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 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.
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. The evidence is critical for you, because the stakes are high- you likely face prison for drug charges in South Carolina.
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. Can you get a settlement against a family member who causes a car accident when you're the passenger?
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 the estate's personal representative be changed?
Maybe. Dealing with an accidental death case is a struggle to begin with. But when you’re eligible to recover for your suffering and financial loss and doubt the estate representative is looking out for your best interests, it creates anxiety you can’t afford.
There are two potential ways to get a different estate representative.
Removing the Personal Representative
“Personal Representative” (PR) is the term for the estate representative. South Carolina law allows removal of one under limited circumstances. You’ve got to prove to a probate court judge at a hearing that removal is justified because the PR:
- intentionally misstated important facts in the proceedings leading to appointment,
- disregarded an order of the court,
- has become incapable of handling PR duties,
- mismanaged the estate, or
- failed to perform any PR duty.
If you can’t prove that, there’s another option you might use.
Getting a Special Administrator
This allows the PR to remain in place but transfers responsibility for the wrongful death case to a Special Administrator.
If the PR contests having a Special Administrator, it requires proving to a probate court judge at a hearing that a Special Administrator is needed to preserve the estate or protect its proper administration.
We’ve had a case where family members came to us out of fear the PR would cut them out of a settlement. We reached an agreement with the PR naming our client as Special Administrator to protect the family’s interests.
Either Way, You Need a Skilled Attorney
You can’t expect a PR to let go of a court appointment without a fight. And you’ve got a lot at stake in the hands of someone you don’t trust. It could cost you the financial stability you need.
You need your own professional. If you’re worried about a PR shortchanging you or have any other questions, fill out our Get Help Now form to get answers from an experienced wrongful death attorney.
I fell and got hurt at a business. Should I report it?
Yes, immediately. When you fall and get seriously hurt, it’s embarrassing—and you do need to get medical treatment fast.
But you’ve got to tell the business, restaurant, store, or wherever you fell immediately, or as soon as possible. Here are key reasons to notify the business:
- It lets them know they’ve got a dangerous condition on their floors that is a threat to other customers. You don’t want it to happen to someone else.
- It tells them you expect them to be accountable for your injuries. They can notify their insurance company to set up your claim. You will get the ball rolling on getting your case started. But beware the insurance adjuster who will soon call you.
- It prevents them from asserting a favorite “defense”: “You never told us you got hurt!” It’s not really a defense, though, because it doesn’t disprove the dangerous condition or the fact that you got hurt. But the defense uses it to make your whole case look “fishy,” hoping skeptical jurors will disbelieve you.
Yes, it’s wrong. Yes, it ignores the reality that your priority was getting medical relief from immense pain. Still, it can work to hurt your case. Protect yourself by reporting your injury ASAP.
- It gives them a chance to do their own investigation. This can yield evidence like employee statements and incident reports that can help your case.
- BEST OF ALL, it puts them on notice that they should preserve evidence related to your fall. That could include surveillance video that’s the key to your entire case.
The best way to protect your right to this vital evidence is hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to do it for you.
This Is Only the Beginning
If you fall and get seriously hurt, expect the business to fight tooth and nail. You’ve accused them of ignoring unsafe conditions for customers, and the insurance company knows these cases can be tough to win.
At Holland & Usry, we’re not afraid of taking on severely injured fall victims’ cases. We know how to prove them and how to build a convincing picture of your injuries to help win your case. But we want you to hire us for the best reasons, so know why you should consider a lawyer for your case. Fill out our Get Help Now form to get your questions answered or call our toll-free line at 1-888-230-1841 to schedule a free strategy session to plan your road to justice.
Should I talk to or cooperate with an insurance adjuster about my accident injury claim?
It depends. The first thing to remember is the adjuster works for the liability insurance company that insures the person, place, or business that’s responsible for hurting you. For example, if you or your child got hurt in a dog bite case, it’s likely the adjuster works for the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company.
The second thing to remember is the adjuster’s driving force is to pay as little as possible, as fast as possible. The faster they pay you, the less chance there is for you to ask for more—like if you need more medical treatment. And once you sign the documents to get the settlement money, you can’t expect any more—ever—even if you later find out you’re hurt worse than you thought.
Here are some tips on dealing with the adjuster now or retaining a professional to do it for you:
- If you have serious injuries 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.