May 12, 2016

Why Do You Need to Call a Lawyer?

Why Do You Need to Call a Lawyer?

For the same reason you call:

-the exterminator, he can spray strong poison without contaminating himself or you, just as a lawyer can say or write strong words against the other side without hurting you in the process;

-the dentist, he can pull out that painful, infected tooth without causing more damage to the other teeth, just as a lawyer can solve your main legal problem without causing you additional, painful problems;

-the plumber, he can get the toilet to flush again without your having to get your hands dirty, just as a lawyer can deal with the legal-manure without your having to get dirty;

-the car mechanic, he can get your automobile running smoothly so you can get places, just as a lawyer can get your legal-life running smoothly so you can accomplish your goals;

-a doctor, she can prescribe the proper remedy for your illness, just as a lawyer can advise the proper remedy for a legal problem;

-a minister, he helps you deal with life’s tragedies, just as a lawyer helps you deal with many of the same tragedies.

Just as it is a bad idea to try to cut out your own appendix, or perform some other surgery on yourself, so it is a bad idea to try to advise yourself on your legal rights and responsibilities. Just as medical science, computer science, international trade, and other fields grow more and more complex every day, so does the law. As long as legislators, judges, bureaucrats, and other rule-makers live and breathe, our legal system will grow in both the sheer number of laws and complexity. Please call someone who is trained and experienced to lead you through the legal mine fields or you are taking grave risks. I can be your guide if you call me at (864) 232-1676.

May 12, 2016

Why Do I Need an Attorney on My Injury Claim

Legal Nuggets- Why Do I Need an Attorney on My Injury Claim?

The people insurance companies use to investigate and settle claims are called “adjusters.” Insurance adjusters know more about personal injury claims than you do. They may not be as intelligent as you or have as high an IQ as you, but they have had much more training and experience than you. Insurance adjusters get legal training and have access to lawyers for questions. They also learn a lot of medicine from both training and experience. They also have access to medically trained personnel.

Many insurance adjusters have attended jury trials and understand the legal system very well. They know about statutory deadlines for filing lawsuits and are aware of what basic types of evidence are admissible in a trial. Also, many adjusters have a good estimate of likely jury verdicts in injury cases. They know what type of cases jurors are likely to dislike.

Knowledge is power and the insurance adjusters have it. The only way to make sure you have equal power is to hire an experienced attorney. He or she will be able to advise you about the law that applies to your case. And an attorney will either know a lot of the medical information pertinent to your case or will know how to get the information.

If you want to be on equal footing (or better) with your insurance adjuster, consult a professional with the experience and knowledge it takes to successfully fight them.

May 12, 2016

Underinsurance

Legal Nuggets- Underinsurance

In S. C., in the context of automobile accidents and insurance, “underinsurance” is the term usually used for a type of coverage that:

  1. Is optional;
  2. Requires the payment of a separate, additional premium;
  3. Can be purchased in amounts up to the amount of Liability coverage you are carrying;
  4. Is intended to supplement the basic liability coverage that is available to an injured person in a motor vehicle collision;
  5. Covers the policyholder, as well as resident relatives; and
  6. Is subject to rules under South Carolina’s law that are unique and that are different from the laws of our neighboring states.

In serious car wrecks many questions will come-up about underinsurance coverage. The rules on underinsurance in SC are complex. Our understanding of them comes mostly from reading cases that have been decided by our appellate courts. An attorney must be well-versed in those cases in order to fully understand this area of insurance law. The law surrounding underinsurance can be very confusing, especially to people with no legal training or education.

May 12, 2016

Divorce: Contested or Uncontested

Legal Nuggets- Divorce: Contested or Uncontested

Many people are confused about the meaning of an “uncontested divorce.” This confusion stems from the fact that divorce cases encompass many, many issues. For example, in a divorce the parties divide ownership of all marital assets and establish custody and visitation for all their children. Other issues may include alimony, child support and attorneys fees. So while the issue of divorce may not be contested by your spouse, all the related issues may be disputed.

When an attorney speaks of an “uncontested divorce” she or he is referring to a divorce case in which ALL the issues are uncontested, not just the issue of divorce.

Additional confusion arises from the question of whether the divorce is a no-fault divorce or a divorce based on fault grounds. A no-fault divorce is generally one that is based on the fact that the parties have separated for a required period of time and do not intend to cohabitate in the future. A fault based divorce is one granted on grounds, such as adultery, physical cruelty, or habitual drunkenness.

Thus, a no-fault divorce can be contested and a fault based divorce can be uncontested. It all depends on the circumstances of the case.

The confusion over these terms can be problematic when you are seeking an estimate of attorney’s fees from an attorney you are considering hiring to obtain your divorce. If you say you want an uncontested divorce and want an estimate of the attorney’s fees, be certain that there are no issues that could be disputed in the case. How do you reach that certainty? Go over the following check list and decide if you and your spouse could possibly disagree over them. If you answer yes then your divorce is not really “uncontested.”

  1. Who will get to continue living in the martial abode (house, apartment, mobile home)?
  2. If you have acquired other property (whether real or personal) during the marriage, who will get to keep it?
  3. Do you have any pets? Who will own and control them?
  4. Do you have life or health insurance that names the other spouse as an “owner” or “beneficiary” or “insured?”
  5. Do either of you have children? Who will have custody, who will be allowed to visit the children, and who will support the children?
  6. Did you buy a car during the marriage? If so, who will get it and all its related expenses and responsibilities?
  7. Are there any possible tax liabilities that arose during the marriage, such as capital gains or other taxes on the withdrawal of money in a retirement plan, sale of real estate, or employment of a worker?
  8. Are there any joint accounts or joint credit cards or other debts?
  9. Have either of you signed any long-term contracts that could bind the other, such as a lease, waste disposal contract, or a furniture rent-to-own contract?

Because of the complex relationships we build when we are married, it can be very involved to separate the parties. Thus, you need to be aware that there are many potential issues that can raise their ugly heads when you seek a divorce. Your divorce will not be truly “uncontested” unless there are no issues that you and your spouse disagree over.

Call me to discuss your divorce case and I will help you sort out the possible sources of disagreement. If your divorce will be truly uncontested, then I can represent you at a very reasonable rate. However, if your divorce will have contested issues I will have to take them into account when quoting you a fee.

May 12, 2016

True Costs of a Lawsuit

Legal Nuggets- True Costs of a Lawsuit

  1. Legal Fees- Your attorney will have to work much harder if you file a lawsuit. If you are paying on an hourly basis this will cost you directly. If you are on a contingency fee basis, the attorney will be much less willing to compromise his or her fee.
  2. Court and Litigation costs- You will have to pay additional fees for the following types of expenses if you pursue a lawsuit:
    • filing fee (From $35 to $150) per case
    • service fees (from $15 to $350) per party
    • depositions (from $100 to $1,000 each)
    • expert witness fees (from $ 125 per hour to $350 per hour)
    • misc. fees (copying, postage, travel, report fees, etc.)
  3. Time- Filing a lawsuit often delays the settlement of your case for months or years, however, sometimes it speeds up settlement (it all depends).
  4. Emotional costs- Litigation can cost you tremendously in terms of emotional energy and well-being. The depositions are not “fun” like going to the dentist, for example. Having to answer all types of questions: in writing, orally in depositions, and orally on the witness stand is laborious, stressful, and sometimes embarrassing. If you pin all your hopes on winning a big verdict you will often be disappointed and the feeling of loss can be overwhelming. There is an emotional gain from settling: you get it over-with and you can MOVE-ON WITH YOUR LIFE.
  5. Uncertainty- One can Never be certain of the outcome of a court case, and this costs you in many ways: planning for the future is difficult; it causes anxiety; it makes it difficult to evaluate the cost/benefit of your actions; and it means realistically that you have risk, or, in other words, that you could suffer the consequences of a bad verdict.