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 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- often with breathtaking swiftness and ruthlessness. 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.
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 wreck or motorcycle accident, an 18-wheeler accident, a slip and fall or trip and 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 what happens at our free, no-obligation first meeting. 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 car wrecks, motorcycle crashes or trucking accidents, trip and fall or slip and 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.