Frequently Asked Questions About SC Personal Injury Lawsuits

How long do I have to file a personal injury claim? What if the driver who hit me is uninsured? Why do I need to hire a personal injury lawyer?

We answer these questions and many more in our collection of frequently asked questions. Unlike many websites that provide brief yes-or-no answers to important legal questions like these, we provide detailed answers to help you get a better idea of your rights, your options, and what you can hope for in the future.

If your questions are not answered here, feel free to connect with us through our website, or call us at 843-488-5360, to speak directly with us about your legal concerns.

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  • I was hurt in a Charleston car accident but wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Do I still have a claim?

    Yes, you might have a claim. In South Carolina, the driver and all passengers in a moving motor vehicle are required to wear seat belts. Furthermore, the driver of a car is responsible for seeing that every passenger 17 or younger without a driver’s license/permit is protected by a fastened safety belt (or a car seat for small children). There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. The seat belt law does not apply to drivers or passengers who are:

    North Charleston & Charleston SC Car Accident Lawyer Derrick Law Firm
    • In a vehicle with no seat belts available
    • In a public transit vehicle other than a taxi
    • In a parade
    • In a church or school bus
    • In a United States Postal Service (USPS) truck
    • Injured patients or medical professionals in an emergency vehicle
    • Unable to use a seat belt for medical/physical reasons

    Comparative Negligence in South Carolina

    In some states, failure to wear a seat belt as required by law is considered comparative negligence and can reduce your award or bar your claim for damages against the at-fault driver who injured you. South Carolina, however, is not one of those states. 

    Although we follow a modified comparative fault rule, which means your settlement can be reduced according to your portion of fault in a crash, South Carolina law clearly states that failure to wear a seat belt cannot be used as evidence of comparative negligence in a car crash lawsuit. You can be fined up to $25 for not wearing a seat belt in a moving car, but a seat belt violation will not:

    • Appear on your driving record
    • Be reported to your insurance company
    • Cause you to be arrested
    • Constitute probable cause for a vehicle search
    • Prevent you from filing an insurance claim or lawsuit if you’re hurt in a car crash caused by someone else

    Filing an Insurance Claim

    You may file a civil lawsuit against a negligent driver who has injured you in a car accident even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt. Before going to court, though, your first step will probably be to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your damages:

    • Medical expenses
    • Property damage
    • Wages lost due to time off work for treatment/recovery
    • Pain and suffering

    Even though your failure to wear a seat belt cannot be used as evidence against you in court if your case goes to trial, the negligent driver’s insurance company could cite your non-compliance with the law as a reason to offer you an unfairly low settlement, especially if you don’t have an attorney. Its adjusters, who earn their livings by disputing and devaluing damage claims, might think you don’t understand the law regarding seat belt violations. They’re likely to deny your claim or offer you unfair compensation, knowing you’re not apt to sue them without legal representation. 

    If you do have a lawyer, however, the company is much more likely to cooperate with you because its representatives know your attorney will work to get you a fair settlement by:

    • Conducting a thorough investigation to prove the at-fault driver’s liability
    • Calling in expert witnesses such as an accident reconstruction specialist
    • Obtaining footage from nearby video cameras
    • Organizing and presenting your medical evidence convincingly
    • Putting a dollar amount on your pain and suffering to evaluate your claim
    • Negotiating with the insurance company and demanding a reasonable award
    • Fighting for you in court if your case goes to trial

    Once the insurance company realizes your lawyer is prepared to file a lawsuit if necessary, it’s much more likely to offer you a fair out-of-court settlement than to absorb the expense of a trial. 

    Protecting Your Claim

    If you’re injured while driving without a seat belt in a Charleston car crash, there are several things you can do at the scene to strengthen and protect your claim. If you’re physically able to do so after the wreck, you should:

    • Move to a safe area. 
    • Call 911 to report the accident.
    • Take photos of all vehicles involved in the wreck, as well as the accident scene.
    • Get names and contact information from any witnesses to the crash.
    • Exchange information with the other driver(s), but don’t discuss the wreck.
    • Don’t admit any fault to anyone.
    • Seek medical attention right away even if you don’t feel you’ve been seriously injured. 
    • Notify your insurance company.
    • Consult a lawyer.

    Have You Been Injured In A Charleston South Carolina Area Car Accident?

    If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

     

  • Do I have a workers’ compensation claim if I was injured in a physical fight at work?

    There are circumstances under which a workplace altercation-related injury entitles you to file a South Carolina workers’ compensation claim. You don’t have to prove your employer was at fault to collect benefits, and your employer may not fire you or retaliate against you for filing a claim

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    Receiving Benefits for Workplace Violence

    The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) reports that almost two million Americans are assaulted at their workplaces annually, and the fourth leading cause of death on the job is homicide. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workplace violence takes different forms:

    • Physical fights
    • Sabotage of equipment
    • Sexual abuse
    • Use of weapons
    • Intimidation, stalking, and harassment
    • Assault in the process of theft
    • Verbal abuse or threats

    OSHA recommends steps you can take to avoid/prevent being injured by violent behavior on the job:

    • Report suspicious or threatening behavior to your boss.
    • Know your employer’s guidelines for addressing workplace violence.
    • Avoid keeping/transporting large amounts of money; don’t make deposits/withdrawals alone.
    • Familiarize yourself with the location and use of warning/alert devices in the workplace.
    • Avoid taking sides in arguments between co-workers.
    • Don’t allow personal issues to affect your behavior on the job.

    Types of Compensable Injuries

    Showing that an injury suffered in an on-the-job fight is compensable is more difficult than proving the validity of most other workers’ comp claims. In order to collect benefits for an injury suffered on the job, you must prove that:

    • You sustained your injury in the normal course of performing your duties.
    • You didn’t injure yourself intentionally.
    • You weren’t doing anything illegal at the time of your injury.
    • You weren’t impaired by drugs or alcohol when you were injured.

    Your employer’s insurance company will look for ways to deny your claim in order to save money. Its adjusters and attorneys are paid to dispute your contention that your fight arose in the normal course of your work, but you could prevail with the help of an experienced lawyer. Some examples of potentially compensable claims are:

    • While working, you unintentionally do/say something that hurts/offends a co-worker who then intentionally retaliates against you physically.
    • A co-worker with whom you have an off-the-job acquaintance/relationship is angry with you and intentionally injures you while you’re working.
    • At work, you deal with the public and sometimes have to ask people to abide by certain company policies, regulations, or procedures. A customer gets angry with you for doing so and assaults you physically.
    • Your sales job requires you to travel, visit other businesses, or stay in hotels/motels. At a site you visit for work purposes or in a place where you spend the night, you’re assaulted by an employee, customer, or criminal intruder.
    • You’re a cashier who handles money on the job, and a thief injures you in the process of a robbery.

    Any one of the scenarios above might lead to a compensable workers’ comp claim as long as you prove that you didn’t initiate the physical contact. If it can be shown that you threw the first punch, however, then the insurance company will dispute your claim and say you intentionally put yourself at risk of physical injury. Furthermore, you could have trouble proving that an injury sustained off the job was the result of work-related violence. You might not be entitled to benefits if, for example: 

    • You have a verbal argument at work with someone who intentionally runs your car off the road on the way home.
    • You’re a traveling salesperson who stops at a bar for drinks after the day’s last appointment and is assaulted there.
    • You’re injured on a lunch break or in the parking lot before or after work, rather than in the process of doing your job.

    The complexity of proving a compensable workplace violence injury case makes the services of a lawyer necessary to maximize your chances of a successful claim.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job?

    If you've been hurt at your job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our ConwayMyrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

     

  • Are there employer exemptions for workers’ compensation claims in South Carolina?

    Almost every South Carolina business with at least four employees is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which covers employees’ work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Both for-profit and non-profit businesses are included. If you’re injured or become sick on the job, workers’ comp generally provides no-fault coverage of your:

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    • Medical expenses
    • Wages lost due to time off work
    • Disability care if you can’t return to work
    • Vocational re-training in some cases
    • Death benefits (for your family if you are fatally injured)

    It’s possible, however, that you work for one of the few employers who are exempt. If so, that means your employer is not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

    Employer Exemptions

    The following types of businesses are not required by South Carolina law to carry workers’ comp:

    • Railroads/railway express companies
    • Agricultural businesses
    • State/county fair associations
    • Employers with fewer than four employees
    • Companies with an annual payroll of less than $3,000

    Such employers may choose to purchase workers’ comp coverage so that employees may file claims for benefits, but they are not required by South Carolina law to do so. 

    Employee Exemptions

    Some employees are not eligible for workers’ comp benefits even if their employers carry workers’ comp insurance. Non-covered workers include:

    • Federal employees of the state
    • Some real estate agents working for brokers
    • Casual employees working only on an as-needed basis
    • Members of Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs)
    • Sole proprietors
    • Partners
    • Independent contractors

    One employer’s definition of an independent contractor is not necessarily the same as another’s. All workers who receive 1099 wage statements are not necessarily independent contractors. Furthermore, if a subcontractor carries no workers’ comp insurance, the general contractor in charge of a job or project could be liable for workers’ on-the-job injuries, which are common in the building trades. 

    For this reason, a general contractor might require subcontractors to purchase workers’ comp insurance for their own workers. Some employees who are not automatically protected by their employers’ workers’ comp coverage might also be able to purchase insurance on their own to cover work-related injuries. If you’re hurt on the job, an experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help you determine whether you’re covered and what to do if you’re not.

    Common Workers’ Compensation Injuries and Illnesses

    Workplace accidents and conditions lead to a variety of injuries and illnesses for which employees can file workers’ comp claims:

    • Broken, fractured, or crushed bones from falls or impact with falling objects
    • Lung damage from inhaling toxic fumes
    • Repetitive motion conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Dislocated knees and torn ligaments from slip-and-fall accidents or lifting/carrying heavy objects
    • Shoulder injuries including dislocation, torn rotator cuffs, or degeneration from heavy lifting or repetitive motion
    • Spinal injuries like herniated/bulging discs, fractured/fused vertebrae, and degeneration
    • Pulled muscles and ligaments
    • Burns and lacerations
    • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)

    Conditions Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation

    Even if your employer carries workers’ comp, some conditions are not covered:  

    • Stress
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)

    The following conditions are not covered unless related to a specific workplace injury/illness:

    • Stroke
    • Heart attack
    • Embolism
    • Aneurysm  

    What to Do If Your Employer Does Not Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance

    Although most South Carolina employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance, failure to do so is not a crime, and there is no set penalty for non-exempt employers who don’t have workers’ comp. If your employer is not exempt but does not have workers’ comp coverage, you could receive compensation through the Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF), which is overseen by the South Carolina Second Injury Fund. 

    If the UEF accepts your claim and compensates you for expenses related to your workplace injury/illness, it will then have a lien against the assets of the employer that should have paid your claim. If the UEF denies your claim, you might face a legal battle with the Second Injury Fund. Depending on the specifics of your claim, you might also be able to file a civil lawsuit against your employer or a liable third party. In such cases, the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney are vital to your success. You don’t want to go up against a state agency or a company/corporation without legal representation. They will have lawyers on their team. So should you.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job?

    If you've been hurt at your job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our ConwayMyrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

     

  • Is my North Charleston car accident settlement taxable?

    Some of your settlement probably is taxable; some of it probably is not. We outline the general tax rules here, but you are encouraged to seek the services of an accountant for advice that is specific to your unique situation. 

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    Compensatory vs. Non-Compensatory Damages

    Compensatory damages are intended to make you “whole” after your accident—to restore you to the condition you’d be in had you not been the victim in a car crash. Such damages reimburse you for the money you’ve lost or will lose as a result of your injuries/property damage. Compensatory damages aren’t taxable and don’t have to be claimed as income. 

    Non-compensatory damages give you compensation you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t been in an accident. They are taxable and should be claimed as income. 

    Medical Expenses Reltated To Your Car Accident

    Money that you receive as reimbursement for present/future medical expenses to treat physical injuries/sickness resulting from your accident is compensatory and generally not taxable. There is, however, one exception to this rule. 

    Some personal injury cases take time to settle, so you might not receive your award in the same year that you were injured and filed your claim. If you took an itemized tax deduction for medical expenses related to the injuries/sickness resulting from your accident in the year(s) previous to the year in which you receive your settlement, the tax benefit you received from that deduction is taxable and should be claimed as “other income” on your tax return.

    Property Damage

    Money that you receive to reimburse you for damage to or the total loss of your vehicle or any other property damaged or destroyed in the accident is also compensatory and generally not taxable. If, however, your award for property damage exceeds the value of the property lost or damaged, that excess amount is considered taxable income and must be claimed as such on your tax return.

    Lost Wages/Profits

    Employees

    If you receive compensation for wages lost due to time off work after your accident, that money is not considered compensatory. Had you not been injured in a car crash, you would’ve been working to earn this money, and it would’ve been taxable income; therefore, this portion of your award is taxable and should be claimed on your return.

    Business owners

    If a portion of your settlement reimburses you for profits lost due to your inability to operate your business after your accident, that portion is considered taxable business income and should be claimed on your tax return.

    Pain and Suffering

    Your compensation for pain and suffering is generally not taxable as long as you can show that it resulted directly from the injuries you sustained in the accident. An experienced lawyer can use your medical evidence to demonstrate the connection convincingly to the insurance company or the court.

    Emotional/Psychological Trauma

    This is a little bit trickier than physical pain and suffering. Emotional/psychological trauma might not be taxable if you can show that it reasonably resulted from the injuries you suffered in the accident. For example, if your car was hit by a semi-truck on an Interstate highway, you might have sustained catastrophic injuries and now feel terrified to drive on the Interstate with trucks racing by at high speeds. As a result, you might have to take other, slower routes to get where you’re going each day. 

    Your attorney could call in an expert witness like a psychiatrist or psychologist to testify that you’re suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) as a direct result of your accident. If you don’t establish this kind of connection convincingly, you might have to pay taxes on the portion of your settlement that compensates you for emotional/psychological trauma. The services of a lawyer are highly recommended in such a case.

    Punitive Damages

    In some cases, you might be awarded punitive damages if the driver who caused your accident did so intentionally or through very reckless behavior—like drunk driving. The court could order the defendant to pay you extra money beyond your compensatory damages. Punitive damages are generally considered taxable and should be claimed as “other income.” 

    Have You Been Injured In A Charleston South Carolina Area Car Accident?

    If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our North Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2413 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or Charleston office locations.

  • Can I get compensation for my damages if I was hurt in a Mt. Pleasant hit-and-run accident and cannot find the driver?

    Yes, there are ways to recover damages if you’ve been injured by a missing hit-and-run driver. A hit-and-run accident occurs when a vehicle involved in a crash leaves the scene without:

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    • Exchanging information with other drivers involved
    • Reporting the accident
    • Helping anyone who is injured

    Reasons for Fleeing the Scene

    Although leaving the scene of an accident in Mt. Pleasant can result in fines and/or jail time, at-fault motorists might flee for a number of reasons:

    • Fear of contact with law enforcement due to outstanding warrants or parole violation
    • Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs
    • In the process of committing a crime
    • Drugs/stolen goods in the vehicle
    • Ignorance of the law
    • No driver’s license
    • Stolen vehicle
    • No insurance

    Even if you didn’t cause the accident, you’re required to stay at the scene unless your injuries are so serious that you’re immediately transported to a hospital. If you collide with a car that is stationary and unattended, you should still report the accident and leave your contact information for the driver to find. In South Carolina, leaving the scene of a wreck that causes any damage or injury is a crime. Nonetheless, the American Automobile Association (AAA) ranks our state ninth in the U.S. for the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes, which doubled between 2014 and 2016.

    What to Do After a Mt. Pleasant Hit-and-Run Car Accident

    If you’re the victim in one of these increasingly common accidents, there are several things that you can do at the scene to improve your chances of getting fair compensation for your damages. If you are physically able to, you should: 

    • Get photos of the fleeing vehicle or at least try to remember the make, model, and color of the car, as well as the appearance of the driver.
    • Note all or any part of the license plate number.
    • Call 911 and report the accident to the police when they arrive.
    • Get contact information from any witnesses to the wreck.
    • Contact your insurance company.
    • Seek medical attention as soon as possible even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured.
    • Consult a car accident attorney

    Recovering Damages Following A South Carolina Car Accident

    Under normal circumstances, if you’re injured in an accident in Mt. Pleasant, you may file a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company for your damages:

    • Medical bills
    • Lost wages
    • Property damage
    • Pain and suffering

    In a hit-and-run accident, however, you don’t know whom to file against unless the police apprehend the at-fault driver. While you wait for the unknown driver to be caught, South Carolina law allows you to file a “John Doe/Jane Doe” lawsuit against that driver as long as:

    • You report the accident within a reasonable period of time.
    • Your injury or property damage was caused by physical contact with the other vehicle, or the accident was witnessed by a third party who will sign an affidavit attesting to the facts of the crash.
    • You have not been negligent in failing to identify the “John/Jane Doe” who caused your accident.

    If that driver is eventually caught, you may then file a claim against the insurance company to recover damages. If the guilty driver is never caught or is uninsured/underinsured, though, you might not be able to collect enough money to cover your damages through the normal processes. In such a case, you could still receive compensation from other sources:

    Your insurance company.

    Every South Carolina driver is required to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) insurance with minimum bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. You also have the option of purchasing higher levels of UM coverage, as well as underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. When you file a claim for your damages with your own company, however, its adjusters and attorneys might try to dispute or deny your claim to save the company money.

    Your health insurance company.

    If you were walking, cycling, or skateboarding at the time of the accident, you could get compensation from your own health insurance.

    A civil lawsuit.

    If the negligent driver is apprehended and convicted of hit-and-run, you have grounds to sue that driver and demand out-of-pocket payment for your outstanding damages. 

    The services of an experienced lawyer are highly recommended in all of the circumstances described above.

    Have You Been Injured by a Missing Hit-and-Run Driver in Mt. Pleasant?

    If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Mt. Pleasant South Carolina law office directly at 843.488.3226 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, CharlestonNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

     

     

  • Does South Carolina workers’ compensation provide death benefits to families of Horry County workers fatally injured on the job?

    Yes, some family members may be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits if a loved one dies due to a work-related injury or illness—as 4,000 to 5,000 Americans have annually for the past 10 years. 

    Charleston Workers' Compensation Attorney Derrick Law Firm

    Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

    Every South Carolina business with four or more employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which provides no-fault coverage for employees’ work-related injuries and illnesses. When an employee dies as a result of a workplace injury or illness, death benefits are available to family members who were wholly financially dependent on the deceased:

    • Spouse
    • Minor children
    • Adult children physically or mentally unable to support themselves
    • Adult children under 23 who are full-time students

    Adopted children, stepchildren, and illegitimate children are not considered completely dependent or eligible for death benefits unless they prove financial dependence on the deceased for more than 90 days before the time of death.

    If your deceased loved one leaves behind no wholly dependent children, partial dependents may collect benefits according to their percentage of dependence. Any remaining benefits go to:

    • Non-dependent children
    • Surviving parents of the deceased

    Collection of benefits can also be affected by exceptional circumstances:

    • The deceased received workers’ comp benefits prior to death.
    • The beneficiaries are non-resident aliens.

    Due to the complexity of the distribution system, the services of a workers’ comp attorney are highly recommended for anyone trying to prove financial dependence. 

    What South Carolina Workers’ Comp Pays

    The family of an employee who dies because of a  work-related injury or illness should generally receive:

    • Reimbursement for medical expenses incurred prior to death
    • Approximately two-thirds of the deceased’s average weekly salary (up to a weekly cap that changes annually) for 500 weeks
    • Funeral expenses up to $2,500

    Reporting and Filing

    Even though you’re mourning the loss of your loved one, it’s important to take the proper steps immediately after a work-related death:

    • Report the death to the employer or workplace claims representative.
    • File a Form 52 with the SCWCC.
    • Keep all bills, receipts, and documentation for medical and funeral expenses.
    • Consult an attorney.

    Denials and the Appeals Process For A Charleston Area Workers' Compensation Claim

    Workers’ comp death benefit claims are among the most expensive for your loved one’s employer’s insurance company to pay. If there was a significant period of time between the injury and the ensuing death, perhaps surgery or other expensive medical procedures took place. If so, the hospital bills are likely to be high. Nearly 10 years’ worth of lost wage reimbursement can also add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

    The more expensive the claim, the more likely the insurance company is to look for ways to dispute or deny it to save money. Some common reasons for death benefit claim denials are:

    • A pre-existing medical condition contributed to the on-the-job death.
    • The employer maintains the deceased worker was not an employee but an independent contractor not eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
    • The deceased employee’s injuries were self-inflicted/intentional.
    • The employee was committing a crime or under the influence of drugs/alcohol when the fatal injury occurred.
    • The employee’s fatal injury was not sustained in the course of work.  

    If your death benefit is denied, however, that is not the last word on your claim. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) allows you to appeal the insurance company’s denial at five different levels: 

    • Informal conference
    • SCWCC hearing request
    • Commission review
    • SC Court of Appeals
    • SC Supreme Court

    Your attorney can guide you through these difficult procedures and be sure you make no mistakes that might hurt your claim. 

    Have You Been Injured On The Job?

    If you've been hurt at your job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Conway, South Carolina office directly at 843.248.7486 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, Columbia, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.


     

  • Why should I hire a lawyer for an accident that wasn’t my fault?

    If you’re a victim seriously injured in an accident caused by someone else, the very fact that it wasn’t your fault is the reason you need an attorney. Without one, you might end up stuck with economic damages that should be paid by the at-fault driver:

    Charleston Car Accident Lawyer Derrick Law Firm
    • Medical expenses
    • Property damage
    • Lost wages

    Handling your claim without legal representation might also cost you the opportunity to get fair compensation for your non-economic damages:

    • Pain and suffering
    • Emotional distress
    • Loss of enjoyment of life

    If you’re injured in a car crash caused by another driver, the best way to strengthen and protect your claim is to avoid admitting fault to anyone and contact an attorney as soon as possible.

    Insurance Companies Will Fight Your Claim Following A Charleston Area Car Accident

    If you’re one of the lucky car accident victims who has only minimal damage to a vehicle and minor injuries from the crash, you might be able to file your own claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company and cover your damages. The insurance company will not be so accommodating, however, if:

    • Your car is totaled.
    • You have severe injuries requiring surgery and/or referrals to specialists.
    • You have a long recovery ahead of you and cannot work for an extended period of time.
    • You are left fully or partially disabled.
    • Your loved one has died in the car crash.

    In any of these cases, the insurance company is going to look for any way it can to dispute, devalue, or deny your claim. Its adjusters and attorneys have a duty to protect the interests of its policyholders and keep the company profitable. They don’t do so by simply paying every claim that’s filed. They will dig deeper into your medical records to look for pre-existing conditions they can blame for your current injuries. They will use any ambiguity or imprecise language in the police report to place some or all of the blame for the wreck on you.

    They will use that information to dispute/deny your claim or to offer you an unfairly low settlement soon after the crash and before you even know what your total medical expenses are likely to be. Even when you’re at your best, you probably don’t stand a chance of coming out on top against these trained professionals—and you’re hardly at your best if you’re recovering from serious injuries. This is why you need a lawyer. Only an experienced car accident attorney can help you get the settlement you deserve by:

    • Checking the police report for inaccuracies and hiring an independent investigator if necessary
    • Interviewing witnesses to the crash and obtaining video footage from nearby security or red-light cameras
    • Connecting with your doctors to get accurate documentation of your injuries, treatment, and prognosis
    • Bringing in expert witnesses and/or an accident reconstruction specialist
    • Putting a dollar amount on your pain and suffering
    • Negotiating with the insurance company to get you fair compensation
    • Taking your case to trial if necessary

    Your Charleston Car Accident Lawyer Can Negotiate a Lower Percentage of Fault

    Even if you are partially responsible for your own accident, you can still file a claim for damages. Your award will simply be reduced by your percentage of fault. South Carolina’s modified comparative fault system, however, will bar you from collecting any compensation at all if you are more than 50% to blame. The insurance company’s lawyers will do all they can to show that you were more than half responsible. Having an experienced attorney in your corner to fight back and prove them wrong can make the difference between collecting fair compensation and collecting nothing.

    Have You Been Injured In A Charleston South Carolina Area Car Accident?

    If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

     

  • What is a reasonable settlement in a Charleston car accident case?

    There really is no standard or average damage award in a Charleston car crash. Settlements can range from a few thousand to millions of dollars, depending on a number of factors:

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    • The severity of your injuries/amount of your medical expenses
    • Whether surgery is necessary
    • Disability/need for long-term care
    • Pain and suffering
    • Emotional/psychological trauma
    • Time off work/lost income
    • Loss of enjoyment of life
    • Cost of property damage
    • Your share of fault, if any, in the accident
    • Whether you’ve hired an attorney
    • Whether your case goes to court
    • Whether the at-fault driver’s actions were intentional or reckless enough to justify punitive damages

    Available Insurance Coverage Plays an Important Role

    South Carolina law requires every motorist to carry at least $25,000 worth of liability insurance coverage. If the at-fault driver in your crash had only the minimum required coverage, it might not be enough to compensate you fairly for:

    • Major damage to your vehicle
    • Treatment of severe injuries
    • Ongoing care for disability
    • Future lost earning potential

    In such a case, you might be able to collect further compensation from:

    • Your own underinsured motorist coverage (UIM)
    • A manufacturer or repair service if faulty equipment caused your wreck
    • A liquor license holder that served alcohol to a drunk driver

    The services of an experienced attorney are highly recommended to get you fair compensation by filing claims against multiple parties and negotiating with more than one insurance company.

    How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Recovery Following A Charleston Area Car Accident

    If you’re found partially at fault for your own accident, you may still file a claim for damages and go to court if necessary. South Carolina’s modified comparative fault system, however, will reduce your award according to your percentage of fault as long as you’re less than 51% responsible. If you’re 51% or more at fault, you will recover nothing at all. Calculating the percentage of fault is a very subjective process and depends upon your attorney’s presenting your evidence convincingly.

    Your Car Accident Attorney Will Protect You From Insurance Company Tricks

    If you’re injured by a negligent driver in Charleston, South Carolina law allows you to file a claim against that driver’s insurance company for your damages. Once you do so, an insurance adjuster from the company is likely to contact you, inquire about your health, and request answers to some “routine” questions. In reality, the adjuster is trying to trick you into giving a recorded statement and/or saying something that can be used against you to dispute or devalue your claim. Adjusters are well trained and well paid to keep their companies profitable by paying out as little money as possible to accident victims.

    You might even be offered a quick settlement at this point if you agree to sign “necessary” documents. If you communicate openly with this adjuster and/or accept the first settlement you’re offered, it will definitely be a low one. If you’ve retained an attorney, your best move in this situation is to give only the most basic information and refer the adjuster to your lawyer, who will know:

    • What to say/not to say to an adjuster
    • How to investigate your accident thoroughly
    • How to gather all your evidence and present it convincingly
    • How to evaluate your claim and put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering
    • How to calculate a fair settlement for your damages
    • How to send a demand letter to the insurance company
    • How to negotiate with the insurance company to get you adequate compensation
    • How to take your case to trial and fight for you in court if necessary

    As soon as the insurance company knows you have an attorney to do all of the above and more, it has an incentive to offer you a better settlement. Without an attorney, you pose no threat to the company. Its lawyers are trained negotiators and litigators against whom you do not stand a chance of getting a fair settlement on your own. For these reasons, having an attorney has a direct bearing on what your settlement offer will be. You stand to get a significantly higher offer with a lawyer than without one.

    Have You Been Injured In A Charleston South Carolina Area Car Accident?

    If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

     

  • Who will pay my benefits if I file a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina?

    In most cases, workers’ compensation claims are paid by insurance companies. Almost every employer in South Carolina carries workers’ compensation insurance to cover work-related injuries and illnesses. Employees hurt on the job sometimes hesitate to file workers’ comp claims, however, because they fear their employers will take action against them for costing the company money. 

    Charleston South Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyer Derrick Law Firm

    It’s important to remember that:

    • The employer almost never bears the cost of a claim directly.
    • Your employer may not legally fire you or retaliate against you for filing a claim.

    Employees Covered by Workers’ Compensation 

    The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC)  requires essentially every company or business with four or more employers to participate in the workers’ compensation program. Almost all employees are covered, with a handful of exceptions:

    • Casual employees working on an as-needed basis
    • Agricultural employees
    • Railroad employees
    • Federal employees
    • Independent contractors such as real estate agents working for brokers
    • Employees of companies with annual payrolls of less than $3,000
    • LLC members
    • Partners in a business
    • Sole proprietors

    Workers’ Compensation Benefits In Charleston, South Carolina

    If you suffer an accident and injury in the course of doing your job, you may file a workers’ comp claim for:

    • All medical expenses related to your injury
    • Wages lost due to time off work
    • Temporary or permanent disability benefits if you’re unable to return to your job
    • Vocational retraining for a different job in some cases
    • Death benefits if a loved one dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness

    Sources of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

    There are three sources of workers’ compensation benefits: state programs, private insurance carriers, and self-insurance.

    State Program

    South Carolina employers can participate in workers’ comp through the state’s Assigned Risk Program, which is administered by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). The employer pays NCCI a regular premium in return for coverage of work-related injuries. This option is chosen most often by:

    • Small employers
    • Employers unlikely to deal with many workplace injuries

    Private Insurance Carriers

    Employers may purchase workers’ comp insurance from private carriers and pay monthly premiums just as you do for your car, health, or home insurance. The carrier is then responsible for paying workers’ compensation benefits. This is the most common option for employers.

    Self-Insurance

    An employer with sufficient financial resources can request the self-insurance option, for which the SCWCC requires three years’ worth of audited financial statements showing the company meets an established financial standard. For this reason, self-insurance is the least common workers’ comp option for employers. 

    The SCWCC oversees self-insured companies more closely than it does any others to be sure they’re operating according to state law, following procedure, accepting legitimate claims, and paying benefits in a timely manner. A self-insured employer often handles workers’ comp claims through a third-party administrator who deals with:

    • Claims processing
    • Paperwork
    • Claim management
    • Dispersing benefits 

    A self-insured employer has both a greater financial risk than others do in terms of workers’ compensation benefits and more financial resources to fight your claim. If you’ve filed a claim with a self-insured employer and have encountered disputes, denial, or slow payments, you might very well require the help of a workers’ comp attorney to get the settlement you deserve. 

    How to Report and File A Work Related Injury

    In the great majority of cases, an employer pays monthly premiums to an insurance company that has plenty of resources to pay workers’ comp benefits, so you should not hesitate to file your claim. If you’ve been injured in a work-related injury or developed an illness due to workplace conditions, you should:

    • Report your injury or illness to your employer and/or the workers’ comp claims administrator at your workplace.
    • File your own claim by requesting a form 50 from the SCWCC if your employer does not immediately file a claim on your behalf. 
    • See a doctor certified by the insurance company.
    • Follow all medical advice and treatment guidelines.

    Although you have 90 days to report your injury and two years to file your claim, you should do both right away. Any delay on your part could be cited by the insurance company as evidence that your injury or illness is not serious. If your claim is disputed or denied or your employer retaliates against you, a workers’ compensation lawyer can guide you through the appeals process to get you the benefits you deserve. 

    Have You Been Injured On The Job?

    If you've been hurt at your job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our ConwayMyrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

     

  • Can I still get compensation for my injuries if I was partially responsible for a Charleston, South Carolina accident?

    Charleston SC Car Accident Lawyer Derrick Law FirmYou can only collect compensation for 100% of the damages above if the other driver is 100% responsible for your wreck. If you’re partially at fault for your South Carolina car accident, you can collect compensation as long as you’re less than 51% at fault. However, your recovery will be reduced.

    There are many scenarios where both drivers can be found partially at fault. For example:

    • One driver is speeding and the other is driving under the influence (DUI).
    • A driver runs a stop sign and is hit in the intersection by a car making an illegal turn.
    • A driver with burnt-out brake lights stops suddenly and is rear-ended by a tailgater with faulty brakes.

    Types of Comparative Negligence

    The doctrine of comparative negligence (or comparative fault) allocates compensation based on each party’s percentage of fault in a crash. Partially negligent crash victims whose claims are successful will have their compensation for damages reduced by their respective percentages of fault.

    One of three variations of comparative negligence is used in most U.S. states today:

    Pure comparative negligence.

    You may collect a percentage of the award granted by the court, regardless of how big or small your percentage of fault is. Even if you’re 99% at fault, you can still collect 1% of the damages awarded.

    Modified comparative negligence (51% bar).

    The fault of the plaintiff or claimant must not be greater than that of the defendant. If the drivers’ fault is equal at 50% each, the plaintiff may collect 50% of the damages awarded by the court. A plaintiff who is found to be 51% at fault, however, may not collect anything at all. This is the rule followed in South Carolina.

    Modified comparative negligence (50% bar).

    If you are equally at fault with the defendant, then you collect nothing. You must be found less than 50% at fault in order to collect a percentage of damages. If you are 49% responsible, you will collect 51% of the damages awarded; if you are 50% responsible, you will collect nothing.

    Special Rules for South Carolina Crashes Involving More Than Two Vehicles

    In multi-car accidents, injured claimants may still collect compensation for damages according to their percentages of fault. If, however, one driver’s fault is greater than the combined fault of all the others, that driver may not collect any compensation. In a four-car crash, for example, if one injured driver is found to be 55% responsible, and the other three are each 15% at fault, the first driver may not collect any damages because 55% is greater than 45%.

    Calculating Percentage of Fault

    If you’re thinking there must be a clear and consistent method that is universally used to assign fault fairly in an accident, you’re mistaken. Like quantifying pain, emotion, or anything else that is essentially non-numerical, quantifying fault is a judgment call. In cases of mutual negligence, there is no standard formula that translates the details of your accident into percentages of fault for the drivers/vehicles involved.

    Two different judges or two juries trying the same case might find differing percentages of fault. This is just one reason why you need an experienced car crash lawyer to present your evidence convincingly if your case should go to trial. The insurance company’s lawyers are trained to:

    • Understand comparative negligence
    • Estimate your possible percentage of fault in an accident
    • Use their knowledge to reduce your settlement offer if possible

    You need an attorney who can show that you were less than 51% at fault in your accident by:

    • Obtaining police/accident reports
    • Presenting photo/video evidence
    • Interviewing witnesses to the crash
    • Calling expert witnesses
    • Reconstructing your accident
    • Obtaining phone records and/or “black box” data

    A skilled attorney can maximize your compensation for both economic and non-economic damages:

    • Medical bills
    • Property damage
    • Lost wages
    • Pain and suffering
    • Psychological trauma

    Have You Been Injured In A Charleston South Carolina Area Car Accident?

    If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.