Get Answers to These FAQs We Hear the Most
We know how many questions you must have right now about your personal injury or workers' comp case, so we compiled this list of the questions we hear the most. If you have a question that is not answered here, please call our Columbia law office to speak with Kenneth Berger.
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How Can I Get Fairly Compensated for My Permanent Physical Impairment After a Car Accident?
Determining Damages For Permanent Injuries After a Car Wreck
In South Carolina, compensation in a civil case is based on "damages." This may include past medical expenses, lost earnings, physical pain, and mental anguish. Lesser known damages are those related to permanent injuries. However, the law is clear on this point. If another driver's negligence causes you harm, you should be compensated for past, present, and future losses. Often times, the insurance carrier will try to settle the case only weeks or months after the wreck. The settlement offer will be based on what you have experienced to date, but not what you face in the future.
So what can be done to ensure that all damages - including any long-term impairments - are properly valued? First, there must be medical documentation. That does not mean you should go out and lie to a doctor about your condition. Rather, it means to be forthright with medical professionals about any and all ways the accident still affects you. For instance, if you are having neck or lower back pain nine months after the wreck, your doctor needs to know that. It will help your case, but more importantly, it will help ensure you get the medical care you need.
At some point, the doctor will likely conclude that you have reached a plateau. This is known in South Carolina as "maximum medical improvement." It does not mean you are 100% better, only that you have made as full a recovery as you are going to make. This is the appropriate point in time for a doctor to issue an impairment rating. For example, let's say you had to undergo back surgery after your car accident. Your treating orthopedist may give you a 15% impairment rating to the spine once you complete physical therapy. The impairment rating will be based on medical guidelines.
In presenting your case to the insurance carrier, your accident lawyer would note the impairment rating. However, the emphasis would be on how the injury will permanently affect your daily life. Whether the greatest impact is on your work, family, or recreational pursuits, insurers must properly compensate you for all the ways your life has been altered.
Recovering Compensation for Ongoing and Future Damages
Along with physical restrictions, your long-term injuries may remain painful and require future medical care. South Carolina law allows you to recover for those ongoing and future damages, but you only have one bite at the apple. In other words, your one-time settlement must account for every damage you ever have or ever will incur. That is why it is so critical to properly identify any permanent injuries and the consequences arising from them, before settling.
I have given presentations on this topic for other lawyers, and would be glad to speak with you about compensation for future damages, or any other aspect of your auto accident case. To speak with me, call my Columbia, SC office today at 803-790-2800 or start a live chat with us now.
Do Parents Receive Any Type of Compensation If Their Child Is Injured in South Carolina?
I represent lots of children, which means I meet with lots of parents. The focus is always the young person's health and well being. A secondary concern is whether mom and dad are entitled to compensation for losses arising from their child's accident. The answer is "yes and no."
Parents Can Make a Claim for Their Child's Medical Bills
South Carolina law allows parents to make a claim for any medical bills their son or daughter incurs. For instance, if your child has a $30,000 hospital charge, you could recover that portion of the claim (fyi: don't let an insurance adjuster tell you that you can only recover the co-pays). Likewise, your child is permitted to recover money for their physical pain, lost quality of life, impairment, and other non-medical losses.
Bystander Liability and Child Injury Cases in South Carolina
Conversely, parents do not receive money for the time they miss from work or the stress they experience due to their child's injury. The only exception in South Carolina is when the parent actually witnesses the accident. This is known as "bystander liability" because the negligent party is liable not only for the child's injuries but also the shock that comes to the parent who sees their son or daughter get hurt.
Injuries to children often take a financial and mental toll on families. You do not have to bear that burden by yourself. I help injured children and their families across South Carolina, and I am here to help you as well. Call my office today for a free consultation at 803-790-2800, or you can start a live chat with us right now.
Should I Sign the Health Authorization Forms The Insurance Company Sent Me After My Car Accident?
Keeping up with all the insurance company and claim information following a wreck can be challenging. So can deciding which forms you must sign, which forms you should sign, and which documents you should just throw in the trash. The at-fault party's insurance carrier is going to want all your healthcare information - not just the bills and records related to your accident. Therefore, the HIPAA forms they send you are usually very broad. You do not have to sign their medical releases, however.
3 Ways to Handle a Medical Release Form From an Insurance Adjuster After a Car Wreck
In fact, I recommend one of three options to my fellow South Carolinians:
- Contact the adjuster and tell him/her that you will sign a HIPAA form that applies only to medical records since the date of the accident;
- Toss the health authorization form in the trash, and obtain the medical bills and records yourself;
- Consult with a personal injury attorney on the best course of action.
I offer free consultations, but even without having to meet in person, I can tell you that my general rule of thumb is this: in small cases (i.e. one hospital visit to get checked out and maybe a couple follow ups to your family doctor) signing a healthcare release probably isn't a big deal. The reason is that even if you had a number of preexisting conditions, the value of your case should not change based on past medical history.
Conversely, if you have a case that has significantly impacted or altered your life, please don't sign any type of insurance or healthcare forms without at least speaking to a lawyer. Insurance companies will dig through your entire medical history to use anything and everything they can against you. Rather than allowing an insurance adjuster to use that information against you, consult with an accident lawyer who can show you how your preexisting conditions actually help your case.
Contact An Injury Attorney If You're Unsure
Health authorizations - just like recorded statements and early settlement offers - are simply a ploy to pay you less than fair compensation. I help injured people throughout South Carolina, and would like to help you as well. Whether it be with free copies of my books or a free consultation, there is absolutely no harm in allowing me to answer questions about HIPAA forms or any other aspect of your accident case. You can call my office at (803) 790-2800 or start a live chat with us now.
Can Unpaid Medical Bills From a Car Accident Affect My Credit?
The short answer is "yes." There are lots of misconceptions about how medical bills get paid following a car wreck. Some people think the at-fault driver's insurance company will pay the bills directly. Other people have been told that health insurance does not apply in accident cases.
How to Handle Medical Bills After a South Carolina Car Wreck
In South Carolina, it works like this:
1. You receive all reasonable and necessary medical care;
2. The hospital and other medical providers bill your health insurance company;
3. You are responsible for any co-pays or deductibles, just as you would be with an ordinary visit;
4. The at-fault driver's insurer pays you a settlement or you obtain a jury verdict;
5. Part of your settlement or jury proceeds are used to pay back your own health insurer.
As you can see, it is possible that you may not recover money from your auto accident prior to your outstanding bills being sent to collections. The way to avoid this - and in turn, keep your credit from being affected - is to make payments, however small, on your bills throughout the case. Your settlement should account for all medical expenses (in other words, you will get paid back), but a settlement may not be reached until many months after the initial injury.
Bills from Car Crashes Are Just Like Other Bills
Unpaid bills arising from car crashes are treated just like any other bill by hospitals, doctors' offices, and collections agencies. That is why it is so important to reach out to those providers early on, explain to them your financial situation, and agree to a payment plan that you can afford. This will keep your credit score from declining, and prevent any further financial harm.
Dealing with insurance carriers and billing departments can be daunting, especially as you try to recover from your injuries. I help people in these situations across South Carolina, and will gladly provide you with a free consultation. For guidance, request free copies of my books and call 803-790-2800 or reach out to us by using the live chat box below.
How Is Lost Income Calculated in a South Carolina Personal Injury Case?
Under South Carolina law, the person or entity that caused your harm must make you whole. In other words, they must compensate you for every loss their negligence caused. One of these losses may be income. Whether the accident forced you to miss 2 days or 2 months of work, the wrongdoer's insurance company is required to account for your lost earnings. Likewise, if your injuries affect your ability to make the same amount of money in the future as you did before the accident, you should be compensated for the difference.
Determining Lost Earnings After an Injury
Insurance adjusters occasionally tell people that the portion of the settlement that accounts for lost income is based on post-tax earnings. If an insurance person makes such a statement about a South Carolina claim, please know they are lying. For example, if you earn $800 per week and miss 5 weeks of work due to your injuries, you would be owed $4000, not your net earnings.
Why You Need a Team of Experts
When it comes to lifelong injuries that impact your lifetime earnings, experts are often needed to perform the calculation. A vocational evaluator will assess what jobs are available to someone with your injuries, education, and skill set. An economist will then project how much income the accident will cause you to lose over the course of your life. Your injury lawyer can use this information to help calculate how much compensation to "demand" from the insurance company.
Get Back What's Rightfully Yours
No matter the degree of lost earnings, South Carolina law requires that responsibility for all losses falls on the shoulder of the negligent party, not the innocent victim. If you have questions about any aspect of a personal injury case, including how to calculate lose wages, I am here to help. Call me for a free consultation at 803-790-2800, start a live chat, or submit a contact form here.
How Much Should the Insurance Company Compensate Me for Scars Caused By an Accident in SC?
The answer to this question depends on whether your case falls under South Carolina's civil or workers' compensation system. For example, scarring caused by a car accident or burn that occurred away from work would be compensated differently than an on-the-job injury. Allow me to explain:
Compensation for Scars in Personal Injury Cases
A personal injury case is intended to provide money for every harm you sustain, from medical bills and lost earnings to scarring and mental anguish. Insurance companies will evaluate how much you are likely to receive from a jury, then offer you a settlement in light of the potential verdict. Thus, a scar to a more visible part of your body such as your face or arms will be valued more highly than a scar to the foot. If that seems insensitive, I agree. South Carolina civil law does not set a standard for how much money an innocent person should receive for their scars. Instead, this issue is decided either by negotiations with an insurance carrier or at a jury trial.
Scars and Workers' Compensation Cases
Our state's workers' compensation laws are just the opposite. If you suffer a scar at work, you are capped at 50 weeks of compensation (i.e. two-thirds of your average weekly wage "x" 50) for this aspect of your injury. Therefore, if the weekly check you received while you were out of work was for $400, the most you could receive for scarring would be $20,000. That is not to say you would be prevented from receiving additional money for other injuries, only that South Carolina law caps what you may obtain due to the scar.
Our Injury Firm Can Help You Take On the Insurance Company
In sum, accident victims are likely to receive far greater compensation for scarring in a civil action than a workers' comp claim. And while most scars heal within the first year, some are permanent. It is my sincere hope that you heal and never require money for permanent injury. Nonetheless, much like people who went to medical school to help patients get well, I practice law to help people recover from accidents. Now that you have found my firm, you no longer have to battle the insurance companies by yourself. Call me today for a free consultation at 803-790-2800. My office is in Columbia, SC, but my practice helps injured people in Lexington, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, and across the entire state.
Does the Insurance Company Pay the Hospital After a Car Accident?
Unfortunately, insurance companies often provide injured people with lots of "misinformation" following a wreck. One of the most common and most egregious examples is when they tell you that they are obligated to pay the hospital directly, rather than sending you the money. In South Carolina, auto insurers are required to provide you - not your medical providers - with the settlement funds. You have an obligation to pay back the hospital and any other providers who treated you, but that obligation has nothing to do with the auto insurance companies.
There are two situations in which an insurer might attempt to mislead you into believing the money skips over your head and goes straight to the hospital:
1. Personal Injury Protection/Medical Payment Coverage
Personal Injury protection, also known as "medpay," is designed to cover a portion of your medical bills. Most South Carolina drivers have $1000-$5000 dollars in medpay coverage. These funds come from your own insurance company. You receive this benefit because you pay for it as part of your premium. Thus, if you are in an accident, the medical payment funds should be mailed directly to you. It is entirely up to you whether to apply that money to your bills.
2. Liability Insurance Coverage
The at-fault driver's insurer is required to compensate you. The money you receive is for your injuries, lost earnings, and other harms. Once again, these funds must be sent directly to you because you - not the hospital - are the one that got hurt. Do not let the insurance adjuster convince you that money from your settlement should be sent to anyone else.
Contact an Accident Lawyer in South Carolina Today
The issues you face after an auto accident are not as simple as some people would have you believe. From how medical bills get paid to how much you should be compensated, it is always better to receive a free consultation from an attorney than to rely on an insurance company that increases its profits by paying you less. I help people with questions like yours across South Carolina, and would be glad to speak with you. Call my office today at 803-790-2800 or reach out to us by using the live chat box below.
Not ready to speak to a lawyer yet? Visit our auto accident attorney service page for more information and to learn about additional options.
Can a Hospital in South Carolina Refuse to Submit My Bill to Tricare After a Car Accident?
'The short answer is "No," but that does not mean the hospital's billing department - or the collection agency - will not attempt to deceive you. I represent a number of military families in South Carolina. Many of them come to me after accidents with questions about how medical bills will get paid. Often times, a "billing bully" has tried to convince them that Tricare does not apply, or that the hospital is under no obligation to file a claim with Tricare. If anyone tells you such a thing, they are likely breaking the law.
Military Benefits Do Extend to Car Accident Cases in South Carolina
Why would they engage in such deceptive practices? Easy answer: Money. The hospitals want to get paid back 100% of their bill rather than the much lower percentage Tricare is required to pay back. Thus, if any medical provider or billing company in South Carolina tries to convince you that your military benefits do not extend to accident cases, know they are trying to deny you your rights, take money out of your pocket, and add insult to injury.
If I sound passionate about this issue it is because I am tired of seeing soldiers and their families be lied to and stolen from by supposed medical providers. My firm protects injured people's rights, and is here to serve those who have served our country. If anyone has claimed that your Tricare benefits fail to cover accident-related claims, don't tolerate their lie. For more information on how to ensure all bills are properly filed, and that you are treated fairly, call me for a free consultation at 803-790-2800 or reach out to us by using the live chat box below. We look forward to speaking with you.
How Long Do Children Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in South Carolina?
The Statute of Limitations for Child Injuries
While the statute of limitations is only 2-3 years for adults in South Carolina, children generally have until age 19 to file a lawsuit. When it comes to a personal injury action, there are often two claims: one for the parent and one for the minor. The parent has a claim for all medical bills related to the accident, while the minor has a claim to recover compensation for everything else (e.g. physical pain; lost quality of life; suffering). In these scenarios, the parent only has 2 years to recover the medical expenses in a claim against a governmental defendant or 3 years as against a non-governmental defendant. However, the parent could conceivably wait several more years to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking damages for pain and suffering on behalf of their minor child. Likewise, if no such action was taken by the parent, the child would likely have until age 19 to pursue compensation themselves.
Seeking Justice for Your Child's Injuries in South Carolina
As a parent, you have the right to seek and receive justice on behalf of your minor child. The dangerous drivers and businesses who cause your son or daughter harm must be held accountable for the hardship they have caused your family - or they are all the more likely to do it to someone else. Even though you may have longer to file a claim or lawsuit in the event of an injury to your child, please do not wait on an insurance carrier for justice.
Personal injury actions - especially those involving children - are often highly nuanced, emotionally taxing, and at times, expensive. Rather than shoulder that burden on your own, I encourage you to at least find out how we can help. For free answers to your questions, call me today at 803-790-2800 or start a live chat with us now . I handle child injury cases across South Carolina, and look forward to speaking with you.
Can I Sue Workers' Comp for Pain and Suffering in South Carolina?
Pain and suffering - along with financial anxiety - often result from on the job injuries. And while you should receive medical care, payment for time missed from work, mileage reimbursements, and compensation for any permanent disability, South Carolina's workers' comp laws do not allow money for any of your other losses. In other words, workers' comp does not pay for pain and suffering....at least not directly.
Beyond Pain and Suffering in a Workers' Comp Case
However, your physical pain is an indication that you may require additional medical treatment or that you may be suffering from a permanent injury. Workers' compensation cases are often decided by the medical records. It is, therefore, critical that you tell your doctors and therapists about every issue caused by the work injury. So long as the medical providers know that you are in pain, struggling with lost range of motion, and unable to perform the same duties as before the accident - yet doing your best to recover - the medical records ought to provide the evidence necessary to achieve a fair financial result. You should never exaggerate your pain levels or limitations, but you must be honest and thorough when the doctor asks, "How are you doing?" In this way, workers' comp will not provide direct payment for your pain and suffering, though your ailments will make their way into the medical charts, which in turn leads to a better workers comp' settlement at the end of your case.
We Can Answer Your Workers Comp Questions
Insurance adjusters and nurse case managers cannot always be trusted. Rather than listening to them when it comes to questions regarding how much money you should received from your claim, contact an experienced workers' comp attorney for a free case evaluation, as well as free books written for injured South Carolinians. You can reach me today at 803-790-2800 or by using the live chat box in the corner below.