Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I know if I need an attorney for my claim?

If you or your family experienced a serious injury from an automobile accident, or any other accident due to the negligence of another, you will benefit from speaking to a lawyer. This is because often the insurance company for the person or entity that caused your injuries will either deny your claim or try to settle with you quickly before you have an opportunity to fully explore your options and engage an experienced lawyer.

The insurance companies take this tactic because often an unrepresented injured person will unwisely settle a claim for much less than the claim is worth.

If you have experienced legal support, your case will be thoroughly investigated and properly evaluated for your benefit. After proper evaluation of your claim, your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company from a position of knowledge and strength. This will ensure that you receive equitable treatment from the insurance company. If you don’t, your lawyer will take further action, including filing a suit  on your behalf and taking your case to trial.

Is there a charge for our first meeting or consultation?

No.  We do not charge a fee for your initial meeting with our team.

How much money am I entitled to for my injuries?

Every case is different and here is no set amount.  This is the primary reason you need a lawyer to evaluate your case properly and to protect your legal interests. Insurance companies and those responsible have no incentive to properly evaluate your claim or protect your legal interests. In fact, they have an incentive to do just the opposite.

Our experienced team is familiar with how juries have reacted in cases that may be similar to yours. This gives us guidance in advising you regarding a proper evaluation and fair settlement.

You must consider all medical expenses, lost wages, disfigurement, extent of permanent injury, as well as other losses and elements of damage to make a determination of the recovery in your claim. You may also be entitled to punitive (punishment) damages if the at-fault party was grossly negligent (i.e.: at-fault driver was DUI).

Who may bring a claim for damages in a case involving an injury?

If you are a competent adult 18 years of age and older, and are injured, you must bring the lawsuit in your own name. If you are a minor, under the age of 18, or an incompetent adult, then a suit must be brought by either your parents or guardian.

How is my lawyer paid? What if I can't afford a lawyer?

For most cases, the Hodge Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing up front for our legal services. If we are successful, our fee will be a percentage of the settlement or award we obtain for you. If we are not successful, you will owe us no attorney fees or costs.

We handle most cases on a contingency basis; however, we will consider hourly-fee arrangements on a case-by-case basis in matters for which a specific monetary recovery may not be the client’s ultimate goal. This consideration will be solely at the discretion of the Hodge Law Firm.

If I have an accident, do I have to sue the other party to receive a settlement?

Not necessarily. If either party has liability insurance and if the insurance company agrees to pay you the full value of your case, you do not have to bring a lawsuit. However, if they are not willing to pay you the full value of your claim, then your lawyer will prepare the necessary documents to file a lawsuit in the appropriate court.

In South Carolina, how long do I have to file a lawsuit?

Generally, you have three years from the date of the accident to file  a lawsuit plus another 120 days to provide a copy of the lawsuit papers to the at-fault party. However, the time limit may be longer or shorter under certain circumstances. Your lawyer will be able to determine which time limit applies to your particular case. If you fail to file the lawsuit within the appropriate time frame, your action will be forever barred so it is important that you consult a lawyer as soon as you are able after your incident.

What should I do if I have been in an accident with a commercial truck?

Almost every person involved in an accident with a commercial truck will benefit from a consultation with a competent attorney. You can be sure that the driver, owner, and operator of the truck will be represented by legal counsel and your rights are best protected if you are too. There are a few things you can do prior to this consultation. At the scene of the accident, the police officer should give you a green form called an FR-10. You must take this form to your insurance agent within 15 days of the accident, or risk suspension of your driver’s license. The FR-10 is an insurance verification form that notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles that you had liability insurance on your vehicle at the time of the accident. This form also serves to alert your own insurance company that you have been in an accident. If there is any question as to who was at fault, an insurance adjuster will investigate the accident on your behalf. It is best not to give a recorded statement to any insurance adjuster without consulting with an attorney first. You should not rely on an insurance adjuster to protect your rights. Insurance adjusters often have competing duties, and the adjuster often feels a greater obligation to the company for which he or she works than you – the policyholder. It is because of these competing duties that an attorney is the best resource from which to obtain advice regarding what the law entitles you and what legal recourse you may have.

If I am injured in a truck accident, who can I sue?

The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of your accident. Based on the facts you may be able to bring action against  the driver of the truck if he/she is negligent, the trucking company if they negligently hired the truck driver or if the truck driver was an employee of the company and not an independent contractor, and the truck’s manufacturer, if there is a defect in the truck that caused the accident. It is important to consult with an attorney to get the facts of the accident sorted to determine who can be named in a lawsuit.

What can I recover if I have been injured in an accident with a commercial truck?

Medical expenses, hospital bills, lost income because of missed work, pain and suffering, future medical or physical therapy expenses, and loss of earning capacity resulting from the accident. You may also be entitled to punitive (punishment) damages if the at-fault party was grossly negligent (i.e.: at-fault driver was DUI).

If I am partially at fault for an automobile accident, can I still recover compensation?

Yes. South Carolina law allows you to recover damages from an accident if you are not more than 50% at fault for the accident. Our system is called “comparative negligence,” and the jury will determine the amount of another party’s liability for the accident as well as your own. Each party’s portion of liability determines the percentage of the resulting damages he or she must pay, if any.

What are the most common causes of accidents involving commercial trucks and automobiles?

While the possible causes of a trucking accident are too numerous to list, a few may include inadequate training as to driving technique, improper deference to safety issues and defensive driving, driver fatigue, drug or alcohol use by the driver, speeding, mechanical failure, defective parts, and improper loading or overloading the truck.

Why is a traffic accident involving a truck different from an accident involving just a car?

Obviously, the biggest difference is the size and weight of the vehicles, which is typically the biggest factor resulting in a more catastrophic accident than if the accident just involved cars. A large commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, compared to the average passenger automobile that only weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Due to this size disparity, and the basic laws of physics, any collision between a commercial truck and another vehicle is likely to result in serious, even fatal, injuries. Furthermore, because of their large bodies, many trucks are not as maneuverable as cars. For example, a tanker truck that is carrying liquid may be swayed by the sloshing of the liquid it carries causing it to slide or jack-knife. The distance it takes a truck to slow or stop is also much longer than a car because the brakes systems of trucks and cars are completely different.

What is workers' compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a process where employees can recover for injuries that arise out of an on-the-job injury. This system relieves employers of liability from common lawsuits involving negligence and the damages associated in exchange for a relief from the burden of proof on the employee. Specifically, in exchange for the relief from having to prove fault, employees’ damages recoveries are limited to the medical costs and lost wages resulting from on-the-job injuries.

What type of compensation is available through the Workers Compensation Act?

Workers’ compensation pays for necessary medical treatment, loss of wages during a period of disability, and compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement. If an employee is injured and unable to work for more than seven days, he or she is eligible to be compensated at the rate of sixty-six and two-thirds percent ( 66 2/3%) of the employee’s average weekly wage, limited to 100% of the State’s average weekly wage as established each year by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission. If the period of total disability exceeds 14 days, the employee is eligible for compensation beginning with the date of the accident.

The maximum award for total disability or death is limited by law to five hundred weeks of compensation. The rate of compensation is determined by the injured employee’s average weekly wage and cannot exceed 100% of the state’s average weekly wage. The loss of both hands, arms, feet, legs, or vision in both eyes, or a combination of two such losses, constitutes total and permanent disability. In addition, a commissioner can make other disability determinations based on the loss or impairment to the whole person.

There are exceptions for brain injury or paralysis which may entitle the claimant to lifetime disability benefits. Cases in which a finding of permanent and total disability is made generally result in lifetime medical care and treatment.

 

What is workers' compensation hearing?

The workers’ compensation commissioners conduct a hearing to resolve disputes between you and your employer’s representative. You may apply for a hearing if your employer does not report your accident, denies your injury by accident, or if you believe that you did not receive all your benefits.

What should I do if the doctor releases me to light duty after receiving workers' compensation?

You must accept light work if it is offered. If you do not accept, all compensation may cease if you refuse to return to work. You have a right to a hearing if you believe that you are not able to do the work assigned to you. If you return to light work before you are fully discharged by the doctor at a wage less than you were earning at the time of your original injury, you are entitled to weekly compensation at the rate of the sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66 2/3%) of the difference between your average weekly wage and your new wage.

When are my workers' compensation benefits terminated?

After the doctor releases you to return to work with or without restrictions, within 150 days of notification of the accident, you should receive two copies of Form 15 with Section II completed indicating that compensation has been stopped and for what reasons.

Will I get compensated for my missing time from work because of my injury?

There is a seven-day waiting period before benefits can be paid. If you are out of work for more than seven days, payments will come from your employer’s insurance representative. If you are out of work for more than 14 days, you will receive compensation even for the first seven days.

You can expect payments to be made directly to you and these should continue until the doctor releases you to return to work.

How is my workers compensation rate determined?

You are entitled to compensation at the rate of  sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66 2/3%) of your average weekly wage based on the four quarters prior to your injury, but no more than the maximum average weekly wage determined each year by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission. If you were working two or more jobs at the time of accident, those wages may be included as part of the average weekly wage and compensation rate.

Can I be fired for filling a Workers' Compensation claim?

No. You are protected by South Carolina statutory law if you are legitimately injured and have a medical opinion saying so and are entitled to reinstatement and lost wages as damages for a retaliatory discharge.

How do I report an on-the-job injury?

Report all injuries at work to your employer immediately and request medical treatment, if needed. If you neglect to report the injury within 90 days of the accident, you may lose your benefits.

After reporting the injury within 90 days, you have up to two years to file a claim for benefits. If a worker dies because of work-related injuries, the worker’s dependents, or parents if there are no dependents, must file a claim within two years of the death to claim benefits.

Who is covered by the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Act?
Every South Carolina employer and employee, with certain exceptions, is presumed to be covered by the State’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Exceptions to this provision include railroad and railway express companies and employees, certain casual employees, Federal employees in South Carolina, businesses with less than four employees, agricultural employees, and certain real estate salespersons, and, by election, corporate officers.

Employers covered by the provisions of the Act are required to maintain insurance sufficient for the payment of compensation, or they shall furnish the Workers Compensation Commission satisfactory proof of their ability to pay the compensation in the amount and manner due an injured employee. The Director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance is responsible for approving rates and classifications for all workers’ compensation insurers.

What are the objectives of the workers' compensation system?

Historically, six basic objectives underlie the workers’ compensation laws:

1. Provide sure, prompt, and reasonable income and medical benefits to work-related accident victims, or income benefits to their dependents, regardless of fault;

2. Provide a single remedy and reduce court delays, costs, and judicial workloads arising out of personal injury litigation;

3. Relieve public and private charities of financial demands incident to uncompensated occupational accidents;

4. Minimize payment of fees to lawyers and witnesses as well as time-consuming trials and court appeals;

5. Encourage maximum employer interest in safety and rehabilitation through an appropriate experience-rating mechanism; and,

6. Promote frank study of the causes of accidents (rather than the concealment of fault) in an effort to reduce preventable accidents and human suffering.

Why was my Workers' Comp claim denied?

Your workers’ compensation claim may have been denied for a legitimate reason or no reason at all. This happens because some workers compensation insurance carriers deny claims as a strategy to discourage claimants. Alternatively, the employer may dispute that the injury was job-related, even happened on the job, or claim that you failed to report it within the 90-day window following the accident, as required. The workers’ compensation team at the Hodge Law Firm will review and evaluate your case at no cost to you to determine whether you have a claim. This is for your and our benefit as we do not file frivolous or baseless claims.

What constitutes a "work-related" injury in South Carolina?

Any injury you suffered while on the job is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if it requires medical treatment and prevents you from returning to your job (short term, long term, or permanently).

Examples include, but are not limited to: a back injury from a fall or from overexertion; an eye injury from a piece of scrap or a saw; a heart attack from unusual overexertion; a laceration or cut from a saw; a burn from a torch or welder; a ladder accident; an auto accident while in the course and scope of your duties (whether in your own car or a company car); workplace exposure to toxins; cumulative injury from everyday tasks (such as tendonitis or carpal tunnel from repetitive movements); or any number of other mishaps.

The workers’ compensation team at Hodge Law Firm are familiar with all types of work injuries and the appropriate level of compensation associated with each.

What is medical malpractice or medical negligence?

Medical malpractice (also known as medical negligence) means that a health care provider caused injury or death to a patient by failing to act within the applicable medical standard of care, meaning he or she failed to act reasonably under the circumstances and the unreasonable conduct caused harm.

What are typical medical malpractice claims?

Lawsuits against health institutions and/or physicians, medical malpractice commonly occurs under the following circumstances: injuries during birth; negligence during surgery or anesthesia; general misdiagnosis; misdiagnosis of a heart attack; or infection.

 

When should I suspect that my injuries were caused by medical malpractice

Not all medical mistakes are malpractice, but if you or a loved one has suffered an unexpected serious injury or death, you should question whether the injury or death was caused by medical negligence. You owe it to yourself and your family to know the truth and to hold the healthcare provider responsible for the harm he or she caused.

For example, your child was born with a brain injury due to the negligence of the doctor who managed your labor/delivery. The costs of providing proper care for such a child over a lifetime can be financially crippling. If your child has an injury that is due to the negligence of the doctor, that doctor should be held responsible for the harm caused to you and your child.

Likewise, maybe a loved one passed away unexpectedly. The emotional and financial effect on you and your family can be devastating. This should cause you to ask whether your loved one died because of malpractice. You have the right to hold the negligent party responsible for the harm his or her carelessness caused.

What should I do if I have been a victim of medical malpractice?

You should not go through this difficult time alone. You, the patient, should not be paying for your doctor’s mistakes or negligence. If you or a loved one is living with the consequences of a misdiagnosis, it is important to contact an experienced lawyer who can protect your rights and get you the compensation to which you are entitled.

Call us at 864.585.3873 to request a free initial consultation. We may advise you to request a full copy of your medical records as soon as possible. We will review your medical records and will promptly let you know if you have a case.

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