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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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 or DON'T KNOW THE FULL EXTENT OF YOUR INJURIES [which is often the case], you’re at high risk to be taken advantage of by the insurance adjuster. We see this in cases involving:
- inpatient hospitalization,
- a broken bone,
- referrals to a medical specialist like neurologists, orthopedists, or neurosurgeons,
- brain injuries, which may not surface for days or weeks after the accident
- dog attacks, since these cases often involve permanent scarring that takes a long time to set in, not to mention the referral to the plastic surgeon and his work.
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. And I've worked mighty hard to make our first meeting free, easy, and no-obligation for you.
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 or call our office at 888-230-1841 You’ll get answers from an experienced attorney who’s devoted to helping folks just like you.
- If you have serious injuries or DON'T KNOW THE FULL EXTENT OF YOUR INJURIES [which is often the case], you’re at high risk to be taken advantage of by the insurance adjuster. We see this in cases involving:
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.
Why can my driver’s license be suspended for refusing a breath test?
You’re right to wonder how the State can punish you for refusing to help the police in a DUI case when the Miranda rights basically tell you the refusal to help the police by making a statement won’t be held against you. It’s just another example of how strange and unique DUI cases are.
The reason officers can ask you for a breath test in a DUI case is a little bit of legal trickeration called the “implied consent” law. Here’s what it says:
S.C. Code § 56-5-2950(A):
A person who drives a motor vehicle in this State is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of the person’s breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of alcohol and drugs, if arrested for an offense arising out of acts alleged to have been committed while the person was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs.
So by driving in South Carolina, you’ve given the State permission— without even knowing it—to test your breath, blood, or urine for alcohol or drugs in a DUI case.
But there are a few things you should know:
- You do have the right to refuse. If you do, while you face an arrest and license suspension, you can still contest it. If you do, you may qualify for a license to drive anywhere in South Carolina until that part of your case is decided. At trial for the criminal charge, you cannot be automatically convicted because you refused.
- Officers can only request blood or urine in limited cases. And even if they do justifiably get those samples, the results may never see the light of day. Just because the officer got your blood test from the hospital doesn’t necessarily make his case any easier.
There’s No Time to Waste and You’ve Got Hope
Whether you exercised your right to refuse the test or not, DUI is a very complex and challenging charge to defend on your own—you may have defenses you don’t even know about. And these cases are very rarely open and shut, no matter how confident the officer seems of your guilt. Learn more by downloading my FREE book.
If you’ve been charged, you owe it to yourself to get your questions answered by an experienced DUI attorney. Fill out our Get Help Now form to start building your defense with our DUI lawyer.
I got busted for drugs, and I think it’s because someone told the police—or even helped them. Can I find out who did it?
Maybe. I know that’s almost the worst answer to hear when your back is against the wall on serious drug charges. But technical legal rules impact your rights here—that’s why you need a technician to help you.
Here are the basics:
When Disclosure Is Usually Required
The State must often reveal the identity of the police informant when the informant:
- Actively participated in the drug sale for which the suspect got charged.
- Set up the police drug sale.
- Introduced police to the suspect.
- Is a material witness to the drug crime, like when he’s the only other witness to it other than the buyer and the suspect.
NOTE: There are exceptions. Disclosure isn’t always required here. If other factors or circumstances justify denying disclosure, the judge can keep the informant’s identity from you.
When Disclosure Isn’t Required
Courts won’t force the State to give up its informant when the informant is:
- Merely a tipster who gave a lead to law enforcement. That can mean the informant just called to tell police about seeing the suspect with drugs, instead of actively participating in a police set-up to buy from the suspect.
- A relatively unimportant witness who has little direct knowledge of the crime.
For example, in 1996, the South Carolina Court of Appeals upheld not disclosing the identity of an informant who sat in the car during a drug buy orchestrated by police. The Court ruled against disclosure because the informant:
- Took no part in the drug deal,
- Had no part in setting it up,
- Never came near the suspect charged with selling the drugs,
- Never described the suspect to authorities,
- Never identified the suspect as selling drugs,
- And wasn’t the only other witness to the drug sale aside from the buyer and the defendant.
Give Yourself the Best Shot at Full Disclosure
Prosecutors don’t give up their sources without a fight. But it’s your freedom at stake, so you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to convince a judge to provide the informant’s identity. Because if you can’t take on your real accuser in court, you may just be fighting in the dark. That doesn’t end well.
To get your questions answered by an experienced criminal drug charge lawyer, fill out our Get Help Now form right now.
What happens if I get hurt so bad on the job that my injuries keep me from working anymore?
If your South Carolina work injury—or multiple injuries—are severe enough that your doctor or a vocational expert concludes you can’t work again, you may qualify for permanent and total disability benefits under workers’ comp. You can receive some major benefits:
- Free medical care for life. The workers' comp insurance company pays as long as the treatment relates to your work injury. You still have to pay for any other conditions or illnesses that aren’t related to your injury.
- Disability compensation. In most cases, disabled workers receive two-thirds of their average weekly wages for up to 500 weeks. But if you’re paralyzed or sustained a brain injury, you may qualify for that income for the rest of your life- see more on that below.
Two More Things You Should Know About These Benefits
- Being disabled under workers’ comp doesn't mean you're helpless. In fact, if you return to work, you keep the benefits. This encourages the severely injured to be as productive as possible.
- If you suffer total disability from a brain injury or paralysis, you might qualify for the maximum benefits under the law.
Protect Yourself Because Too Much Is at Stake
If your work injury case potentially involves total disability, your medical and financial futures are on the line. You likely need these benefits to prevent you and your family from falling into financial ruin as you waste away under untreated, disabling injuries. And you can rest assured the workers’ comp insurance company will fight you tooth and nail to save its precious dollars from your desperate need.
Hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney to build a convincing case for benefits to protect your future. This is the only chance you’ll get to do it.
If you’ve got questions about your case, start a live chat right where you are. An experienced South Carolina attorney will respond with answers.
What is a functional capacity evaluation (FCE)?
If your doctor wants guidance in assessing your accident injury for a permanent impairment rating, he might send you for an FCE.
Generally, it’s an exhaustive set of physical tests, usually given and scored by a physical therapist. Here’s what you need to know about FCEs.
Why FCEs Are Important
The doctor uses the results to give a more accurate rating, which can have a big impact on your case. We see them more often in South Carolina workers’ comp cases, where the results can help determine if you’re eligible for extra financial benefits for permanent and total disability and wage loss.
FCE Purpose From the Examiner’s Standpoint
There are generally three main purposes for the tester:
- Evaluate your ability to perform your job. The evaluator often has a copy of your job description from your employer.
- Define the physical level of work you qualify for under United States Department of Labor guidelines. Those provide 5 physical job demand categories: sitting, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy.
- Measure your loss of strength and motion from an injury.
Before moving on to the specific aspects of the test, there’s one vital thing you’ve got to remember.
Your Effort Counts—a Lot!
Exerting good effort is vital. These tests have built-in “lie detectors” that’ll expose deceptively low effort by you. Don’t try it. You’ll be smoked out, and it’ll ruin your case.
Now let’s turn to the tests and info used for the evaluation.
Physical Abilities Tests
The evaluator will test your ability to do the following, noting the maximum amount you can do:
- Lift from floor to shoulder, waist to shoulder, and a few inches off the floor to your waist.
- Push and pull.
- Basic motions including how much you can sit, stand, and walk (and whether you limp), climb stairs and ladders, reach overhead, and bend your knees to stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
- Hand strength and coordination—you’ll be evaluated on your ability to handle objects and grasp with each hand.
This evaluates for things like:
- Whether you limp.
- Your posture and whether you can stand upright.
- Muscle tone—the tests measure tightness, tenderness, and muscle spasm.
- Joint and muscle flexibility.
- Range of motion and whether your ability to move your joints falls within normal limits.
You might even do a treadmill test. This checks your ability to walk for time and distance. The evaluator observes your posture and ability to walk without a limp. The test measures how long you’re able to do the task before it hurts too much or you run out of breath or energy.
You Get to Provide Some Input of Your Own
The evaluator also interviews you about important points in your injury like:
- How you got hurt.
- Your treatment history including the doctors you went to, what they did for you, and any therapy you had.
- Medications you take for your symptoms and other conditions.
- Your physical limitations, such as the ones we describe in this blog post.
It’s Just Another Piece of the Puzzle
With the exception of living with a permanent injury from an accident, your FCE may be the most difficult physical part of your case. But it’s only part of the challenge you face. If you’re severely injured enough to require an FCE, there’s a lot at stake for you legally too. Just as you got doctors to protect your body medically, it’s time to ask a lawyer about protecting your rights legally. You only get one chance at your case, so don’t risk ending it with regrets.
If you’ve got questions about your case, feel free to start a live chat right where you are so an experienced attorney can respond to your concerns.
What’s the leading cause of motorcycle accidents?
It’s not riders. A 1998 study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal government agency, found the top cause of motorcycle accidents:
Other drivers (i.e. cars or trucks) who violate the rider’s right of way.
So take heed, cage drivers! Look out for motorcycles! NHTSA’s comprehensive analysis of the problem gives tips to help both drivers and motorcyclists avoid tragic or even fatal accidents:
- Drivers, avoid the deadliest of sins. Don't drive distracted. Cars and trucks present way too many options to develop fatal habits that take your attention off the road. When driving, just drive. No food, no phone calls, and certainly no texts. Just the road ahead.
- Riders should follow these tips and wear bright colors.
Need More Answers?
Motorcycle accident victims have lots of questions. And maybe, more importantly, there are questions you SHOULD ask but don’t know to since you’re not a professional in handling these cases. That’s why I wrote a free book on the subject, I Just Got in a South Carolina Car Accident, Now What?
If you want personal attention to your problem from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, feel free to start a live chat right where you are to start addressing your concerns, building your case against the motorist who ignored and hurt you—and making it right.