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

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. 

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

 

 

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. 

 

Anderson County Property Arbitration: January 2014 Report

I have blogged about the benefits of citizens filing for property arbitration hearings in their respective county when they are unhappy, insulted, and/or confused with the offers they receive from the at fault driver's insurance company following a motor vehicle collision. Clicking on the link below from a prior article I wrote, will set forth the actual law on property arbitrations and highlight the items you should bring to win your case. More importantly, this process may take more time but it only costs $10 (ten dollars). Seriously, you could get hundreds or thousands more on your property for a $10 investment and your time. 

Why do I advocate property arbitration?

  1. I feel insurance companies habitually take advantage of people injured through no fault of their own and start kicking them while they are down immediately with low ball or inaccurate information about property reimbursement. 
  2. Insurance companies can lie and mislead you on the law because they aren't lawyers, they are only protecting their money. Not your money.
  3. It is such a simple, affordable, and successful process for the property owner to get more money than they are being offered by the insurance company AND cost the insurance company additional money for being greedy. 

Below I have detailed a real life example and scenario that happened in Anderson County on January 16, 2014 in an arbitration hearing for one of my clients.

BACKGROUND

My client was the owner of a 1971 Pontiac Bonneville that had been passed down from his family to him and kept in pristine shape. He loved that car and had strong emotional and sentimental attachments to it. On occassion he would allow his son to drive the car and on one such day his son was driving in Oconee County when suddenly and without warning he was violently rear ended while driving in his lane of travel by a young girl in a Dodge Ram pick up truck. The damage was extensive to the classic vehicle. However, my client wanted it repaired or paid the classic value he associated with it. Liability was not in dispute, the at fault driver was responsible for the collision for speeding. 

Unfortunately, the at fault driver was insured by Safeco Insurance Company and they took a draconian approach to resolving my client's property damage. They offered to pay my client $3,500.00 for the vehicle because their own estimate for repairs was $5,700.00 and they felt that my client's vehicle was worth the lowest end of the NADA estimate. You have to realize insurance companies don't make money paying it to claims from their insureds causing harms and losses. Insurance companies make money low balling, minimizing, and starving out clients to force them to settle. 

My client refused Safeco's low ball offer and followed my advice by filing a property arbitration in the county the at fault driver lived, which was Anderson County. Since I was assisting his son on the personal injury claim from the motor vehicle collision, I thought I would run by the courthouse and make sure he presented the best case in front of the panel and the defense attorney hired by Safeco.

In any property arbitration hearing the plaintiff, or person bringing the claim, will present their side of the case first. The plaintiff should bring two or more property estimates signed and notarized by the company providing the estimate, pictures of the damage or vehicle, a copy of the accident report, and be prepared to answer any questions the panel my have. Next, the defense attorney will present their case and explain to the panel why they think the property damage is only x amount of dollars. 

Yesterday, we presented the evidence and although Safeco had only offered $3,500.00 19 months earlier, at the hearing they agreed the claim was worth at least $5,000.00. My clients had originally filed on their own and only asked for $7,500.00 but since I came I went ahead and provided a more recent property estimate for over $10,000.00 and asked for that amount from the panel. The whole process took around 30 minutes from start to finish. The panel eventually awarded my client $8,255.00, which turned out to be the difference between Safeco's original estimate of $5,700.00 and my more recent estimate for over $10,000.00. A fair verdict no doubt and more than double what Safeco had ever offered my clients. 

Go forward people and fight this battle! Stop being railroaded into accepting less than the value of your vehicles. Stand up and fight for yourselves. The insurance companies will continue to take money from your hands as long as you allow it. 

 

PRIOR ARTICLE DETAILING PROCESS AND LAW:

South Carolina Property Arbitration: Your Weapon Against Insurance Adjusters

 

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!

 

 

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"Full Coverage" Automobile Insurance

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.

 

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."

 

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! 

Ndamukong Suh Tackles Motor Vehicle Collision 101

The popular Detroit Lions football player was enjoying some "off" time during his recent two (2) game suspension for allegedly kicking a player while he was down and now has jumped right into personal injury law.

Apparently this past weekend in Portland, Oregon, a boy named "Suh" was driving his 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle muscle car when suddenly and without warning he lost control and ran into an inanimate object.  Several reports are now indicating that Mr. Suh had two passengers in the car that incurred injuries as a result of the motor vehicle collision

As I tell my clients, there are always two (2) hurdles to jump in any personal injury case: 1) Who is at fault? and 2) How much is it worth? There are many other factors in summing up those two items and the more information that can be garnered by other parties, ie witnesses, medical professionals, responding police officers, video footage, and pictures, to strengthen your case.

Some reports have Mr. Suh indicating all parties are fine, while other reports have the two female passengers saying they have lacerations, contusions, and other such upper and lower extremity complaints. Mr. Suh says he was trying to pass a taxi and the passengers' version says he was just driving too fast for conditions.

The first hurdle is most likely an easy hurdle in the above story. Mr. Suh was the driver of the car and through his driving it ended up colliding with a stationary object not in the roadway.

Hurdle #1 check.

The second hurdle is going to be harder because of the general nature of the parties, popularity of the driver, and social bias thanks to mass insurance and chamber marketing.

  • You will have those naysayers that will refute those women were ever even in the car regardless of what facts come out;
  • You will have others say, the female passengers are just trying to get money because they were in the car with a professional athlete; and
  • You will have those others that believe those two women were in the car at the time, probably got banged up from the impact of an old 1970 Chevrolet with little safety features but will minimize their injuries because they believe the women should not have been out past midnight and/or should not have fled the scene without seeking assistance.

See how quickly one simple set of facts that only three (3) potential people know the real truth to can get twisted? Mr. Suh's will be more memorialized because of his 911 recorded statement. The other passengers have no record other then what they say that they were at the scene. Just because this case has become famous for the party that wrecked, don't think this scenario doesn't happen every weekend in your own county.

Be smart if you are in a collision and/or harmed by the negligence, ignorance, and/or omissions of others. Don't think some insurance adjuster for the at fault party is going to believe you because you are you. They don't care. Frankly neither does that jury of your peers. They care when they realize it could have just as easily happened to them. 

Don't say it, show it. Document it. Picture it. Text it. Friend it. Tweet it. Email it. Link it in.

 

RELATED STORIES:

Single Car Accidents Leave Drivers and Passengers with Few Options

Cops: Suh car crash passenger fears retaliation

Ndamukong Suh reportedly lied to police about accident

Portland police: 2 passengers contradict Ndamukong Suh’s crash report

Injured at Work in South Carolina? What you need to know. (Part 2)

This is the second of a series of blogs written to tell workers in South Carolina what they need to do if they suffer a work-related injury.  

2.    Tell the treating doctor that you got hurt at work!

In my previous blog, I stressed the importance of reporting your work injury immediately to your employer.  Today, I stress the importance of telling your doctor that you got hurt at work and how you got hurt at work.

In many denied workers’ compensation claims, there is, for lack of a better word, a swearing match going on between the injured worker and the employer.  The worker claims to have been injured on the job.  The employer denies that the worker got injured on the job or claims that the injured worker did not properly report his injury to the employer.  The workers’ compensation commissioner is charged with the responsibility of finding the truth and, therefore, must decide which one to believe.  

In my experience, the commissioner often relies on the medical records to break the tie.  He discounts the injured worker’s testimony as well as the employer’s denial because they are both taking self-serving positions.  Then, he especially looks at the initial medical record of treatment of the injured worker to find the truth because he assumes that the initial treating doctor does not “have a dog in the fight.”  If the initial medical record documents that the employee was being treated due to an injury that the employee contends occurred at work, and especially if the record describes how the injury occurred, the commissioner will view that record as giving credibility to the injured worker’s claim.  On the other hand, if the injured worker does not mention anything about the work injury to the initial treating doctor, the commissioner will likely view that record as giving credibility to the employer’s defense that the employee did not get hurt at work.

Therefore, if you were injured at work, it is imperative that you document that you are at the doctor’s office seeking treatment for an injury that occurred at work on all of the forms that the doctor’s staff may ask you to complete prior to your examination and then you must describe the injury to the doctor when he examines you so that he will include it in your medical record.  

As a general rule, the more details that you can give to the doctor, the more believable your claim will be to a commissioner.  For example:

  • know the exact date of your injury before you go into the doctor’s office.  Do not guess at your date of injury because it will come back to haunt you if your claim is contested and the date of injury that you give the doctor is wrong.  I have seen situations where the injured worker haphazardly reports to the doctor that he got hurt at work on Wednesday about two weeks ago and then prior to the workers’ compensation hearing we learn from  reviewing his time cards that the worker did not even work on that Wednesday.  At that point after closer examination, we realized that the injury actually occurred on Wednesday, but it was three weeks ago rather than two weeks ago as reported to the doctor.  That is an error that can be explained and corrected, but it could have been avoided all together if the worker had been prepared when he initially went to the doctor.
  • be specific in your description of the injury to the doctor.  Which is more believable?

    • “I hurt my back at work last Wednesday just doing my job;” or
    • “Last Wednesday afternoon at work, I injured my back lifting a 75 pound box  off of the floor.  I was going to put the box on my work table.  As I twisted while lifting up the box, I felt a sharp pain in my lower back and pain even went down my left leg.  I had to put the box back down on the floor and was never able to lift it up to the table.”

In conclusion, it is imperative that you give your doctor specific details about your work-related injury during your first medical appointment after the injury.  If you do so, the employer and insurance carrier will likely admit that you got hurt at work and will provide you with workers’ compensation coverage without unnecessary delay.

My next blog will be about the fact that you can suffer a work injury without being required to suffer trauma.


 

(Ernie Trammell is the author of this blog post and subsequent posts on Workers' Compensation in South Carolina. Mr. Trammell has been a Workers' Compensation attorney in South Carolina for 29 years, primarily in the Upstate encompassing the counties of AndersonAbbevilleGreenvilleGreenwoodLaurensOconeePickens, and Spartanburg.) 

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.

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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

 

If You Are Injured After a Wreck, Dog Bite, Slip & Fall or _______:Seek Medical Attention

It sounds so simple but so many people I interact with from Greenville, Anderson, Oconee, Seneca, Clemson, and the remainder of South Carolina, have a hard time understanding that lawyers are not doctors

If you are hurt, hurting, in pain, or otherwise not in the same physical, mental, or emotional state you were in prior to some traumatic injury, or incident, then you should seek medical advice.  Doing this simple act can help you on several fronts:

  1. This helps diagnose and assess your problems;
  2. This helps you get better; and
  3. This helps objectify and validate the change(s) in your condition.

Having grown up in the rural area of Prosperity, South Carolina and now working for people from similar areas of the state, the comment:

"I dont like going to the doctor. They are just going to give me medication and run up a lot of bills."

is a comment I hear all too often. However, try telling that evil insurance company that you are hurt, hurting, in pain, or otherwise not in the same mental, physical, or emotional condition you were in before ____________. (fill in the blank-wreck, slip & fall, dog bite, injury at work, and/or negligent product).

Try figuring out a reasonable and fair amount to be compensated for your injury when you are the only voice or piece of evidence in your favor. Think that evil insurance company will believe you more or a disinterested third party that has no interest in the outcome?

I know, most times the evil insurance adjusters wouldn't believe they were on fire if they saw their skin melting but you can only do your part as a reasonable person. Leave the insurance fighting to those that do it all the time and fight for your rights--trial lawyers, aka Trey Mills.