Lawyers Fight for America's Founding Principles

 GUEST POST by J. Calhoun Watson of Sowell Gray 

The Fourth of July is a good time to remember our nation’s dedication to the rule of law and to celebrate this principle that sets us apart from many other countries.

Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, the Declaration of Independence charged the king of England with depriving the colonists of their right to a trial by jury. Because America’s founders believed serving on a jury and testifying in court were essential responsibilities of being a citizen, they were willing to wage war to stand up for this right.

Throughout history, lawyers have fought to uphold the rule of law in our nation’s most defining moments: drafting the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, crafting the Emancipation Proclamation and ending the Civil War, creating the New Deal to pull America out of the Great Depression and supporting the Civil Rights movement.

Still today, the rule of law is essential to our freedoms. The rule of law describes a system based on fair, publicized, easily understood and stable laws enforced by knowledgeable judges. Although Americans often take these rights and privileges for granted, we must always remember that our liberties, rights and way of life would be in great jeopardy without the rule of law. In many parts of the world, these rights are just a dream.

There always will be people who do not agree with a judge’s ruling and who criticize the lawyers who defend the accused. The fact is that under the American judicial system, anyone charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty: It is the defense attorney’s job to ensure his or her client has a fair trial, the prosecutor’s responsibility to present evidence to the court on behalf of the state, and the judge’s responsibility to rule based on the facts presented. This system is the very cornerstone of our founders’ vision. As Americans, we should share the same passion and commitment today as our founders 238 years ago.

In some cases, the system our founders envisioned is not fully accessible. I am very proud that S.C. lawyers are dedicated to advancing justice and ensuring that the civil legal system is available to all our citizens. Many lawyers choose this profession because they believe in the American legal system and want to make a difference in the lives of those they represent. It is important that we stand up for everyone’s access to the privileges of our system.

Thanks to many lawyers serving as volunteers, the S.C. Bar offers programs to provide legal representation and advice to those who cannot easily access or afford it. We sponsor free legal clinics and Ask-A-Lawyer phone banks and web chats. We also help provide wills to first-response personnel and Habitat for Humanity homeowners; educate at-risk high school students on criminal law and the consequences of their choices; educate the public about adoption and foster care; and teach students about civic responsibility. For information, please visit scbar.org or call (803) 799-6653.

As we spend time this weekend with family and friends and give thanks for this beautiful nation, let us honor one of the defining principles of this nation’s founding — celebrating our legal rights, access to a fair and balanced justice system and the commitment of this state and nation to upholding the rule of law for all citizens.

Printed July 3, 2014 in "The State" as:

Watson: Lawyers fight for America’s founding principles

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cal, a native of Bamberg, South Carolina, is a graduate of Wofford College and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He is also President of the South Carolina Bar and the former President of Historic Columbia.

E cwatson@sowellgray.com
P (803) 231-7839
F (803) 231-7889
 
Admissions
South Carolina Bar
U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Education
Wofford College, B.A., summa cum laude, 1984
- Phi Beta Kappa
- President of the Student Body
University of South Carolina School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 1987
- Order of the Coif
- Order of Wig and Robe
- Student Works Editor of the South Carolina Law Review
- Legal Writing Instructor, 1986-1987
Associations
International Association of Defense Counsel (Technology Chair, 2010-2012), Business Litigation, Professional Liability, and Trial Tactics Committees and Social Media Task Force (Chair)
Richland County Bar Association
American Bar Association
John Belton O’Neall Inn of Court (President, 2010-2011)
South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys’ Association
Defense Research Institute
Certified South Carolina Circuit Court Mediator
Judicial Clerkships
Honorable Robert F. Chapman, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Offices
Fellow, American Bar Foundation
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
President, South Carolina Bar (2014-2015), President-Elect (2013-2014), Treasurer (2012-2013), Secretary (2011-2012)
President, John Belton O’Neall Inn of Court (2010-2011)
South Carolina Bar Board of Governors (1997-2000, 2009-present)
South Carolina Bar House of Delegates (1997-present)
Access to Justice Commission (2006-present)
President, South Carolina Bar Foundation (2006-2007)
Editorial Board of South Carolina Lawyer Magazine (2000-2007)
President, Young Lawyers Division of the South Carolina Bar (1997-1998)
Honors & Awards
Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White, 2008-2014), Commercial Litigation
Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White, 2008-2014), Professional Malpractice Law, Defendants
Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White, 2010-2014),  Bet-the-Company Litigation
South Carolina “Super Lawyer” Business Litigation (2008-2014)
South Carolina “Super Lawyer” Professional Liability Defense (2010-2012)
Chambers U.S.A. America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2009-2014)
Selected as a Top Rated Lawyer in Commercial Litigation by Litigation Special Report (2012)
Recipient, Innovative Leadership Award, Historic Columbia (2010)
Recipient, Compleat Lawyer Award Silver Medallion, USC Law School Alumni Association (2001)
Community Involvement
President, Historic Columbia Foundation (2007-2009)
President, Wofford College National Alumni Association (2000)
Wofford College Parents Advisory Council (2012-2013)
AC Flora PTSO (Co-President, 2011-2012)

 

 

 


Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2014/07/03/3544531/watson-lawyers-fight-for-americas.html?sp=/99/168#storylink=cpy

 

Training Pit Bulls to Avoid Dog Bites

Guest post contributed by Carlos Santiago*

 

Depending on the source, statistics regarding the likelihood of a pit bull attack vary widely. For example, the website DogsBite.org released a 2009 report claiming pit bulls were responsible for 59% of all dog attack deaths, equal to killing a U.S. citizen every 21 days over a three year period. On the other hand, a study from the American Veterinary Medical Association looked at dog bites statistics over the past 20 years and found that no breed is more likely to attack humans than others.

For many years, pit bulls, Dobermans, and other large dogs have been accused of being overly aggressive and more likely to attack and bite humans. Although some people and communities respond to dog attacks by enacting breed-specific legislation to prohibit ownership of pit bulls and other dog breeds, many experts claim you can reduce dog bite cases through owner education and dog training.

The Case for Dog Training

There are a number of ways people can take action to reduce the risk of a pit bull attack. Along with parents educating their children on how to act around dogs, dog owners can also take steps to train their pit bulls and other dogs to not bite humans.

Pit bull owners need to make sure to expose pit bull puppies to a number of different people and other dogs while they are eight to sixteen weeks old. This kind of exposure will help dogs to be more comfortable in a variety of situations.  

Another example of effective pit bull training that could reduce the risk of a pit bull attack is avoiding confrontation that could promote your dog to act aggressively. When the dog is constantly put in a position where he or she feels the need to defend himself or herself, it may learn to be combative.

Additionally, if your dog has a tendency to guard his or her food or toys, it is important to not allow this behavior to persist. If you back down, your dog may learn that aggression is effective. Instead, simply move the rawhide or chew toy so your dog understands that aggression does not work.

Training a pit bull can be a great way to show that these strong, intelligent animals are not dangerous to humans. This can help you avoid the need for a dog bite lawyer in the future.

 

 

*Carlos Santiago is a legal blogger with experience writing about various personal injury topics including car accidents and premises liability. He is currently interested in sharing information about how a dog bite lawyer can help you. Mr. Santiago’s work is currently being featured on www.petbite.com.

 

 

 

Independent Contractor vs Employee Relationship: A Stripper's Story

A recent South Carolina Court of Appeals case analyzed the employer/employee relationship vs. independent contractor under a most unique set of facts and circumstances. I would hate to spoil your learning about the law by improperly paraphrasing as a great deal of thought had to go into those sentences. The legal writing is something to be admired.

Essentially the court determined that the stripper was an independent contractor and not entitled workers' compensation benefits from the business in which she was working at the time of her injury. The court referred to the four factors that help determine the work relationship set forth in  Wilkinson ex rel. Wilkinson v. Palmetto State Transp. Co., 382 S.C. 295, 299, 676 S.E.2d 700, 702 (2009):

  1. direct evidence of the right or exercise of control;
  2. furnishing of equipment;
  3. method of payment; [and]
  4. right to fire.

An in-depth analysis of these four factors under the facts and circumstances of the case are broken down in great detail. I encourage anyone that has a question about how strippers perform their work, when an employee vs independent contractor situation arises, and/or workers' compensation case to read over Lewis v. L.B. Dynasty, Inc., d/b/a Boom Boom Room Studio 54 et. al, Op. No. 2010-165646 (S.C. Ct. App. filed September 5, 2012).

Here are a few excerpts:

"The clubs where Lewis worked are commonly referred to as strip clubs. Lewis's role as a dancer in these clubs is what most people would call being a stripper."

"She argues that the club furnished equipment, such as the stage for dancing; poles to assist the dancers; private rooms for V.I.P. dances; tables, chairs, and couches for the customers; and even glasses in which the bartenders poured their drinks. In her brief, Lewis states, 'The club provided the dancers with cleaning solution, towels, and a basket for collecting money while on stage, and the club provided the dancers with lockers for their belongings.'

"The extent to which an exotic dancer in the Boom Boom Room decides the manner in which she performs her dance to satisfy the club's customers, according to the record in this case, is not subject to any limitation or control by the club."

 

'OMG': Distracted Driving by Young Drivers a Nationwide Problem

Drivers getting behind the wheel and texting while driving has become such an epidemic that the United States Department of Transportation has created a website entitled www.distraction.gov. The website is a wonderful research tool and information site for educators, teen drivers, concerned parents, and employers to visit and learn the facts.  Along with the website, USDOT has put together a public service announcement with a compelling and interactive video that will launch this week. 

If you or anyone you know in the family has a teen, young, and/or distracted driver this website should be a requirement before actually getting on the roadways behind the wheel. The facts section illustrates such points as:

  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured;
  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind; and
  • Using a cell phone while driving - whether it's hand-held or hands-free delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.
     

Did you know that you are 23x more likely to be in collision by texting while driving? That is a scary statistic and something we have noticed here in South Carolina on the roadways of interstate 85. Please use this tool and information to help spread the word.

Go to http://www.distraction.gov/ now!

 

 

 

Doctors, Patients, and Pain Medication: The Perfect Cure for All that Ails

Insurance companies and defense attorneys frequently question injury claimants on their specific degree of pain and suffering. Knowing this is a subjective element of damages the big corporations and their hired guns move next to the medical providers to seek better clarity. Inevitably there is the case where the doctor did not believe the patient was truly in pain but subsequently prescribed pain medicine. Why on Earth would a medical provider be at such odds with themselves? It must be because he fears legal repercussions and higher insurance premiums, right? Or is it because he is paid more, or even paid by the pharmaceutical company?

Two articles caught my attention over the past few days:

  1. "Diagnosing a Patient as a Faker" by Melinda Beck of the WSJ- reporting on several issues in medicine and not totally in line with her eye catching headline. However, she cites the Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011 indicating: a) Prescriptions rose nearly 50% from 2000-2009, b) Abuse of opioid pain relievers is the second leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., after car crashes, and c) 15%-20% of doctor visits in the U.S. involve an opioid prescription; and
  2. "Doctors Already Know Secret to Better Health Care" by Walter Ezell in The Greenville News-illustrating the need for more in depth time between patients and doctors, not just quick visits, drugs, and positive reinforcement for negative health habits. To quote Ezell's article: 

Only medical doctors can prescribe prescription medicine or perform surgery. This isn’t necessarily because surgery and drugs are the most important contributors to human health, but because in the wrong hands, they are dangerous.

Here is the paradox. Because doctors have a monopoly on drugging and invasive procedures, and spent a lot of money to join the guild, they get paid more for those practices and need to get paid well. There is an economic incentive to do more drugging and surgery, with little incentive to give patients the time, empathy and wisdom that are critical to achieving optimum health.

Doctors who want to address the whole person (and there are many) are swimming against the tide of their own economic interest. Unless they are working in an academic medical center, or already involved in an alternative practice, they may not have time to lavish the needed attention that each patient deserves.

We could all use more in depth time with our doctors in explaining all that ails us. The doctors may prefer more one on one time but being mandated by corporate interests within the hospital administration and/or through pure bottom line views of paying overhead, can't manage this need.

Patients are certainly to blame in going into the doctor's office and not being as detailed as possible in explaining mechanisms of injury or symptoms. Of course, some patients probably take advantage of this being their only human interaction outside their normal day and talk about unrelated issues.

The bottom line is that only doctors can prescribe pain medications and only patients can control their adherence to healthy habits. Unfortunately there is too much subjective gray area in between and too many entities vying for a piece of that control.


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.

 

South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division: Get in the Game(s)

As the Bylaws read on the South Carolina Bar's website for the Young Lawyers Division:

The South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division (Division) was founded in 1974 to foster principles of duty and service to the public, promote professional responsibility, stimulate the interest of young lawyers in Bar activities, conduct programs of interest and value to young lawyers, and to assist in the coordination and improvement of local young lawyer organizations.   All lawyers practicing in South Carolina are licensed through the South Carolina Supreme Court and are mandatory members of the South Carolina Bar.  All members of the South Carolina Bar in good standing under thirty-six (36) years of age, and those admitted to the South Carolina Bar as their first bar less than five (5) years are members of the Division.

Even at my age it's nice to be involved in something that has "Young" in it. However, with that title comes some expectations, activities, and involvement of a caliber that requires a little youthful energy, excitement, and creativity. I became involved immediately with this organization upon receiving my law license five years ago. Since that time, I have had the opportunity to participate in:

  1. The annual Clemson/Carolina Pep Rally to raise money for Children Chance;
  2. Social Networking Task Force to get the "big Bar" involved in social networking (join South Carolina Bar on Facebook);
  3. Volunteering for mock trials for high school students in Greenville; and
  4. Teaching classes at the SCBar's "Law School for Non-Lawyers".

The sad fact about the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division is that only about five percent (5%) of the eligible young lawyers are active in this organization.  I know we all work hard every day and interacting with lawyers during our free time may be a bit overwhelming but it's not about you, it's about them:

  • Adopt-A-Student Program-the pairing of elementary school students and lawyers to assist as mentors and doing so through the more modern mode of communication for children that age-email;
  • Backpack Drive-school supplies collected for needy children;
  • Cinderella Project-socially and economically disadvantaged high school students that would not otherwise have a beautiful dress to wear to the prom can do so by looking through donations of gently worn formal gowns, shoes, and accessories;
  • Community Law Week- first week of May where young lawyers promote the legal profession in various ways throughout their respective communities;
  • Day of Action-you choose the day and the way to give back and just do it;
  • Disaster Relief-provide instruction on the legal issues that arise at the time of a natural disaster;
  • Families Forever-adoption awareness and information;
  • High School Digital Video Project-contest for high school students in conjunction with Community Law Week to educate, inform, and motivate students to learn more about the law;
  • Justice Jam-lawyers graced with the gift to play music help raise money for local charities;
  • Our Courts-web based educational project to teach students about being civic minded and inspire them to be active participants in our democracy;
  • Protecting Our Youth-educating "at risk" high school students on criminal law and the consequences of their actions;
  • Special Olympics-a partnership with the Special Olympics S.C. and the opportunity to volunteer for each of their three state-wide games held Mid-Winter, Fall, and Summer;
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance-free tax preparation for households with low-to-moderate incomes;
  • Voices Against Violence-a program designed to educate young lawyers about the epidemic of domestic violence and engage those young lawyers to respond and prevent domestic violence in their communities;
  • Wills Clinic-provide free wills to first response personnel including police officers, firefighters, and EMS; and
  • Publications-provide important legal information to the public.

The South Carolina YLD needs you and so does the public. Contact the South Carolina Bar and Tara Smith at 803.799.6653, ext. 146 or  tsmith@scbar.org.

Personal Injury Claims and Bankruptcy (Part Two)

 

In Part One, I explained that if you don’t list your personal injury claim in your bankruptcy, you don’t “own it” any longer and don’t have the right to pursue the personal injury claim.   In this post I’ll tell you about another problem you’ll have and about a real case right here in South Carolina.

Judicial Estoppel Can Really Cause You Problems

If you fail to list legal claims during your bankruptcy, you may forever lose the right to pursue those claims. Once the other lawyer finds out your bankruptcy is inaccurate, you can’t say, “Whoops, I guess I’ll call my bankruptcy lawyer and list that claim on my schedules!” It’s too late.   

This problem just raised its ugly head in the United States District Court here in South Carolina.  Blanche Wright had a legal claim against Richard Guess alleging violation of her civil rights. But when Ms. Wright filed bankruptcy, she didn’t list the federal lawsuit. 

Predictably, the defense attorney found out about her bankruptcy filing. And they always do, by the way.

The defense then asked the court to dismiss Ms. Wright’s case because (1) she didn’t have standing to bring it—that is, she didn’t “own” the claim; her bankruptcy estate did, and (2) because Ms. Wright’s claims should be barred because of judicial estoppel.

What Exactly is Judicial Estoppel Anyway?

As Judge Anderson explained, “judicial estoppel is ‘an equitable doctrine that prevents a party who has successfully taken a position in one proceeding from taking the opposite position in a subsequent proceeding.’” This means you can’t say, “I have no legal claims” in your bankruptcy by not listing your personal injury case, then turn around and say, “I do have a legal claim” in your state or federal court case. You can’t “play fast and loose with the courts,” as Judge Anderson explained in Ms. Wright’s case.     

Although Ms. Wright actually amended her bankruptcy after the defense filed its motion to dismiss, this didn’t impress Judge Anderson, who stated, “[c]ourts have repeatedly rejected the argument that judicial estoppel should not be applied when the debtor-plaintiff has attempted to remedy an omission by amending her bankruptcy filings.” 

What’s All This Mean?

The bottom line is this:

  • You must notify your personal injury lawyer if you intend on filing bankruptcy. He needs to know. And he may also be able to refer you to a bankruptcy lawyer he knows will be qualified to handle your case.
  • You must list your personal injury claim on your bankruptcy schedules. Don’t ever hide anything from any lawyer you hire, and this is especially true when dealing with assets like claims in your bankruptcy estate.
  • If you don’t list your injury claim in your bankruptcy estate, you may lose it forever. Saying “oops, I forgot” will not work. 

Your lawyers want the best outcome to your cases. Help them help you by keeping them informed of all your legal problems. 

 

(This is a guest post written by Russell A. DeMott. Click on his biography below for more information about Mr. DeMott's bankruptcy practice.)

 

 

Russell A. DeMott is a bankruptcy lawyer practicing in Charleston, South Carolina. He represents clients in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

 

Personal Injury Claims and Filing Bankruptcy (Part One)

If you are injured and are having financial problems, you may need to file bankruptcy. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s vitally important that you advise your bankruptcy attorney of your personal injury claim.

Let’s face it. Injury often causes financial problems. If you can’t work, you don’t get paid, or you get paid only what your disability insurance covers—usually a small portion of what you were earning prior to the injury. And that’s if you’re lucky and don’t get jerked around by the insurance company.

Financial problems, in turn, often lead to bankruptcy. I see this frequently in my Charleston bankruptcy practice.  If that happens to you, there are some important things you should know.

Having Two Lawyers is Like Having Two Doctors

If you have two doctors and one prescribes something the other doesn’t know about, that can be dangerous. It’s the same with two lawyers. You might think that your bankruptcy lawyer doesn’t have anything to do with your personal injury claim, but he does. You need to make sure each lawyer knows about the other.

Your Injury Claim is Property of Your Bankruptcy Estate

When you file bankruptcy, any assets you have become property of your bankruptcy estate. Don’t panic! This doesn’t mean you lose everything you own. It does mean, however, that you must list all your assets and then claim your “exemptions” in them. “Exemptions” are property you are allowed to keep. For example, in South Carolina you are allowed a $51,450 of home equity, a vehicle with a value up to $5,150, and many other exemptions.

But here’s the rub. If you don’t list the asset, you can’t exempt it. Only disclosed assets are abandoned (released) from your bankruptcy estate. Your bankruptcy trustee will specifically state this at your bankruptcy hearing

So if you don’t disclose your personal injury claim in your bankruptcy, you don’t own it. That means it can’t be released from your bankruptcy estate and remains an asset for the bankruptcy trustee to recover.   If the insurance company’s attorney finds out about your failure to disclose your personal injury claim in your bankruptcy case, he’ll use that to get your personal injury case dismissed. 

In addition, it’s a felony to withhold information in your bankruptcy filing. Actually, it’s two felonies: bankruptcy fraud and perjury—lying under oath. Both are serious crimes and can result in prison sentences. 

In “Personal Injury Claims and Filing Bankruptcy (Part Two)", I’ll discuss another problem you’ll encounter and an unfortunate case from right here in South Carolina. 

 

(This is a guest post written by Russell A. DeMott. Click on his biography below for more information about Mr. DeMott's bankruptcy practice.)


 

Russell A. DeMott is a bankruptcy lawyer practicing in Charleston, South Carolina. He represents clients in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

 

 

 

Interstate 85: Traffic Accidents Caused by Speed and Distraction

I was surprised with the amount of fatalities we were having on Interstate 85 back in July of this year and wrote, "Wrecking' Havoc on Interstate 85 in Upstate South Carolina". There were too many fatalities occurring in such a short period of time on the same stretch of interstate that runs from the Georgia/South Carolina border to the Greenville/Anderson County line.

Local journalist, Rick Spruill of the Anderson Independent, took this research on I-85 to a new level in his article entitled, "Pressure Cruise: Traffic Increase on I-85 in Anderson County". Some interesting points to consider are:

In the article, Lance Cpl. Kathy Hiles of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said,

“Unfortunately, we have more distractions than ever with cell phones, GPS units and PDAs with e-mail access. ... Anything that takes you away from the task at hand should be kept to a minimum. It only takes an instant of distraction to create a lifetime of regret.”
 

Happy Anniversary to South Carolina Injury Law Journal

I started this blog with no idea what to expect or how I would have the time to write articles.  However, I went ahead with it by contacting LexBlog and getting the infrastructure in place.  My first article was "China Tries to Kill Pebbles" on November 2, 2008. It has been good times ever since. 

The traffic count and interest has grown exponentially and it allows me an opportunity to fight the barrage of poor media, misinformation, and misleading advertising that many insurance companies conduct.  It also levels the playing field for me to give an inside look at what really goes on in the plaintiff's battle against evil insurance companies

It should be apparent from a large percentage of my posts that:

  • I hate Allstate and think they are unprofessional, unethical, and ignorant;
  • I am cancer survivor and both celebrate and struggle with that;
  • I work in upstate South Carolina   and focus first on statewide issues and then on national issues;
  • I enjoy being a plaintiff's attorney because I enjoy working with normal, everyday people and not corporate clients that are buffoons;
  • I love to fight, more in the courtroom than out of it in my older years; and
  • Thanks to my life experiences (cancer, death of a parent, and internal struggles with those issues); I think I can achieve most anything with hard work, thought, and communication.

Thanks for stopping in for a quick read, interesting article, and/or for being a groupie of South Carolina Injury Law Journal.  It's only going to get better, more informative, and more insightful.

 

Take it away "Little River Band".........

 

Size Does Matter: Motor Vehicle Impact Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ("IIHS") is an independent, nonprofit, scientific, and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation's highways. ** ...wholly supported by auto insurers.

The IIHS' reported in their Special Issue on Car Size, Weight, and Safety:

    • "Reflecting Newton's laws of motion, the results confirm the lesson that bigger, heavier cars are safer."

    • SIZE-"When a car crashes into a solid barrier, the outcome depends in part on the size of the front end.  If one car's front end is long enough to crush twice as much as another car's in a barrier crash at the same speed, its restrained occupants will experience half as much force as the people in the smaller car because it takes them twice as long to stop."

    • WEIGHT- "When two cars going the same speed crash front to front, the outcome depends in part on the cars' relative weights. The heavier car will push the lighter car backward during the impact, which means the velocity change of the heavier car will be much less than that of the lighter car.  If the lighter car weighs half as much as the heavier car, the forces on its occupants will be twice as great."

    • PHYSICS-"Dictate crash outcomes." The poor performance of all three micro and mincars in frontal impacts with midsize cars isn't surprising. It reflects the laws of the physical universe, specifically principles related to force and distance."

    • "The greater the change in velocity, the greater the forces on the people inside and the higher the risk of injury."

It amazes me when I talk to insurance adjusters and they do not reference the research they pay for. I know the title and article imply common sense but that is not what insurance companies use in negotiating claims.  They like to talk about property damage as a direct correlation to injuries.  Obviously their own research proves them wrong. Imagine that!

 

 

Kay Werts of Fountain Inn: Killed in Fatal Collision

The Greenville News was reporting that a fatal accident occurred between Ms. Kay Werts of 738 S. Old Fairview Road and a teenage driver this morning on Fairview Road in Greenville County. 

You never know when a freak accident can occur. Please make sure you have your loved ones, friends, and even your enemies taken care of in times of need. It starts with:

  1. Full Coverage Automobile Insurance;
  2. Personal Injury Protection (P.I.P)/ Medical Payments;
  3. Handling Your Property Damage Correctly; and
  4. Avoiding Allstate Insurance Company Because They Suck

If you or your loved one has been injured in an accident, or as a result of another person's ignorance, negligence, or omission, please feel free to call upon me at 864-231-7171 or toll free at 1-800-483-0880.

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Punitive Damages Award

Many media outlets and bloggers are reporting that punitive damages awarded in the Williams vs. Philip Morris saga will remain at their 100-1 ratio of actual, or compensatory, damages

This is great news for:

  • plaintiffs that are brave enough to take on these huge corporations;
  • wait for their day in court, sometimes years; and
  • then have vindication from a group of their peers (jury) as to what they believe the case to be worth.

I think it is important to understand that these "Big Verdicts" or "Runaway Juries" , as described by biased media outlets, come from:

  • a group of people from the community;
  • that sit and listen to both sides for however long it takes; and
  • then make their decision based upon all the information they are presented. 

This case went to the highest court in the United States, three (3) times, after already having been deemed just by the Oregon State Court.  That is what big business can buy you. However, this decision helps alleviate any concerns that justice can be bought and paid for, too.

Thanks to Eric Turkewitz of New York Personal Injury Law Blog for such an in depth analysis of punitive damages and this case.

 

 

LET AIG DIE!

A brief introduction as previously reported by Paul Kiel for ProPublica:

As we’ve noted before [1], the main cause of AIG’s collapse was its credit-default swap portfolio. The swaps were essentially insurance contracts on securities, and for a fee, AIG guaranteed the security’s value. The problem: If the prices of the securities collapsed, AIG was on the hook. Because the portions of the securities that AIG guaranteed were judged to be almost risk free, not much thought [2] seems to have been given to that scenario.

There has been much said over our current economic recession, current administration's handling of the previous administration's hand, and the ever growing number of "bailout" and/or TARP money being apportioned out.

AIG has gone to the taxpayer well FOUR (4) times already for nearly $170 BILLION DOLLARS! Yet, as Brady Dennis of "The Washington Post" reports: AIG Warned of 'Catastrophic' Failure if they did not receive additional funding.

The collapse, for instance, would strain the global insurance industry, hurt the value of the dollar and damage money-market funds, AIG warned. The company's failure, it added, would also erase taxpayers' existing investment in the firm and foster "doubts about the ability of the U.S. to support its banking system."

What the hell kind of mess do they think we are already in? Let them die. AIG mocks our government and spits in their face while we hand over more lunch money. As Josh Marshall of  Talking Points Memo reports on the more than $100 million in employee bonuses that AIG will payout:

First, lest there be any confusion, we're not talking about bonuses for executives at the conventional insurance providing divisions of AIG. We're talking about $100 million in bonuses for executives at the company's Financial Products division, the shop in London that wrote almost half a trillion dollars of credit default swaps (in effect, unfunded de facto insurance policies on wildly overvalued assets) -- the ones that caused the company's death spiral and put taxpayers on the line for what will likely eventually be a quarter trillion dollar price tag.

Again, look at the numbers. ProPublica has put together a chart of previous government bailouts ("History of U.S. Gov't Bailouts") and then another chart indicating how the Treasury was impacted ("What Happens After a U.S. Gov't Bailout") by the returns of their investments or LACK THEREOF.

Stop the bleeding. Take the Economy off the resuscitator and let us conceive another beginning. Hasn't there been enough political fighting, corporate greed, private vs public debate of superiority, and lack of consequences for poor decisions that have impacted millions of people and billions of dollars?

These corporations that are getting bailouts have not kept any type of social interest or thought twice about the overall impact their risky behaviors would have on the common person. Why then is the common person taking the beating for their arrogant follies and injustices?

Other AIG related stories and references:

  1. The New York Times: A.I.G., Where Taxpayers' Dollars Go to Die
  2. Fortune: Revealed: 15 AIG Bailout Counterparties
  3. Los Angeles Times: Why the World's Biggest Insurance Company is Still Getting Taxpayer Funds

 

Cartoon by Robert Ariail of "The State"  back in 2008 during the first round of taxpayer beatings.

How Will South Carolina Spend Their $8 Billion from the Stimulus?

Please see the reprint from the breakdown provided by South Carolina's Voice for Limited Government

Medicaid
$860 million to maintain Medicaid eligibility and services available to recipients
 
Public Assistance and Welfare
$387.3 million for food stamps
$98.1 million for unemployment compensation (extra $100 week for unemployed)
$36.3 million in child care and development grants
$25.6 million for affordable housing construction and rent aid to poor families
$15.9 million for assistance to the homeless including rent assistance and direct aid
$15.9 million for homelessness prevention activities
$15.5 million in community services grants to local community action agencies
$2 million for emergency food and shelter grants to faith-based organizations at the local level
$1.9 million for senior citizens meal programs
$1.7 million through the Emergency Food Assistance Program
 
Infrastructure and Science
$463.1 million for highway construction and road repair; could also include rail and port infrastructure activities at the discretion of the states
$41.2 million for mass transit
$40.8 million for water utility infrastructure construction and development
$36.1 million for public housing construction and redevelopment
 
Education and Training
$191.2 million for disadvantaged students
$173.6 million for Special Education grants
$28.7 million in Dislocated Workers State Grants
$25 million for Department of Labor’s Youth State Grants
$10.5 million for Department of Labor’s Adult State Grants
$9.4 million for computers and software
$9.4 million for Head Start
$8.9 million for Vocational Rehabilitation
$5.8 million in State Employment Service Grants
$1.4 million for National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance
According to the White House, the economic recovery package also includes more Pell Grants for the 97,000 Pell Grant recipients in South Carolina
 
Law Enforcement
$37.6 million in grants to police departments
$13.3 million matching funds for child support enforcement
$2.6 million in Violence Against Women Grants for victim services programs
$1.2 million in Internet Crimes Against Children Grants
 
Tax Relief
$400 for workers (or $800 for married couples) expansion of the Earned Income Credit
Extended and increased first-time homebuyer tax credit
Extended bonus depreciation and small business expensing through 2009
 
The current U.S. national debt prior to the federal stimulus package is $10.6 trillion. That amounts to $34,900 for every man, woman and child in the nation. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the budget deficit for 2009 alone will exceed $1.2 trillion dollars. When promised benefits of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are factored into federal obligations, the true long-term national budget shortfall exceeds $53 trillion. That is more than $700,000 for a family of four.
 

Voting Accountability
Key bills passed in the General Assembly this week without a recorded vote:
 
H.3352 passed second and third reading in the House on voice votes. It would allow school districts to furlough teachers and increase classroom sizes.

Living the Dream: While Looking Behind the Curtain

    We want to assume that the majority of people are inherently good and that those people perform the integral duties by becoming the spokes of industry, or corporations. Subsequently making the majority of corporations inherently good.  If you live in today’s world simply observing day-to-day headlines, you understand that general belief is not a pragmatic one.


    I am only thirty years old.  I have not gone to war for my country.  I have not served my country in a governmental capacity.  I go to church. Volunteer on boards in my local community and serve humanity in the best way I know how. Fighting! Mentally sparring in the arena of insurance injustice and inequality.  


    My matriculation came through real life trauma, then subdued emotions, dogged persistence to overcome, sheer determination, alcoholic anesthetizing relief (perceived relief), a secondary trauma jarring my belief in God & good, and then a laboratory environment of learning with analysis being the saving grace-cynicism a plus.


    Law school was of course the laboratory, set in the home of the Allman Brothers and the Oculmulgee Indian Mounds.  The latter being the former in historic terms.  A filtering of those bright, over achieving, contentious and, for the most part, selfish graduates of a four year university.  Those more altruistic, non-confrontational went to medical school.  All the others, escaped the grasps of the constant oil and water analogies and media hyped rivalries.


    The laboratory teaches analysis, subjective thoughts of the objective facts.  Hypocrisy would be a more fitting term for the advertised spring-board to greatness. A confrontation in my second year at the rat lab helped me utilize these great tools of subjective thought when a study abroad opportunity came available only to be denied by my “advisor”.  A further inquiry to the dean of the school indicated the root of the denial didn’t come from the concerns of my furthering education but the flow of my tuition being re-routed to another program for a semester. That simply will not work when the staff of a private law school is being paid so well.  (Hear the voice of the man behind the curtain reign down.)


    It seems I have constantly been exposed to the “man behind the curtain” in my real world experiences.  Life was fine till I realized every day is not a given and 65 is not the age you finally have fun, or enjoy the “Golden Years”.  My financial advisor initially tried to question my mockery of a 401K until he heard my story. Cancer can be a hell of party pooper. As my Aunt Mary K says, “Every party needs a pooper that’s why, I'm inviting you. Party pooper!, Party pooper!” That song always helps take away the demonizing aspect of a leukemia diagnosis.


    A much more light heart ed and fantasy world example of Dorothy looking around to see a tiny old man, would be my internship at Walt Disney World, aka The Rat.  I never was an overzealous Rat lover but those people are minted at Disney.  I worked in the park and stayed at an apartment complex full of similarly aged co-eds, both from the states and abroad.  I met some of the most real people down there and was even in the wedding of one those friends.  However, those grand memories can not extinguish the horrors of traveling within the tunnels underneath the Magic Kingdom and seeing Chip & Dale with their heads off making out with each other on their break.  Watching Cinderella smoke Marlboro Lights.  Eerily enough, observing Mickey Mouse characters with some type of fairy dust on them that cause their eyes to sparkle with more energy and enthusiasm than most male cheerleaders at a slumber party. Scariest thing I have ever seen, outside an intruder at my bedroom window when I was young.  


    As the Tin Man looks for his heart only to realize there is no magic potion or quick fix for the traits we all possess. It just takes a little common sense and some introspect.  Life is frail. It can be taken away in the snap of your fingers.  As I stood by mother’s bed and watched over her during a 6 hour period, her lungs slowly constricted causing her breathes to get shorter and shorter.  Eventually her mortal shell could no longer operate and I witnessed her last breathe.  Her eyes slowly moved upward into her head and that was the finale to a year of her suffering immensely.  Pain so bad I awoke in the middle of the night to hear her screaming at the top of her lungs because the cancer was just eating her.


    This leads to the Scarecrow searching for his brain, a search I have had to make on numerous occasions.  Self-pity had set in on my first round with cancer and I was having an exceptionally bad day when I just flew off the handle with an older gentleman that told me to not let the cancer get me down.  I made the horrible mistake of asking what he knew about it anyway.  He proceeded to tell me of his wife’s death, son’s death, and recent diagnosis he had with the horrible disease.  I learned quickly to never think my life is worse than anyone else’s.  You never know what someone else is going through.


    There is no doubt finding courage for the Lion can be a hard task.  Externally he’s the "King of the Jungle", all fear him and revere his dominance and power.  However, internally he struggles to face everyday life.  We all have felt this if we are in tune with who we truly are. I brave this daily posting my thoughts and writings for all to see.  The hardest and the most joyous thing in the world can be living.   Really living.  Looking at the leaves on a tree and seeing them for the wonderful thing God created with so much life and existence.  If you fail to enjoy the simplest things in life, how can you expect to enjoy the bigger things like your health?


    Then again, what do I know?  I’m just “Living the Dream”.

 

Floyd S. "Trey" Mills III awarded 'Star of the Quarter'

As printed in the "Anderson Independent" on February 8, 2009:

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III of the Trammell Law Firm was awarded Star of the Quarter recognition by the South Carolina Bar for his efforts in assisting the Young Lawyers Division with a fundraiser for Children’s Chance.

Children’s Chance is an organization established to raise money to fund a variety of programs to meet the financial, emotional and psychological needs of pediatric cancer patients and their families.

The fundraiser took place Nov. 29 in Clemson before the Clemson/Carolina football game as a networking and tailgating event for the Young Lawyers Division. All donations went to Children’s Chance.

Mills suffered from leukemia as a teen and also lost his mother to the disease. For more information on Children’s Chance or to make a donation, visit childrenschance.org or contact the organization at 609 Sims Ave., 2nd Floor, Columbia, SC 29205.

 

 

Statistics Show Cops Like Hummers

Jason Fitzpatrick of Lifehacker provided interesting statistics in his article entitled "The Most Ticketed Cars on the Road".  Please see the statistical breakdown from the article:

I was thinking about trading the old Tahoe in but seems she is worth her weight in gold.

Making a Will in South Carolina

When I inquired with friends on Facebook about legal issues they would like to learn more about on my blog, the issue of making a will was top on their list.  Although I do not do Wills, Trusts, or Estates, in my law practice, it was on the SC Bar and I passed the Bar (that was before they threw questions out when people missed answers-click here to learn more).

A will in South Carolina must be

  1. In writing;
  2. signed either by the testator or someone in his presence and by his direction; and
  3. signed by two credible witnesses, each of whom must have witnessed either the testator's signing of the will or his acknowledgment of his signature of his will. 

An article written by Betsy Simmons, J.D. entitled "Making a Will in South Carolina" goes over several key questions and should answer almost anyone's general inquiries to making a will.  However, as Ms. Simmons' biography indicates, she is a California lawyer. 

No. You do not need an attorney to perfect a will. However, keep in mind that if you have varying incorporated entities, extremely valuable assets, and/or certain greedy relatives you know you do not want to have your possessions; you may think about paying an attorney to protect your interest. 

Otherwise there are several online websites that offer templates for you to insert your personal information and complete a basic will. Some of those websites are listed below:

  1. US Legal Forms promoted by Dave Ramsey;
  2. Legal Zoom- ranges from $69.00-$119.00; and
  3. Nolo

 

Higher Gas Prices May Equal Lower Roadway Fatalities

Ron Barnett of "The Greenville News" reported today that:

If there was an upside to last summer’s spike in gas prices, it could be that it helped save more than 150 lives by reducing the number of miles driven on South Carolina highways.....

The ups and down of the economic woes we have faced over the past year or more continue to have their far reaching impact.  Likewise, I indicated that drivers were forgoing their insurance premiums as another way to cut costs.

As Mr. Barnett indicated in his article:

Greenville, the state’s most populous county, had the most traffic fatalities in 2008, 70, a decrease from 88 the year before.

The number of roadway fatalities in Pickens County fell from 26 to 17, while Oconee dropped from 24 to 14, Anderson went from 49 to 27 and Laurens was down from 17 to 15, according to the preliminary numbers.

The increase in highway patrolman was also credited as a potential factor in the decrease in fatalities.  As prior articles have indicated:

  1. Biker Deaths were on the rise in 2008;
  2. November is the peak month for deer collisions; and
  3. Nobody plans on dying in a freak accident.

Keep driving safely!

South Carolina Receives an "A" for Medical Liability Laws

The Associated Press has announced that the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) gave South Carolina an A for its medical liability laws and a B-plus for quality and patient safety, especially in handling heart attacks and strokes.

However, South Carolina did receive a "C" from ACEP for how it handles emergency medicine. Dr. William Finn, Emergency Medicine Chairman for Greenville Hospital Systems, stated that:

"The report accurately reflects conditions in South Carolina......The number of employees, primary care and mental health providers are well below average, as well as the number of pediatric specialty centers, like the children's emergency department. We need more of those."

This article is entitled "State Earns a 'C' in Emergency Care" but failed to pick up on the real gem of the report done by Emergency Physicians:

SOUTH CAROLINA RECEIVED AN FOR ITS MEDICAL LIABILITY LAWS!

  • Does this mean the JUA and medical community are going to have to stop blaming those darn personal injury lawyers for all their woes? 
  • Does this mean that doctors can come back to practice in the state of South Carolina after having been pushed out by high premiums (another alleged cause of those darn lawyers)?
  • Or were those problems totally ignored on factual basis and exploited in the media to hide the fact of JUA's mismanagement of financial funds in the late 90's (thus causing physician's premiums to rise)? 

"Things That Make you Go Hmmm"

 

 

South Carolina Pharmacist Launches Informative Website

Liv Osby of "The Greenville News" reported that pharmacist Rick Hansen, a pharmacist in Greer, SC,  launched an informative and helpful website for those taking, needing, or wanting medication and/or other health-care issues. Mr. Hansen's website covers many areas:

  • Need to see if the pill you just got from the drug store is the right one? It's on his site.
  • Want to find out about drug interactions? It's there.
  • An interactive "Ask the Druggist" e-mail enables patients to pose questions they may be uneasy discussing in person.
  • There are links to WebMD, the National Institutes of Health and Medicare
  • There is information on drug discount cards, help paying for pharmaceuticals for those who can't afford them, and there's a place to see whether the latest alternative therapy really works.

In the article, Mr. Hansen stated:

"I had so many patients who came in asking questions, whether it was about Medicare Part D or how to get the best price on a prescription, and I was more than happy to provide the answers... Then one day, I was at home on vacation and I didn't have anything to do, and I said, 'I'm going to start a blog to help people get the right information.' It just developed into a Web site."

If you have medical questions visit his blog/website at http:/www.SCPharmacist.net

Judge G. Ross Anderson Takes a Bow and Exits the Stage

David Dykes of "The Greenville News" is reporting that U.S. District Judge G. Ross Anderson Jr. will vacate his position as a full-time federal judge next month.  In true form, this move would allow President-elect Barack Obama to nominate his replacement.

Judge Anderson reported to "The Greenville News" that he will remain with the court as a senior judge for the District of South Carolina, stating:

"I will carry only a 25 percent caseload."

As Dykes reports:

 

 

Nobody Plans on Dying in a Freak Accident

It sickens me to my stomach to think about how much so many families, loved ones, and friends are now grieving as a result of random accidents this past holiday weekend:

  • A popular Charleston chef was killed and his wife injured late Saturday after authorities say their car was hit head on by another car traveling the wrong way on the James Island connector. (The at fault driver was charged with two counts of felony DUI and child endangerment).
  • A young, gentleman riding a bike was struck and killed in a hit-and-run incident this weekend in Charleston.  (The at fault driver was found and charged with her 4th offense of driving under suspension).

In both cases the alleged at fault drivers should have never been on the roadways in South Carolina due to their intoxicated state and failed procedural requirements- yet they were. The first part of the Serenity Prayer comes to my mind:

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

I am no friend to insurance companies but I know that as a trial attorney helping plaintiffs and their families, you have to help me help you. Wikipedia defines insurance as the following:

"..... as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium, and can be thought of a guaranteed small loss to prevent a large, possibly devastating loss."

Learn the most you can about the proper health insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, etc. that you and your family can reasonably afford.  Feel free to call upon our office for advice because once something bad happens, it's too late to get coverage.

(Click on the hyperlinks, or red colored words, for additional research and articles)

Clemson University Wins Battle of the Palmetto State

Keeping my focus on informing, educating, honoring and memorializing the injured victims of South Carolina and their families, I would be remiss if I did not mention the drumming the University of South Carolina received from its upstate rival.

If you are from this great state of South Carolina or currently reside in this state and share a love for college football, you understand that there were injuries handed out yesterday in Death Valley at Clemson University. Fortunately, I was not called in to action for any on the field but if you are aware of any injuries off the field that may require my services, please keep reading my blog and contact me at your earliest convenience.

The Battle of the Palmetto State is the annual Clemson vs. South Carolina football game, replete with:

 

Biker Deaths Count for Over 100 Deaths in South Carolina

The State  newspaper in Columbia,SC reported on the third year in a row motorcycle deaths have topped 100 in the state.  Inexperience with driving motorcycles and lack of proper safety equipment was cited as substantial contributing factors, stating:

South Carolina has no mandatory helmet law for bikers 21 and over, and 78 percent of the 120 motorcycle riders killed in South Carolina last year weren’t wearing head protection.

As an attorney, the majority of motorcycle cases I have handled were significant in the extent of injuries, permanent scarring and disfigurement to my clients.  As most seasoned motorcyclists will tell you, its not their driving that worries them, it is the negligent driving of others.

Any time you participate in something that you find enjoyment but shares a large amount of risk, understanding and insuring yourself against those risks will go along way in helping you and those that love you, get through a hard time.  Make sure you have "Full Coverage", Life Insurance for your family, and Comprehensive or Collision for the bike you have invested so much in.  Join a motorcycle club or group specific to your wants and desires then lobby your way to the Statehouse to get what you want.

November is the Peak Month for Vehicle-Deer Collisions

The Highway Loss Data Institute reported:

November is the peak month for vehicle-deer collisions, and a new analysis of insurance claims and federal crash data indicate the problem is growing. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), recently examined insurance claims for animal strikes under comprehensive coverage month by month from January 2005 through April 2008. The main finding is that insurance claims for animal collisions are nearly 3 times higher during November than the typical month earlier in the year.

  • State Farm, the nation's largest auto insurer, estimates that there were more than 1.2 million claims for damage in crashes with animals during the last half of 2007 and the first half of 2008. The company says animal strike claims have increased 14.9 percent over the past 5 years.
  • The states with the largest number of total deaths are Texas with 227 deaths during 1993-2007, Wisconsin with 123, and Pennsylvania with 112.
  • "The months with the most crash deaths coincide with fall breeding season," Anne McCartt, IIHS's senior vice president for research, points out. "Crashes in which people are killed are most likely to occur in rural areas and on roads with speed limits of 55 mph or higher. They're also more likely to occur in darkness, at dusk, or at dawn."
  • Most of the crash deaths occurred after a motor vehicle had struck an animal and then run off the road or a motorcyclist had fallen off a bike. Many of these deaths wouldn't have occurred with appropriate protection. The study found that 60 percent of the people killed riding in vehicles weren't using safety belts, and 65 percent of those killed riding on motorcycles weren't wearing helmets.

A recent article by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources stated:           

Despite a persistent rumor, neither the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) nor any other state agency will compensate motorists for injuries or damages resulting from deer collisions. Besides practicing safe and defensive driving techniques, each motorist should carry adequate collision and comprehensive insurance.

Do you have the proper insurance coverage to protect you and your loved ones if a deer were to surprise you on an early November morning or late November night? Read my article on Full Coverage, advise your insurance agent, or call our office to learn more about insurance coverage.

South Carolina Insurance Scheme Uncovered

Andy Paras with “The Post and Courier”, reported on an insurance scheme that was uncovered in Colleton County.  It appears the same group of people were reporting similar incidents in the same area.  As the article indicated,

“ The scheme was relatively simple: Run an older car into a tree and claim that someone or something ran you off, then say a bunch of your friends and relatives were injured while in the car with you in order to claim more money, court records show."

I am happy to see that some bad apples were caught so as not to spoil the whole bunch, compunctum cito corrumpit sibi junctum

It is important to remember that if you are in a wreck, the more details, proof, or evidence you can present, the better able both your attorney and the potential at fault driver's insurance company will be able to assist you. Some helpful tips from someone that has settled, taken to trial, and/or mediated hundreds of wreck cases:

  1. Keep a camera, disposable or digital, in your car!  If something bad happens take as many pictures as you can of the accident site, property damage (both visible and not readily visible[frame] of all cars or things involved), skid marks, witnesses, at fault driver, posted speed signs or traffic signals.  You can buy disposable cameras for less than $2.
  2. Take down any witnesses contact information and DO NOT assume that the highway patrolman or investigating officer has gotten that information.  (People do lie, sorry to break the bad news).
  3. The accident report you are given can not be used in the courts of South Carolina as proof that it is the other driver's fault, as indicated on the accident report.  Do not depend on this one sheet of paper to prove the other person was at fault. (Take a look at Article IV of our Evidentiary Rules to see what else the jury will never hear about in court).
  4. Are you really taken care of if the at fault driver has no insurance or minimum insurance? Read my article on "Full Coverage".
  5. MIST-Minor Impact Soft Tissue is an acronym some insurance companies use (Allstate) to try and minimize their financial impact and publicize a subconscious thought of an unproven theory.  Their theory is that the correlation of property damage is relative to personal injury.  WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!  Read this article entitled "Low Impact Injury Accidents".

You would not go to "Joe the Plumber" to get your car fixed?  Think long and hard before just consulting with the at fault driver's insurance company that makes money when they get you to settle for less money than your case is worth.  Consult a personal injury attorney, the CONSULTATION IS FREE!

 

South Carolina is the Most Disappointing State in the Nation...

"......when it comes to funding programs to protect kids from tobacco," said Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in a release reported in The State newspaper.

Whatever happened to that billion dollar tobacco settlement that was apportioned out to all the states for health programs and prevention initiatives on smoking?

"A Decade of Broken Promises: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement Ten Years Later" directly answers this question. If you have children that live in the state of South Carolina, viewer discretion is advised.

  • On November 23, 1998, 46 states settled their lawsuits against the nation’s major tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health care costs, joining four states — Mississippi, Texas, Florida and Minnesota — that had reached earlier, individual settlements.
  • These settlements require the tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity, with total payments estimated at $246 billion over the first 25 years. 
  • The tobacco settlements presented the states with a historic opportunity and unprecedented sums of money to attack the enormous public health problem posed by tobacco use in the United States.
  • Ten years later, this report finds that most states have failed to keep their promise to spend a significant portion of the settlement funds on programs to protect kids from tobacco addiction and help smokers quit.

What about South Carolina's ranking and budget?

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that South Carolina spend $62.2 million a year to have an effective, comprehensive tobacco prevention program.  South Carolina currently receives $1.0 million a year for tobacco prevention and cessation, which includes both state and federal funds.  This is 1.6% of the CDC's recommendation and ranks South Carolina last among the states in the funding of tobacco prevention programs.  South Carolina's spending on tobacco prevention amounts to 0.9% of the estimated $114 million in tobacco-generated revenue the state collects each year from settlement payments and tobacco taxes.

 

  • Under a 2000 agreement between the Legislature and then-Governor Jim Hodges (D), South Carolina securitized its future tobacco settlement proceeds by selling them to investors in exchange for a smaller lump sum payment. The $910 million raised was transferred into four trust funds. The Legislature is responsible for appropriating the money available from the trust funds annually for programs. No tobacco settlement funds have been dedicated to tobacco prevention since 2003.

If you are 18 years or older, please utilize your voice through phone or email to your respective Legislatures to ask why?

 

 

Plaintiffs Win More Than Half of State Court Civil Trials

A U.S. Department of Justice study being reported by Vesna Jaksic of The National Law Journal, states that

Plaintiffs won in 56 percent of all general civil trial cases. Judges ruled in their favor in 68 percent of the cases, while juries favored the plaintiffs 54 percent of the time.....

State courts handled nearly 27,000 civil cases through bench or jury trials. Sixty-one percent of them involved a tort claim, and the most common tort claim involved motor vehicle accidents.........

The report also pointed to a major drop in the number of civil trials, with numbers decreasing by 52 percent from 1992 to 2005 in the nation's 75 most populous counties. In these counties, the median final award also decreased, from $72,000 in 1992, to $43,000 in 2005...........