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

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

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

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

Real World Examples:

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

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

Print:
EmailTweetLikeLinkedIn
Photo of Trey Mills Trey Mills

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III knows that suffering a personal injury through no fault of your own can be a nightmare for the victim and his or her family

Mr. Mills was born on April 24, 1978.  His parents, Floyd S. “Butch” Mills,

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III knows that suffering a personal injury through no fault of your own can be a nightmare for the victim and his or her family

Mr. Mills was born on April 24, 1978.  His parents, Floyd S. “Butch” Mills, Jr. and Patricia Yarborough Mills, were originally from Newberry, South Carolina, and soon after the birth of Mr. Mills, his parents brought him back to be raised in the same county they grew up in.

Education

Mr. Mills attended Newberry Academy from grades K-3, Gallman Elementary 4th grade, Rikard Elementary 5-6th grade, Mid-Carolina Middle School 7-8th grades, Mid-Carolina High School from 9-12th grades, Clemson University, and Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.

Health Crisis

While Mr. Mills was a junior in high school he was chosen by his school to be a representative to Boys State.  This was a great honor and would have been an even better experience except, while at Boys State, Mr. Mills became unusually ill with blackouts, night sweats, and back pain.  Fortunately for Mr. Mills, his mother was an ER nurse at Lexington Medical Center, but unfortunately, for Mr. Mills that did not change his diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  Along with his diagnosis, Mr. Mills received a prognosis of two weeks.

Obviously, Mr. Mills has been blessed with his second chance at life and those who have been wronged by health care insurance companies and other types of insurance companies can feel confident in knowing that Mr. Mills can not only empathize with them but fight fervently for their side.  Mr. Mills’ cancer experience and his mother’s arduous yet unsuccessful battle against lung cancer were very trying times.  However, those real-world battles and experiences were nothing compared to the administrative and billing wars he had to encounter with Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance. It seems BCBS would deny any charge over $1,000 without rational reasoning therefore prompting Mr. Mills to go to law school and carry the torch for those that were too ill to fight for themselves while the school yard bully beat them down.

College

Mr. Mills went on to Clemson University where he was very active in student activities along with academic accomplishments.  Mr. Mills was invited to join Calhoun Honor’s College, Sigma Pi fraternity, Golden Key National Honor Society, Student Government, IPTAY Student Advisory Board, and Tiger Brotherhood. Mr. Mills also worked as a student employee with IPTAY Scholarship Fund under the direction of Bert Henderson, formerly the Associate Athletic Director of Planned Giving at Clemson University.

Early Life

Mr. Mills was unsure of where his hard work and life experiences would best provide an adequate return to the outpouring of kindness he received during his cancer experience. Having received many blessings from the American Red Cross, Mr. Mills went on to be an Apheresis Donor Recruiter under the supervision of Barry Pollard at the American Red Cross Blood Donor Services in Columbia, SC after graduating Clemson University.

Running from his true calling, Mr. Mills fled to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).  Having spent a semester of college in Madrid, Spain, Mr. Mills thought he should be assisting foreign countries. Mr. Mills was certified by the Vancouver Language Centre in Guadalajara for his TEFL training.  Mr. Mills was in Guadalajara only a few months when September 11, 2001 occurred and helped him focus on his life priorities.

Law School

Mr. Mills went on to law school at Mercer University and clerked each summer trying to determine how he could best serve those less fortunate.  The corporate law firms never truly provided him with that personal feeling of assisting the common person in need.  It wasn’t until Mr. Mills became the first law clerk of the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association under the supervision of Linda Franklin and lobbyist Michael Gunn that he realized where his education, life experience, drive, and hard work could truly benefit those who have been personally and directly affected by the negligence of another.  Mr. Mills wanted to be a coveted and much needed plaintiff’s trial attorney.  More importantly Mr. Mills realized the power of the faceless insurance companies, misinformed legislative members, and the true power of money and lobbyist in dictating laws.

What’s the one service you pay for all your life but you are actually penalized if you ever have to use it? Insurance.

Trammell & Mills

Mr. Ernie Trammell gave Mr. Mills his big break at leveling the playing field against the faceless and heartless insurance companies.  Mr. Mills works tirelessly every day in an effort to bring justice to those who have been wronged.  Mr. Mills has worked on both sides of the law and has been through some harrowing life experiences.  Mr. Mills has been tested and tried by many of the more traumatic events that life has to offer and now provides his services to the public.

Who would you rather have on your side? Someone whose resolve has been tested and tried? Or someone who has intertwined their morality and greed in such a way that they can’t tell one from the other?

Why haven’t you hired Mr. Mills to be your attorney yet?

Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why listen to insurance adjusters?