. You’re right to wonder if one more thing on your list—seeing a lawyer—can help.
The short answer. If you or a family member suffered a brain injury, you may be dealing with someone who’s unconscious or not in their right mind to make complex legal decisions. And soon the insurance company will descend, hoping to take advantage of your inability to handle an overwhelming situation to force a cheap settlement that you’ll regret the rest of your life. You could forfeit rights to compensation you’ll need in the future to cover lost wages or mountains of medical bills.
That’s why people like you need an experienced lawyer to lighten your load and show you the way. We help make sure the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you, and if needed, get folks appointed in court to manage the survivor's affairs.
Specific Ways a Brain Injury Attorney Can Help
Here are just a few:
- Provide peace of mind. It’s the number one unspoken benefit of an attorney you trust. You will know your legal rights and the evidence you need to win. Your rights and evidence may differ depending on whether you’re involved in a car or motorcycle accident, an 18-wheeler accident, a fall, or a work injury. Helping you learn those rights is one reason we wrote books on car and trucking accident and workers’ compensation cases. When you have an attorney you trust, you know you’re protected. You can return your full energy to the medical recovery process, knowing your legal care team is in place and at work for you.
- Help with guardianship and conservator proceedings for adult brain injury survivors. These Probate Court procedures appoint a person, often a family member, to handle medical, financial, and legal affairs while the survivor is incapacitated by injury.
- Gather evidence related to the case, or protect your right to it, before it disappears. Victims have to prove how they got hurt. You can’t risk someone destroying evidence you need to prove your right to potentially vital legal compensation.
- Secure witness statements and contact information for later use. You don’t have time to run these people down.
- Assess the amount of available coverage to compensate you for your car accident damages. You might have coverage on your own policy.
- Deal with insurance company representatives. They look out for the insurance company, not you, no matter how nice they seem. You don’t need to worry about responding to their demands or waiting for them to call you back.
- Guide you in protecting your rights to future medical care, whether it’s in the legal system or provided through work injury benefits in workers’ compensation. In workers’ compensation cases, you may qualify for permanent and total disability benefits or even highly extensive brain injury benefits—you can bet the insurance company will fight tooth and nail against paying these extremely expensive cases.
You Should Wonder, But Not Worry
I’ve been doing this long enough to know most people prefer seeing the dentist more than a lawyer, but sometimes you just need professional help. If you’ve got a brain injury or a family member with one, that time is now.
And if you’re wondering what it will be like to meet with me, here’s a brief video I made to assure you I won’t be pulling any teeth. And if you need me to, I can come to you.
What doctors and care providers help you recover from a traumatic brain injury?
Survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) often need a dedicated team to help overcome these potentially devastating injuries. The treatment can be long term, and we know information is power, so here’s a list of providers you might expect to see.
The Most Important Members of the Team: the Survivor and the Family
Without a doubt, you’re the most vital member of the team. For the survivor, all efforts are focused on returning you to a normal life. This may be the fight of your life, and it’s worth fighting for.
The importance of family support can’t be understated. It goes far beyond showing up for appointments. Due to the survivor’s limitations, you may be the key decision-maker in medical matters that can impact not just treatment, but the survivor’s future.
Yes, it’s about relentless love—but take some time for yourself, too. Get rest—you’ll need it for the long haul.
Brain Injury Doctors
TBI can bring a host of doctors to help repair and heal your brain. Here are the medical staff who’ll help you along the way, courtesy of the Air Force Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia:
- Neurosurgeon. To assess physical brain damage, you’ll likely need a brain surgeon, even if you don’t require an operation. They evaluate the damage to the brain using scans and other tests. They may oversee procedures like skull removal to allow for brain swelling and intracranial pressure monitoring to assure the swelling doesn’t get to dangerous levels.
- Neurologist. Think of neurologists as brain doctors who don’t operate. They diagnose and treat conditions related to the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The neurologist could be the captain of your ship.
- Neuropsychologist. These board-certified psychologists have specialized training in brain function. Their evaluations help assess the survivor’s ability to make financial, legal, and medical decisions, plus evaluate their prospects for returning to home, school, and work.
- Physiatrist. Also known as a “rehabilitation doctor,” these doctors handle post-acute care, as you begin to recover from the injury and work towards returning to life. The physiatrist usually leads the rehab team, making referrals to various other therapists and specialists to address your needs. You should expect the physiatrist to work closely with the patient, the family, and the entire rehab team to develop a comprehensive plan to return the survivor to normal life—or as close to it as possible.
- Primary care provider. Your regular doctor should be kept involved with your condition as you return to him for regular checkups and overall health management.
- Counselor and psychologist. These providers can help survivors and their families confront the challenges brought on by brain injury.
- Psychiatrist. These doctors diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders that can be brought on by brain injury, including understandable depression and anxiety.
Other Therapists on the Brain Injury Care Team
Never forget the nurses! These are generally the frontline in your care and an important voice for any doctor or specialists, so make sure they hear yours. Here are other individuals who may also be part of the team:
- Case manager/social worker. These hospital employees help manage care and work with your health insurance or your employer’s workers’ comp insurance to get medical bills paid. They can help make sure you get proper care, help you find needed services, and provide other resources.
- Physical therapist. Physical therapy helps you reclaim your strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, coordination, and muscle function.
- Occupational therapist. Occupational therapy helps you overcome challenges to activities of daily living, like eating, bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, getting up and down, and using a wheelchair or other medical equipment.
- Speech pathologist. These professionals evaluate and treat communication, cognitive, and swallowing disorders. They help you understand what you hear, speak clearly, think of words, and address reading and writing problems. They also help with cognitive issues like attention, thinking, memory, and interacting with others.
You May Need a Legal Team Member
You’ve hopefully surrounded yourself with a medical care team you trust to protect and preserve your ability to recover medically. You should take just as much care to surround yourself with a legal team you trust to help you recover legally. If you’ve got questions about how we can help protect you legally for a brain injury from an accident, call toll free 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.
What is a concussion, and what are the symptoms?
A concussion can result from just a bump on the head in auto or motorcycle or trucking accidents, falls, and work accidents. It is considered a “mild” traumatic brain injury (TBI). But a concussion’s symptoms and consequences can be anything but mild.
A Wise Doctor Defines Concussion in Terms We Can Easily Understand
The best way I ever heard a concussion defined was by a respected elder doctor in Spartanburg who treated a client of mine. My client got hit by a drunk driver in a car crash and suffered a concussion. The wise doctor painted a vivid picture of a concussion, with some good Southern flair:
Imagine a peach in a Mason jar filled with water. The peach is your brain. The Mason jar is your skull. The water is your cerebrospinal fluid. Take the ends of the peach jar in each hand and shake it so the peach bounces around in the jar. That’s a concussion.
The Mayo Clinic gives a more clinical description. Basically, the brain will “slide back and forth forcefully against the inner walls of your skull.”
But it’s the peach in the Mason jar that’s always stayed with me.
Know the Risks of Concussions
While sports have given us the playful adage that a concussion victim “got his bell rung,” you’ve got to remember that a concussion is serious. This is a brain injury—a sign of damage to the most vital and delicate organ in the body. Left untreated, a concussion can hide the warning signs of a potentially fatal brain injury.
Medical professionals, including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, deem the first 24 hours after a concussion critical in determining whether a potentially devastating, or even fatal, injury exists. Victims need vigilant observation to help detect severe injury.
If you or someone you know shows signs of a concussion, get medical testing before it’s too late.
Concussion Signs and Symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, “A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function.” You’ve got to watch out because signs and symptoms may not show immediately. They can last for months. Common symptoms include:
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Confusion, feeling like you’re in a fog, or appearing dazed
- Amnesia (memory loss) about the accident
- Dizziness, "seeing stars," ringing ears
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Delayed answers to questions
To show why there’s no such thing as a “mild” brain injury, the Mayo Clinic advises you to look for delayed symptoms like:
- Inability to concentrate and remember things
- Irritability and other personality changes
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleep disturbances
- Disorders of taste and smell
If symptoms intensify, get treatment now.
Concussion Side Effects and Complications
Concussion side effects and complications can stretch into the long term, and may include:
- Post-traumatic headaches. These may start a week or even months afterward.
- Post-traumatic vertigo. This sickening sense of spinning or dizziness can last for days, weeks, or months after a brain injury.
- Post-concussion syndrome. This frustrating, crippling condition can last for as long as several months. Symptoms include prolonged dizziness, inability to sleep, depression and anxiety, struggles to think right, and difficulty remembering things. According to the Mayo Clinic, some experts compare this syndrome to depression, anxiety, or even post-traumatic stress disorder. In many cases, chemical reactions to brain trauma and the body’s emotional response contribute to it.
Concussion Victims Need Extra Legal Protection
Concussion victims can be especially susceptible to insurance companies taking advantage of them in their cases. You don’t have to let that happen to you. If you’ve suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury, call toll free 888-230-1841 for a free meeting to get your questions answered and to safeguard your right to get your medical bills paid and to get financial compensation, which might include extensive future care or lifelong workers’ comp benefits. Don’t let the insurance company take your rights away from you forever!
How can the Family and Medical Leave Act affect my South Carolina workers’ compensation case?
A severe workplace injury can bury you in confusing legal paperwork and complicated details. But one law you might need to know more about is the Family and Medical Leave Act—because it can impact your case.
What is the Family Medical Leave Act?
The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law giving eligible employees of certain employers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period.
You don’t have to take all that time in a single block. It can be broken up over that 12-month period.
During that time, employers must also continue your health insurance coverage.
FMLA provides limited job protection. On return, most employees must be restored to the same or similar job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions.
To be eligible, an employee must:
- Work for the employer for at least 12 months
- Generally, have at least 1,250 hours of service in the 12 months before taking leave
- Work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite
How does FMLA impact a workers’ comp case?
One qualifying condition for FMLA is a legally-defined “serious health condition” that makes you unable to do your job. For a badly hurt employee, the question often becomes, “Can I take FMLA leave while I’m out on workers’ comp?”
The answer is yes. Whether it’s the right thing to do depends entirely on your unique circumstances. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can give some guidance here, but you may not have a choice.
Some injured employees are stunned to learn their employers can declare workers’ comp leave as FMLA leave. While it can be frustrating to lose FMLA rights when you’re covered by workers’ comp, it’s the law.
There’s another answer you might need to know.
Can my employer make me take FMLA Leave instead of workers’ comp?
One thing an employer cannot do is force you to take FMLA leave instead of fulfilling its legal duties owed to you under the South Carolina workers’ compensation law.
If your employer sidesteps this legal responsibility, don’t let them get away with it for a second. Call a workers’ comp attorney you trust.
Get Your Questions Answered and Fears Addressed
You’ve stepped unwillingly into the unknown. That’s why I wrote my free book on workers' comp cases—to help folks just like you.
To get your questions answered, fill out our Get Help Now form at the top of the page or call 888-230-1841 to schedule a free, no-pressure strategy session.
Don’t forget to see what people say about us!
Is the trucking company responsible for an accident if it doesn’t own the truck or the trucker works for someone else?
Most likely, yes. Trucking companies are definitely liable when their tractor trailers, driven by their employees, cause a tractor-trailer accident. The same holds true when faulty equipment, like bad brakes, causes the wreck.
Sometimes, a trucking company leases, or rents, a commercial vehicle. They can even use another company’s trucker to drive the 18-wheeler. These tractor-trailer drivers are sometimes called “borrowed employees.”
Federal law won’t let officially authorized interstate motor carriers escape responsibility for leased vehicles or borrowed truckers. Federal regulations make the trucking company liable for both the trucker’s driving and the maintenance of the leased equipment. Federal law also requires the trucking company to:
- Obtain liability insurance on the leased truck,
- Inspect the truck,
- Control and be responsible for driving the commercial motor vehicle in compliance with federal law, just as if the trucking company owned it.
So in the end, as long as the trucking company is an authorized interstate motor carrier, it’s likely just as accountable for the crash as if it hired the trucker or owned the big rig.
The Bigger Question
Why would a trucking company create so much work for itself? There can be many reasons, but here’s the one that means the most to victims: To make it harder to find the responsible party to help pay for the damage.
End the Confusion and Focus on Healing
If you’re seriously hurt in a car crash, or worse, you can put an end to straining to determine who’s at fault. Contact an experienced 18-wheeler accident attorney to get your questions answered. And there’s probably a lot you should ask, but don’t know to, since big-rig crashes aren’t your typical car crash. Fill out our Get Help Now form at the top of this page for answers, so you can focus on recovery.
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.