Why Your Medical Records Matter in Personal Injury Cases

The subject has come up too many times in the past couple weeks where clients are disputing what is documented in their medical records that were written by their own treating physicians. I will admit, prior to becoming an attorney in South Carolina, I would trust what the doctor told me in the private setting of the examination room. As Lee Corso says, "Not so fast my friend."

It does not matter if you are being assisted by Medshore EMS at the scene of a motor vehicle collision or talking to your long time AnMed Family Medicine physician, those medical providers are documenting everything you tell them. As a matter of fact, the Federal Government has mandated all records be made digitally so you can even read the physician's handwriting. Well that wasn't their main reason for doing it but it sure has helped in reading Dr. Wadee's records. 

You have the right to request your medical records and you should do that on a quarterly to annual basis depending upon your frequency in medical treatment. (No, the discharge or checkout paper you get does not count as a medical record that is important.) It will help you see what information is documented from your visit with medical providers and also help ensure that your medical concerns and complaints are actually being addressed. Let me provide a news flash when that may become relevant...IN A PERSONAL INJURYCASE! 

If you are involved in some kind of traumatic incident (workers' compensation claim, car wreck, dog bite, slip & fall, product liability claim, nursing home negligence, or medical malpractice case) and claim the injuries you sustained from that incident are all because of that traumatic incident, you have to prove it to be reimbursed by the evil insurance companies. Your back may be hurting but if just the week before you were complaining of back pains, the question becomes how much more, if any, is your back hurting from the traumatic incident. Don't come in telling me your life is changed forever for the worst because of this traumatic incident but have no medical documentation to prove that claim. 

As an attorney, I can not tell the evil insurance company that your doctor told you it was all because of the traumatic incident. Shockingly, the evil empire would not believe me or you. However, the evil tryanny sometimes believes what is in the medical records. Not all the time but let's not get caught up in the fact that the evil empire will have a 22 year old college, educated adjuster make medical diagnosis and decisions. We will save that subject for another article. 

Today, your take away is this:

  • You are legally entitled to a copy of your medical records, regardless if you owe a balance to the medical provider. Now there may be a copying charge or retrieval fee but you are still entitled to those printed and detailed records, along with your itemized bills. Click here to print off this page, if the gate keeper at your medical facility doesn't believe you.
  • Do you really know what your doctor has documented?   What do you think your doctor will depend on as the truth a year from their visit with you if asked by a lawyer? That exact conversation or their medical records?
  • What is documented in your medical records will help your recovery from a traumatic incident or help the evil empire against your recovery. So, if you are experience back pain, emotional trauma, sleepless nights, relationship troubles, and so forth, I better read it in the medical records or it is not happening!

 

 

***When I Googled "evil insurance companies" there was a link with a discussion of whether insurance companies were evil or stupid.  Although it was about health care, the liability insurance carriers are designed the same way, maximize return to their shareholders while minimizing the payout of claims (YOUR CLAIM). I thought this was a very interesting response:

Doug DingusEverybody pays, everybody covered
622 Views
Insurance companies have a basic conflict with us in that their goal is to maximize for the shareholders, and that happens best when they deliver the least health care access for the most dollars.

So, the answer is by design, but said design is an artifact of our health care policy, meaning they are neither stupid or evil.

We can remedy this with regulation, or public primary care insurance, or competition, depending on how said competition is structured

When Do I Hire an Attorney vs. Handling It Myself?

Through various avenues and referral sources, I often times get some interesting questions about "potential" cases. Lately, I have been looking over my shoulder for the hidden camera or wondering which one of my friends in playing a joke on me. I'm not sure it's a result of our litigous nature, the dying art of customer service, or people just dont have time to properly deal with issues that arise.

So enter my quick 3 step process to determine if you need a lawyer.

1) Are you dealing with an insurance company or adjuster?

     - YES, you need a lawyer.  Insurance companies make money off of the money they don't pay out in claims. You obviously have a claim and they want to minimize the payout to you regardless of how nice they may initially seem. 

     -Just ask yourself this: "Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why would you listen to the insurance adjuster about how to settle a claim against them?"--Trey  Mills

2) Are you dealing with a rude employee, disgruntled employee, or frontline of a company?

      -Probably Not. You need to make sure you document whatever the situation may be. Then reach out to the next level of management or ownership. If the wrong, or negligent act, that has been committed on you is not addressed by the next level of management or ownership then you need to determine the damages you have incurred. If those damages are simply hurt feelings and/or pride you don't need a lawyer. If those damages are monetary and amount to more than a few thousand dollars then you may need a lawyer. If those damages are less than a few thousand dollars you may have alternative routes such as Magistrate Court, or Small Claims court. (Charleston County has online FAQs) You do not need a laywer to represent you in Magistrate Court in South Carolina, or most states. Think Judge Judy but less dramatic, not on television, and not as timely. 

3) Are you trying to pursue a wrong from a company or person that has no assets, money, or insurance because "it just ain't right?" 

    -Probably not. You have certainly heard of the term, "You can't get blood out of a turnip." If not click on the previous link and don't tell anyone you didnt know that. When I question the viability of a case or know that there is little to be gained from it, I request a retainer fee. That fee may very depending upon the case but it is usually at least $2,500.00. Are you willing to spend that much money to pursue your case? If not, then you don't need a lawyer. 

When you have performed this quick 3 step analysis and determined you need a lawyer, reach out to one. We don't bite.

We represent clients  that have been injured at work, in wrecks, dog bites, slip and falls, nursing home abuse cases, and product liability claims arising out of South Carolina and Georgia.  Call us toll free at 1-800-483-0880, contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or just stop by. We offer free consultations to determine if we can assist with your legal needs. 

Will Workers' Compensation Cover an Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Injury?

Many times when people are involved in a work accident, they will aggravate an old injury. We oftentimes hear concerns from these individuals that the Workers’ Compensation (“WC”) insurance carrier MAY NOT cover medical treatment for these types of re-injuries.  So the question in South Carolina becomes, is a work accident that aggravates and/or makes worse a pre-existing injury covered by the employer’s WC insurance carrier?

The simple answer to this question is YES.  According to S.C. Code Ann. § 42-9-35 -  

(A) The employee shall establish by a preponderance of the evidence, including medical evidence, that:

(1) the subsequent injury aggravated the preexisting condition or permanent physical impairment; or

(2) the preexisting condition or the permanent physical impairment aggravates the subsequent injury. 

What does this mean to my WC injury and claim?  If your WC claim is denied because of an aggravation of a pre-existing injury, it is necessary that YOU obtain the opinion of your treating physician that “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty,” that it is more probable than not that the work accident aggravated the pre-existing condition. How can I obtain this medical opinion?
 
 If your claim is denied because of this particular situation, it is always best to discuss your claim with attorneys experienced in these matters.  As attorneys working with WC clients on a daily basis, Ernie Trammell and Roy Trammell have spent countless hours drafting doctor affidavits for clients whose claims are being temporarily denied because of this reason.   
 
What if my pre-existing condition is degenerative in nature?
 
If your work accident aggravates and/or makes worse a condition like arthritis, your employer’s carrier must cover the claim.  As noted above though, a treating physician does have to document that in his opinion based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty that it is more probable than not that the work accident aggravated the arthritis in the body part injured.  
 
Regardless of your Workers' Compensation question or issue, we are here to help. If you have been injured on the job, please give us a call for your free consultation. Call us at 1-864-231-7171, find us on Facebook, or Twitter. We are here to help. 

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY ROY TRAMMELL, a Workers' Compensation attorney. 

Injured on the Job? Too 'Job Scared' to File a Workers' Compensation Claim?

Many times we see potential clients fail to follow through with a Workers’ Compensation claim because they are “job scared.”  Some of the individuals may have a promising but new career with their employer, other times the individual has been employed with the same company for 20+ years and fear losing a good job.  If you have been injured on the job and are job scared, please read this before deciding NOT to pursue a Workers’ Compensation claim.

It is illegal in South Carolina for an employer to fire an employee for initiating a Workers’ Compensation claim.  S.C. Code Ann. § 41-1-80 states:
 
 “no employer may discharge or demote any employee because the employee has instituted [in good faith]. . .” a Workers’ Compensation claim.
 
If you are legitimately injured while on the job and file a Workers’ Compensation claim against your employer, your employer can not terminate you for that reason
 
However, the law cited above does state that while you are pursuing a claim, your employer can fire you for other reasons, most commonly:
 
a) intoxication on the job;
b) destruction of the employer’s property;
c) habitual tardiness or absence from work;
        d) failure to meet established employer work standards;
        e) malingering; or
        f)  embezzlement.
 
If you do decide to pursue a Workers’ Compensation claim, while still working, we inform our clients to ALWAYS report to work on time and stay on their best behavior while on the clock. If your employer is attempting to fire you while under a Workers’ Compensation claim, they will try and find a justifiable reason to terminate you that is unrelated to your job injury.    
 
If you are injured on the job but afraid of being terminated for pursuing your rights under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation laws, it is always advisable to speak with an attorney first.  We offer free consultations, so do not hesitate to call Ernie Trammell or Roy Trammell at the Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC located in upstate South Carolina as soon as possible after your work injury.  
 
 
THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY ROY TRAMMELL, a Workers' Compensation attorney
Call and let Roy handle your case today, 864-231-7171 or trammellandmills.com 
 

Are You Covered By Workers' Compensation If You Fall at Work?

         Don't fall victim to the "There Ain't Nothing Wrong With the Floor" defense. If you trip over an object on the floor at work and fall, you are almost certain to be covered by the workers’ compensation laws.  But what happens if you simply fall at work on a completely level floor or on a smooth rug and there is no obvious cause for your fall?  What if your employer responds that you can not get workers’ compensation benefits because “there ain’t nothing wrong with the floor” to have caused you to fall?  Is the employer right?

Let’s look at three different scenarios:
Situation 1
 
Assume that my paralegal, Ashley, is walking down the hallway at our office with a hand full of files and trips over a magazine that had been inadvertently dropped on the floor by a client.  Is she covered under our workers' compensation laws?
 
Yes, she is covered because she suffered an injury by accident at work during the course and scope of her employment.  Since the workers’ compensation system is a “no fault” system, it doesn’t matter whether Ashley could have avoided that accident because fault is irrelevant in a workers’ compensation claim. 
 
Situation 2
 
Let’s now assume that Ashley is walking down the hallway at our office with a hand full of files and loses her balance and falls for no apparent reason.  There was nothing specifically on the floor that had caused her to fall.  Is she covered under our workers’ compensation laws?
 
Yes, she needs only to prove a causal connection between the conditions under which the work is required to be performed and the resulting injury.  The fact that Ashley suffered an “unexplained fall” does not preclude her from being covered by workers’ compensation.  There does not have to be some work hazard on the floor causing the employee to fall in order for there to be workers’ compensation coverage.  Instead, she again only needs to prove that she was injured during the course and scope of her employment.  It is no defense for the employer to deny coverage because  “there ain’t nothing wrong with the floor” to have caused you to fall.
 
Situation 3
 
Let’s assume that Ashley has a bad knee which has bothered her for years.  As she is walking down the hall with a hand full of files, her bad knee simply gives away and she falls.  There was nothing on the floor that had cause her to fall.  As she was being helped up from the floor by her co-workers, Ashley responded that “my knee just gave away.”  Is she covered under our workers’ compensation laws?
 
No, in this case Ashley would be determined to have suffered an “idiopathic fall.”  That is a fall caused solely by an inherent medical condition (the bad knee) or weakness which is specific to Ashley.  An “idiopathic fall” is much different than the “unexplained fall” described above in Situation 2.  In an “idiopathic fall” the burden of proof is on the employer to establish that the fall was caused solely by Ashley’s inherent medical condition.  It will be easy for the employer to prove that Ashley’s fall was idiopathic because she admitted it when she told her co-workers that “my knee just gave away.”  A fall caused by fainting is also an example of an idiopathic fall.
 
The Moral of the Story
 
If you suffer a fall at work, you will be covered by workers’ compensation if a specific work hazard (like water on the floor or an object on the floor) causes you to fall or if your fall is simply unexplained.  The only way you lose is if the employer can prove that your “unexplained fall” was actually an “idiopathic fall” in that it was caused solely by your inherent medical condition, which had nothing at all to do with your work or work environment.  Therefore, if you do have the misfortune of falling at work, by all means tell the truth to your employer as to what happened but don’t carelessly make a statement in the midst of your natural embarrassment that you fell because your bad knee gave away (unless that is in fact what happened)!
 
If you fall at work and have questions regarding your claim, please do not hesitate to contact Ernie Trammell at Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC.   Ernie Trammell has been a practicing law for 32 years and has focused the last 15 years of his practice solely on representing injured workers in workers’ compensation claims in South Carolina and Georgia

 

RELATED ARTICLES by Ernie Trammell:

 
 
 

 

Insurance Adjusters Admit to Being Fined for Saying Yes

Many of us remember the "Just Say No" Campaign in an effort to fight the war on drugs. Green shirts were promoted among children with the popular saying to try and thwart our small minds from saying "Yes" to experimental drugs.  In the name of public policy a governmental agency created a slogan, provided t-shirts to poor children and pushed their agenda through the public education system keeping many from being able to enjoy the high of quality street drugs.  

Apparently this "Just Say No" campaign was not just one for the war on drugs but was also accepted by major insurance companies such as Progressive, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, Safeco, GAINSCO, and Sentry. Just recently, guilt ridden insurance adjusters have come forward admitting that anytime they would say the word "Yes" on the phone with a claimant, they would be fined $500.00. Adversely, the more times they said the word "No" the more opportunities they would have for a professional advancement. 

Many of you have probably encountered this type of interaction after being involved in a motor vehicle collision or having an insurance claim against one of these companies when all the adjuster on the other end of the phone would say is "No".  A recent transcript was released in the article detailing this incident and illustrated how the slogan worked to make billions after taxes for these companies:  (Person Injured- PI) & ( Adjuster Saying Slogan - ASS)

PI: I was just injured by one your insureds when they slammed into the back of us while drunk and driving with a suspended license. 

ASS: No, you didn't. Not possible. No way that could happen. 

PI: Hello? I'm sorry what did you say?

ASS: No. 

PI: No, what?

ASS: No. No means no. No, no, no.

PI: We seem to have a disconnect here. I have an accident report showing what I just told you and video on my phone showing your insured stumbling out of the car with two cases of beer and trying to make a run for it. He didn't get far before he fell face first into a ditch and just started drinking again. 

ASS: Sir, we do not provide insurance to people that drink and do bad things. If we do, we say they didnt do it, we then deny the claim, delay it, and defend it in court just to prove to you we mean no. 

If you have an experienced this kind of interaction with the above companies, please give us a call as we are looking for class members to fight against this injustice. It may be the first day of April, aka April Fools Day, but we are still here to help you and believe this is real. 

 

OTHER ARTICLES WRITTEN FOR THIS SPECIAL DAY

Trey Mills Retiring at 36

Allstate Makes Me an Offer I Can't Refuse

South Carolina Litigation Firms Admit They Only Litigate for Insurance Companies

 

 

 

 

Workers' Compensation Reform Horrible for Workers in South Carolina

 A recent article by NPR illustrates what is wrong with any legislation put forth in the name of "reform". This article provides quantitative evidence and examples of why the workers' compensation system is broken. Our very own Ernie Trammell has provided articles about South Carolina Workers' Compensation issues writing, "Injured at Work in South Carolina? What you need to know. (Part 1)" & "Injured at Work in South Carolina? What you need to know. (Part 2)"  . 

For an in depth analysis, historic background on the intent, and current state of workers' compensation laws, you should educate yourself with this article. More importantly, you should arm yourself with an attorney if you have a workers' compensation claim:

Injured Workers Suffer As 'Reforms' Limit Workers' Compensation Benefits

 

 

And Now You Do What They Told Ya...

"Why Did You Take That Case? It's Not Worth Your Time!"

A question recently posed to me by an insurance defense attorney that thinks certain cases should be beneath legal assistance because there is no real margin for a positive financial return. It reminded me of the real reason I became a lawyer and constantly reminds me of the every day people that need lawyers not solely focused on the bottom line. I realize this is a hard task because we are still running a business that has to pay overhead expenses, support ourselves and our families, and pay those law school loans! On top of that in South Carolina you are "assigned" cases that you are going to be spending time and money on for free anyway, which could easily fill that small philanthropic,or charitable void, in your cynical, cold heart.

Rise up, my cynical counterparts and cohorts in the business of assisting those in need when the tyrannical insurance company rears its ugly head. We must unite and bring forth our swords swiftly to sever its head before it begins to breathe fire and destroy all that is pure and just in a world bombarded with:

  • low balling adjusters reading from a computer screen;
  • experienced insurance adjusters being pushed to retire for college graduates that can read;
  • denials based purely on money saving tactics;
  • Allstate Insurance Company practices focused on trying to squeeze out the desire for attorneys to help;
  • property damage claims (See: South Carolina Property Arbitration:Your Weapon Against Insurance Adjusters) ;
  • minor property damage claims; and
  • anything quasi legal that comes out of the mouth of an adjuster. 

How about grab that bravado that made you a plaintiff's attorney and start saying, "F&*^ You, I want do what you tell me!" You can make the time for half a dozen of those cases a year. I know you "Million Dollar Advocates" can spare some time to feel reinvigorated and you young associates that do research all day can feel like real trial lawyers by taking on a Magistrate Court case or Property Arbitration. By pushing back on what the dragon is trying to force feed us we can eventually slay the large reptile and save the townspeople. 

 

Do I Really Need a Lawyer?- The Insurance Adjuster Told Me How This Works

My wife, who is typically my worst juror or best devil's advocate on cases, was appalled to hear about some of my more recent clients and how the insurance company was treating them. She said, "Well you never hear about those type cases in the news or on TV!"

I laughed and then felt overwhelmed with sadness because I realized that is very true and if most people knew or were privy to the things I experience on a daily basis they would:

A) Call the South Carolina Department of Insurance and ask how that is legal for an insurance company to do and then file a claim;

B) Contact their state legislative representative and/or congressional representatives seeking change, reform, or answers;

C) Contact local media organizations (WYFF Channel 4, WSPA Channel 7,  FOX CAROLINA)  asking them to do an "investigative analysis" to run on prime time; but then and more importantly;

D) They would forget all about it and move on to another issue or concern because we are a fickle public almost immune to shocking news of being swindled out of our morality, justice, and legal rights. 

Yet, I continue to see it every day and when I report it to the SC Department of Insurance I am crying wolf. When I blog about it or talk to friends, family, enemies, or strangers about it, they discount my opinion due to the obvious bias of my position as an advocate for the injured, harmed, and disenfranchised.  

However, once an attorney gets wind or retains a client with one of "those cases" most times they are settled with the insurance company paying all the money available on the claim. However, that doesn't mean the insurance company pays lots of money QUICKLY. Or in return doesn't try to divert the injured party away from sound advice that is on their side versus working against them.  (See my article entitled: Would You Take Advice from the Devil on How to Get to Heaven?: Insurance Company Lies).  Insurance companies make money by keeping it out of the injured party's hand as long as they can while still investing the premiums their insureds pay them to protect against harms they cause others. (See my article entitled: How Do Insurance Companies Make Money?)

In all of the cases the injured party was being ignored, getting the silent treatment, or being talked down to like they were money hungry panhandlers looking for a handout from Big Daddy. When in fact the people that the insurance company insured were:

1) drunk driving behind the wheel and could have harmed anyone reading this;

2) were high on drugs with stolen merchandise in their trunk trying to get out of state before the police caught up with them and could have harmed anyone reading this;

3) traveling 20 mph or more over the speed limit through a busy intersection trying to get to their plane for a vacation to some tropical paradise and could have harmed anyone reading this;

4) had just left the strip club drunk and ran through a stop sign striking a client working their second job to provide for a family and could have.......

I know, I know bad things happen and you just have to deal with it. Well, that is true but insurance (health and auto now) is mandated by state and federal laws so everyone has to have some form of it. Thus, when insurance companies come into pay and should be reimbursing the injured party for the wrongs, harms, loses, and injuries their insured has caused another innocent party that s*&& doesn't always work the way it is suppose to. Insurance companies deny, delay, and defend money from injured parties. Wake the f*& up people. WTFU! 

Why do you think I am in that trial in front of a jury? It's not to take money from that poor person that just had an accident and I am trying to take their home. Or some business made a simple mistake and I am trying to close down someone's American Dream. Really!? It's to get that person's insurance company to pay a reasonable amount to my client. 

If you have "one of those cases" give us a call and at least run it by someone first before you walk like a cow to slaughter down that line to sign a check for little bit over your out of pocket medical bills thinking that is all you are entitled to because that is what the insurance adjuster told you. When you do that you are forever and ever releasing the insurance company from any wrongs their insured caused you for the rest of your life. If nothing else remember this, "It's not what the insurance adjuster says that matters, it's what they pay."

Give us a call at 1-800-483-0880 or 864-231-7171 and visit us online at Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC or I85lawyers.com

 

 

Don't Listen to Insurance Adjusters or Friends When It Comes to Legal Advice

You have just been involved in a traumatic incident of some kind and now your world is turned upside down. You never planned on being:

  • injured;
  • unable to work;
  • permanently disfigured;
  • without an avenue for medical treatment;
  • no knowledge on how to get out of the hole someone, something, or some event has put you into; or 
  • what steps to take to get back before your world stopped. 

The next thing you do is communicate with family, friends, and/or co-workers. They know someone, read something, saw it on the Internet, watched "Judge Judy",  or have a "friend" themselves that has been through the exact same thing and this is what you .......STOP THE MADNESS!

It's great to have loved ones and I am sure they want nothing but the best for you but I don't claim to know everything about everything. I hire real estate agents to move property and tax advisers (Patterson Tax Service) to do my taxes even though I have had Real Estate and Tax classes in law school (which means I know enough to be dangerous to myself, or absolutely nothing). 

My common saying is, "You don't listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven, so why listen to an insurance adjuster on how to settle a claim against them?"  They are going to lie, or mislead you. You don't go to your opponent in the middle of the game and ask them how to beat them do you? NO! Stop listening to what an adjuster says about your claim. Talk to an attorney. You at least have recourse against an attorney if they give you incorrect legal advice. (You could have recourse against an adjuster but it is hard to prove). 

Likewise, stop listening to your friends give you "arm chair" legal direction on your case. Go talk to a lawyer. It is free to consult with a lawyer on most civil cases and no fee is received by the lawyer unless a settlement is negotiated or trial verdict rendered. Tell me who else you know works 100% on performance pay? Defense attorneys and insurance adjusters work hourly or salary and may get some kind of bonus based on performance but I would imagine 75% of their income will come to them regardless of how well they perform. 

I work 100% on performance and get close to 70% of my business from word of mouth based on clients, friends, family members, colleagues, and other professionals that are familiar with our firm's performance. Seek out the help you need from the right professionals rather than receiving the wrong information. You may not hear what you like but at least it will be an honest, experienced, and informed response looking out for YOUR BEST INTEREST

 

 

Trey Mills Retiring at 36

 It is with great excitement and a heavy heart that I share my plans to leave the Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC at the end of this month!  I appreciate the opportunity Ernie Trammell provided to this young law graduate eight (8) years ago with nothing but fire in his eyes and hatred in his heart for insurance companies.  I never thought I would live to the age of 30 so now as I turn 36 at the end of this month, I realize life is too short to continue to work every day doing work I feel God called me to do. No, I think now is the time to live off my wife's new profession of being a nurse anesthetist. The earning potential for my wife's new profession seems to be very high and I am sure she will be excited with my decision once I talk it over with her.

My wife and I don't have children yet, so I am looking forward to taking care of our two aging dogs every day, taking long walks both in downtown Greenville to oversee and provide free supervision to many of the on going construction projects and in our Lake Keowee subdivision where I know I will be welcomed with open arms by our neighbors. I may even be able to get  a Home Owners Association position or volunteer with other seniors like me. 

I am not sure I will be able to draw off of my 401K yet. I don't really fear the 10% penalty they may impose if I ask for it prior to their ridiculously mandated 65 year old rule. Who the hell wants to work that long! Plus, 10% of "not a lot" is a lot less than "not a lot".

For income, I guess I could apply for disability. My disability being that I can't fathom how the government did nothing to support my working so hard and being successful only to take my hard earned money from me. To add insult to injury, after the government takes my hard earned money they then turn around and spit on me by bailing out Wall Street ballers, fail to provide the home front with necessities before spending billions of dollars on other countries and wars, and constantly bicker with each other about what this country needs while sticking their heads in the sand after hearing themselves talk. There would be other reasons for my "disability". Those reasons would be dealing with insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, roster meetings, Roy Trammell, and how our law firm can spend so much money on overhead. 

Oh, no. My nerves are all tore up now and my body feels all "stove up". Too much stress just thinking about it all. Ahhhh but in only a few short weeks, I will be able to leave it all behind to live the life of leisure watching all those early morning lawyer commercials, "The Price is Right", one of those soap operas my grandmother use to make my grandfather and I watch when we came home for our hour break from his job as a mechanic ("As the World Turns" I think)-I was shop boy, and then I can try to grow sustainable crops on our 1/4 of an acre of asphalt. 

In the immortal words of "The Allman Brothers Band"...

Happy April Fool's Day!

 

 

 

Our Arms Are Open When Those Good Hands Are Around Your Neck

If this is your first time reading my blog, you may not know how I feel about Allstate Insurance Company-

I personally think they are the worst automobile insurance company anyone could possible have, period.

Many articles and posts have been written about the company I commonly refer to as "Allsnake":

Don't get upset-get even. However, you need to know what you are up against and be willing to fight them to change this horrible disparity. We are here to help even the playing field. Call us today at 864-231-7171 or visit our website.  

A skit I put together based on my dealings with Allstate:

 

 

Millions of Dollars Missing in Anderson, Oconee & Pickens Counties

People throughout Anderson, Oconee, & Pickens Counties are missing their money.  In fact, they’re missing millions.  For many, it’s a few thousand dollars…but for some, it’s a whole lot more.  And many of these victims don’t even realize their own money is gone.

How is this possible?  Money that is rightfully theirs—owed to them for any number of legitimate reasons—simply isn’t paid.  It happens every day, because no one stands up for the people who need it most.  In a lot of cases, it’s pure greed on the part of an employer or an insurance company

Every day, workers suffer injuries at on the job.  They are legally entitled to be paid because of those injuries, but insurance companies deny claims without even blinking.  Others have valid Social Security claims that are routinely dismissed.  And folks get hurt daily in car wrecks, slip and fall cases, and dog bite cases only to be told the insurance company won’t pay.

These people are legally entitled to collect money, but can’t do it on their own.  They don’t know how to fight the system, so they give up.  The Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC steps forward to help these victims, with great success.  Ernest Trammell, Trey Mills, Bradley Bledsoe and Roy Trammell have the compassion and experience to truly help.

In a lot of cases, insurance companies use complex legal language to deny claims.  The professionals at Trammell & Mills translate the legal talk into words anyone can understand.  They take the mystery out of legal documents, so people can make the right decisions.

The attorneys of Trammell & Mills are dedicated to helping the people who need it most.  And they believe in giving back to the Anderson community.  They actively support local groups like the Anderson Free Clinic,  Boy Scouts, Cancer Association of Anderson, Coaches 4 Character,  Miracle Hill Ministries, Tackling the Streets, The Leukemia & Lymphoma SocietyThe Red Cross, and YMCA.  They serve at church, on IPTAY and on bank boards.  They’re caring neighbors.

They believe in doing the right thing.  And that means standing up to the nameless, faceless insurance companies who make heartless decisions without thinking.  They help the people of Anderson County get the money they’re missing.  Learn how The Trammell & Mills Law Firm LLC can help you at www.trammellandmills.com or contact us at 864-231-7171. 

 

Floyd S. "Trey" Mills III Invited to Join The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers

Floyd S. "Trey" Mills III with the Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC has just been recognized and invited to join The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers. Mr. Mills was recognized for his work in the state of South Carolina for Civil Plaintiff's litigation. 

 

The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile.

In more simpler terms, without all the law mumbo jumbo, Mr. Mills represents the rights of those harmed by the negligence, ignorance, and/or omissions of others. Ninety-nine (99%) percent of the cases he files a law suit on involve the insurance company of that negligent, ignorant, and/or omitting party that has caused his clients a loss or harm. The insurance company provides a lawyer to the at fault party and then the insurance company makes every effort to not pay a dime or a much lower price for the actual harms and losses Mr. Mills' clients have incurred. An example of cases you can consult with Mr. Mills in assisting you on your legal needs are listed below:

Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC also handles cases involving injuries at work and disability claims. Feel free come by our office in Anderson, visit us on the web, or like our Facebook page

 

The National Trial Lawyers

Deer, Turkeys, & Other Wildlife in South Carolina Do Not Carry Insurance

They may carry insurance in other states but I can only speak to South Carolina law. A recent State Farm Deer Vehicle Confrontation Report indicated that the month of November was the month most likely to strike a deer. The second and third most active months were, October and December, respectively. 

Anyone traveling in the state of South Carolina for any period of time has either directly or indirectly encountered some wild animal that decides at the most in opportune time to cross the road. The driver of the motor vehicle must immediately decide between that cute furry creature or their lives. Many drivers make the choice for the cute furry creature, causing thousands of dollars in property damage and personal injuries

Like in any instance of survival, there are ways to protect yourself against ignorance, accidents, and PETA like compassion for animals over your own well being and the well being of those passengers in your vehicle. It's called the right type of automobile insurance. 

What covers you when there is no other vehicle, person, or entity to blame? Your own insurance if you were educated on it by your insurance provider or smart enough to educate yourself by reading this blog. 

Everyone that can afford cigarettes, tobacco, gas, books or alcoholic beverages can afford the following additional insurance coverage to better protect themselves. Everyone cares about themselves, right?

Comprehensive Coverage: covers damage caused by incidents other than a car accident, including theft, fire, vandalism, weather, falling objects and animal damage.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments Coverage: is "no-fault" insurance that covers you and your passengers for any damages sustained while in the operation, maintenance, and/or use of the insured vehicle. If you have PIP coverage it often times covers, or follows, you while in another vehicle. Depending upon the insurance company and contract, you can stack PIP coverage. PIP coverage is awesome and you are not the sharpest tool in the shed if you don't have it. 

Watch out for those furry creatures!

 

 

 RELATED ARTICLES

"Full Coverage" Automobile Insurance

Slip, Trip, Twist, Spin, or Fall Law in South Carolina

When you slip and  fall on someone else's property, this is commonly referred to as premises liability. These cases are typically more complex and difficult to resolve than a motor vehicle collision. The reason for this is just because you fall on someone else's property does not mean they are responsible for the injuries you incur. The law is very specific in South Carolina and determining the factors surrounding your slip, trip, twist, spin, wrench, slide, unintended dance move, and/or fall is paramount to determining if you have a case.

I hate to do this but I will let you all in on a little secret...come closer:

Regardless of the circumstances of your fall, more than 80% (Eighty percent) of the time, a corporate landowner will deny, or disclaim, liability for your fall on their property!  --Trey Mills

Why is this, you think? It's very simple and what I call the Cost Benefits Analysis. If a corporate entity through their insurance company denies liability on 80 people out of 100, the 80 percent they scare away saves them millions of dollars in comparison to the 20 people that stood up and fought.

I like to fight for the 20% but would rather that percentage of people increase to not be run off by negligent property owners that knowingly attract people to their property to spend money but don't want to take the time to make safe the premises or warn their patrons of any dangerous conditions on the property.

The Cliff Notes version of the law is this:

To have a viable premises liability claim from a slip, trip, and/or fall on someone else's property, the property owner must have created a dangerous condition, have actual notice (knew) of a dangerous condition, and/or constructive notice (should have known) of the dangerous condition and failed to warn patrons or make safe the area or hazard.

Cases I have turned down recently consist of the following:

  • Roofer power washing a tin roof for a customer slips and falls from the roof breaking his foot; (Nobody else's fault but his own-accidents happen.)
  • Lady slipped in convenience store on water. (No one knew how the water got there including my client. Landowner had no actual or constructive notice of the water. Roof did not appear to have a leak and no nearby coolers.)
  • Gentleman tripped over "something" walking into a store. (He didn't know what he tripped over, there were no issues with the threshold, and video of the incident indicated he simply tripped. Thus not landowners fault he tripped.)

Cases I have taken recently consist of the following:

  • Roots from a nearby tree growing up throughout a parking lot at a restaurant  causing injury to my client. (Landowner knew or should have known the roots were causing a dangerous condition as they do not just grow up through the pavement in one night.);
  • Spilled milk in a grocery store causing my client to fall. (Grocery store did not follow protocol and knew the spill was there but failed to make safe the area or warn their patrons.);
  • A one inch "lip" formed between the sidewalk and a recently repaved parking lot at a shopping mall that appears flush, or even, to patrons walking towards it. (Created a dangerous condition.)
  • Before that same mall repaved their parking lot, client injured as a result of potholes. (Knew or should have known of the dangerous condition as potholes don't form over night. )

 

Every case is different and presents a separate set of facts leading to the injury. We are always available to review your  slip, trip, twist, spin, wrench, slide, unintended dance move, and/or fall. Your consultation is free and we do not receive any payment unless we successfully resolve your case through settlement or verdict. Please give us a call at 864-231-7171, check us out on Facebook, or email us.

 I have covered this issue with more detailed links to the law and language as indicated below.

Related Articles:

South Carolina Slip and Fall Law: Premises Liability

South Carolina Slip and Fall Law: When It's Nobody's Fault But Your Own

Crashes and Falls Leading Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

When You Fall Head Over Heels, Call Trammell & Mills

When You Fall Head Over Heels, Call Trammell & Mills

We can't help you when you fall in love, or out of love, but we can help you.  What we do involves holding other individuals and companies responsible for their negligence, ignorance, or omissions that caused you harm. Yes, that really means the insurance company hiding behind the people and companies that pay for just that type of incident.  Those negligent, ignorant, or forgetful people and companies often have little to do with the decisions that make you whole again. A wide array of real world examples and some of the most common types of cases are below:

  • injured while working and not really getting straight answers from your employer or HR person;
  • another driver not paying attention and rammed their 3,000 pound hunk of metal into your only means of transportation. Now you can't move your neck or get to work;
  • a tractor trailer driver on interstate 85 nearly kill you when they were switching lanes while texting;
  • neighbor's dog get loose again and bite your child, leaving permanent scars and an infected wound;
  • finally realize you are in need of Social Security benefits and got denied;
  • can't believe a manufacturer would sell a product so dangerous;
  • slip, trip, or fall on someone's property that knew there was a problem where you fell;
  • get jumped on, beat up, called dirty names, and held without your permission until a large retailer realized you actually paid your bill.  Oops, they made a mistake;
  • something not true being written and/or said about you to others;
  • have to lay your motorcycle down because another driver didn't see you.

Those are just the top ten or more scenarios that have come into the office in the past couple months. I am sure there are more but I think you get the point. Enjoy your Valentine's Day and hopefully you never need us. HOWEVER, if you ever do, or know someone that does, just tell them to call us or visit our website.

 

Allstate's Colossus Insurance Claim Software Exposed By Insider for Low Balling

I have been trying to tell everyone as loudly and as often as I can, Allstate Insurance Company is evil. Finally someone from within the Allsnake lair sought the warm sunlight through the confession of his sins against humanity while working as an employee of the snake.

Tony Bartelme, with The Post and Courier , reported "Storm of Money: Insider Tells How Some Insurance Companies Rig the System." The insider was actually an Allstate employee and I'm sure Mr. Bartelme was wanting to use a broad stroke but let's keep our eye on the head of this evil snake-Allstate.

Since it's hard enough to encourage people to read, I will provide very simple, concise, excerpts from the article for those individuals in a rush so that they may better visualize those good hands  wrapped around your throat:

  • Colossus is a program that calculates how much a person might be paid for an injury claim;
  • Mark Romano was the Allstate insider that came forward in the article and was considered Allstate’s Colossus “subject matter expert”;
  • Romano discovered that if he used Colossus the way Allstate did, he could save its new Encompass division millions of dollars by “turning the knobs” of the software — paying people less in claims than they would have otherwise gotten;
  • In South Carolina, for instance, CNA had divided the state into two territories — the “Liberal” area around Charleston and the “Conservative” region elsewhere. Allstate renamed the territories “Charleston” and “Palmetto.” By using Allstate’s Colossus tuning methods instead of CNA’s, Romano could reduce payments in the Palmetto region by 18 percent. Savings were even greater in the Charleston area — a 57 percent reduction. That meant the Allstate version of Colossus would turn a $10,000 claim in Charleston into a $4,300 payment!;
  • People were being hurt by Colossus, and it was tearing him apart. He couldn’t turn the knobs anymore;

I know you are already tired of reading the obvious points that are being made about how evil Allstate Insurance Company has been over the past few decades. Don't worry, it won't effect your life until you are violently, rammed by someone covered by Allstate. Then when you suffer through your injuries for months and an Allstate insurance adjuster enters your information into a computer software program, manipulated to low ball you,-you might just remember why I was jumping up and down while pointing. 

Imagine that, Romano even published a short report entitled, "Low Ball: An Insider’s Look at How Some Insurers Can Manipulate Computerized Systems to Broadly Underpay Injury Claims."

WAKE THE &^%^& UP CONSUMERS!, will be the title of my new book.

 

Do You Know What Your Doctor Said?: Medical Records & Treatment

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Access to Doctor's Notes Aids Patients' Treatment", highlights an interesting topic of patients actually reading, or requesting,  their medical records from visits with their primary care physician

The study was entitled "OpenNotes" and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Ultimately the study concluded that an overwhelming 77% to 87% of patients felt more in control of their medical care and were more compliant with their prescription medication.  Initially, there were concerns from  physicians that their notes may offend or scare off patients but 105 primary care physicians participated in the study. Interestingly, the article points out that only about 34% of doctors nationwide have adopted electronic medical records.

From the perspective of this plaintiff's attorney, when you think about the other audiences reviewing your records:

  1. referring physicians to further your care; (Good)
  2. insurance companies and adjusters to deny your medical benefits to save them money; (Bad) and
  3. both plaintiff and defense attorneys for disputes in personal injuries, workers' compensation claims, and/or social security disability claims. (Good & Bad)

The only logical step is to ensure you as a patient are just as knowledgeable of your own records as the jack legged insurance adjuster combing through your file to find anything to deny you benefits you deserve, while falsely acting as if they have medical degrees.

In the end you know, it is your body and your life. Yes, you are legally entitled to those records, too.

 

 

No Surprise Ending: Why Turn Signals Save Lives

GUEST POST BY Richard P. Console, Jr. of Console Hollawell P.C.

 

Turn signals – every car has them, but not every driver seems to know what they’re for or even when to use them. A 2012 study released in May by the Society of Automotive Engineers reveals just how many drivers are forgoing that flick of the switch when they change lanes or make turns, and the numbers are startling. According to the study, which analyzed traffic data from around the country, drivers neglect to use their turn signals 48 percent of the time when changing lanes. When making turns, the failure rate is about 25 percent. Passaic County car accident lawyers see the problem with turn signal failure as two fold – a lack of responsibility coupled with relatively no enforcement.  

Traffic laws in all states consider not using turn signals as a minor violation, with fines clocking in at around $100 per offense. Citations for failing to use turn signals could cost motorists their “safe driver” discounts, though anecdotal evidence seems to suggest police would rather pull drivers over for speeding than not announcing their turn/lane-change intentions. Despite a relative lack of enforcement at by local authorities, civil enforcement when it comes to traffic accidents can drastically affect auto insurance claims and who receives compensation. 

A driver who fails to use their turn signal and causes an accident could face an uphill battle to obtain compensation from an insurance company. In states with comparative negligence rules, not obeying traffic laws could push driver liability up to or over the 50 percent threshold, which could eliminate or reduce their right to file a claim. In contributory negligence states, including North Carolina and Maryland, the decision to not use a turn signal could block an injured driver from recovering any damages.

Roadways are no place for motorists to conduct their own version of Mystery Theater. Every driver has a legal obligation to announce their intentions so other drivers sharing the road with them know where they’re going. Without proper use of turn signals, drivers have almost no time to react to changing road conditions as motorists suddenly stop or swerve abruptly into their lanes of travel. That places everyone at serious risk for potential critical injuries. In New Jersey, our car accident attorneys in Union City and other areas see the tragic results of these actions every day.

The Society of Automotive Engineers estimates that drivers around the country fail to signal properly when changing lanes or turning about 750 billion times annually. Law makers have been quick to announce stiff penalties for those who text while driving, but a much traffic larger issue looms before them. How do they plan to tackle what appears to be a much larger threat to safety?

 

Why Is the Insurance Adjuster Telling Me I Don't Need a Lawyer?

New clients often convey to me that the insurance adjuster has told them they do not need an attorney to resolve their case. I always laugh at that statement because it reminds me of an analogy I use a good bit here in South Carolina:

Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why would you listen to an insurance adjuster about how to settle your claim AGAINST them?---Trey Mills

Of course the insurance adjuster that is employed by the insurance company that has to pay money out on an insurance claim would try and contain the amount of money that is paid out on claims. Do you think adjusters are given raises and/or bonuses at the end of the year for paying out lots of money on claims or for keeping payouts on claims low? That's right your interest in resolving the claim and their interest in resolving claim are at opposite ends. The insurance adjuster does not have your best interest in mind.

When you hire an attorney on a contingency fee basis, meaning a percentage of the settlement amount-most commonly 33.33% or 1/3, your interest are aligned with the attorney's interest. At the most basic level your interest and the attorney's interest are symbiotic because of the mutual benefit in resolving for a higher value. However, if an attorney just works for money and doesn't want to build upon a relationship with having you as a client to brag about them to your circle of influence, that attorney's success will be limited.

Remember insurance adjusters cannot provide you with legal advice. All they can do is better their interest and the interest of their employer (insurance company) by saving money.  If they are saving money, then you are losing money. It's just that simple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

South Carolina Food Law: Why Is There a Needle in My Turkey Sandwich?

Foreign substances not common to the food they are found in can range from a caterpillar in a salad to a sewing needle in a packaged sandwich. That is what passengers on a recent Delta flight found when they bit into their turkey sandwich, a metal needle. ABC and WSJ are reporting that at least two passengers found a metal, sewing needle in their food while traveling on a Delta flight from Amsterdam.

I remember eating a salad at a "nice" restaurant when I was in college and the leaf kept moving.  I realized there was actually a live animal enjoying my salad, too. Although not far fetched to find a caterpillar enjoying leaves of lettuce it was not something: a) I wanted to see; b) I was accustomed to by growing up in the United States; and c) I felt exemplified sanitary conditions.  The waiter offered to bring me a new salad but for some reason my appetite had curbed.

That real life example in comparison to another one this past weekend when my wife and I were eating crab cakes and encountered small fragments of crab shell-offer two different scenarios. The crab shell was nothing to be alarmed with as crab cakes are made from crab meat found inside the crab shell. Now had we bitten into or found:

  • a metal hook;
  • hypodermic needle;
  • bullet; or
  • other substance not found naturally with the substance of the food...

that would have been odd. Thus the meaning of "foreign substance" in a food product.

No worries South Carolinians as your legislatures have set forth the  South Carolina Food and Cosmetic Act, found at South Carolina Code Section 39-25-10, to define many instances of adulterated or misbranded food that may cause you or your loved ones injuries. If not defined by the statutory definitions there may be other causes of actions under common law negligence.

We are currently representing and have represented clients that have experienced the following:

  1. Ingested a "finishing nail" while eating a birthday cake from a supermarket where the bakery was undergoing construction;
  2. Broken teeth from a metal object found in their hamburger at a local fast food chain; and
  3. A dozen or more clients impacted by the lot and batch number of peanut butter jars contaminated with animal feces from a neighboring plant. 

Other articles I encountered while putting this article together provide varying insights:

  1. Immediately alert your restaurant server;
  2. Get medical care;
  3. Document proof of purchase;
  4. Secure physical evidence;
  5. Take photographs;
  6. Make a complaint;
  7. Notify health agencies; and
  8. Inquire about your legal rights.

 

 

17 Years Of Accomplishments, Reflections, and Experiences

I usually reserve these self reflective articles for Fridays or on specific anniversaries but for some reason I felt compelled to sing to the high hills all the wonderful things life has provided me as I reflected this morning not just on my ripe old age of 34 but on my upcoming anniversary from 17 years of remission with leukemia. You see, I doubled my age. That may not be relevant to anyone that has never had a life threatening scare with cancer or some other trauma but it is relevant to me and therefore very relevant to want to express that joy.

First and foremost I am most blessed to be in a loving relationship with a beautiful woman that allows me to call her wifey, among other adoring names.  Speaking of anniversaries, we just celebrated our first year of marriage and lucky for my chemo zapped brain my birthday, our anniversary, and her birthday all fall within a two week period of each other. Mrs. Kristen Mills has been a life saving relationship, companion, and lover.

Secondly, my family and her family remain close and constantly involve each other in their daily living. Dealing with clients for a living I see so many instances of where families are not supportive or sustainable for a litany of reasons. I am happy to have my father, step-mother, and more immediate family members along with Kristen's family to be so loving and caring about any time that can be spent as a family.

Thirdly, I am fortunate to have had the professional opportunities to be a partner in a law firm that shares my last name. There are no long lines of doctors or lawyers in my family. Just me. How I got here and down this path to legal litigation, God only knows. More importantly, I am fortunate to absolutely love what I do for a living when I see so many struggle day in and day out at something that makes them miserable. Couple that with the fact that every income I earn comes directly from the operating account of insurance companies and I almost feel like I have a connection straight to heaven where any misdeeds in my life have been erased. Like the crusaders of days past, I am truly doing God's work.

In 17 years after my cancer diagnosis with a two week prognosis and worrying how my family could afford the medical bills and treatment if the health insurance company got its way in wiggling out of their responsibility in paying for them by trying to find loopholes in my parents' benefits:

  • I am fortunate to have my health;
  • I am fortunate to have my wife;
  • I am fortunate that we are so blessed with with such loving families. 

Insurance companies are not so fortunate because:

  • I love what I do;
  • I hate everything about what they do;
  • My wife and I like nice things, vacations, and giving back to the community (all paid for directly from insurance companies).

I will never forget someone saying that "insurance companies are just untouchable" when all that was going on and my parents were trying to figure out how to pay for my treatment. No they are not.

You just have to hit insurance companies in the wallet where it hurts because they don't have hearts.  --Trey Mills

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

 F___ You If You Have Never Had Cancer!

 Living the Dream: While Looking Behind the Curtain

 The Greatest New Year's Resolution Ever

 Charity Events Don't Just Help the Cause-They Help the Contributor
 

 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's South Carolina Man & Woman of the Year!

Hello 15 Years of Remission from Cancer, So Good to See You


Collateral Source Rule: Why Your Personal Injury Settlement is Not Valued on Co-Pays

Inevitably I will have clients that  make the poor decision to try and work things out with the at fault party's insurance adjuster, thinking the at fault insurance company would "do the right thing."

As I have written in the past on "How Do Insurance Companies Make Money?" & since copyrighted my favorite quote:

"Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why do you listen to insurance companies on how to settle claims against them?" -Trey Mills

Having only practiced close to seven (7) years doing 100% personal injury,  it is hard not to be cynical and disbelieving of anything insurance companies do or say. As an attorney I am held to a higher standard legally and ethically but for some reason the insurance adjuster can dispense false "legal advice" with no consequences. Most times what you say, can not be proven. Always ask for what the insurance adjusters tell you in writing.

Therefore, when the insurance company offers to pay your medical bills at what you paid in co-pays or reduced costs because you are fortunate to have health or supplemental insurance THEY ARE TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU.  

In South Carolina the law states: The collateral source rule provides "that compensation received by an injured party from a source wholly independent of the wrongdoer will not reduce the damages owed by the wrongdoer." Citizens and S. Natl. Bank of South Carolina v. Gregory, 320 S.C. 90, 92, 463 S.E.2d 317, 318 (1995).  A tortfeasor (at fault party) cannot "take advantage of a contract between an injured party and a third person, no matter whether the source of the funds received is `an insurance company, an employer, a family member, or other source.'" Pustaver v. Gooden, 350 S.C. 409, 413, 566 S.E.2d 199, 201 (Ct.App.2002) (citations omitted). 

Stop being scammed by the insurance companies and start seeking out legal advice from lawyers. It costs you nothing to sit down and talk with most personal injury lawyers about your issues. Yes, if they take the case it will most times be taken on a contingency fee basis whereby they receive a percentage of the settlement they achieve for you. It's a symbiotic relationship.

Do yourself a favor and ask these two questions before you settle your insurance claim:

  1. Would you rather have someone working for you, ie attorney, or someone working against you, ie insurance adjuster?
  2. Do you think the insurance adjuster gets paid a bonus and/or receives a raise at the end of the year for paying out more money on claims, or paying out less money in claims?

To ensure the value of your settlement is reasonable and commensurate with your losses and harms, or damages, please consult with a personal injury attorney. You can contact us or find out more about us on Facebook.

Accidents Happen But Insurance Companies are Created

I have always enjoyed reading, watching, and listening to various recounts of historical information on a wide range of topics. Wikipedia is a scary resource given the ease of access and also in creating of the history online. However, for broad strokes and a general overview it has proven quite resourceful.

  • Did you know that insurance has been around in some form since humans have gathered together in communities, or societies?
  • The form of insurance as we know it culminated as a result of the mercantile trade along treacherous rivers and oceans where the chance of loss was great, thus if a merchant received a loan on the shipment they would pay the lender additional monies to cancel the loan if the shipment was lost or stolen. 
  • Did you know the first insurance company in America  was created here in Charleston, South Carolina?

I won't bore you anymore with history but just as we have advanced as humans, so to have our societies (at least in most parts of the world), and thus our businesses, or economies. 

As stated in one of many lessons learned in Sun Tzu's, Art of War

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperilled in every single battle.

Therefore, I try to learn as much as I can about insurance companies and convey that knowledge the best I can to clients that come in with questions.  Those questions mainly consist of:

  • trying to understand how their insurance company can treat them so poorly after they have religiously paid their premiums without ever having an insurance claim;
  • trying to understand how the insurance company of the negligent, ignorant, or omitting party, will not provide them a fair amount for the injuries, troubles, and ordeals they have experienced through no fault of their own; and/or
  • why the insurance company will not call them back or appreciate what they have had to experience and instead treats them disrespectfully or with disdain.

Well, it is very simple. It's about money. The money insurance companies want to save by minimizing the payout on your injury, property, and/or life insurance claim. Simply stated insurance companies make money two ways:

  1. Through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks;
  2. By investing the premiums they collect from insured parties.

The whole insurance business model is summed up succinctly as such:

 to collect more in premium and investment income than is paid out in losses

Your injury, or insurance, claim is the loss being referred to above. What the at fault party's insurance company pays you cuts directly into their bottom line and therefore the less they can get out of paying your claim, the more they can invest in those really complicated structured asset backed securities, or CDO's. You remember the recession was caused by ____? Greed.

And that greed can work both ways, on your extreme valuation or consideration of the fair amount to be paid and the insurance company's extremely low valuation of your claim-regardless of facts.  Thankfully, advocates and plaintiffs' attorneys exist to assist you in this eternal struggle of good vs evil. If you had to pay a plaintiff's attorney the hourly wage the insurance company pays the defense attorneys, or advocates, I doubt you would ever be able to fight a fair battle.

Again we learn from Sun Tzu's, Art of War:

Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.

Please consider disrupting the strategy of insurance companies to make profit off of your injuries by low balling, denying, delaying, and defending against what you know is wrong. Just because insurance coverage has almost been made mandatory doesnt mean those same insurance companies have to make millions in profits off of your backs. Rise up and fight, now is your time! 

Hit-and-Run Accidents in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

I would imagine lawlessness abounds greatly in every state but lately it seems so many people are driving without any automobile insurance and/or not even stopping after being involved in a collision if they are able to drive away. 

South Carolina law is clear on the requirements a driver involved in a hit-and-run must meet in order to pursue their own "uninsured" insurance coverage.  S.C. Code 38-77-170 copied below states:

 SECTION 38-77-170. Conditions to sue or recover under uninsured motorist provision when owner or operator of motor vehicle causing injury or damage is unknown.

If the owner or operator of any motor vehicle which causes bodily injury or property damage to the insured is unknown, there is no right of action or recovery under the uninsured motorist provision, unless:

(1) the insured or someone in his behalf has reported the accident to some appropriate police authority within a reasonable time, under all the circumstances, after its occurrence;

(2) the injury or damage was caused by physical contact with the unknown vehicle, or the accident must have been witnessed by someone other than the owner or operator of the insured vehicle; provided however, the witness must sign an affidavit attesting to the truth of the facts of the accident contained in the affidavit;

(3) the insured was not negligent in failing to determine the identity of the other vehicle and the driver of the other vehicle at the time of the accident. (emphasis added).

Some people will try and manipulate the system so there have to be checks and balances to ensure some validity to what is being offered. Otherwise in rural areas of South Carolina every accident "avoiding a deer" would be claimed as a hit and run. Too bad the deer don't carry insurance or have assets.

 

 

State Farm Insurance Gave $2.4 Million to Illinois Supreme Court Judge Campaign, Then Lied About It

Allegations are rampant that State Farm Insurance Company contributed upwards of $2,400,000.00 to an Illinois Supreme Court Justice's campaign for election.  This happened back in 2004 during one of the most expensive judicial races. Why is this really important, you may be wondering? Ever heard of John Grisham's book, "The Appeal"? It was a fictional book, right?

Well funny you ask, you see that same Supreme Court Justice failed to withdraw from participating, or recuse himself, in a billion (that's more than a million) dollar case that was eventually overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court. Or determined that State Farm did not have to pay what a lower court and/or jury had determined they were liable, or responsible, in owing.

Since the Supreme Court justice did not recuse himself, the court did try and determine if there was any bias and it was thought that only $350,000.00 was contributed to the justice's judicial campaign. It was thought this because that is what State Farm Insurance told the Court.

Apparently, that was not true. An FBI investigation found that number to be somewhere between $2,4000,000.00 and $4,000,000.00. Some people have some explaining to do.

I wonder if this could ever happen in little ol South Carolina? You think corporate insurance companies that make billions of dollars in net profits would ever turn their focus on our state? Why do those presidential nominees come from outside their home state to announce they are running in South Carolina?

It's those things that make you go hmmmmmm........

Of course they (insurance companies) are hoping you don't even give it a thought. Look at that shiny thing over there. You already forgot about this story didnt you?

RELATED ARTICLES:

 Illinois court asked to review alleged bias by justice

State Farm Secretly Gave $2.4 Million to Ill. Judge in $1B Case

 

Petition Claims State Farm Secretly Raised Millions for Ill. Justice Who Voted Its Way in $1B Case


 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Service Minded Attorney Advertising: i85lawyers.com

Driving from Greenville, South Carolina to Anderson, South Carolina every day for work, you tend to notice the regular cars you pass, things going on along the interstate, and creative billboards.  Trust me, I knew when the Motivational Seminars were coming into town, southbound and northbound.

A billboard that made its point today gave me cause to pull over and take a picture. It reads:

 "Stop texting! You almost hit my client. i85lawyers.com."

For all the bad things you hear about lawyer advertising at least this crowd is trying to get its point across to the drivers speeding by at 80mph+  on Interstate 85 (ironically this billboard is right past the 65mph speed limit sign southbound past Exit 35). 

More preventative measures need to be taken so that lawyers and insurance companies don't have to be involved because that means someone is injured or dead. I like my job but I will be successful at whatever, I do. Right now it just so happens to be that I fight for the individual against the faceless insurance company. Maybe with personal injury attorneys turning toward preventative messages and minimizing carelessness on the roadways we are headed for Utopia.

                    

Tags:

What Do You Know About Your Insurance Company?

If 100 people were polled about the the most important aspect of their insurance company, sadly 90 percent would say the cost, or price.  Yet, what good is paying insurance premiums if you are never going to be able to have peace of mind in the time you are in need of that insurance coverage? What? You never thought about actually having to use that insurance coverage?  

Automobile insurance is mandated by most states, homeowners and property insurance is mandated by most mortgaged backed lien holders. When your life insurance policy goes into effect you won't have to worry because you're dead but wouldn't it be comforting in your final days to know that your family will have no additional worries or hassles?

Then do your homework or just Google the insurance company you are thinking about engaging in coverage of your most valuable assets-you and your family! My friends ask me all the time what are the best insurance companies on my end to deal with. Of course I am jaded and cynical but there are those insurance companies that are fair and equitable. There are more that are inequitable and immoral but those are easy to find in an Internet search. Try Googling  "Allstate sucks" to see what comes up.

Chubb Insurance started a recent advertising campaign entitled,  "Who insures you doesn't matter. Until it does."  Chubb states the reason for this advertisement campaign:

A new corporate print advertising campaign reminds commercial and personal insurance purchasers and their agents and brokers that an insurer is only as good as its financial strength and its willingness to pay its claims in a fair, prompt and hassle-free manner.

The reason this campaign caught my attention in a recent magazine was not the headline but the photos. I have posted links to two of my favorite photos from their advertisements below. 

Be in the 90% of people that talk about insurance costs, not in monetary value, but intrinsic value that go much further in your time of need.

  1.  Picnic with bull;
  2. Golfing with alligator;

 

Related Articles:

 

South Carolina's Top Three Automobile Insurance Companies;

 

Nationwide Is Not On Your Side: Marketing Jingles are Flashy, Fictional, & Frustrating;

 

Would You Take Advice from the Devil on How to Get to Heaven?: Insurance Company Lies; and

 

Allstate Policy Holders and Victims Should Know They Are Not in Good Hands.

 

 

 

 

Medical Treatment Options for Injury and Accident Victims

You've been injured through no fault of your own and need medical treatment. What do you do when somebody else is responsible for your injuries but their insurance company will not pay up front for your medical care? Instead they will offer you payment all in one lump sum upon you reaching maximum medical improvement.  How do you get from where you are to where you need to be?

  1. Don't sign anything from the at fault party's insurance company or do a recorded statement until you are in a the right state of mind to do so.  That does not mean in the hospital bed with a morphine drip hours after the traumatic incident. Regardless of what the insurance adjuster says, it can wait and it will not expedite anything. It could only complicate things. (It's never a good idea to sign anything from an insurance company without at least talking to an attorney-most times without any costs to you);
  2. Seek treatment from an emergency room or minor care facility where there is no appointment or prior consultation necessary.  Only you can judge the need for emergent medical care based on your injuries and pain level, no one else;
  3. If you have health insurance, Medicare, and/or Medicaid file all medical care you seek with those providers. Yes, someone else caused your injuries. Yes, you will have to reimburse them for expenses paid. HOWEVER, those expenses will be less than had you not filed through the benefits mentioned above because of the reduced, contracted rates they have with medical providers. (Darren Tobin wrote a great article on this reimbursement process, known as subrogation, entitled "Understanding Subrogation-Why You May Not Be Keeping It All".);
  4. If you have no means of health insurance you can still be seen at the emergent facilities in your area or free clinics. Make sure you have a copy of the form filled out by the trooper if you were injured in an automobile accident. If from other negligence, be sure to indicate to the doctor how you ended up being injured and in need of medical care. Details are important, both in the doctor's understanding to provide efficient & effective care and in determining the proximate cause of your injuries;
  5. If you have a primary care physician you have previously visited and sought care from make an appointment with them and explain how you ended up being injured and be detailed with your specific complaints;
  6. If you are a doctor, nurse, and/or otherwise medically trained & educated do not seek gratis, undocumented care because you know what your injuries are or what to do to make them better without anyone but you knowing. That is the worse thing you could do. As a well known Greenville attorney told me, "Insurance companies are like the Russians during the Cold War...."  What does that mean? Don't confuse them. By not having documentation from a third party about your injuries, it confuses them. They don't know how to value that so they don't; and
  7. If you are hard headed or adverse to medical treatment, okay. Just don't expect the insurance company to put a value on your "pain and suffering" sitting at home without anyone knowing what you have endured but your loved ones. If it is not documented, you are not injured in the mind of the insurance company. If you wait weeks after the incident that injured you, insurance companies call that a "gap in treatment".  Essentially giving them more reason to low ball you or make excuses on how you were injured other than reality.

I know you don't know what to do. I realize you think the insurance company will take care of you because you didn't ask to be put in this situation. Plus, it was the person, company, and/or entity they insure that put you in this condition.  I understand you have values and morals where you would treat others as you would want to be treated.

However, my job is not to help you strengthen misplaced beliefs in how the world SHOULD work. My goals and objectives with every client interaction are three part:

  • Educate you on the law, specific to your situation;
  • Help you get compensated for what you have had to endure at no fault of your own; and
  • Make sure you are satisfied with our attorney/client relationship so you brag about me to your friends, family, and others you know that may need me to fight the faceless insurance companies on their behalf.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

 

South Carolina Free Medical and Dental Clinics

 

South Carolina Baby Boomers Have a Golden Opportunity in Automobile Collisions

Larry Copeland of USA Today wrote an interesting article about a "Yellow Dot" car program that is defined in the article as:

The Yellow Dot program is designed to help crash victims, especially seniors, communicate with rescuers during the crucial "golden hour," the first 60 minutes after a serious crash that can make the difference between life and death for the critically injured.
 

The yellow dot would go on the back window of your primary vehicle and indicate to EMS and other emergency responders to look for the yellow folder in your glove box that would contain "a photograph, medical conditions, prescriptions and other vital information."

This may be an antiquated system given the technological advances we have but sometimes the acronym KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) comes into play. Not everyone will purchase the brand new car that sends an alert to the nearest EMS center, where each responder has an iPhone or "App" that automatically uploads your health information.

Any system that better helps you in a time of need where you may not be able to properly communicate is something worth investing or looking into.

 

Is Your Personal Injury Attorney Ignoring You or Working on Your Case?

As an attorney that meets with my clients face to face before taking their case, I make sure that my communication with them is clear and uniform as to what they can expect from my end. One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients, potential clients, or current clients of other attorneys shopping around is that they can not get in touch with or get updates from their attorney. To this I say simply, "the wheels of justice are slow."

First and foremost, if they have another attorney, I tell them I can't help them or talk with them, they need to discuss that with their attorney. On a side note, if they are complaining about their current attorney, they are going to complain about me 9 times out of 10. It doesn't matter who has their case, they are "high maintenance".

Granted there are some bad apples in any profession and there are people that will complain about a beautiful day being too hot or too cold. Nothing is ever good enough for them. Keep in mind the time line of your personal injury case is largely dependent upon your injuries improving or your reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI).  There are several other factors to consider as well but most cases take time and have no definitive value or ending point until you are as good as you are going to get from the trauma, or injury, you incurred.

The South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.4, states:

(a) A lawyer shall:
(1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client's informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(f), is required by these Rules;
(2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client's objectives are to be accomplished;
(3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
(4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and
(5) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer's conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation. (emphasis added).

Notice the word "reasonable" mentioned several times and highlighted above. As one of my friends in sales stated one time, "I spend 90% of my time on 10% of my clients." I want you to be educated and informed about your case and the process it takes from the beginning. However,  if you call every week, sometimes there is nothing new to tell you. At the same time, if you haven't heard from my office or had any contact with my office in 8 months-- we may need to talk.

 

South Carolina Litigation Firms Admit They Only Litigate for Insurance Companies

Today several news outlets are reporting that the "ivory tower" defense firms are finally coming clean with their smoke and mirror marketing and admitting that their term "litigation firm" means-only litigating against everyday people for the all powerful insurance companies that pay them hundreds ($300's) of dollars an hour.

This fact is commonly known throughout the hard working, for the people, doing it for justice, workers against evil, otherwise known as Plaintiff's Attorneys, who strive to right the wrongs of the Evil Empire, aka insurance companies. A big move that has many lawyers scratching their heads as to why these firms made of gold, silver, and ivory off the sweat and torture of young associates for 7-10 year spans, all on the promise of a few gold coins more,  would come clean after all these centuries.

Ben Dover of Soma, Baughty, Goinia, Paye, LLC, said, "Well, it doesn't appear like the public is getting any smarter and they sure do forget things pretty quickly. We didn't think this would be any different. Stupid is as stupid does."  Mr. Dover has a point considering the inundated insurance jingles and coarse hands that consumers seem to believe over actually seeking out the advice of an attorney that works for them and educates them on how insurance companies make money.

Mary A. Richman and Robin Banks of Wie, Love, Monet, agreed that it was time. "Given the amount of money we spend on a yearly basis to take those fools to strip clubs in the Legislature, just to have them at our call and beckon, we knew no one could beat us in making laws, through legislators, " said Richman.

No comment could be found available through any of the following litigation firms: Smith More Leatherwood, LLP, Turner Padget Graham & Laney, P.A., Gallivan White & Boyd, P.A., McAngus Goudelock Courie, LLC, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, Nexsen Pruet, and  McNair Law Firm, P.A. .

If you see any of the above attorneys out and about please ask them about this most recent development on this, the 1st of April, commonly referred to as "April Fool's Day".

 (Last year on this same day, I was hired by Allstate to handle their claims.)

Allstate Insurance Claims Process: My First Movie

After reading The Wall Street Journal's, "Animation Nation", article on Friday, February 11, 2011, I knew I had to give my Hollywood aspirations a shot. I put this video together using my experience over the past five years in dealing with insurance claims. No one insurance company sticks out more then Allstate because of the way they handle claims. Using Xtranormal, I felt I should put into pictures and words lessons to help those that may learn better through visual and auditory presentations.

Please watch and enjoy my very first movie, exclusively for use and copyrighted by Palmetto LDC, LLC:

 

South Carolina Free Medical and Dental Clinics

If you do not have any other resource to seek treatment for your injuries, ailments, disease, or disorder please use this resource to find medical and dental assistance.

We hope this helps you get the medical and/or dental treatment you need. No one should go without care in the United States. Additionally, those that are able should donate to ensure these facilities remain open.

http://www.freemedicalsearch.org/sta/south_carolina

For more specific local areas, please see below:

ANDERSONAnderson Free Clinic

GREENVILLE: Greenville Free Medical Clinic, New Horizon Family Health Services, New Horizon Family Dental Care, and West End Medical Family Alliance

PICKENS: Clemson Free Clinic

 

The Three Insurance Horror Stories of 2010

These are the three horror stories I heard about the most in 2010. Oddly enough they are told by the insurance companies themselves:

  1. We, the insurance company of the at fault party, do not believe our insured injured you;
  2. We, the insurance company of the at fault party, believe if you were injured it was not a result of the accidental, intentional, or ignorant act of our insured; and
  3. We, the insurance company of the at fault party, believe if you were injured by the accidental, intentional, or ignorant acts of our insured it is not worth what your treating physician charged you because they don't know what they are doing. (At least not as much as the nurses know that we pay to review those treating physicians' records.) 

If you have heard horror stories like the above, please call someone that can shed light on the darkness. (Hint: not the person working for the insurance company of the person that harmed you.)

 

South Carolina's Top Three Automobile Insurance Companies

"Trey's Top Three" continues with this second article to determine the top three insurance companies I believe evaluate and handle their claims in a professional, ethical, and reasonable manner. This analysis is based on my observations, experiences, and interactions over five years working in the trenches against these insurance companies: Direct Insurance, State Farm, Allstate, Travelers, Nationwide, Dairyland Auto, Selective Insurance, Specialty Risk Services, Liberty Mutual, GMAC, Infinity, Farm Bureau, Auto Owners, Sentry, Occidental, Chubb, Bristol, Sedgwick, GEICO, Progressive, Viking, Great Central, Gateway, USAA, Safeco, Ohio State Casualty, James C. Green, AIGGreat Falls, Crawford & Co, Horace Mann, Lancer Insurance, Affirmative, Cottonstates, Zurich, Scottsdale, Cinncinati, Companion, Montgomery Insurance, Frontier Adjusters, Gallagher Bassett, First Acceptance, Constitutional State Services Foremost, Assurance, Penn National,and others I cant recall at this moment. (I have settled claims against all these companies).

And the winners of "Trey's Top Three" evaluation are:

  1. State Farm
  2. Farm Bureau
  3. Nationwide/Travelers*  (tied)

 

If you have Allstate please switch immediately as ALLSTATE IS THE WORST insurance company you could be with. When you go in and switch or modify your coverage make sure you have:

  • PIP/Medpay
  • UIM

 

Three Coverages South Carolina Insurance Policy Holders Should Add

As mentioned in my previous post, I am amazed at the insurance coverages my clients never even knew existed. This challenge goes out to all insurance salesmen to better inform your clients of  the coverages and give them examples of why they need it. I know they probably don't want to pay the extra money and you don't get much additional commission but it's your job to explain why $50-$100 extra a year can save them $1,000-$25,000.  I have these three things and so should you:

  1. Personal Injury Protection (P.I.P) and/or Medical Payments (Medpay) coverage- this covers you and all the passengers in your automobile regardless of fault or liability- if you don't have health insurance this is a must;
  2. Underinsurance (U.I.M) coverage-exactly what it sounds like, except easier to understand when I explained that it helps cover you and your passengers or family when someone injures them that does not have enough insurance or assets to go after; and
  3. GAP Coverage & Renters Insurance-both of these coverages take care of your possessions when they are damaged. The first being your automobile that is over financed and not worth what you owe on it. The second for your possessions while renting someone else's home or apartment.

I can not help you if you are not helping yourself by taking advantage of the insurance coverage that actually benefits you and not someone else. As much as I comment about how I hate insurance companies, they are a necessary evil. If you are able to play the game of insurance successfully you can and will come out on top.

 

Previous or Related Posts I Have Written on these Coverages:

 

Nationwide Is Not On Your Side: Marketing Jingles are Flashy, Fictional, & Frustrating

I had a client come in today with three young kids all under the age of 10 and all boys. They were tough to contain for her much less for my soon-to-be-married and "kidless" self. As I was informing my client's mother, who owned the car, on how she had been swindled out of depreciation from State Farm with her property settlement one of the boys yelled out in a melodic manner:

 "Nationwide is on your side..."

I quickly turned towards him with the indignation of an elementary teacher, ruler in hand and asked who taught him such lies and slander? All in the room looked perplexed but none more than him. I quickly indicated to him that he had been lied to and should never repeat such blasphemy. As if on cue, all three boys chimed in: "Nationwide is on your side..." 

At that point I realized what I was up against and what all Americans must face, mind numbing advertising that showers us night and day through all mediums of media.  Since the more money one entity or individual has the more exposure they will be able to give their flashy, fictional, and frustrating jingle or flat out lies......Yet at the same time I realized how effective such a childish and simplistically thought out plan can so easily massage and manipulate mainstream society.

Try not to let those insurance company jingles persuade you too much during this massive blitz of corporate marketing and advertising to get us consumers already in the mindset of spending to sell ourselves short of the true coverage and protection we need.  Be on the lookout for "Trey's Top Three" where I pick out:

  1. the top three insurance companies that treat injured parties fairly;
  2. the top three things you need to add or include with your insurance; and
  3. the top three insurance horror stories from this year.

 

To help get your mind off that previous jingle, think about this:

The only hands that come from Allstate are wrapped around your throat.

Or maybe since I have renamed one of our local adjusters "Low Ball":

Nationwide will chap your hide.

Don't worry, last one:

Like a drunk driver, State Farm doesn't care.

Would You Take Advice from the Devil on How to Get to Heaven?: Insurance Company Lies

This analogy came about through my initial consultations with new clients and their constant reference to the at fault party's insurance company making statements similar to this:

Well the insurance company adjuster for the negligent party said I could not do this or go get treatment for my injuries because they would not pay.

The game I refer to as the "Insurance Game" befuddles many but the dynamics are the same. You have one side playing offense and another side playing defense.  Why are you going to listen to a representative of an insurance company that eventually will have to pay you money based upon many factors but the largest factor being the amount of medical treatment and bills you have incurred since the negligent act that caused your injury?

Instead of seeking out a free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney you will listen to the advice of the negligent party's insurance company that is trying to minimize the amount of money paid out on your claim. Makes no sense. I don't care that I am jaded by being a personal injury attorney but I follow my own advice when it comes to real estate closings, I know nothing about. I seek assistance from a real estate attorney. I don't trust that the landowner I am purchasing from will take care of my best interest. I trust the attorney I am paying will protect my interest.

If you are playing a game against the opposing team, would you trust the advice of the opposing coach on how to best beat them? Sure the insurance company adjuster will be very kind and pleasant on the phone initially. However, their intentions are not to provide you with the best result but for their result to be beneficial for their employer, the insurance company.

Remember, or re-read, Aesop's fable about the Horse and Groom:

A GROOM used to spend whole days in curry-combing and rubbing down his Horse, but at the same time stole his oats, and sold them for his own profit. "Alas!" said the Horse, "if you really wish me to be in good condition, you should groom me less, and feed me more."

Don't let the kind words and warm reassurances from the at fault insurance company "groom" you into believing your health, wealth, and welfare are at the forefront of their minds. Rather try and gain the substance that will get you better and protect you down the road.

 

Moped Deaths in Greenville and Anderson Bring Focus on Laws and Insurance

The rash of moped fatalities, hit and runs, and just plain moped accidents have been on the rise this year in South Carolina. The Greenville News brought focus on this issue in their article, "Moped Deaths Raise Safety Concerns." I don't think I realized how flexible South Carolina laws are on moped drivers:

Drivers with suspended licenses can ride mopeds for up to six months before they have to get a moped license. The minimum age for driving a moped is 14, a year younger than in Georgia and two years younger than in North Carolina.........only moped drivers under 21 must wear helmets under South Carolina law.

None of the moped drivers involved in the fatal accidents wore helmets and all were under 21. I guess that goes towards the old saying that, "the only good laws are those that are enforced."

Another interesting point is that all these moped drivers are not required by law to carry liability insurance on their mopeds.  Although they havent been the ones causing the accidents there are little to no options if they were to cause accidents or were involved in accidents with vehicles that have no insurance.

South Carolina Dog Bite Cases: Pointers from an Expert Witness

Ron Berman, an expert witness in dog bite cases throughout the United States, recently had an article entitled, "Dog Bite Cases: Avoiding 9 Common Mistakes", in The Justice Bulletin published by the South Carolina Association of Justice.

This article provided several important points in building a dog bite case and the mistakes an attorney could make in developing their case against the negligent owner or person keeping and/or caring for the aggressive dog. (To review the law of South Carolina on dog bites read my previous blog entitled, "Dogs Bite, Owners Pay: South Carolina Dog Bite Law".)

Mr. Berman makes these important points for those who have been bitten by a dog and incurred injuries:

  • Just because South Carolina has strict liability on dog bite cases does not mean a defense can not be raised or a burden for injuries can be met;
  • Video presentation or pictures of the aggressive dog can go a long way in being reimbursed for your injuries;
  • Inspect the area the dog inhabited for further clues of its aggressive nature;
  • Look over and request any documents or papers that can be provided by the owner for the dog;
  • Take pictures and document any wounds or bite marks; and
  • If going to trial, consult with an expert witness that can further your case.

As a point of reference, Mr. Berman cited statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that clearly point to how big an issue dog bites can be on a national level:

 

    • About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year.

    • Almost one in five of those who are bitten :a total of 885,000: require medical attention for dog bite-related injuries.

    • In 2006, more than 31,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs.

 

South Carolina Slip and Fall Law: When It's Nobody's Fault But Your Own

After my last post on premises liability entitled "South Carolina Slip and Fall Law: Premises Liability",  I have received a good many clients and phone calls. However, I think further detail is needed to cover some of the areas that cause people confusion.

It may be a strange thing to hear from a lawyer but sometimes, there is no one to blame in a slip and fall accident but yourself. Just because you fall down on someone's property does not mean the landowner is responsible for paying you for the injuries you incurred. I am sure it can be embarrassing to fall down and no one wants to get hurt and seek medical attention for fun. Just think about these scenarios:

  1. A roofer is hired to fix the top of your aging house and while jumping across the roof like a monkey, slips and falls to the ground, injuring themselves;
  2. Someone enters your home and trips over your bare hardwood floors for no apparent reason; and
  3. A shopper is pushing their cart down the aisle when one of their flip-flops comes off their feet causing them to stumble to their knees.

I would not take any of the above cases for the injured parties. They were simply harmed for no apparent reason or instigating factor. To have a slip and fall case there needs to be an element of notice to the landowner or the landowner must actually have created the harmful circumstance. Switch the cases around a bit and they would be worthy of pursuing further-

  1. A roofer is hired to fix the top of your aging house and while jumping across the roof like a monkey, slips and falls through a hole that had shingles placed over it when you noticed a leak but you failed to tell the roofer about your  "quick fix";
  2. Someone enters your home and trips over the burly rug you have had for some time with all the corners ruffled over, that has caused you to trip over it once or twice already; and
  3. A shopper is pushing their cart down the aisle when they slip and fall in their flip flops because of all the water leaking from the ceiling/freezer/turned over product and there are no warning signs.

I would take a further look at the cases above.  Again, just because you fall on someone's property doesn't mean they owe you money. They owe you money when you receive injuries because you harmed yourself when they knew about a dangerous condition, should have known about a dangerous condition, and/or created a dangerous condition and failed to forewarn you about the condition.

Feel free to run any scenario you want by myself or someone that does that type of law in your state. A simple test to ask yourself:

I would not have fallen down but for ________.

Who is responsible for that blank?

 

Allstate Policy Holders and Victims Should Know They Are Not in Good Hands

In legal circles, insurance circles, and amongst colleagues of both sides of the coin, plaintiffs and defendants,  there is an on going understanding of how awful Allstate Insurance claims adjusting and case evaluations are in comparison with reality and fairness. 

I tell everyone that comes in my office how bad Allstate Insurance company is when it comes to providing a fair or reasonable offer on their personal injury claim. Again, truth is an absolute defense to any potential libel or slander claims so I want to put forth the TRUTH about Allstate:

  1. Insurance adjusters for other insurance companies have resolved their portion of a claim with me and said, "Good luck"; "I wouldn't want to deal with them", "I don't see how they haven't been shut down by the state", in reference to resolving the other portion of the claims with Allstate;
  2. I have been told by an Allstate insurance adjuster that regardless of what my client's treating physicians said they were not paying the claim because she didn't think my client was hurt. (She may have had a college degree but no medical training or certification);
  3. Allstate insurance representatives (in SC) have openly discussed with me how bad the company is run, how ridiculous the claims process is for them to get any authority, and how a machine (Colossus) tells what your claim is worth, not a person;
  4. Allstate adjusters have told my clients (prior to my representation), that they can't possibly be hurt because of the collision they were in and need to settle the case because an attorney can't help them;
  5. A year or two ago they use to have a system to try and move cases and it didnt matter what happen or what injuries the client received. It was based solely on medical bills. From $0-2,500 they would offer $500; $2,500-7,500 a $1,000 and so on but no more than $2,000 regardless of the amount;
  6. I have had numerous cases where they offered to settle for less than or equal to the medical bills and then I file suit and go through the litigation motions only to settle for a reasonable value and absolutely no facts, medical bills, or circumstances arose that would merit such an increase other than the fact, I filed suit.  (one such instance was so ridiculous that my client had a $15,000 offer and absolutely nothing changed but litigation was initiated--we settled for nearly half a million); and
  7. More than half a dozen defense attorneys I work with have made this specific statement when discussing Allstate cases, "Well Trey, you know this is Allstate........."  (No other insurance company is mentioned in that regard).

Why do I hate Allstate Insurance Company so much?

  • I do not believe they conduct their insurance practice in good faith;
  • Their commercials grate on every nerve I have when I know how poorly they treat their own insureds (what you are if you have Allstate Insurance), much less victims injured by their insureds; and
  • Consumers (you if you buy anything) are not educated on the front line about what they are buying and then they are being taken advantage of by their own insurance companies.

My solution:

  1. I have decided to fight Allstate regardless of the time, resources, and value on the claim;
  2. I educate every person I see, regardless if they become a client, on insurance and how bad Allstate conducts claims;
  3. I remain an active voice for those that have been deceived, manipulated, talked down to, and dejected by uninformed, uneducated, and ignorant Allstate representatives; and
  4. I blog when my blood pressure gets sky high because an Allstate adjuster just offered me $1,200 over medical bills of $12,800 and did not dispute that their insured was at fault or the injuries my client received. When I asked the reasoning for the offer and he gave some BS answer I made the comment that I don't know why I even ask anymore and he said, and I quote verbatim, "Yeah, I don't know either. I came from another claims office and it just seems like a waste of time."

I am always open to hearing the other side of this issue or in lieu of no one having anything good to say about Allstate either, more war stories of how bad they are. 

 

Why is the Insurance Company Not Named as the Defendant in the Lawsuit?

I had a good question today by a reader that inquired as to why he had to file suit against the person that harmed him without putting down the insurance company that he had been dealing with.  That is an excellent question and presents so many layers of legal analysis that I am merely going to skim the top and provide a somewhat basic version.

It's because insurance companies lobby big money to be the "man behind the curtain" without ever truly having the target on their backs.  In a trial you can not mention "insurance" for either party regardless of type, ie health insurance, homeowner's insurance, and automobile insurance. Those are considered collateral sources and are not to be given weight by an impartial jury. Yes, yes, we all know about "insurance" even if we were in that magical jury box but it can not be talked about in court by either attorney, plaintiff, or defendant

We all know that when you are harmed/injured in a wreck by the negligence, omission, and/or ignorance of another, that person's liability insurance will have to assess the personal injuries and property damage that arise out of all wrecks. OR the "uninsured" policy of your automobile insurance will cover the property damage and personal injuries because the at fault person is without insurance.  Yes, that means your insurance company defends the at fault party against you.

Often times after you leave the scene of the wreck, or incident, in question you never speak with the responsible party. However, you are contacted by the responsible party's insurance company that then gives you the cold shoulder or acts like you did something wrong.  (I appreciate them doing that because it makes my life so much easier).

OR in a really ironic turn of events, your insurance company then defends the at fault party against you because they really don't want you to just walk away with those premiums you have paid for the past couple years.  You have to earn them by fighting your own insurance company for compensation for your injuries and property damage! Hilarious, I know.

Seek legal advice anytime insurance companies are involved. You don't have to retain legal counsel but it doesn't cost you anything to hear what the law really is in a personal injury case vs. what insurance adjusters reading from a computer to save their company money say it is.

I'm just sayin....

 

 

2009 South Carolina Personal Injury Articles in Review

I started blogging back in November of 2008 therefore with the closing of the 2009 calendar year, this will be my first (1st) full year in review.

There is little doubt from my background, occupation, and particular writing style that I hate insurance companies. I have highlighted those articles I wrote throughout the 2009 year that provide the biggest return on investment for my readers. I hope that you have enjoyed reading my blog, regardless of your own personal beliefs and opinions, as there are always two sides to any issue.  

South Carolina Foreclosure Sale: My Personal Experience

Given the current economic climate and the many more foreclosures I feel will be coming on the market in the first quarter of 2010, this is a good read for those of you thinking houses are bought for $1.

What Can I Do About Property Damage to my Car After a Wreck?

Numbers speak for themselves and more than likely you will be involved in a wreck. If the wreck is bad enough to cause any property damage you do not necessarily need a lawyer.

South Carolina Property Arbitration for Depreciation, Loss of Use, & Actual Damages

This article goes into more depth than the one above when the insurance company jerks you around over something so easy to determine value such as property.

Dogs Bite, Owners Pay: South Carolina Dog Bite Law

There is no one bite rule in South Carolina. This is strict liability and if your dog bites someone else anticipate some insurance payout.

Insurance Companies Don't Care About You: They Care About Your Premiums

I say what others think and know. This is no different and you should understand the logistics.

Allstate Insurance's "Good Hands" are Wrapped Around Your Throat!

They are awful. The worst insurance company you could possibly use in my personal opinion. I can tell war stories against Allstate for days on cases I had just in 2009. Please stop letting such blatant insurance abuse happen by using the worst insurance company out there.

Insurance Claim Game: 10 Tips to Follow

When you are injured in an automobile wreck these tips may help you avoid having to hire an attorney on a smaller case. 

Tips for Young Lawyers on Being Trial Lawyers

After four full years of practicing and being thrown into a trial the first couple months as a lawyer, I guess I have learned some things. I am just excited to still call myself a young lawyer at 31.

Graduation Speech for Mid-Carolina High School 2009

I was blessed and honored to come back to my high school and give the commencement speech.

F___ You If You Have Never Had Cancer!

After my uncle was diagnosed with cancer and started his battle earlier in the year a flow of emotions and memories were brought back from my experience some 14 years ago. Sorry for the language but it was what I was feeling at the time.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

If We Only Had to Pay Insurance Reimbursed, Reduced and/or Recommended Prices

I am amazed every day with comments made by insurance adjusters or agents, servants, and/or employees working on behalf of insurance companies. Regardless of whether it has to do with my personal health insurance, automobile insurance, property insurance, and/or other types of insurance.

It all boils down to insurance companies belittling, discrediting, discounting, ignoring, amending, omitting, and/or re-creating invoices, or bills, legitimately charged by professionals for services rendered.--Trey Mills

Let's look at a few recent examples I have run across just this week:

  1. I needed medical treatment so I went to a medical professional, aka, a medical doctor. This medical professional went to school for over 20 years to be a licensed medical professional. The physician provided me with medical advice and treatment I needed. I filed it on my health insurance and when it was all said and done out of the $110.00 bill, my insurance company discounted it by $55.00 for a "network discount".  I paid my $25.00 co-pay and because I have not met my $2,000.00 deductible, I owe the $40.00  remainder.  What the heck did the insurance company pay for? I am pretty sure if I was uninsured and had the ability to pay in cash I would have gotten a 50% reduction = $55.00. Instead, since I had health insurance, I had to pay $65.00. (Health insurance is truly for cancer and other catastrophic injuries/illnesses that happen in life. Other than that, bend over). There was a great article in the L.A. Times entitled "Why Require People to Buy Health Insurance". Admittedly, I would rather have things privatized than governmentalized but what is the difference between an extra tax and mandating people pay insurance premiums? You say tomato. I say tomato.
  2. I wrecked my car so I went to the only local certified manufacturer of my car within 100 miles and had the parts repaired and replaced. Since the wreck was not my fault, I notified the at fault party's insurance company and requested they pay my repair bill (actual costs), my rental bill (loss of use), and depreciation. The at fault insurance company discounted my repair bill by over $300.00 because they felt it was over priced, offered me $10 a day for a rental car, and said that they do not recognize depreciation. (South Carolina law does and when I filed "Arbitration Pleadings" they paid me almost double their original offer). 
  3. I have rental property so I needed insurance for those rental properties. One of my houses is centrally located within four houses from Falls Park in Greenville,SC. The lot alone is valuable, not to mention the "historic" two story house that is being remodeled. However, the replacement costs for the house, per the insurance estimate, is astonishingly low. I wonder what builders or estimators are providing those costs? I need to get them in there remodeling the house but then again, it would probably be put back together with glue and toothpicks.

"If I only had a ........ 

 

Insurance Companies Don't Care About You: They Care About Your Premiums

In my article, "How Do Insurance Companies Make Money?", I go over Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses.  However, it is not my intention to be that technical this time around. 

Insurance companies have many different layers, or divisions, but you as the client, or insured, interact with insurance companies on only 1-2 levels:

  1. Insurance Agent -sells varying forms of the insurance, or service.
  2. Insurance Adjuster - protects the insurance company from losing money on the service for which you paid for the insurance company to provide to you by way of a premium and insurance contract (policy). Adjusters minimize the "incurred loss" in the above equation.

As to the Insurance Agent:

It has been my experience that these professionals provide you with information on the varying types of insurance-- property, casualty, life, health, and disability. They should review the different policies they have available and the coverages which those policies provide, along with the price.  However, they are not usually legally oriented or familiar with the "back door" aspect of what they are selling.  Meaning, they are doing exactly what they are suppose to be doing, "selling insurance".  Your insurance agent will most likely refer you to the nearest consolidated insurance claims center if you were to need the service you paid for by way of an insurance claim

For example: if you were injured in an automobile wreck, lost your shingles when a storm came through, and/or the property or person you bought insurance on was damaged/injured in anyway.  Your insurance agent does not usually handle that, they refer you to a claim center with insurance adjusters. If your insurance agent is kind enough to assist you with the insurance claim procedure they still have no authority, or impact, in how the claim is resolved.

As to the Insurance Adjuster:

They are usually not in the same state as you.  If they provide you any information about your legal rights please ask them if you can record the conversation or get everything they just "counseled" you on in writing.  Insurance adjusters have not passed any state Bar requirements to be lawyers and/or offer legal advice. They work for the insurance company that makes money when it brings in more premiums that are paid by their clients than it pays out in insurance claims.  Their interest are not aligned with your interest as they are evaluated on ensuring that insurance claim payouts are minimized.

Read-One of the factors that an insurance adjuster is evaluated on for their job and them keeping it is to offer you the least amount of money possible for your injuries and/or property so that their employer, the insurance company, maximizes its profit.

Common Misconceptions I hear all the time in my office:

  • I thought they would do the right thing; (Why would you think that? Again, your insurance agent may be the kindest person in the world but that is not who you are dealing with.)
  • I have never had a problem with my insurance company the 20 years that I have had them; (How many times have you had to file an insurance claim? Oh, now the light bulb goes off.)
  • The insurance adjuster told me I didn't need to get an attorney or another appraiser; (Now why would they not want you to get an opinion other than theirs? *hear Jeopardy music*)
  • The insurance adjuster said I couldn't go see the doctor; (Why are you listening to anyone other than a doctor in regards to medical advice?)
  • I don't want to sue anybody; (80-90% of the time no law suit is filed. If one is filed it may list the negligent party but that is because insurance can't be mentioned in a trial. The insurance company is the one that actually defends any law suits you bring and pays money up to their coverage amount if a verdict is rendered.)

 All I ask is that you be informed and educated on the interest of all the parties involved and not just assume anything. 

“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” -- Anton Chekhov

 

 

South Carolinians Get the Shaft While SC Department of Insurance Drops the Ball

The South Carolina General Assembly Legislative Audit Council performs independent, objective performance audits of state operations. Their main goal is to ensure accountability in the management of public resources.

The Greenville News reported  "SC Consumers Paying Too Much For Insurance". The Legislative Audit Council found mismanagement on the part of the SC Department of Insurance in ensuring South Carolinian's best interest in the following areas:

  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  • Coastal Property Insurance
  • Overall Regulation of Insurance
  • Captive Insurance

Interestingly the report doesn't talk about trial attorneys are runaway juries, it mentions more the mismanagement of the department in holding insurance companies accountable.  Oh well, no one will read the small print or take the time to read the report. What do they care? It will just raise their rates and make insurance companies tons of money. Ha. Ha. At the expense of South Carolina citizens. How funny is that?

Call and complain. Ask for accountability people. You pay taxes & insurance.  If you can't trust the State to do its job why are you getting upset at attorneys for protecting your interest?

The phone number and address to the South Carolina Department of Insurance is below:

803-737-6160
803-737-6205 - Fax       

info@doi.sc.gov

Post Office Box 100105
Columbia, SC 29202

An Advantage to Downsizing: Insurance Adjusters Turned Consultants

I receive several promotional emails, flyers, and mailers everyday but for some reason last week, an idea and a promotional email caught my eye.  As insurance companies try and become even more gluttonous with profits they are stream lining their claims process by shedding the intelligent, experienced, and knowledgeable adjusters for younger, inexperienced,"read from a script" warm bodies. These seasoned adjusters that are being replaced have figured out their years of service may be valuable to their adversaries, PLAINTIFF TRIAL LAWYERS!

Maurice Kraut of Mass, LLC, formerly an insurance claims representative for Ohio Casualty and Montgomery Insurance for over 30 years, recently provided some valuable insight to our firm.  No matter whether a litigation firm negotiates first and then files suit or just files suit, they still have to interact and work with insurance adjusters that assist in the evaluation and valuation of injury claims for their respective insurance companies.  

Mr. Kraut helped evaluate our logistical approach to settling claims, settlement packages and content, and did some case reviews with us. I found his presentation to be helpful to my staff, myself, and more importantly to our clients that will reap the benefits of our improved efficiency and effectiveness. 

Maurice Kraut's website states:

"My 30 years experience in Claims Management along with specialized education and technical expertise has enabled me to achieve expert status in the following areas:

  • Bad Faith
  • Insurance Claims Handling
  • Insurance Claims Management
  • Coverage Issues
  • Liability and Damages Evaluations

I have testified in both State and Federal court cases. Please call me to discuss your case anytime."

MASS, LLC
655H Fairview Road  #350
Simpsonville, SC  29680
(864) 757-1058

 

 "Change is the essence of life.  Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become." -- Unknown author

Who Pays for the Defense Attorney: You or the Insurance Company?

I represent plaintiffs, or those injured by the negligence, ignorance, and omissions of other persons, employers, and corporations,  100% of the time. Conversely that would mean I work against defendant's that have injured my client. OR DO I? Yes and no.

Actually, I work against defense attorneys that are paid hourly or on retainer by insurance companies. These insurance companies hire defense attorneys to protect them when their insured, or client that pays for insurance, does something wrong.  Understand?

Let's look deeper. We all buy insurance. We buy insurance up to a certain amount and pay a premium.  That premium is paid to an insurance company to protect our interest if something goes wrong or something bad happens. We usually pay that premium towards a particular amount of coverage to have the insurance company come in and protect us when something goes wrong. Do insurance companies really protect their insureds?

Now let's talk about insurance companies:

  • Did you know if someone hits you without auto insurance that your insurance company, the company you pay your premium to protect you, stands in place of the person that hit you without insurance?
  • Did you know if a drunk driver hit you and hurt you so badly to require more than your insurance coverage and you were smart enough to purchase UIM, or underinsured coverage, that your insurance company will stand in for the drunk driver and protect them against you stacking that coverage?
  • Did you even know you could stack certain insurance coverages?
  • Did you know that insurance companies pay lots of money for expensive software and research programs that let them know as much about you as possible?- ie Ever watch one of those movies where if it has ever been put into a computer or mainframe system they know? (Those aren't science fiction movies anymore). Confidential medical records--ha ha. Funny.

Defense attorneys love to point out shiny objects in your past. If you have ever hurt yourself in the past then they will say that was the result of your current injury not the fact that the person they are paid to protect by the insurance company ran their 5,000lb car into your front seat.  In their minds it was most likely a result of the fall you had when you were 3 years old and it just never healed right.  Understand better?

Certain things can not be brought in front of a jury at trial regardless of how relevant they may be to a lay person:

  • I can't bring into evidence the ticket the highway patrolman gave to the at fault party;
  • I can't talk about the defendant's insurance coverage;
  • I can't even mention the word "insurance";  

Ironically, defense attorneys get paid by the hour and don't care how quickly the case moves. Remember they get paid by the hour. Would you rush a project that paid you by the hour or would you work at it so long as you could? Also, it helps the premium you pay build interest and that interest to make them money while they stall on giving you any money. Funny isn't it?

If you remember nothing else, remember this:

Insurance companies don't make money paying you money, they make money keeping it away from you.

 Now, who do you think pays for that defense attorney? You or the insurance company?

South Carolina Slip and Fall Law: Premises Liability

Premises liability is often times referred to as "slip and fall" law. A general overview of South Carolina premises liability indicates that:

  • To establish negligence in a premises liability action, a plaintiff must prove the following three elements: (1) a duty of care owed by defendant to plaintiff; (2) defendant's breach of that duty by a negligent act or omission; and (3) damage proximately resulting from the breach of duty. See Hurst v. East Coast Hockey League, Inc., 371 S.C. 33, 37, 637 S.E.2d 560, 562 (2006). (emphasis added);
  • If you can't demonstrate how the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff then the defendant can move for what is called "summary judgment" and you will not even have your case heard by a jury but thrown out of court. Singleton v. Sherer, 377 S.C. 185, 200, 659 S.E.2d 196 (Ct.App. 2008). See also Hopson v. Clary, 321 S.C. 312, 314, 468 S.E.2d 305, 307 (Ct.App. 1996);
  • The nature and scope of duty in a premises liability action, if any, is determined based upon the status or classification of the person injured at the time of his or her injury. Singleton v. Sherer, 377 S.C. 185, 200, 659 S.E.2d 196 (Ct.App. 2008). See also Sims v. Giles, 343 S.C. 708, 715, 541 S.E.2d 857, 861 (Ct.App.2001);
  • South Carolina recognizes four general classifications of persons present on the property of another: adult trespassers, invitees, licensees, and children. Different standards of care apply depending upon the classification of the person present. Singleton v. Sherer, 377 S.C. 185, 200, 659 S.E.2d 196 (Ct.App. 2008). See also Larimore v. Carolina Power & Light, 340 S.C. 438, 444, 531 S.E.2d 535, 538 (Ct.App. 2000) ("The level of care owed is dependent upon the class of the person present.")

Understand premises liability in South Carolina now? I didn't think so. I haven't even had a chance to detail out the law on each one of the above mentioned categories of persons present on the property of another: (1) invitee (2) licensee (3) adult trespasser (4) child.

I didn't have a chance to mention "Assumption of the Risk" and "Open and Obvious" defenses the defendant's attorneys often times raise in an effort to downplay their client's negligence. 

Remember what makes these cases harder than the most common personal injury cases:

  • No highway patrolman or police officer shows up to the scene and listens to both sides and determines that one side is more at fault than the other;
  • No person usually admits guilt; 
  • There are usually no witnesses to the "slip and fall", and
  • There is usually no camera or surveillance footage available, contrary to those black bubbles you may see or thoughts that there should be a camera available.

Do some work to assist your attorney in helping you with these cases by:

  1. taking any pictures of the area in question to better illustrate the negligent condition of the property;
  2. getting a copy of any incident report filled out by the landowner or their agents, servants, and/or employees;
  3. write down names and contact numbers for any witnesses that may have seen the slip and fall or come to your aid; and
  4. if you are aware of any negligent conditions on someone's property notify them in writing with certified mail and share your concerns with them.





 

What Do You Do to Ensure Access to Your Online Accounts After Your Death?

There was an interesting article put out by the Associated Press in the Sunday edition of the Greenville News, entitled "Deaths Leave Online Friends in Limbo".

The article discussed the importance of having a contingency plan for those passwords, secrets, and other bits of extremely important information that you have stored inside your memory, or head. 

As stated in the article:

 

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, has had plenty of time to think about the issue.

"I work in the world's largest medical center, and what you see here every day is people showing up in ambulances who didn't expect that just five minutes earlier," he said. "If you suddenly die or go into a coma, there can be a lot of things that are only in your head in terms of where things are stored, where your passwords are."

He set up a site called Deathswitch, where people can set up e-mails that will be sent out automatically if they don't check in at intervals they specify, like once a week. For $20 per year, members can create up to 30 e-mails with attachments like video files.

Regardless of what method you use, given this technological era the majority of us have entered into with online banking, emailing, blogging, and other types of social media, a contingency plan is needed. 

Please provide your loved ones, family, and/or friends with an idea of where they might can find information that will better assist them in closing down your estate. I know it is a morbid thought but:

Nothing is certain but death and taxes.

 

 

How Do Insurance Companies Make Money?

My question to every single one of you out there is, "What service do you pay for all your life but get penalized for using?"  If your guess was INSURANCE ding, ding, ding, you win.

I'm sick and tired of people coming into my office shocked and dismayed that their insurance company would "drop" them or significantly raise their premiums if they were to ever have a claim on their insurance.  Wikipedia explains the way in which insurance companies make money as:

Profit = earned premium + investment income - incurred loss - underwriting expenses.

Insurers make money in two ways: (1) through underwriting, the process by which insurers select the risks to insure and decide how much in premiums to charge for accepting those risks and (2) by investing the premiums they collect from insured parties.

I have heard this comment,

"I've never had a problem with my insurance company and I have had them for 25 years!"

Well how many times have you had a claim against them or have you just paid your premium every six months for the past 25 years and watched them collect on that premium?

Insurance is a much needed service but don't go armed with a knife to a gunfight when dealing with them. Hire an attorney. You wouldn't call a plumber to fix your car. Why trust an insurance adjuster that is paid to make money for their employer?

"Insurance ain't nothing but a tax you have to live with. Cause you can't get anything without it and it won't pay you back." --Client

The Value Dilemma: Present Value vs. Future Value in Personal Injury Cases

If you have been through a financial class, statistics, or done some investing, you understand the terms of Present Value and Future Value. I am not going to work through PV at present: PV = FV r·PV = FV/(1+r). However,  "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," is a much simpler term for me to understand.

I recently went through two mediations back to back and this analogy and/or theme seemed to prevail throughout the whole process. I find it interesting that many of my clients never want to "sue" anyone but they also want top dollar for their claim without ever having to file a complaint and undergo the litigation process.  That can be done but there are certain compromises that have to be made due to the present value vs. future value dilemma.

Working exclusively on personal injury cases in civil trial court, I work on a contingency fee basis for my clients. This means I work for free UNLESS I negotiate, take to trial, or otherwise render them a lump sum payment for the wrong that they have incurred as a result of someone or something's negligence.  If I am able to provide them with a lump sum payment, my firm receives a percentage of that settlement, usually between 33.33%-40%, plus any costs that we have advanced on behalf of the client, ie medical records, depositions, court fees, expert testimony, etc. These costs grow exponentially once a lawsuit is filed and discovery of that lawsuit initiates.

More work, more time, more rules, more evidentiary backing and factual proof, more expenses, and more contentious interactions come with litigation, or filing a lawsuit.  Therefore, I always like to discuss the amount on the table today vs. the amount we would have to get on the table 2 years from now to be almost equal. For example:

  • $150,000.00 offer to settle in the pre-litigation stage would net the client close to $100,000.00 (-) a couple hundred dollars in projected costs.
  • If that same client was not happy with the offer and wanted to file a lawsuit, they would have to wait anywhere from 1 1/2 - 2 years for their day in court. Then they would allow 12 strangers on a jury to determine the outcome of their case. Practically this could lead to a defense verdict where they receive $0 or they could be awarded a higher amount. (We will use $200,000.00 for this example). The attorney fee would be at a higher percentage (40%), the discovery costs would be between $5,000.00-$10,000.00, and the client would then net $110,000.00. 
  • If there was a mediation and it potentially could settle less than 1 year after filing, the defendant offers a little more at $175,000.00, however, the attorney fee most likely went up, so did discovery costs as referenced above, and the client made between $95,000.00-$100,000.00. 

Sometimes, these values are never offered so there is no Present Value vs. Future Value Dilemma to discern.  I love going to court and doing trials, however, I want to make sure my clients brag about me and promote me to their friends, family, and/or loved ones in a time of need.  That is why I always address the Present Value vs. Future Value Dilemma when it arises.

For those Biblical scholars:

For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. -- Ecclesiastes 9:4
 

Dogs Bite, Owners Pay: South Carolina Dog Bite Law

Lassie: "Woof" "Woof"

Cully Wilson: "What's that? Timmy's in the well? "

Lassie: "Woof" "Woof"

Trey Mills: "You just took a hunk out of Timmy's butt totally unprovoked. Who's your owner OR keeper?"

S.C. Code Ann. § 47-3-110: Liability of owner or person having dog in his care or keeping.

Whenever any person is bitten or otherwise attacked by a dog while the person is in a public place or is lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping, the owner of the dog or other person having the dog in his care or keeping is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked. .... If a person provokes a dog into attacking him then the owner of the dog is not liable.  (emphasis added). 

In Harris v. Anderson Cty. Sheriff's Office, No. 26596, the Supreme Court of South Carolina recently discussed this statute, more specifically the "or" in between "owner of the dog" and "other person having the dog in his care or keeping".  The Court held:

 

In construing the term “or” consistent with its common understanding as a disjunctive, we hold section 47-3-110 allows a plaintiff to pursue a statutory claim against the owner of the dog “or other person having the dog in his care or keeping.”  Because of the plain language in this statute, we conclude that the Legislature intended to allow a claim against the owner of the dog when another person has the dog in his care or keeping.  (emphasis added).

For lawyers the Court provided an interesting analysis of statutory and common law issues that could arise from an unprovoked dog bite. The Court stated:

[Nesbitt v. Lewis, 335 S.C. 441, 517 S.E.2d 11 (Ct. App. 1999)], presents three scenarios under section 47-3-110 when the attack is unprovoked and the injured party is lawfully on the premises.  First, the dog owner is strictly liable and common law principles are not implicated.  Second, a property owner is liable when he exercises control over, and assumes responsibility for, the care and keeping of the dog.  Third, a property owner is not liable under the statute when he has no control of the premises and provides no care or keeping of the dog.  It is the presence or absence of a duty that determines liability in the latter two situations that involve a statutory claim against the “other person having the dog in his care or keeping.”  To this degree, section 47-3-110 implicates the common law. Our Legislature has spoken clearly in section 47-3-110 that, as concerns a dog owner’s liability, negligence principles in general and fault in particular have no place.  
 

BOTTOM LINE:   IF YOUR DOG BITES SOMEONE UNPROVOKED YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HARM, OR INJURIES.

 


Insurance Claim Game: 10 Tips to Follow

I hate to reveal the secrets of personal injury litigation that help me reduce my student loan debt and feed the families of my staff.  However, I was given a second chance at life for a reason and that reason could be to educate you on not getting screwed by your insurance company or an at fault party's insurance company.

As with any legal endeavor the most important factors are the facts and circumstances surrounding the issue, or problem. Each case is different and there is no universal answer for every case. These are the most basic rules I could think of without leading you astray.

  1. Liability/Contributor to Negligence- Who? What? Where? When? and How Many?  are questions you need to identify in regards to how you incurred the damages, either personal or property, with your claim.
  2. James K. Ferrell of the Memphis Injury Law Blog gives a great 10 Step Guideline to follow after an automobile accident. No need for me to recreate the wheel. I would just replace #10 with "Call Me".
  3. Ken Dolan of Dolans.com has an article entitled "How to Win the Claim Game" for property claim tips.
  4. Pictures are worth a 1,000 words- take them of the area in question, pot hole, car wreck, broken porch, malfunctioning product, dog biting you, etc.
  5. Devil is in the Details- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT trust what insurance claims adjusters tell you. Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company. DING, DING, DING. That means they are not looking out for your interest but their employer’s interest.
  6. Yesterday, I had a client come in that had been in a rear end collision and he went to visit with the Farm Bureau adjuster for that at fault driver. The Farm Bureau adjuster offered the gentleman a check for $215.00 for ALL CLAIMS arising out of the accident.  My client was savvy enough to realize that his car alone may have more damage than $215.00 much less the Emergency Room visit, several follow up appointments with his family care doctor, and the MRI that he was sent for in regards to his neck pain.
  7. Another time, I had a client hit while exiting a school bus. The Nationwide Adjuster was looking for his parents that night and offered them $700.00 to settle his claim. My client had just gotten back from the ER and referred to an orthopedist for his leg.  I ended up getting them more than $10,000.00.
  8. Why do insurance adjusters do this? If they can get you to take a check for $215.00 now before you realize the true extent of your injuries they just saved their company tens of thousands of dollars. 
  9. Once you sign the adjuster's form you have just signed your rights away against the at fault party. Read my Can You Read? article
  10. Consult Someone that Does this for a Living- don’t ask your friend, mama, daddy, boss man, insurance adjuster for the insurance company, or Joe the Plumber. Ask someone that handles these type of cases. Reference my Do I need a Doctor, Lawyer, or Preacher articles.
           a.    When I needed to remodel my foreclosure home, I called a contractor.
           b.    When my Tahoe breaks down, I call a mechanic.
           c.    When I hurt my arm in a wreck, I consulted a doctor.
           d.    When my tooth hurts, I go to the dentist.