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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If I get hit by a car walking across the street or riding a bicycle, what rights do I have?
You have the same rights to be compensated as an innocent motorist or passenger in a typical car, truck, or motorcycle accident. Here are three important factors in your case:
If the accident is all or mostly your fault—for example, if you walked despite a “stop” signal on the crosswalk light or veered across three lanes of traffic on your bicycle—you cannot legally recover.
But even if you may have played a role in the crash, don’t be discouraged. Due to the rule of “comparative negligence,” you might still win compensation. To get your best shot at a recovery, you’ll need an experienced auto accident lawyer to convince the insurance company that its driver is most at fault.
Even if the driver’s fault is clear, it’s smart to consult an attorney to strategize the best way to maximize your financial recovery. Legal compensation is built from many details that have to be fully developed before the insurance company will part with its beloved cash to pay you.
Traffic accidents often result in severe injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists or even death, especially if it involves a child. The worse the injuries, the greater potential to collect more compensation. As the value of your claim rises, it becomes more important to protect your rights to a fair recovery; at the same time, it becomes much harder for an untrained person to win the best available outcome.
Seriously hurt or grieving people have too much to worry about already. They can be overwhelmed by dealing with insurance company demands and by the insurance adjuster, who’s evaluated on how much he doesn’t pay out in claims. Insurance companies take advantage of amateur claimants, getting out cheap by forcing an unjustifiably low settlement when you’re just exhausted or don’t know any better.
It’s easy to overlook your rights in this situation, including the availability of all potential sources of financial recovery. Keep reading.
The primary source of recovery is auto insurance. Victims get paid first from the at-fault driver’s policy. You’ll need to be sure you know the maximum amount that policy will pay. An experienced auto accident attorney can help.
Finally, some good news. If needed, and if you bought the right coverage, you can use your OWN auto policy. If your case is that serious, you need a skilled attorney to review your coverage, then prove your rights to get as much as possible.
The Tip of the Iceberg
Remember, these are just three factors in your case; there are usually a lot more moving parts to manage than that. Don’t risk adding insult to injury by getting shortchanged by an insurance company or overlooking your coverage. Fill out our Get Help Now form to get your questions answered and start building your case today.
Will I have to pay health insurance- including Medicare or Medicaid- back for my accident?
It's likely, but it probably won’t be as bad as you think. It’s much, much better than expecting whoever hurt you to pay bills as they come in—because he won’t. It’s also better than telling your doctors you’ll pay them from your settlement—because you’ll get stuck with the whole bill, and possibly sent to collections, which can hurt your credit.
As for paying it back, here’s why it’s a pretty good deal for you.
First, health insurance pays your medical bills at a discount. INSIDER TIP: This is inadmissible in court, so your case is valued on the full amount of the bill, as if insurance never paid. Read the reason behind this unique law called the collateral source rule.
The right of the health insurance company to be repaid from your settlement is called subrogation. But it doesn’t exist in every case, and a sharp injury attorney can help you figure out whether you even have to worry about it.
In our cases where health insurance does get the right to be paid back, we’re often able to negotiate a discount on the repayment. So our clients benefit from a discount off a discount—giving you more money from your settlement to catch up your bills and regain financial stability after a severe injury that may have devastating economic effects for you and your family.
If you need help figuring out whether your health insurance must be repaid from an accident—or if you have any other questions about your case—feel free to send us a live chat message right where you are to get your questions answered by an experienced accident injury lawyer.
If I file for workers’ comp, won’t my employer have to pay my medical bills?
Almost certainly not. We get this question more often than you might think. The majority of injured workers are loyal employees who might worry their employer will have to pay their medical bills. It discourages some employees from seeking vital benefits they need when they get seriously hurt on the job.
But before you forfeit important rights to income or to necessary medical care while you’re out of work, you should know this: In almost every case, your comp benefits get paid by an insurance company. That’s right! Your employer has paid thousands—maybe even millions—of dollars in premiums for years to provide coverage for people like you who get hurt on the job.
So if you’re worried your employer will personally pay your medical bills if you’re out, stop. It’s almost certainly an insurance company paying, and that insurer has plenty of money lying around to handle your claim.
And no, you can’t be fired for filing a workers’ comp claim. So if you haven't done this already, report the injury NOW, before the deadline runs out.
You Can Collect on Your Claim Without Hurting Anyone
Many of our clients are relieved to know that their claim for a job-related injury is not going to put their employer out of business. Even so, filing a claim can be uncomfortable for some workers who don’t want to deal with confrontation by co-workers or the sense from management they did something wrong by protecting their rights. And if you’re seriously hurt, the complexities and frustration of dealing with the insurance company can be overwhelming. Plus you’ve got important rights you need to protect, like future medical care. Just figuring out the right settlement can be complex.
All these are reasons why you should seek the advice of a professional who handles these cases for a living. If you’re worried about anything related to your work injury, fill out our Get Help Now section at the top of this page so you can get your questions answered.
When do I get paid for my accident settlement?
Let me first assure you that you’re not being rude. This is an answer you need to know.
And here’s the answer: at our firm, we get your check to you ASAP, but ethical regulations and finalizing the settlement takes a little time.
Here’s basically how it works with our firm:
- We reach a settlement agreement with the other side.
- If a case involves an injured child or death, a judge likely has to approve the settlement. We get a hearing scheduled ASAP. For more, here's how the court process works for fatality settlement proceedings and children's settlement proceedings.
- We get the settlement documents to end the case. We review them closely to protect your rights. If the documents don’t fully protect your rights or don’t reflect the agreement, we make changes.
- The check usually comes with the documents. We deposit that in our trust account, a special bank account safeguarding your money until we can pay you. Ethical regulations require us to wait a few days to be sure it clears before paying you.
- Once the documents are ready for you to sign, you sign. Before you sign, we explain them to you, since they’re often written in incredibly complex “legalese”—which can be just plain ridiculous. We return them for you.
- You usually get your check around the same time you sign the settlement documents.
You get copies of all the documents, and we prove where all the money goes. Because this is an important moment in your life with serious financial consequences, we want to make sure you have all the information related to the settlement. We give you a packet with all the important settlement documents in it. On top is a sheet showing who gets paid from the settlement—and how much—so you can account for every penny of it, including our fees and costs paid from the check.
The packet includes proof we repaid anyone you’re required to repay from the settlement, like your health insurance company that may have covered your medical bills.
It Doesn’t Take That Long, But It’s Mighty Important
While it sounds like a lot, the settlement process doesn’t take that long. Once we agree to settle, you will typically get your check within a month—sometimes less. Cases requiring court approval can take longer due to scheduling conflicts, but we always aim to achieve our driving goal: getting you compensated as soon as possible.
If you’ve got any questions about a potential settlement or your case, start a live chat right where you are to get those questions answered. We know it’s important to you, and we’re here to help.
After I settle my workers’ comp case, when do I get my check?
If you feel guilty about asking, stop. You’ve lost work and income. You may need the money to catch up on some bills. It’s the responsible thing to make plans and budget carefully when you receive money, and that includes a settlement.
That’s why we work to get you the money as quickly as we can.
But here’s the answer: it does take a little time to get your check, but it’s because workers’ compensation law imposes some requirements to protect you. Settlements must be filed with the Workers’ Compensation Commission and attorney fees and costs must be approved by the Commission.
Here’s how it works ordinarily:
- We agree to settle the case with the workers’ compensation insurance company that handles your benefits.
- We get settlement documents laying out the agreement. We review them closely to protect your rights, especially since they can impact your ability to get free future medical care for your injuries, depending which settlement option you chose. If you’ve been declared permanently and totally disabled, you can bet we’ll be extra careful about preserving your rights to the most extensive benefits known in workers’ comp. If the documents aren’t right, we make changes to protect you.
- The check usually comes with the settlement documents. We deposit that in our trust account, a special account safeguarding your money.
- Once the documents are ready for you to sign, you sign. Naturally, we explain them to you beforehand, since they’re often incredibly complex “legalese”—which can be just plain ridiculous. We return them to opposing counsel to file with the Commission, or we file them ourselves.
- You also sign a Form 61. It’s an official form from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. It details who gets paid from the settlement, including our fees and costs paid from the settlement check. We send that to a Commissioner with an order approving the fees and costs.
When we get the filed copies of the settlement documents, the form 61, and the order approving our fees and costs, it’s official! You get your check.
Workers Compensation Settlements Are Worth A Little Wait
While the process takes longer than we want—usually a few weeks—it’s to be sure no injured worker gets taken for a ride by an insurance company—or even a dishonest lawyer.
Naturally, if you’ve hired us, you’re not worried about that.
If you have questions about your potential comp settlement or any aspects of your comp case, feel free to email us right where you are to get them answered. We’re here to give you peace of mind and help you find your way in what’s often a hard, confusing time. You can also download our book The Hurt Worker's Toolkit to get valuable information to help you.
Can I be repaid for income lost as a result of an accident injury?
Yes, but you’ve got to be able to prove you lost wages as a result of the accident.
And before we go any further, if your accident happened at work, your case works different because it’s likely a workers’ compensation case; see our article on recovering lost wages in workers' comp. BUT you might get more than comp offers if you got hurt at work by someone besides a co-worker—for example, if you were injured in car crash. If you qualify for one of these cases under comp law, you do stand to recover the full amount of wages you lost from the accident. For more info, read our article on how you can sue non-coworkers, called "third parties", who hurt you at work.
Here’s how you can recover lost wages from non-work accidents works in South Carolina:
- Who qualifies? Only the accident victim can recover lost wages, even though their spouses often miss a lot of work caring for the victim. Spouses naturally help out more at home, like taking off work early to get children to ballgames and other activities an injured spouse can’t. But you can be compensated for damage to your mariage caused by your spouse's injuries.
- The accident must have caused the loss in income. Insurance companies will fight you if you can’t prove the accident forced you to miss work. That’s why we work to assure everyone every penny is legitimate. The very best way to do that is a copy of your doctor’s orders or medical records showing the doctor ordered you to stay out of work while you recovered—or gave you work restrictions so you just couldn’t do your job.
- Lost wages can include doctor and therapy visits. When you have to miss work in order to keep a appointment for treatment, the income you lose can be recovered in your accident claim.
- You must have records to prove the amount of money you forfeited. Naturally, this is an important part of proving your claim, and we take great care to help you document your lost income. We have a form we use for employers to verify the dates and times you missed work, with a place for the employer to calculate the amount of wages you lost from the accident. That way, the insurance company has an independent measure of your lost income from the expert in it—the one who actually writes your paycheck. It also strips the insurance company of the argument you made it up or you can’t prove it. We’ve got a clear, simple form signed by a company officer. That’s undeniable proof.
- If you’re not a factory worker or hourly employee, the calculation can be more complicated. What if you’re paid by salary, or you earn commissions? We might need your tax returns and even an independent accountant to determine the income lost as a result of your accident. And that’s yet another reason to get a lawyer if you’ve been seriously hurt. We know how to find the people who can help you the most, so you don’t have to worry about it and you can be assured you’re not getting shortchanged.
- You also may deserve compensation for future earnings if your injury is permanent. A serious physical injury or a brain injury can limit your job options for the future—or make you unable to work ever again. Sadly, some injuries are so extreme they can’t be overcome. We help folks when spine, brain, or other severe injuries prevent them from doing the jobs they always did.
More on Permanent Changes in Your Ability to Work
Lost wages can include pay reductions you suffer when you can’t do your primary job but take another one with fewer physical or mental requirements. We always encourage productivity—it shows you’re a fighter trying to overcome your injuries. Plus it can really make you feel better as a person that you’re contributing to work even though you’re not at full strength.
Tragically, sometimes the lasting effects of your accident prevent you from doing any job.
If accident injuries leave you permanently disabled or stuck with a lower-paying job, we’ll consider hiring an expert called a vocational consultant. Basically, vocational consultants can help prove your inability to work—or, if you can only work a lower-paying job, they can assess the amount of wages you’ll lose as a result.
To give you the best chance at recovering the most in these cases, we’ll obtain medical records or even a doctor attestation supporting your inability to work, to strip the insurance company of the argument you’re making this up or can’t prove it.
No doubt about it, the insurance companies fight the worst injuries the hardest because it makes them do what they hate—pay out large amounts to compensate grievously hurt people for permanent damage.
Full Disclosure: Taxes
One thing we can’t help with is taxes for a lost wage settlement. We’re lawyers, not accountants! Only an accountant can tell you whether you’ve got to pay taxes on a settlement for lost wages. If you’re hurt seriously, taxes are the least of your worries, and we handle the legal worries.
Yep, This Is Complicated—But We’re Here to Help
It’s bad enough you got hurt bad, and now it seems like you’re the bad guy having to prove you did nothing wrong just to recover income and other compensation for your injuries.
That’s why it helps to have a professional in your corner. It’s our job, not yours, to gather all the proof necessary to make a convincing case to recover your lost wages. We can compile your medical records for the medical evidence to support your claim, contact your employer to get the proper forms filled out so you don’t have to be anxious or embarrassed about it, and, if needed, bringing in experts to calculate complex income losses.
If you’re concerned about recovering lost wages from accident injuries, or have any other questions related to a legal claim, feel free to start a live chat right where you are or just send us an email. We’d be glad to set you up with a free strategy session to get your questions answered by an attorney who can handle your case.
I got a DUI in my driveway. Can officers really arrest me for DUI when I made it home?
Yes. As pointless as it may seem, you can get a DUI no matter how close you are to home—even your driveway.
I’ve had clients charged who:
- Told officers they were almost home,
- Pointed to their homes on the street where they got pulled,
- Got taken from their driveway in handcuffs.
Here’s why it can happen (not that it helps you feels better, but it’s the truth): some officers have their minds made up you drove under the influence and don’t care if you made it safely to your destination.
And you can still be convicted. If convicted, you get no breaks for making it home. You can still face the same harsh penalties which can include administrative license suspension, criminal punishment, and even ignition interlock.
You need help. The arresting officer already ignored your pleas for mercy. It’s time to invest in a professional who stands on your side and who can design a defense to win your case at trial—or maybe get the officer to back down and reduce the DUI to a charge you can live with.
And here’s what we can do to help. We have the knowledge to find defenses you don’t even know, and the skills to present them effectively in court.
I’ve even written a book on these cases I’ll give you for free. Call us now at (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to schedule a free meeting to answer your questions and build your defense, or just send us an email or live chat right where you are.
How can I be charged with drug distribution or trafficking if there’s no proof I’m a dealer or ever sold drugs?
Shockingly, in South Carolina, you can be convicted of drug “distribution” or even “trafficking” charges just due to the weight of drugs you’re caught with. The weight figures into sentencing, too.
Basically, the law assumes you are a dealer, even if you’re not. It’s really kind of alarming, especially since it seems to defeat two bedrocks of our justice system—the presumption of innocence and the requirement the state prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is where getting tough on crime just gets tough on what our country got founded on.
But it’s the law, and we’re stuck with it. One good thing about the law is, since your case may be based on weight, a talented defense attorney may be able to flip the script on the police by showing they didn't weigh the drug properly, which could win your case.
Here’s another way it can work against you.
What You Possess May Create a Presumption You’re Dealing
For example, you can be charged with:
- Possession with intent to distribute marijuana, if you got caught with more than one ounce.
- Cocaine trafficking, if you got caught with more than 10 grams.
It gets worse. You can actually be charged with drug distribution for LESS THAN the required amounts if you’re caught with items associated with the drug trade, like digital scales, multiple baggies, and other paraphernalia.
If you’re charged with a drug crime, you may literally be facing punishment for a crime you had no intent to commit. Your luck’s run out. You need a skilled professional to help.
Contact one of our experienced drug defense attorneys to start plotting your defense today. Even if you’re guilty, you’ve still got justified hope a talented drug defense lawyer can preserve your future and your freedom. And a seasoned criminal defense lawyer may be able to find defenses you didn’t even know about.
Start a live chat right now where you are so we can answer your questions and start protecting you today.
How do police get a search warrant?
Believe it or not, police don’t issue search warrants. Judges do. In South Carolina, search warrants are usually issued by magistrates. These important judges also handle traffic tickets and lower-level criminal cases like simple assault, plus civil cases involving a limited amount of money.
Here’s how it works, or how it’s supposed to.
The United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment allows search warrants only if supported by probable cause. South Carolina law requires the police to provide probable cause in an affidavit, a sworn statement. The affidavit can be supplemented by sworn testimony before the issuing judge.
The judge determines probable cause based on whether the affidavit proves a “fair probability” that evidence of a crime will be found in the place to be searched. At a minimum, the affidavit must reasonably describe all of these:
- The place to be searched. This must be described very precisely.
- A general idea of what evidence the police expect to find there, beyond just saying “evidence of a crime”—like “digital scales, bookkeeping records related to illegal drug transactions, and illegal drugs including but not limited to marijuana and cocaine or its derivatives.”
- The reason police expect to find the evidence there. And that reason must clearly tie the place to recent criminal activity, or the warrant will not be valid.
What to Do If Your Home or Vehicle Is Named in the Warrant
There’s three things to remember if you’ve been served with a search warrant:
- The purpose of a warrant is to protect your privacy and your rights. Requiring a warrant based on probable cause keeps police from just barging into our homes to take whatever they want.
- Even if the warrant is issued, you can contest its validity later. If a judge finds it invalid, all the evidence taken as a result of the warrant is thrown out. That can mean a dismissal of your case or a reduction of charges you can live with.
- You need a skilled criminal defense attorney—and you need one now. The police just went through your personal stuff, with a judge’s approval. They’re after you. And you’ll never have any hope of contesting the warrant without a legal tactician on your side.
If you’re the subject of a search warrant or you got charged with a crime based on one, contact us right now so we can start building your defense.
The victim in my case wants to drop charges against me. Won’t that get my charges dismissed?
Not necessarily, for a variety of reasons:
- It’s the State’s case. You should expect the case to get referred to a prosecutor—a lawyer whose job is convicting folks like you. The prosecutor can subpoena the victim to trial to testify against you, even if it’s against the victim’s will.
- The victim could be lying to you. It happens.
- The victim could change his or her mind. That also happens.
Just because a victim promises to drop the charges doesn’t mean you get off. You’ve still got the police and likely a prosecutor aligned against you.
To give yourself the best shot at a good outcome, you need a professional in your corner to fight for you. Before just relying on the word of a person who got you charged with a crime, sit down with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to strategize your defense. While the victim’s cooperation helps, it just doesn’t always win the day, and you can’t take a chance on your freedom or reputation.
If you need an experienced professional to look after you, call (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to schedule a free, no-obligation meeting where we can answer your questions and start building your defense—especially in showing the State the wisdom of granting the victim’s wish.