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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What Tests Should Be Performed When Someone Sustains a Brain Injury From a Car Accident?
Brain injuries - often called concussions or closed head injuries - are a frequent consequence of car accidents. In South Carolina, and throughout the country, basic tests such as CT scans, are often done at the hospital. CT scans check for injuries such as a fractured skull or brain bleed (i.e. intracranial hemorrhage). Most of these tests come back normal. In the event of a normal CT, what else should be done?
The ER doctor will generally instruct patients who have sustained a concussion to follow up with their primary care doctor. The primary care doctor will in turn refer the patient to a neurologist should symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, or memory loss persist.
The first tests neurologists order are often an MRI and EEG. These tests check your brain activity. Much like CT scans, MRIs and EEGs may come back "normal" even though the patient with the closed head injury knows something is not right.
If you continue to experience headaches, changes in attitude, memory loss, or any other problem for more than several weeks after your car accident, you should ask your neurologist to consider more advanced testing. Tests such as Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and Susceptibility Weighted Imaging (SWI) are able to reveal injuries to the brain that traditional imaging misses.
We focus on helping people who have suffered brain injuries from car wrecks in South Carolina, and want you to consider us a resource in finding the right doctors, tests, and treatment. We have seen far too many people get released by their neurologist simply because the MRI came back negative. If "something has been different since the accident," and you find yourself in need of answers and direction, call me today at (803) 790-2800.
What Happens if My Company Terminates Me While I am Out on Workers' Comp in South Carolina?
Many people fear they will get fired if they pursue a workers’ compensation case in South Carolina. Other people are concerned that their boss will simply "let them go" if they can’t work because of the injury. In either situation, South Carolina law protects your rights. First, you cannot be legally terminated as punishment for seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Second, the law states that your employer must either accommodate your physical restrictions or provide you a weekly check should the work injury prevent you from performing full duty.
If a doctor puts physical restrictions on you (i.e. places you on light duty), your boss can either comply with the restrictions or have their insurance company send you a weekly check. In the event your company "let’s you go" while you are out on workers’ comp, they will have to provide you with weekly checks until a doctor releases you from his/her care.
In sum, please know that your workers' compensation benefits continue even if your boss fires you during the pendency of your claim. With that said, I strongly encourage you to be a model employee. You do not want to give your employer any excuse to let you go, or any evidence of insubordination. Should you have other questions about your rights under South Carolina's workers’ compensation system, call me at (803) 790-2800.
Can I Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits in South Carolina if I Fail My Drug Test?
Workers’ compensation in South Carolina does not factor in negligence - be it on the part of the employee or the employer. In other words, even if the on the job injury was a result of the employee’s negligence, the employee may still be eligible for benefits. Likewise, a positive drug test will not prevent you from receiving workers' compensation benefits unless the employer can prove that you were intoxicated, and that your intoxication caused your accident.
For example, a construction worker may have smoked marijuana on Saturday then fallen off a roof on Tuesday. His drug test may come back positive. However, the employer would have the burden of proving that the marijuana the construction worker smoked on Saturday caused him to fall off the roof three days later. While we in no way condone drug use, we are here to protect injured workers' rights. If your employer told you that you were ineligible for South Carolina workers’ compensation benefits because of a failed drug test, call me today at (803) 790-2800. Everything we discuss will be 100% confidential.
Which Doctor Should I See if I Sustained a Concussion from an Auto Accident in South Carolina?
Auto accidents send South Carolinians to the hospital with concussions every day. The emergency room doctors often perform CT scans, or even MRIs, before telling the injured person he/she has received a concussion, and to follow up with a family doctor if symptoms persist. You may have been one of those people. If so, you probably went to your primary care doctor, told him/her that you were having headaches, nausea, or problems with dizziness, only to be informed that these symptoms were normal. In many cases, your doctor is right. The problem, however, is that in some cases, these symptoms don't go away after a couple weeks.
If you were in an auto accident, and are still dealing with post-concussive syndrome (PCS) several weeks or months after the wreck, you don't just need a lawyer, you probably need a referral to a neurologist. Simply put, neurologists focus on the brain. A good neurologist will take time to discuss how your injury occurred, the problems you have experienced, and whether you should undergo additional testing. A negative CT or MRI does not mean your brain is 100%. CTs and MRIs often fail to detect injury to the axons (white matter), which carry messages throughout the brain. If your neurologist is unwilling to listen to your complaints, or appears dismissive of your injury, I encourage you to seek a second opinion.
A good neurologist will often times refer you to a neuropsychologist or other specialist if you remain symptomatic for more than a few months. Any type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), including a concussion, should be taken seriously by your doctor. I handle TBI cases, and will gladly discuss treatment options with you, as I am familiar with the hardships concussion victims experience, and the frustration they feel when it does not seem like anyone is listening to them.
If you experienced a concussion due to a car accident in Lexington, Columbia, Orangeburg, or elsewhere in South Carolina, I am here to help. I am not only an attorney, but an advocate for TBI victims and a supporter of the SC Brain Injury Association. Call me today at (803) 790-2800.
How Much Compensation Should I Receive For The Concussion I Received in a Car Wreck?
Concussions are a common consequence of auto accidents in South Carolina. Whether it is a rear-end, head-on, or T-bone collision, your head can get thrown around inside the car, striking the headrest, steering wheel, or window. Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and for the first time in history, they are being treated as seriously as they should have been all along.
Concussions often result in headaches, nausea, light-sensitivity, dizziness, and balance problems. In some cases, these symptoms last for 2-3 weeks. In other instances, the problems can take months or years to resolve. South Carolina law is intended to compensate car wreck victims for their physical pain, suffering, and lost quality of life - in addition to their purely financial losses. I take the position that your lost quality of life often demands more compensation than your medical bills, as medical bills can be paid, but your lost time can never be returned. In this way, the compensation you receive for a concussion cannot fix the harm, but it can begin to balance it out. You must ask yourself how much compensation is necessary to balance out your lost days, weeks, or months. If you need help answering that question, feel free to call me at (803) 790-2800. I won't charge you a dime to simply answers questions.
I help people who have sustained concussions as a result of car wrecks in Columbia, Lexington, Sumter, and across South Carolina. TBIs most be taken seriously not only by medical providers, but by the insurance company responsible for compensating you. Please let me know what I can do for you.
How Much Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge in South Carolina?
Most personal injury attorneys in Columbia, Lexington, and throughout South Carolina, charge 33%-40% based on the amount of compensation they obtain for you. This is known as a "contingency fee" because it is contingent upon the value of your settlement or jury award. For instance, if we obtained a $100,000.00 settlement for you, our fee would be $33,000.00-$38,000.00 (I cap my fees at 38% in almost all cases), depending on whether a lawsuit was required. However, you would not pay us a dime until the end of the case. Moreover, we have an unwritten rule at our firm that goes like this: our fee will not exceed what our client receives. Even if the contract says we are entitled to 33% of the settlement funds, we will reduce our fee to make sure the injured person nets more than we do. Fact is: you're the one who got hurt; we are just privileged enough to represent you. Clients need us to obtain fair results, but we need them to make a living. In that way, we remember who comes first.
If someone wants to charge you a "retainer fee" or "hourly rate," I'd start looking for new counsel. Likewise, remember that not all South Carolina personal injury lawyers have the same qualifications or track record of results. An attorney who charges only 25%, but gets you only $25,000.00 is not as valuable as the attorney who charges 35% but gets you $50,000.00.
What is a Covenant Not to Execute Judgment?
South Carolina car accidents are often settled by way of a "Release." In other instances, a Covenant Not to Execute Judgment ("Covenant") is preferable. A Covenant is used in cases where you want to collect funds from the at-fault driver's liability policy, but preserve the right to seek compensation from other insurance policies.
How It Works
For instance, if the at-fault driver only has $50,000.00 in insurance coverage, but you have $100,000.00 in medical bills, you will want to file an underinsured motorist ("UIM") claim with your auto insurance company. By signing the Covenant, you can go ahead and obtain the $50,000.00 from the at-fault driver's liability policy, then seek additional funds from your UIM policy. In return for the $50,000.00, you covenant (i.e. promise) not to execute any judgment against the at-fault driver. In other words, you promise not to go after the at-fault driver's personal assets.
Speak With a Lawyer
The subtle difference in wording between a Release and a Covenant can have a huge difference on the amount of money you recover. Rather than trying to sort through the legalese by yourself, I encourage you to at least consult with a South Carolina attorney before signing anything.
Contact Kenny Berger
If you would like help reviewing a Covenant to ensure your rights are protected - or to find out whether additional compensation may be recovered from another insurance company - call me at (803) 790-2800. All consultations are free. For even more information relevant to your car accident claim, download my free guide to South Carolina auto accidents ebook. It's full of helpful advice and tips to consider when pursuing an auto claim in South Carolina.
Can I Get a Judgment Against a Driver's Assets after a Car Crash in South Carolina?
If you’re looking for the short answer: Yes, you can receive a judgment against a negligent person's assets. However, there are usually better options that you should first explore.
1. File a claim with all the insurance companies that may cover the negligent driver.
If the at-fault driver has insurance, you should be able to collect from his/her insurance policy. In cases of serious injury, you may be able to pursue compensation from the negligent driver’s umbrella or excess liability policies. These policies are designed to help protect the insured against large claims or lawsuits when the primary layer of insurance coverage is insufficient. In addition, if the at-fault driver was borrowing someone’s car at the time of the accident, the insurance on that car should apply.
2. File a claim with your insurance provider.
If the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for all your medical bills and other losses, you can file what is known as an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim with your own insurance company. In order to do this, there must be UIM coverage on the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident, or you must have UIM coverage included on your own insurance policy.
In certain instances, you may be able to stack multiple UIM policies to cover the losses caused by the wreck. What is policy stacking? You can read this article for more information: What Does Stacking Insurance Policies Mean, And How Can It Help Car Accident Victims?
3. Determine whether there are any other potential defendants.
The negligent driver is not always the only liable party. If any other person or entity is partially responsible for the accident, then South Carolina law permits you to seek recovery against them as well. For example, if a bar overserved a drunk driver, or a defect in the roadway contributed to the crash, then you could pursue an insurance claim against those entities.
If all else fails, you can file a judgement against the driver’s home, vehicles, and other assets. The problem is that most reckless drivers do not have sufficient holdings to sell off in cases of catastrophic loss. It’s also important to know that even if the court enters a judgment against the responsible party, the court is not responsible for ensuring the civil judgment is paid. This can be a long, drawn-out process, so we recommend exploring every other avenue before attempting to execute judgment.
If you were involved in a car crash in South Carolina, and want to know all your rights and options, please contact us today. We want to bring clarity and justice to the process for you.
Do I Need A Lawyer to Settle My South Carolina Workers' Compensation Case?
It depends. Minor work injuries that require minimal treatment, and do not prevent you from working, should not require a lawyer. Likewise, if the insurance company is paying your medical bills, authorizing necessary medical care, sending checks in a timely fashion, and offering to fairly compensate you for any impairment or effect on future earnings, a lawyer might not be necessary.
However, when the insurance company drags its feet, refuses to send you to the proper doctor, or fights to pay you less than the law entitles you to, then you should at least consulting a South Carolina workers' comp attorney.
I do not represent people unless I think they will benefit from my knowledge and skills. Even if I turn down your case, I will gladly take a few minutes to answer your questions at no charge. Call me today at (803) 790-2800 or request a free copy of my book, Your Guide to South Carolina Personal Injury and Workers' Compensation.
Can My Employer Fire Me For Filing a Workers' Comp Claim in SC?
South Carolina law prohibits an employer from firing you in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If an employer wrongfully terminated someone on this basis, they would be liable not only for the workers’ compensation claim, but also for a civil lawsuit. Even though South Carolina is a “right to work” state, you cannot be punished for lawfully seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
Nonetheless, your company is allowed to let you go if you are physically unable to perform the job. In these instances, you would begin receiving a weekly workers’ compensation check equal to 2/3s of your pre-tax earnings. For instance, if you grossed $750 weekly before you got hurt, you would receive a $500 check every week from the time you were fired until a doctor placed you at what is known as “maximum medical improvement.”
South Carolina law does not tolerate companies punishing employees simply for being hurt on the job. You have rights, and I will work hard to protect them. If you were fired after filing a workers’ comp claim, or if you believe you are being “targeted” by your employer, call me today at (803) 790-2800.