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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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 a Car Wreck in South Carolina?
Car 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.
Seeing a Neurologist After Sustaining a Concussion
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.
An Advocate for People with TBIs in South Carolina
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 or you can contact us by using the live chat feature below. I look forward to speaking with you.
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.
How is Compensation for a Concussion Determined?
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.
So, if you're looking for exact figures when it comes to your concussion settlement, unfortunately, all I can say is, "It depends." Every case is different, and your settlement will rely on a number of factors that are specific to your injury.
A Head Injury Lawyer Can Answer Your Questions
If you need help answering questions about your head injury, feel free to contact me at (803) 790-2800 or by using the live chat feature below. 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 must 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 A Covenant Not to Execute 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 After an Accident
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. 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.
Before Filing Judgment, Contact a Car Wreck Attorney
If all else fails, you can file a judgment 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 our injury firm today by calling us at (803) 790-2800 or by clicking on the live chat box below. 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.
How Much is My Workers' Compensation Case in South Carolina Worth?
South Carolina workers’ compensation law provides a number of benefits, including: medical treatment; payment for time missed from work due to injury; and compensation for any permanent impairment or disability.When asked how much money someone should receive from his or her workers’ compensation case, the answer is always: it depends. The value or worth of most workers’ compensation settlements is based on:
- Impairment Rating;
- How the impairment effects the injured worker’s ability to earn a living;
- Work and educational history;
- Transferrable skills;
- How much money the injured worker was earning at the time of the accident;
- What body part or parts were injured;
- Whether future medical treatment is needed; and
- Whether the medical treatment will be left open.
Determing What Your Case Is Worth
Let’s look at these items one-by-one. First, impairment could be thought of as the permanent effect on physical health and mobility. For instance, if your shoulder was 100% before you tore your rotator cuff at work, it may only be 90% after surgery and physical therapy. You would therefore have 10% impairment to your shoulder. Impairment ratings are not issued until you have reached maximum medical improvement (“MMI”). MMI is the point at which your condition has stabilized. Your injury is not getting any worse but it will not ever get any better – it has plateaued. Thus, you have what is known as a permanent impairment.
Impairment has different effects on different people. For instance, in my job as a workers’ compensation lawyer, I could tear a ligament in my knee, sustain a 5% impairment, yet have no problem pushing papers, drafting documents, or standing up in court. Conversely, someone whose job requires heavy lifting, squatting, and carrying, could sustain the same injury and be unable to return to their former job. That is where work and educational history, along with transferrable skills. come into play. In this example, the heavy laborer would have a tougher time earning the wages after the injury as they did before. They would therefore have a great disability (i.e. inability to earn the same money as before the injury) than the lawyer whose torn ligament had no effect on earnings. Oftentimes, the greater the disability, the greater the settlement value.
The value of your workers’ compensation case is also influenced by which body parts you hurt. South Carolina workers’ compensation laws assign a specific number of weeks to most body parts. For instance, the shoulder is worth 300 weeks, the leg 195 weeks, but the thumb only 65 weeks. A 10% disability to the shoulder would be worth 30 weeks of compensation. A 10% disability to the thumb would only be worth 6.5 weeks. Thus, an injury to the shoulder is likely to result in far greater compensation than an injury to the thumb or hand.
What do I mean by 30 weeks? I mean you would multiply 30 by the compensation rate. What is the compensation rate? It is simply the amount of your weekly check. But where does that number come from? Your compensation rate (i.e. weekly check) is based on 2/3 of your average weekly wage at the time of injury. If you were making $600 before taxes prior to injury, your compensation rate would be $400 because $400 is 2/3 of $600.
Your workers’ compensation settlement is also influenced by whether you need any future treatment, and whether or not you are closing your case forever. If the insurance company wants to “clincher” your case they should pay for it. A clincher agreement takes them off the hook for any future medical treatment made necessary by a change in condition. That is valuable and should not be given to them for free. Furthermore, if the doctor has said you need additional medical treatment to remain at MMI, and the insurance company wants to clincher your case, they should pay the costs of the medical treatment you may need down the road.
Speak With A South Carolina Workers' Comp Lawyer Today
South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws can be both confusing and frustrating. As a workers’ compensation lawyer based in Columbia, it is my privilege to help injured workers determine how much their case is worth, then fight to obtain a fair settlement for them. If you have questions or need help with your workers’ compensation case, request a free case evaluation and free copies of my books by calling 803-790-2800. You don’t have to take on the insurance company by yourself – I am here to help.
Workers' Compensation Client ReviewKenny has handled my worker's comp case with the utmost of integrity and honesty. He and his team have led me through a difficult time in my life after my work injury. They are always available to answer all my questions, and to keep me informed through the entire process. I have had complete confidence throughout my case that the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger has had my very best interest in mind. By ensuring that I got the best medical care available, and fair treatment from the insurance company, they have made this process as least stressful as possible. Please consider Kenny for any of your personal injury needs; he has earned my highest recommendation.Written by: William ScottLaw Office of Kenneth E. BergerDate published: 12/05/20155 / 5 starsOverall rating: ★★★★★ based on 41 reviews
How do health professionals determine the severity of a burn injury in South Carolina?
When you suffer a burn injury, the doctor is not going to treat your wound in the same manner as he would someone else's. Each burn is cared for depending on the severity. The medical field classifies burns under three broad categories:
A first-degree burn is the least serious type. Only the outer layer of skin has been affected. Your skin will usually be red and possibly swollen, and the burn itself will usually be slightly painful. In most cases, you can treat this burn like any minor burn and it's not likely that you will need to seek medical attention. If the burn is especially large or covers a portion of your face, hands, feet, buttocks, groin, or a major joint, you will probably want to go to the emergency room.
A second-degree burn is when the first and second layers of skin have been burned. This burn differs from a first-degree burn because blisters could develop, the skin may become very red and splotchy, and it will probably be very swollen and painful. However, like the first-degree burn, if it is not too large—three inches or less—you can probably treat it on your own at home. If your wound covers any areas we described under the first-degree burn, consider heading to the emergency room.
This is the most serious kind of burn and requires someone to call 911 immediately. A third-degree burn involves all layers of the skin and can cause permanent tissue damage. The burn area could look charred black or dry and white. An immediate emergency response is needed to assess the damage and take urgent action. Improperly treated third-degree burns can lead to loss of a limb or death.
If you are not sure what type of burn you have, don't be afraid to seek a medical professional's opinion. It’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to burn injuries.
Contact a Columbia Burn Injury Attorney Today
If your burn injury was the result of another person's negligence, contact a Columbia burn injury lawyer at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger. You can call 803-790-2800 today to schedule your free consultation.