Teen Texting & Driving: A Comprehensive Guide For Parents

A guest post from Becker Law Office:

We all know how dangerous it is to be distracted while driving.  Many parents may remember their mothers yelling, “Be quiet, your father is trying to drive!” to the crew of rambunctious kids in the back seat.  These days, there are many more distractions than your father's seemingly continual inability to concentrate.  Texting is one of those distractions, and it has become an epidemic – especially for teens, whose entire lives often seem to hang in the balance of responding to a message.  Immediately.  So, what can you as a parent do to prevent this practice?  Plenty. For the full article click here




Dish Network LLC Broadcast Porn through Hopper Packaged as Cartoon

We have been contacted by several families now that used their Dish Network LLC DVR devices to watch and/or watched at the time of broadcast, the cute little Disney cartoon movie, "Lilo & Stitch". However, what those families inadvertently allowed their minor children to watch was hardcore pornography. Ironically, the second movie of the cartoon series is "Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch".  Apparently, Dish Network LLC has a glitch in its receivers, software, and/or new Hopper device, too.

Dish Network LLC was not responsive to our initial clients and this seems to be their modus operandi with other complaints, litigation, and issues as demonstrated from a simple Google search below.


Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC at 1650 East Greenville Street, Anderson, South Carolina 29621/1-800-483-0880/ or email us




Is There an Attorney On Board This Plane?

On a recent flight the pilot came across the intercom and asked if there was a doctor on board due to a passenger's need for immediate medical attention.  To the contrary, I have never heard the above entitled question, "Is there an attorney on board this plane?" Given the hundreds of passenger's on that plane, I would imagine several were in dire need of some legal assistance.

Although legal questions and issues don't have the life and death nature of serious medical conditions, they can cause physical, mental, and emotional duress to the participants on both sides of the issue.  There is no need to be timid about going to see or hiring a lawyer for an issue that is out of your hands or outside your professional expertise.

We all know to call a plumber when the pipes are causing problems; a carpenter when there is need for some structural repair; and a doctor when our health is failing. There is that percentage of people that are capable and able to do it on their own but sometimes even the smallest projects need to be done right or they will have to be repeated at a much more costly rate.

Don't be afraid to seek out the assistance you need when it comes to legal issues. You may not want to shout out on a plane, "Is there an attorney on board?", but when it lands you may want to inquire in the Yellow Pages, Talking Phone Book, Internet, and/or friends and family.

How Watching Pawn Stars Can Help Plaintiff's Lawyers

My fiancee and I are avid fans of the History Channel's -"Pawn Stars".  The more I watch the reality show about people bringing in unique, bizarre, and rare things they want to sell or pawn the more applications I see in my day to day activities as a plaintiff's lawyer in South Carolina

Negotiating 101 may be taught at law schools but it wasn't taught at mine. There were classes about the history of law and other BS classes to help you think, read, and write but nothing to integrate the application of the present situation that wonderful history of law has brought upon us.

In comes a better application than my clients references of "Law & Order"-- "Pawn Stars". Law students, new lawyers, and inexperienced plaintiff's lawyers save yourself some time and money and just watch the show. You can learn a lot of things about negotiating with evil insurance companies by watching the interaction between the pawn store employees and the customers:

  1. Never start at the price you eventually want to get. You can always go down in a negotiation but you seldom can go up and expect talks to continue.
  2. Research your case before you go try and sell it. If you don't know what you have, how can you know what it is worth?
  3. If neither side knows the true value of the case, get experts involved. Experts can help you both come to a conclusion about the value. (Although when both sides get one it is almost guaranteed they will say opposite things). 
  4. Body language is important in face to face negotiations. The term "poker face" was popular for a reason. (Even before Lady Gaga).
  5. Know when to walk away from the bargaining table. Sometimes you are not going to get the price you want or even reach a compromise. It's alright to leave the table and seek greener pastures or avenues.


Pawn Stars Haggling 101


Maui is the Perfect Place for a Conference and Vacation

Not all life is pain and injury. Sometimes you get to take advantage of your hard work and dedication. Or as the Bible states in Psalm 128:2, " You will eat the fruit of your labor, blessings and prosperity will be yours."  As a member of the American Association of Justice (AAJ) I was invited to a conference in Maui, HI. This being my fifth year as a plaintiffs' lawyer I felt the time was good for a little vacation and working conference.

The lineup is always amazing for the AAJ Conference and the talented, experienced, and world renown lawyers that were on hand helped motivate this younger, yet driven attorney. Its always good to draw on the passion I have to fight against the evil insurance companies, ie (Allstate, Selective, Sentry, Progressive, State Farm, and many more) and to see that passion in practicing attorneys of 30 years or more is energizing. As an evil insurance hater in Anderson, South Carolina you can sometimes feel like an island but when you rekindle that hatred for wrong doers amongst other successful lawyers around the country you are reminded that you are on the right path.

If you ever get to Maui for a vacation to relax, rejuvenate, and/or reflect here are things I recommend from a nonworking perspective:

  1. Old Lahaina Luau- A great look into Maui's history and to the Hawaiian way of life in general. Not as commercialized as other advertised luaus and the food was amazing. Plus if you like to drink the price includes all you can eat and drink. The location is right on the ocean and reservation are a plus.
  2. Sail Triology- Both the book I bought and friends that went before us recommended this tour for snorkeling. On the day we went we actually had the founder on the boat, got to see the sun rise, saw a twin whale breach, heard whales underwater while snorkeling, had fantastic food, and smooth sailing. A must do excursion.
  3. Road to Hana- this was made more delightful by not driving personally and not having to return back on the same day by car. It has been named the "Divorce Highway" by locals because of the toll the winding roads and one way bridges take on a couple.  Simply beautiful, historic, and breathtaking. So hard to describe but is a must do. We drove there and took a helicopter ride back touring the waterfalls and the volcano, Haleakala.
  4. Old Lahaina Grill-not sure how we found this on the first night but it was great. Others bragged about Mama's Fish House but we felt it was overrated and overpriced. You can't beat the location of Mama's Fish House but I think you can beat the food. A runner up in the food area was the Waterfront Restaurant- simple, affordable, and good.

I have been blessed to travel to many places in my short life of 32 years and I encourage others to do the same because you never know what life has in store for you. As a 14 year leukemia survivor I dont wait on my retirement to visit the places I want to see. I see them as soon as possible and check them off the list I made shortly after cancer.

Visit Hawaii. Check.




The Art of Law

I had a mediation today in a renovated garage behind Krause, Draisen, & Moorhead that involved several parties, but most importantly, my injured client -Ms. Georgia Lindsey, a 19 year old, Anderson University soccer athlete doing a job shadow-Chelsea White, and myself .  We got to spend some quality time together contemplating life, law school, fishing, and also getting down to business by negotiating the violent, rear end collision Ms. Lindsey was involved in with a representative of BMW

I enjoy mediation's because once each side (plaintiff and defendant) has presented their case, usually the two groups separate into different rooms. I get to spend an ample amount of time with people in a room for several hours which enables us to sit and talk about life.  The mediation process can be slow in moving but many different people with various backgrounds, interests, and reasons came together this afternoon in Anderson, South Carolina.

There were others, but they are of no consequence because they did not have the long talks and art interpretations that the three amigos did. The picture below represented 3 very distinct things to each one of us and those interpretations were not unusual given our background and circumstances.

They were as follows:

  • Chelsea -felt the picture above represented –Youth and Life.
  • Ms. Lindsey-felt it was the devil and fire.
  • Trey-thought it was a field ablaze, yet radiating beauty the whole time and the center, or background, seemed to represent the spring of life that resides in us all to quench the fires that arise.

Ironically, those interpretations of the art we stared at today for 5 hours, came out in three totally different view points. As the mediation progressed and throughout the initial spill by Steve Krause, we were reminded that every person is different and thus brings different impressions, thoughts, and ideas to the table. Just like a jury, each person is going to have a different interpretation of the same facts. However, like Ms. Lindsey said, “Thank goodness we all are different and not the same.”  Very true and very deep.  Sometimes its not about the destination but about the journey. 

(left to right) Chelsea White & Trey Mills

(Ms. Lindsey is in the blue dress)


** Life is about making the best of a situation, even in a boring mediation. Keep living the dream!

Book Review- John Grisham's "The Appeal": Fictional or Non-fictional?

When flying, I find a good book will make me forget about the small quarters, obnoxious people, and crying babies. I recently read John Grisham's "The Appeal", and was so taken back by some of his descriptions in the book and how closely they came to non-fictional events and groups.

For example, in describing the position of the wealthy business owner's perception and plan to beat the small firm's large verdict against them; that questioned his company's tactics in polluting and ultimately killing local people in the community:

"Summary: These people are heavily in debt and hanging on by their fingernails.  A little push, and they're over the edge. Strategy:  Drag out the appeals, delay, delay.  Crank up pressure from the bank. Possible buyout of Second State, then call the loan.  Bankruptcy would be the only course.  Huge distraction as appeals rage on. Also, Paytons would be unable to pursue their other thirty (or so) cases versus Krane and would probably decline more clients." p.96

Another interesting description about my own brethren:

"Trial lawyers, always a colorful and eclectic bunch. Cowboys, rogues, radicals, longhairs, corporate suits, flamboyant mavericks, bikers, deacons, good ole boys, street hustlers, pure ambulance chasers, faces from billboards and yellow pages and early morning television.  They were anything but boring.  They fought among themselves like a violent family, yet they had the ability to stop bickering, circle the wagons, and attack their enemies.  They came from cities, where they feuded over cases and clients, and they came from the small towns, where they honed their skills before simple jurors reluctant to part with anyone's money.  Some had jets and buzzed around the country piecing together the latest class action in the latest mass torts.  Others were repulsed by the mass tort game and clung proudly to the tradition of trying legitimate cases one at a time.....A few did their work in firms where they pooled money and talent, but firms of trial lawyers were notoriously difficult to keep together. Most were lone gunmen too eccentric to keep much of a staff...... If they shared anything, it was a streak of fierce independence and the thrill of representing David against Goliath." p 197-98

Amen. What a great book in the way it broke down issues of corporate greed, mass torts, political elections and power & politics.

In my brief tenure as a trial lawyer it was too on point and too descriptive of everyday non-fictional events. If only the populace of people read books and sought for deeper understanding of how the system works there would not be so many angry, crying, and perplexed people in my office on a weekly basis.

A response I seem to give too often, "No that is not legal but they do it all the time because no one will call them on it!"  Maybe their time is coming........

When Insurance Claims Adjusters Refer You Clients-It All Makes Sense

I conclude my initial interview with new clients by explaining to them my goal is to do such a good job with their case, that they refer friends, family, and enemies to my office when they know they are being taken advantage of by insurance companies.

In this past year I have received several clients by way of what I would consider unusual means-Insurance Claims Adjuster referrals.  Sallie Jane* & Jenny Laura* of Deny, Delay, & Defend Insurance Company recently referred Johnny Adjuster*, a friend of theirs that was also a claims adjuster.  Johnny had been involved in an accident and did what he thought was right and not what he knew he should have done to cover his tail with the evil empire of insurance companies and their tactics of denying, delaying, and defending.

Having been an adjuster, Johnny knew he needed an attorney that was actually willing to file and follow through with a lawsuit. Not an attorney that was looking for a quick settlement. When Johnny shared his struggle with his friends, they knew exactly the attorney to call.  As Johnny explained, "I needed an attorney that was a pit bill but not so much that he was a complete Jack Ass!"  In steps Trey Mills, personal injury attorney. 

A true story where only the names have been changed. There are many more adjusters that would just refer to me as a Jack Ass or worse. However, seldom do I back down from a fight. It use to be that was the case in or out of the court but with age and abstinence from alcohol that has evolved into more court than street/bar fighting.

I hate insurance companies! They tried to take advantage of me when I was dying of cancer and I see them taking advantage of you all everyday. I can't take on every battle and everyone's case. However, there are others out there that fight the good fight, like I do everyday. Do not accept mediocrity and second rate treatment from those SOB insurance companies! Take action.




*The names have been changed to protect the innocent.


Interview While in Mediation: Featuring Everett Heard

On February 24, 2009, I participated in a mediation of a case on behalf of my clients, Everett and Virginia Heard, against Electrolux Home Products. During the seven or more hours that Everett and I spent together (Mrs. Heard was at home sick), I learned a great deal about his past careers and adventures. 

Fortunately/unfortunately, depending on how you approach the issue, there can be some down time in a mediation, a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution.  Everett and I took that opportunity to talk about women, love, life, the pursuit of happiness, my recent break up, Hong Kong, and Hawaii. I decided to try and memorialize some our bigger discussions in a question and answer format.

 What did you find to be the most interesting point with the mediation process? 

Everett Heard*: Patience. I would have given them a price of take it or leave it and I am out of here. So patience.

What have you found to be the must frustrating?

For me, all the stuff that they (Defendant's attorneys) said was true but it wasn’t my fault. I had just forgotten some of the details. (Considering the incident occurred so long after the deposition was taken).

What would you tell someone that was about to start this process? 

If I came to you with this problem. I would have had to have my facts better. I didn’t have the facts there and that is what killed our case.  Make sure what you say is what is on record. (Or can be documented).

With life in general, what is something you would like to pass on to others?

Live your life. Bible says that, “You are not guaranteed another day.” (James 4 v 13-15Psalm 90)  Live your life as if each day was your last. If you want to go somewhere, go. You want to love someone, love them.  If you want a new car, buy the thing. Worry about the payments as they come.  Wait on love, it will come to you. You don’t have to go to it.  Wait to have children when you are both ready and ensure that love is there.

Always show affection to the woman you love, even if it is just a telephone call.  You can never tell someone you love them too many times.  A bouquet of flowers, box of candy.

I would give the world to be you. Successful. Handsome dude. With your whole life ahead of you. (I'm just writing down what he said).





*Mr. Everett Heard currently resides with his wife, Virginia, in Georgia.  Mr. Heard has served his country in the Navy, worked as a salesman in varying service related industries, has driven tractor trailers, and been tested and tried with a lot of what 60+ years of life can throw at someone, including but not limited to the death of his first wife in a motor vehicle accident & the recent death of his daughter. Please keep the Heard family in your prayers.

Alternative Dispute Resolution in South Carolina

I have had the privilege in years prior to assist South Carolina Bar Pro Bono and Tri-County Technical College with their "Law School for Non-Lawyers".  I use the power point presentation below to illustrate, educate, and integrate ADR to my class.  There is nothing fancy about it but if it can help someone, I am happy to provide it to the public.


Hostage Negotiating 101

While visiting in Charleston,SC this weekend, a friend of mine lost her cell phone partying downtown. She was noticeably upset on Sunday morning, especially since her husband was due back home that afternoon, and she did not want anything to be awry. In an attempt to check her voice-mail messages someone answered her phone. She was both elated and confused at the same time, given her still clouded mind from the libations consumed the night prior.  Instinctively, she quickly set up a meeting point to retrieve the phone and when asked about a "reward", I assisted her in saying $100.00. 

Given that her husband is one of my best friends, I couldn't let her go down to the Waterfront Park on her own. The mission was simple, get the phone back with as few casualties as possible. We headed down to the rendezvous point to meet her phone's captors.  Before arrival at the park, we received intel from our main headquarters in Mt. Pleasant, that the captors were wearing black pants, black hoodies, and were in a hurry because they had to go back to their mama

I wish the setting could be more ominous but upon arriving at the beautiful fountain on a day where the sunshine was bright and warm, we quickly spotted the captors. They were a group of "rose boys" disguising their ruse by diligently working their trade at the first set of picnic tables.  I sent my friend ahead with my phone to call her phone and set the trap. Using the 13 years of backyard ambushes with my neighbors as my experience, I stayed back and monitored.  The plan was simple, lure the boys further on the pier so they would only have one exit, past me. The call was made and ...


Continue Reading...

Older Lawyers vs. Younger Lawyers: Just an Observation

I like to leave Friday's articles open to more "artistic" interpretations.

I have only been practicing law for three years now. Not enough to call myself an expert at anything but a little more than a rookie.  I never wanted to be a lawyer and only knew one lawyer growing up, Hank Bufkin. I would not describe him as a stereotypical attorney but certainly a professional in every sense of the word.

I have observed some amusing differences in older attorneys (o.a.) vs. younger attorneys (y.a.) outside the obvious age difference. My observations:

  1. Practicing law back in the day was steeped in tradition, formalities, and camaraderie unparalleled to today.
  2. O.A.'s don't want to mess with social media, aka web 2.0, bullshit. Their education afforded them intelligence with the written and spoken English language so they will write letters and make phone calls.
  3. O.A.'s have given their patience enough practice over the years, you best not push it. I have only sat through several dozen depositions; I could not imagine several hundred. The same with client interviews.
  4. Cynicism grows with age. (I asked for assistance from Bradley Bledsoe and this was his first response.)  After reading one definition in Wikipedia that stated: "a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions" and a tendency "to express this by sneers and sarcasms".  I thought immediately of an O.A.-  Bill Duncan a Travelers Insurance defense attorney, that I work against often.
  5. Y.A.'s exemplify their generational gap in the lack of attention to detail and desire for immediate satisfaction, settlement, or disposition as it relates in law.
  6. Y.A.'s grow more skeptical with the so called "partner track" (Click for WSJ article). I think some of my peers have had their eyes opened by Madoff's Ponzi Scheme and see some striking similarities. Young buy in, old get return on investment.
  7. Regardless of age, I have noticed that there are going to be those that work and buy into the system. While there are those that don't buy into or work for the system. 
  8. Y.A.'s like acting like lawyers, while O.A.'s like being lawyers.
  9. Y.A.'s look up Latin phrases. O.A.'s know Latin phrases.
  10. O.A.'s are more inclined to interject light heart ed, comedy, or off handed comments in a legal setting, while Y.A.'s are more inclined to be professional "on set". I attribute this to the  experience variance between the two. O.A.'s know what they are doing in a courtroom, for the most part, and are more confident.


 Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it Goes!

Young attorneys and older attorneys are different. Ahhhhhh Haahhhhhh! Thank you very much!

via videosift.com

Do I Need A Doctor, Lawyer, or Preacher?: Part 3-Priorities

Often times doctors play God, attorneys battle at the gates of heaven and hell, and preachers try and enable all to walk the walk.

  1. Preachers : As defined by Wikipedia:

Some believe a preacher is distinct from a theologian by focusing on the communication of the doctrine rather than the development of the doctrine. Others see preaching and theology as being intertwined. Preaching is not limited to religious views, but it extends to moral and social world-views as well. Preachers are common throughout most cultures. They can take the form of a Christian minister on a Sunday morning, or an Islamic Imam or Da'ee on a Friday afternoon. The point of preaching is to inform or convince the hearer of a certain world-view or belief. 

  • You should go to a preacher when you question the meaning of life, want to know more about  Christ and/or God, seek a deeper spiritual journey, and/or simply to learn more about faith and religion.
  • You should tithe to the church one tenth of your earnings.
  • Perry Noble Dot Com is an interesting blog of a local preacher.
  • I am a Christian and therefore believe in God.
  • I attend NewSpring in Greenville after having attended in Anderson for several years.



Do I Need A Doctor, Lawyer, or Preacher?: Part 2-People

  1. Lawyers : As defined by Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as both advocates and advisors in our society. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support their client. As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients about their legal rights and obligations and suggest particular courses of action in business and personal matters. Whether acting as an advocate or an advisor, all attorneys research the intent of laws and judicial decisions and apply the law to the specific circumstances faced by their clients.


  • You go to a lawyer when you have been injured by the act of someone or something, when you want to set up and conduct a business, enter into a real estate transaction, get a divorce, settle a dispute, seek Social Security Benefits, and other types of inquires as to your legal rights with any given situation. 
  • Lawyer's Pay: Some lawyers work by the hour, others by retainer fee, and still others by contingency fee.
  • Contrary to popular belief, lawyers don't hate doctors. Likewise, lawyers are men and women of faith and religion. (Now if a lawyer practices medical malpractice there is often times no love lost between those attorneys and the doctors they pursue). 
  • If you need a lawyer inquire with your state Bar organization, ie SC BAR, research on the Internet, ie Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and/or check your local Yellow Pages or Talking Phone Book.
  • Choose the lawyer and law firm you are most comfortable with.
  • An interesting article entitled "Investigation Confidential" about how to choose an attorney.


Do I Need A Doctor, Lawyer, or Preacher?: Part 1-Injuries

The beginning of a 3 part series about this trilogy of professionals and how their services can be utilized for you or your family as it pertains to injuries.

  1. Doctors as defined in Wikipedia:

A physician, medical practitioner or medical doctor practices medicine, and is concerned with maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and injury. This is accomplished through a detailed knowledge of anatomy, physiology, diseases and treatment — the science of medicine — and its applied practice — the art or craft of medicine.

  • You go to the doctor when you are injured in an accident, fall down, get bitten by a dog, come down with a virus, or numerous other physical and mental conditions.
  • Nobody knows your body like you know your body. A doctor sees numerous patients a day so voice your ailments when you are in front of them. Don't expect them to be mind readers.
  • Doctors want to help you that is why they went to school for over 20 years of their lives. However, they are human and this should always be remembered.
  • Immediately go to an Urgent Care or Emergency Room facility, if you have been injured in an accident and feel your injuries arise to this degree. Do not wait on permission from the at fault's insurance company. They do not dictate your injuries and recovery.
  • When you see a doctor or go to a medical facility make sure you utilize your health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Workers' Compensation benefits, etc. If you have these supplemental payment arrangements: use them.
  • Why will my doctor not see me if I was in a wreck? That's a great question. Ask them. More likely than not, it comes down to money and they want to get paid and not have to wait, which allows insurance companies to starve you out.
  • A great investigation and quick read is Christi Myers of HOUSTON,TX's (KTRK) report entitled "Doctors Might Turn You Away After a Wreck".


Triage: Injuries, People, and Priorities

Triage as defined in Wikipedia:

Triage is a process of prioritizing patients based on the severity of their condition. This facilitates the ability to treat as many patients as possible when resources are insufficient for all to be treated immediately. The term comes from the French verb trier, meaning to separate, sort, sift or select.

This can be applied to your everyday life in a non-medical setting. As the three primitive categories were determined on the battlefields of olden days:

        1) Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;

        2) Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive;

        3) Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.

Which do you fall into in your current state?

I will be providing a three part series of articles about Doctors, Lawyers, and Preachers as it pertains to those families or residents of South Carolina that have been affected by an injury. There is a time when we need each, all, or none.  Likewise, I think everyone should be "triaged" into the 3rd category because immediate care can make a positive difference in all our outcomes.


[My mother was an Emergency Room nurse for over 15 years at Lexington Medical Center. As she was one of the greater influences in my life, I felt it appropriate to utilize terms I grew up with and learned through observation, conversation, and integration.]

Trey Mills: Tricks are for Kids

No doubt there are great lawyers in both the history of the world and of the United States.  Given the fact that I am part of Generation Y, let's not get caught up in real world details or historic facts.  This ADD Generation enabled by the myriad forms of media outlets does not have time to look in history books or research the "real facts" unless they can be found with a Google search.

Therefore, why shouldn't one of my role models be a fictional TV series, attorney from Boston Legal? That's right, Denny Crane! If I were to look up to a non-fictional character in my community, abroad, or from the past, I would have to put up with fatal human flaws, unfounded stereotypes, poor media portrayal and may even become defensive over ignorant people's opinions formed from other ignorant people's opinions.  I can accomplish all that with Denny Crane and not be offended because he's a fictional TV character.

Besides, Denny Crane taught me all there is to know about branding with social networking and being an attorney:

  1. State Your Name Clearly- Get it out there-early and often. I still get called Trip, Trevor, Flood, and other names of ill repute.
  2. Exude Confidence, Especially in the Face of Ignorance-it could be your own or someone else's.
  3. Reward Yourself-doesn't matter if you win or lose it's all in how you thought you played the game.
  4. Stand Behind Your Beliefs-a quote I am quite fond of, "You got to dance with the one that brought you."
  5. Every Girl Crazy About a Sharp Dressed Man-ADD is kicking in. I know you probably lost focus after the first paragraph. So what do I have to worry about?






I'm a Lawyer: What Type of Lawyer Are You?

There are two general courts, and thus two different areas of practicing attorneys: Civil & Criminal

  1. Civil law, or municipal law, relates to the relationships of contract and exchange between private parties (individuals, businesses or individuals and businesses), such as marriage, divorce, buying and selling property, contracts and warranties, etc. Civil law encompasses all law that is not criminal law and is divided into two branches: Contract Law and Tort Law, aka Personal Injury cases. Civil law cases are litigated in civil courts as law suits and the end result is normally financial compensation.
  2. In Criminal law, the suit is initiated by the state or federal government through a prosecutor rather than being initiated by the victim, as it is in civil law.
  • One of the major differences between civil law and criminal law is that civil law suits are initiated by the victim rather than the Federal or state government through a prosecutor.
  • Civil law and criminal law proceedings are also very different, and one of the main differences lies in the "burden of proof."
  • In a criminal case, the defendant must be proven guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."
  • A civil case only has to be proven on the "balance of probabilities" (i.e., it is "likely" that the defendant is guilty).

A good example of this is the O.J. Simpson trial. While it was not proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" that he murdered his wife; it was proven in the subsequent civil trial that, based on the "balance of probabilities," he had been responsible for her death, which subsequently led to the financial award to the victim's family.

I am a Plaintiff's (Civil) Trial Attorney that can help you if you have been wronged, harmed, or injured by someone or something and you seek monetary compensation. 


My Friend's Friend's Baby Mama's Uncle's Girlfriend Said....

....her girlfriend got $100,000.00 dollars for an injury case just like mine. 

When I hear comments like that I often times think of Saturday Night Live when Seth MeyersAmy Poehler  do their "Really?" skit.

  • Your Friend's Friend's Baby Mama's Uncle's Girlfriend said that she got $100,000.00 dollars for an injury case like yours. Really?
  • When I ask you to go out find another attorney that can guarantee you a monetary amount, you come back with nothing. Really?
  • When I ask you detailed questions about this "other" case, ie  year, state, attorney or insurance company involved, you come back with nothing. Really?
  • Once I have gotten a fair settlement on the table and you remind me of this large amount this person received at some point in time, I ask you to bring back a signed piece of paper from any surrounding attorney verifying they can get you a higher settlement and you show up two days later with nothing. Really?

Every person's injury claim is different and many factors determine the actual outcome or valuation.  One of the biggest factors would be the actual jurisdiction, or venue, in which the case will be brought. A very general definition is provided by Wikipedia:

Venue is the location where a case is heard. In the United States, the venue is either a county (for cases in state court) or a district or division (for cases in federal court). Venue deals with locality of a lawsuit, that is, with questions of which court or courts with proper jurisdiction may hear a specific suit.

South Carolina is known to be more conservative than say California, New York, or Illinois so please understand you are comparing apples to oranges when you start finding large verdicts and/or settlements on the internet in a different state.

What REALLY matters are:

  1. the circumstances in which you were injured;
  2. parties involved;
  3. legal issues;
  4. insurance coverage; and
  5. the amount of witnesses or evidentiary pieces that support your perspective of the event. 

You may very well have a six figure case but don't come to that conclusion through hearsay and the real life version of the "gossip game".  Talk to a competent attorney that consistently goes to court in the venue of your injury.

Can You Read?

Then start doing it and stop just signing everything people put in front of you. Yeah, I know those are long contracts and sometimes they have big words but once you sign that contract, you are obligated to what the contract says. Courts often times look to the "four corners" of the document.

In Regions Bank v. Schmauch, 354 S.C. 648, 663-664 (S.C. Ct. App. 2003), the court set forth numerous cases illustrating the same point:

  • A person who signs a contract or other written document cannot avoid the effect of the document by claiming he did not read it. Sims v. Tyler, 276 S.C. 640, 643, 281 S.E.2d 229, 230 (1981); Evans v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 269 S.C. 584, 587, 239 S.E.2d 76, 77 (1977).
  • A person signing a document is responsible for reading the document and making sure of its contents. Every contracting party owes a duty to the other party to the contract and to the public to learn the contents of a document before he signs it. Burwell v. South Carolina Nat'l Bank, 288 S.C. 34, 39, 340 S.E.2d 786, 789 (1986); Sanders v. Allis Chalmers Mfg. Co., 237 S.C. 133, 139-40, 115 S.E.2d 793, 796 (1960); Stanley Smith & Sons v. D.M.R. Inc., 307 S.C. 413, 417, 415 S.E.2d 428, 430 (Ct. App. 1992).
  • One who signs a written instrument has the duty to exercise reasonable care to protect himself. Maw v. McAlister, 252 S.C. 280, 285, 166 S.E.2d 203, 205 (1969);
  • "The law does not impose a duty on the bank to explain to an individual what he could learn from simply reading the document." Citizens & S. Nat'l Bank of South Carolina v. Lanford, 313 S.C. 540, 545, 443 S.E.2d 549, 551 (1994).

There are exceptions and unique instances that could vary but the general rule is: read before you sign. People enter into contracts every day over real estate, personal property, rental agreements/terms, employment, insurance settlements, etc. If you don't understand what you are signing ask someone to help you better understand it.

Real World Examples:

  1. Real Estate Foreclosures- You never asked anyone what an ARM was? It sounded great for the moment but all of the sudden your payments tripled. That's not fair! Why the hell not! You agreed to it in a contract you probably signed 10 times. Why is it the bank's fault because you didn't read the fine print?
  2. Automobile Insurance- You checked the box that said you did not want the optional UIM insurance. Then you get injured by someone with minimum coverage that has no personal assets.  What can you do? Well the insurance company never explained what UIM was. Did you ask them? Or were you in a hurry and just wanted the cheapest coverage?  Oh, never mind, it doesn't matter you already signed the contract.
  3. Car Loans- You were in a bind and you were way behind and you were willing to make a deal, ...... and if you win you'll get this shiny car made of steel, .....but if you lose the devil gets your soul. So you agreed to a $15,000.00 loan for that 98 Mercury van with 100,000 + miles. They paid you $2,500.00 up front in cash and you financed the rest at 35% interest over the next five years. You get in a wreck the next week and the at fault insurance company tells you the car is worth $2,500.00. What about that loan you agreed to? Will you still have to pay it? Yes sir, indeed. You know why? You signed a contract.

DISCLAIMER: This is not legal advice merely common sense illustrated by legal opinions and case law.  We have not entered into a attorney client relationship. Feel free to consult with an attorney about any contract you do not understand. 

Powered by Hope and Change: 2008 Election History

  1. The 2008 Presidential Election provided a historic time in America's relatively young past. CNN reported that, "voters were flocking to the most open election in half a century, inspired to support the first female president, the first black or the oldest ever elected."
  2. Barack Obama was elected the 44th President tonight and the foundations that our Founding Fathers laid so many years before have never been more obvious than through the voice of the people this late voting night.
  3. The demographics and election statistics spoke for themselves as CNN provided some of the most technologically enhanced polling commentary that I have ever seen. Their props and presentations consisted of touch screens, 3-D graphic visualizations, and Star Wars like holographic imaging during an interview. 
  4. Glen Dickson of Broadcasting & Cable, forewarned us of such technological enhancements. However, I was amazed at the endless technological delicacies the audience was provided and I thought about the wonders those enhancements could provide in a courtroom setting.
  5. South Carolina remained the stereotypical red state it has for so many years and provided incumbents with relatively inconsequential challenges but challenges wrought with great hopes and ambition from their opposition. 
  6. An all encompassing site to keep updated with South Carolina politics is the SC Hotline

Power of Nonverbal Communication

A recent Wall Street Journal article entitled "The Power of Nonverbal Communication" provided some helpful insights from Dr. Alex Pentland's studies of sociometer data that can be useful to almost anyone that communicates with others on a daily basis.

Dr. Pentland's new book, "Honest Signals", focuses on four nonverbal ways people communicate:

  1. Activity- when you get excited about something your interest is higher you display more nervous energy.
  2. Interest- the timing of  filling in the gaps and pauses of a conversation  attest to the attention being provided by each party.
  3. Mimicry- a mirroring of gestures indicates trust and empathy.
  4. Consistency- fluency in tone or motion hard to fake.

The article indicated a study done on midcareer executives presenting real business plans in a competition, resulted in tone of voice and how the plan was presented.  "....they were listening to how excited the presenter was about the plan; they were not listening to the facts."  

Dr. Pentland went on to comment that, "In organizations, most of the communication that's complicated, that's really important, still happens face-to-face."