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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  • 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.

  • What if my work injury doesn't heal, and I can no longer do the type of work I want to do?

    You could be eligible for workers’ compensation permanent disability benefits and vocational rehabilitation. South Carolina law requires employers with four or more employees to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, which is no-fault coverage for workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses.

    Charleston South Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyer Derrick Law Firm

    To file a workers’ compensation claim, you needn’t prove your employer caused your accident. Even if it was your own fault, you may still collect benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages. Your company can’t retaliate against you or fire you for filing a claim.

    Determining Your Impairment Rating For A Workers' Compensation Claim In Charleston

    If your claim is successful, your employer must keep you employed while you receive treatment. When you’ve recovered to the extent that your doctor feels you’re going to, you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). At this point, if you’re never going to recover completely from your injury, your doctor may give you an impairment rating that entitles you to permanent partial or total workers’ comp disability benefits. These benefits would cover all your medical care, along with partial compensation for lost wages.

    Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) 

    The length of time for which you may receive PPD benefits for lost wages (two-thirds of your salary) depends on your specific disability:

    • Loss of up to 49% of the use of your back: 300 weeks
    • Loss of one arm: 220 weeks
    • Loss of one leg: 195 weeks
    • Loss of vision in one eye: 140 weeks
    • Loss of one thumb: 65 weeks
    • Loss of one big toe: 32 weeks
    • Loss of one other toe: 10 weeks

    Permanent Total Disability (PTD)

    If you’ve lost or lost the use of any of the following, you’re eligible for PTD benefits, which should equal two-thirds of your average weekly wage for 500 weeks, usually paid in a lump sum:

    • 50% or more of the use of your back
    • Both shoulders
    • Both arms
    • Both legs
    • Both feet
    • Both hips
    • Both eyes
    • Two different body parts (one arm and one leg, for example)
    • Death (The deceased employee’s dependents are entitled to 500 weeks’ worth of benefits.)

    You may collect benefits essentially for life if your injury has left you:

    • Quadriplegic (arms and legs paralyzed)
    • Paraplegic (legs paralyzed)
    • Brain-damaged

    Vocational Rehabilitation

    If you are unable to return to your previous work, vocational rehabilitation services may help pay for the training you need to find a job that is suitable to your current condition. Vocational rehabilitation services can also include help with locating job opportunities, preparing a resume, and improving interviewing skills.

    How An Experienced Worker's Compensation Attorney Can Help

    If you receive an impairment rating, the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) will hold a conference to decide exactly what benefits and vocational rehabilitation services you will receive. You, your attorney, insurance company representatives, and a claims mediator will attend.

    Because disability claims are the most expensive for the insurance company, its representatives are likely to dispute your claim or offer you a low settlement. That’s why the services of a lawyer are highly recommended at this stage. It will be very hard for you to take on the insurance company by yourself when you’ve just suffered a disabling accident. Your attorney can:

    • Calculate all your medical expenses.
    • Present your evidence convincingly.
    • Negotiate with the insurance company’s lawyers to get you a fair settlement and (in some cases) vocational rehabilitation to train you for a different job

    If this conference is not successful, your lawyer can request a hearing with an SCWCC commissioner, who has the power to determine your degree of disability on the basis of your impairment rating. The insurance company must abide by the SCWCC’s decision. If you still do not get an acceptable offer, you have three more levels of appeal, all with strict rules of procedure and guidelines that your attorney can be sure you follow:

    • Commission Review
    • SC Appeals Court
    • SC Supreme Court

    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 Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, Conway, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

  • I was working for my company at a house in Charleston and was bitten by the homeowner’s dog. Can I file a workers’ compensation claim?

    Yes, it’s possible that you can. When you think of work-related injuries, dog bites are probably not the first ones that come to mind, but they happen more often than you might think. Some workers who suffer dog bites on the job are:

    Workers' comp may pay for your dog bite injury. Charleston Workers' Compensation Attorney Derrick Law Firm
    • Postal workers
    • Garbage collectors
    • Lawn care technicians
    • Landscapers
    • Exterminators
    • Home remodelers/construction workers
    • Delivery drivers

    Workers' Compensation Dog Bite Injuries In Charleston, SC 

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20% of dog bites require medical treatment. Common dog bite injuries include:

    • Nerve damage
    • Eye/neck injuries
    • Fractures of small bones
    • Punctures/lacerations
    • Scarring/disfigurement
    • Infection
    • Rabies
    • MRSA
    • Psychological trauma

    Workers’ Compensation for Dog Bites

    If you work in one of the positions above or any other that sends you onto private property or into people’s homes in Charleston, your dog bite injury might be covered by South Carolina workers’ compensation insurance. If you’re one of four or more employees, your employer is required to carry workers’ comp, which provides workers who suffer job-related injuries with no-fault coverage for:

    • All medical expenses
    • Two-thirds of lost wages
    • Long-term disability care
    • Vocational retraining (if needed)

    If you’ve suffered a dog bite on the job, you may file a workers’ comp claim as long as:

    • You’re an employee of the company for whom you were working when bitten. (Neither independent contractors nor casual workers are covered.)
    • Your dog bite injury occurred by accident and arose out of/in the course of your employment.

    Filing A Worker's Compensation Claim In Charleston Following A Dog Bite

    If you’ve suffered a dog bite injury in the course of your job, you should immediately begin the claims process:

    • Report your dog bite to your employer in writing and include photos of your injuries, the location of the accident, and the dog if possible. Although you have 90 days to do so, don’t wait. Any delay on your part might be used against you by the insurance company.
    • If your employer does not file a claim on your behalf with the insurance company, request a form 50 from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC), fill it out, and submit it. You have two years to do so, but, again, don’t wait.
    • See a doctor certified by the insurance company.
    • Follow that doctor’s orders carefully.
    • Consult an attorney if your employer does not cooperate or if the insurance company disputes your claim.

    Workers' Compensation Denials and Appeals

    If your injuries are severe, your medical expenses high, and your time off work long, the insurance company might try to deny your claim or offer you insufficient benefits in order to save money. If this happens, you have the right to five levels of appeal:

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

    At every level, there are strict rules of procedure and deadlines to meet. The services of an experienced lawyer are highly recommended for a successful appeal.

    Filing a Personal Injury Claim to Recover Additional Damages

    If your workers’ comp claim is successful, it will cover only two-thirds of your lost wages and none of your pain and suffering. You might be able to recover the rest of your damages by retaining an attorney and filing a claim against the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company. (If you’re an independent contractor, you must file a personal injury claim for any compensation since you’re not covered by workers’ comp.)

    In South Carolina, a dog’s owner is strictly liable for your damages if the dog bites you when you are either:

    • In a public place
    • On private property (including the owner’s property) lawfully and with permission, as you would be if you were working at someone’s home

    The only possible defenses for the dog owner are:

    • You harassed or provoked the dog before you were bitten.
    • You were trespassing.

    (For your workers’ comp claim if you’re filing both, these defenses could be considered irrelevant since workers’ comp provides no-fault coverage.)

    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 Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, Conway, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

     

  • How soon should I contact a car accident lawyer after a Horry County crash?

    If you’re injured by a negligent driver in a Horry County car accident, you should do the following three things, in this order:

    Horry County South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Derrick Law Firm
    1. Stay at the scene, call 911, report the accident, and gather evidence.
    2. Seek medical attention/treatment.
    3. Contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible.

    Why You Need an Attorney as Soon as Possible

    South Carolina law allows you to file a claim against the at-fault driver for your damages:

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

    Even if your claim is valid, however, there is no guarantee that it will succeed. The insurance company’s adjusters are trained to dispute claims in order to save money for the company. They are likely to offer you a quick settlement that will not compensate you adequately for your medical and car repair bills.

    Getting a fair award depends upon gathering strong evidence and presenting it convincingly to the negligent driver’s insurance company (or in court if you end up going to trial). Because car accident evidence can deteriorate or be lost over time, you need an attorney who can:

    • Quickly get footage from any nearby security or red-light cameras that might have recorded your wreck
    • Contact witnesses and get their statements before memories get fuzzy with time
    • Check immediately for evidence from the towing company that removed the car(s) from the scene

    If you happen to have been hit by any kind of commercial vehicle (such as a taxi, delivery van, or truck) there might be an electronic data recorder or “black box” with evidence that is crucial to your case. Your lawyer will know how to get a court order to obtain the black box data from the company that owns the at-fault vehicle. Because black box data is generally erased every 30 days, your attorney can send a spoliation letter requesting that the company preserve that data and other evidence related to your crash. This needs to be done quickly.

    Other Reasons To Hire A Horry County Car Accident Lawyer

    To avoid making common mistakes.

    Many accident victims make the mistake of talking to insurance adjusters or giving recorded statements, either of which can hurt their claims. If you hire an attorney as soon as possible, you can refer the insurance company’s representatives to your lawyer until the claim is settled.

    To strengthen your case with experts.

    Your lawyer will know how to retain expert medical witnesses to testify about your injuries, recovery time, prognosis, and possible disabilities. An accident reconstruction expert is someone else your attorney can call in to reconstruct your accident and show that the other driver was at fault.

    To stay within deadlines.

    If the insurance company denies your claim or offers an unacceptably low settlement, your lawyer will file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out.

    To evaluate your claim and stand up to the insurance company.

    Your attorney can put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering, evaluate your injuries to determine what a reasonable settlement would be, and negotiate with the insurance company to get you a fair award. 

    To make the best use of your medical records.

    Very soon after you’re injured, you could have an avalanche of bills and receipts for hospitalization, ER treatment, physical therapy, prescriptions, and assistive equipment.

    Rather than try to keep track of all this evidence for yourself when you’re injured and recovering, you can turn it over to your attorney, who will organize and present it to your best advantage in negotiations with the insurance company.

    How Comparative Fault Affects Your Settlement

    In South Carolina, if you’re found more than 50% responsible for your own accident, you may not recover any damages at all. When the insurance company starts trying to claim you were more than half responsible, you’ll need a seasoned attorney on your side to prove that you were not.

    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 Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, Conway, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

  • How can I prove the driver who caused my Charleston accident was driving too fast for road conditions?

    Posted speed limit signs in South Carolina advise drivers of top speeds permitted under ideal road conditions. When conditions are not ideal, drivers are required by law to reduce their speeds in order to operate safely under conditions such as:

    Traveling too fast for road conditions causes accidents. Derrick Law Firm
    • Road construction
    • Sharp curves
    • Loose or uneven pavement
    • Heavy traffic
    • Unusual traffic patterns
    • Wet or slippery roads due to rain, snow, or ice
    • Poor visibility due to fog or mist

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 45% of speeding-related auto accidents occur because drivers are traveling at speeds too fast for such road conditions, which can cause:

    • Slower reaction time because of poor visibility
    • Less vehicle control because of greater momentum
    • Longer stopping distances due to wet or slick pavement

    Negligence and Damages Following A Charleston, SC Car Accident

    The average passenger car traveling at 70 mph requires approximately 315 feet to stop. At 50 mph, the same car can stop in 174 feet, so reducing speed in bad conditions gives you much more control of your vehicle. A driver who causes an accident by ignoring road conditions and traveling too fast, even though driving under the posted speed limit, is considered negligent and can be held responsible for damages that result from the crash. This includes:

    • Medical expenses for injuries
    • Lost wages due to time off work
    • Pain and suffering due to injuries
    • Emotional distress
    • Property damage

    Holding the Speeding Driver Responsible

    If you are the victim of a crash caused by a car going too fast for road conditions, South Carolina law allows you to file a claim for damages against the negligent driver. You can improve your chances of recovering damages by following several guidelines after your accident. If you’re physically able to do so, you should:

    • Move to a safe area.
    • Call 911 to report the accident.
    • Take photos of both vehicles involved, the accident scene, and anything that shows the road conditions (wet pavement, snow or ice on the ground, road construction, etc.).
    • Exchange information with the other driver but do not get into a discussion or an argument.
    • Don’t admit any fault.
    • Get contact information from any witnesses to the accident.
    • When the police arrive, answer their questions and point out the road conditions, but stick to the basic facts of the accident.
    • Don’t sign anything other than the forms required by the police.
    • Contact your insurance company.
    • Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
    • Consult an attorney.

    The law enforcement officer at the scene will probably investigate, listen to the accounts of both drivers and any witnesses, fill out an accident report, and possibly issue a ticket to the driver deemed to be at fault. The officer’s report and conclusions, however, are not admissible in court and cannot be used as evidence of negligence on the part of either driver. To prove negligence and seek compensation for your damages, you will need the services of a car accident attorney. 

    The Role of Your Lawyer In A Charleston Car Accident Claim

    An experienced lawyer will know the steps to take in proving the negligence of the at-fault driver and helping you to get fair compensation for your damages. Your attorney can:

    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.

    • Hire an independent investigator to investigate the accident.
    • Get statements from witnesses.
    • Document weather and road conditions at the time of the crash.
    • Hire an accident reconstruction specialist to reconstruct the crash, showing evidence of the road conditions and the at-fault driver’s speed.
    • Collect evidence of your injuries, surgeries, physical therapy, and other medical treatment.
    • Put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering.
    • Evaluate your claim.
    • Negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get you a fair settlement.
    • Take your case to court if necessary.

  • I was hurt driving my company car to work in Horry County. Are my injuries covered by South Carolina workers’ compensation?

    The short answer is that it’s possible your injuries are covered. The longer answer requires some background on South Carolina workers’ compensation insurance, which is no-fault coverage for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Every South Carolina employer with four or more employees is required to carry workers’ comp insurance to cover your medical bills and two-thirds of the wages you lose due to your injury or illness.

    Horry County South Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyer Derrick Law Firm

    Not all work-related accidents happen in the workplace. If your job requires you to work off-site or in different locations, injuries you sustain while doing so should be covered by workers’ comp.

    The Coming and Going Rule Regarding Charleston, South Carolina Workers' Compensation

    The South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission (SCWCC) allows benefits for injuries suffered within the scope of employment. In general, the scope of employment doesn’t include traveling to and from work since most people aren’t paid for commuting. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. Your accident might be covered by workers’ comp if:  

    • You’re given work-related errands to run on your way to or from work.
    • You’re asked by your employer to perform a non-work-related errand or task, like picking up lunch or coffee.
    • You’re forced to drive on dangerous roads or in unsafe areas to get to work.
    • You’re injured close to your workplace, perhaps in a parking lot due to ice or snow.
    • You’re traveling in a company-owned vehicle.

    As long as you’re authorized to use the company vehicle to commute and do not deviate significantly from your direct route, injuries you sustain traveling to or from work should generally be covered. Because workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, it doesn’t matter who causes your company car accident. 

    Whether you’re at fault or hurt by a negligent driver, workers’ comp should cover your medical bills and two-thirds of wages you lose due to your work-related injury, illness, or disability, up to a maximum weekly payment ($903.40 in 2020). If you’re disabled, the number of weeks for which you may collect benefits depends on your specific disability. 

    Workers’ Compensation vs. Liability Insurance 

    If workers’ comp benefits aren’t sufficient to cover all your damages, you might have to file both a workers’ comp claim and a claim against the at-fault driver who injured you. An experienced lawyer can help you handle the complexities of doing both at the same time.

    Although workers’ comp covers your injuries and lost wages regardless of who causes your accident, it doesn’t cover your liability if you caused the accident. The victims in the crash may file a claim for damages against you and perhaps your employer. For this reason, it’s vital that your employer have liability coverage for employees driving company-owned vehicles. 

    Vicarious Liability In Regards To Workers' Compensation

    If you are found fully or partially responsible for your accident, your employer could be vicariously liable. This means your employer might be responsible for damages caused by your negligent actions on the job, depending on exactly what you’re doing when the crash occurs. 

    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 Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, Conway, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

    Your employer is likely to be vicariously liable if you’re:

    • Going to or from a training meeting
    • Going to or from any location chosen by the employer
    • Traveling to or from a meeting with a client
    • Running company errands

    Your employer might not be vicariously liable if you’re:

    • Deviating from your direct route to get coffee or food on the way to an appointment
    • Traveling to places not chosen by your employer
    • Committing a crime or driving when impaired by alcohol or drugs
    • Driving to or from work

    It’s important to remember, though, that the rules of coming and going, as well as vicarious liability, are subject to interpretation. Your case might go either way depending upon how your evidence is presented before the SCWCC or before a judge and jury if your case ends up in appeals court. Hiring an experienced workers’ comp lawyer who knows how to present your case could be the difference between getting fair compensation and owing someone else. 

  • How long will it take to receive a check after I settle my North Charleston car accident claim?

    South Carolina Car Accident Settlement Derrick Law FirmIf you’re injured by a negligent driver in a North Charleston car accident, you may file a claim for your damages against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. When you’re facing medical bills, car repair expenses, recovery, and more, you need compensation as soon as possible. 

    In most cases, you’ll receive your check a few weeks after the claim is settled. Before the check can even be issued, though, there’s a settlement process that usually takes at least a few months.

    Steps In A North Charleston Car Accident Settlement Process

    The process of receiving an insurance settlement has several steps.

    Verifying insurance and filing claims.

    Your attorney will obtain the insurance policy of the defendant(s) in your case and notify the insurance companies that you’re filing claims against them. In some cases, one of the companies could be yours.

    Investigation.

    Your lawyer will investigate your accident and collect evidence. This may include police reports, medical reports, photographs, medical bills, other accident-related bills, wage statements, and witness statements.

    Waiting for MMI.

    Your attorney will want to wait until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) before actually filing your claim. MMI is the point at which you’ve recovered as much as you’re going to. Only then do you know what your future medical needs and expenses, lost wages, and disabilities might be. If you file your claim too soon, you might have unforeseen medical issues for which you cannot claim further compensation. 

    Demand letter.

    Once you’ve reached MMI, your lawyer will send the insurance company a demand letter including evidence of the at-fault driver’s negligence, your itemized medical expenses, your lost wage statements, and a calculation of damages for your pain and suffering.

    Negotiation.

    The insurance company will probably respond with an offer lower than what you’re demanding. Your attorney will then begin negotiations to get a fair award, which might require additional evidence or statements from expert witnesses.

    A lawsuit (if necessary).

    If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, your attorney will take your case to court. It’s always possible that a settlement will be reached before a trial actually begins.

    It’s difficult to estimate how long your particular settlement process might take. In most cases, you should allow a few months before your check is issued. Some cases can take much longer, depending on:

    • Severity of injuries
    • Quality of evidence
    • Recovery time before MMI
    • Multiple defendants
    • A dispute or denial by the insurance company
    • A trial

    What Happens Following A Settlement To Your South Carolina Car Accident?

    Once the settlement process is complete, a check can be issued by the insurance company, and another multi-step process begins:

    1. Releases and other documents are signed.
    2. The insurance company issues a check.
    3. Your attorney deposits the check in an escrow account and pays your liens. This includes unpaid medical bills, any deductibles or other bills from your health insurance company, unpaid child support, outstanding taxes, and any Medicare or Medicaid costs. 
    4. Your attorney deducts legal fees, court costs, etc.
    5. Your attorney forwards a check to you. 

    Other Factors To Consider Regarding Settlement After A Car Accident

    In most cases, you can probably expect your check a few to several weeks after your claim is settled, but there are other factors that can affect how long you wait:

    • Insurance adjusters are not in a rush to part with any money. They might want releases signed and notarized before ordering a check to be issued.
    • The accounting department of the insurance company has to get around to issuing the check.
    • The mailing department has to physically put the check into the mail.
    • Out-of-state banks might be involved. If so, checks have to clear (usually in 7-10 days) before money can be disbursed.
    • Medicare or Medicaid expenses might be paid directly by the insurance company before the check is sent to your lawyer.

    Although there’s no way to say exactly how long it will take for you to receive your check, an experienced attorney can and will do everything possible to expedite the process.

    Have You Been Injured in a North Charleston 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.

     

  • How do insurance companies value car accident claims in Mt. Pleasant, SC?

    If you’ve been hurt in a Mt. Pleasant car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is legally bound to evaluate your claim for damages in good faith. That means the company is supposed to be fair, reasonable, and honest about compensating you for your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. 

    North Charleston Car Accident Settlement Value Derrick Law Firm

    While fairness, reason, and honesty are positive traits we normally associate with human beings, the insurance company actually works hard to remove the human element from the process of claim evaluation. It uses data mining and artificial intelligence to evaluate your claim by computer, according to a formula that multiplies your “special damages” by a certain factor. The factor is determined by analyzing statistics from settlements and trials of cases similar to yours.

    Special Damages Following A Mt. Pleasant Car Accident

    Your special damages are basically your financial losses due to the accident. They generally include:

    • Medical expenses
    • Lost wages
    • Property damage

    Once the computer generates these numbers, the insurance adjuster multiplies them by a factor from approximately one to five to estimate the value of your total claim, including pain and suffering. This gives the company an idea of the award you might be granted by a judge or jury if your case should go to trial. If you accept a settlement that’s less than what you might be awarded in court, the insurance company saves the cost of a trial. Its goal is to dispute, deny, or devalue your claim in order to pay you the least amount of money possible.

    How the Factor Is Determined In Your South Carolina Car Accident Settlement

    If your medical bills are comparatively low, the adjuster assumes your injuries were not so serious. They'll multiply your special damages by a fairly low factor, perhaps between one and two.

    If your medical bills are very high, this indicates you were probably hospitalized for a time and perhaps needed long-term treatment and/or physical therapy. A longer recovery period means more physical and mental pain and suffering, so the adjuster might multiply your special damages by a larger factor between three and five to determine the award you could get in court if your case went to trial.

    There are also other variables to consider in the evaluation of your personal injury claim:

    • How soon after the accident you sought medical treatment. If you waited for months, the adjuster assumes your pain and suffering were not extreme. If they were, you would have sought treatment sooner.
    • Whether you received excessive, unnecessary treatment like long-term chiropractic care or extensive physical therapy.
    • Whether you had pre-existing conditions that were aggravated rather than caused by the accident.
    • Your age.
    • Any partial fault you might bear. 

    Your First Settlement Offer Will Be Low

    Because your award depends on the numbers generated by the computer, the information that goes into the system is important to your case. That’s why you need the services of a personal injury lawyer, who understands the formula for calculating your award. The insurance company knows that you’re probably not an expert in this area and will offer you a low settlement, especially if you don’t have legal representation. 

    Your attorney can do many things to strengthen your case and be sure that all the proper data is in the insurance company’s systems when it calculates your award:

    • Get statements from witnesses.
    • Obtain police reports.
    • Gather detailed medical records.
    • Provide extensive photographic evidence of your injuries and property damage.
    • Hire an independent investigator.
    • Collect dashcam or security-video footage of the accident.
    • Put a dollar value on your damages.
    • Negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement.
    • File a lawsuit and go to court if necessary.

    For all of these reasons, you should never accept the insurance company’s first offer. It might be as little as 40% of what your case is actually worth. Such an offer is always negotiable and should be referred to your lawyer. 

    Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident 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 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.

  • May I collect unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation at the same time in Horry County?

    In most cases, no. Although there are some rare exceptions, you generally may not collect both unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation at the same. There are significant differences between the two programs in terms of eligibility. 

    Horry County SC Workers' Compensation Lawyer Derrick Law Firm

    Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance In South Carolina

    South Carolina unemployment insurance (UI) is paid for by employers’ tax contributions. The general guidelines for eligibility are:

    • You’re currently unemployed. 
    • The loss of your most recent job was not your fault.
    • You are able and available to work in any suitable position.
    • You are actively searching for work each week that you file a certification for UI benefits.
    • You’ve earned at least $4,455 from covered employment during your base period.
    • In your base period’s highest-earnings quarter, you earned at least $1,092 from an employer paying UI taxes.
    • Your total base period wages are at least 1.5 times your highest quarterly wage total. 

    Your standard base period is the first four of the last five calendar quarters before the start date of your claim. If your standard base period numbers do not qualify you for UI, you might qualify for benefits according to your alternate base period, which includes the four most recent calendar quarters before your claim’s effective date. 

    The only way to be sure whether you qualify for UI is to file an initial claim with the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). Even if you are eligible for UI on the basis of earnings in your base period, you can be disqualified if:

    • You left your most recent job without good cause.
    • You retired voluntarily.
    • You were fired for cause.
    • You were fired for misconduct connected to your job.
    • You lost your job by participating in a labor strike.

    Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation In Horry County

    Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance coverage for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Every South Carolina employer with four or more employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. To collect workers’ comp:

    • You must be an employee.
    • Your employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
    • You must have a work-related injury or illness.
    • You must meet deadlines for reporting your injury/illness and for filing a workers’ comp claim.

    If you are eligible, workers’ comp pays for your medical expenses and up to two-thirds of wages lost due to your work-related injury or illness. Your employer may not fire you or retaliate against you in any other way for filing a claim, and you do not have to prove your employer was negligent or did anything wrong. Even if you caused your own injury on the job, you may still collect benefits as long as you meet two crucial deadlines:

    • Report your injury/illness to your employer within 90 days.
    • File your claim for workers’ comp within two years. 

    These deadlines might be extended if: 

    • Your employer already knows about your accident/injury.
    • You were physically or mentally unable to notify the employer.
    • You have a repetitive motion injury that develops over time, rather than a one-time accident causing an immediate injury. 

    Unemployment Insurance and Workers’ Compensation Are Mutually Exclusive

    To receive unemployment insurance, you must be able and available to work. To receive workers’ compensation, you must be unable to work due to your injury or illness. Because you cannot meet both of these criteria at the same time, you cannot be considered eligible for both types of benefits. Trying to collect benefits for which you aren’t eligible is fraud—which could lead to criminal and/or civil penalties. 

    The only possible exception to this rule would occur if you are receiving workers’ compensation payments for permanent partial disability (PPD). In this case, you might be working with restrictions at a reduced salary while actively seeking another job that you can perform with the physical limitations caused by your work-related injury. In such a case, you could be eligible for both workers' comp and UI. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help you through the complicated process of filing for and receiving both types of benefits. 

    Are You Unable to Work Due to a Job-Related Injury in Horry County?

    Learn about your options by consulting an experienced workers’ comp attorney and downloading our free book, The Truth About Your South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call our Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, or Conway office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Horry County and surrounding areas, so we’re sure to have an office near you.