North Carolina and South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

Headache and health problems for young woman at workFor work injuries after June 24, 2011, North Carolina Law encourages employers to provide “light duty” positions while the injured worker is recovering from a work injury. These can be made up positions – a job for which the employer couldn’t justify hiring someone to do. Sometimes the tasks are of some use to the company, other times the job is just “make work” that is of little value. In most cases, light duty positions need to be approved by the authorized treating physician and be consistent with the doctor’s work restrictions. Light duty can be a good thing for all concerned if the injured worker can transition back to productive employment with the company.

Sometimes an employer will make life very difficult for an injured worker after they return to work. Supervisors may be verbally abusive, saying things in a humiliating or demeaning manner, or constantly complain about the injured employee’s work. Employers may also require other employees to carry the extra load to compensate for the injured worker’s limitations, which can cause bad feelings. In an abusive situation, the injured worker may feel as if it is better to quit than to agonize over what the employer will say or do next. If the person quits or is fired, and workers compensation benefits do not start up immediately, there will be problems paying their bills. So, that person does the best they can to do what the employer asks so they can keep their job.

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legalA frequent question from our clients is how do contingency fees work? We do almost all of our personal injury work on a contingency fee basis. That means the fee is a percentage of the amount we recover for the client. Depending on the kind of case, contingency fees can range from 25% to 40%. Also depending on the kind of case, certain amounts recovered are not subject to the contingency fee. There is an infinite variety of ways to structure a contingency fee.

Contingency fees have significant advantage over hourly fees. If you hire a lawyer on an hourly basis, typically they are going to require an upfront payment and then bill monthly. The attorney will expect to get paid monthly. If the client stops paying, then the attorney will stop working and move to terminate the relationship. Most insurance companies pay their lawyers either on an hourly basis or sometimes on a flat fee basis. In a contingency fee case, the lawyer gets a part of the recovery. Said another way, the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless the client gets paid. Often times our cases run on for years, and most clients can’t afford to pay attorneys on an hourly basis for years. Our clients prefer contingency fees because it is financially the best way for them to hire a lawyer to protect their interest.

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World War Two MedalsExaggeration, especially when it comes to military or combat experiences, is nothing new. Probably the only time that people exaggerate more is when talking about fishing or past dating. Lately it seems that everyone is lying about their past experiences, from Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly to NBC’s Brian Williams to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The more a veteran sees a person of trust, such as a news anchorman or an executive official, lie about their record the more that veteran may be tempted to do the same themselves, especially when there appears to be no consequences for such behavior.

First and foremost, it is important to remember that there are few things as important as duty, honor, and integrity, regardless of any outside consequence. When a veteran sacrifices his or her duty, honor, and integrity for pecuniary or social gain, that veteran violates a pillar of military service. In addition, dishonesty about military service can indeed be an actual crime.

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first aidOne of my clients’ favorite questions is what is my case worth? We do lots of car wreck cases. During our 25 years of handling these kinds of cases, I have come up with some guidelines on how to evaluate a wreck case. First,let me say that you are welcome to a free consultation at our office to discuss case value. We are looking for cases where we can improve your case value.

It’s important to know that the evaluation is half art and half science. There is no formula that will tell you what the case is worth. It is never as easy as multiply your bills by three to arrive at a value. The real test of the value of the case is what your local jury would do with the case. However, I think people look for the same kinds of information when they’re evaluating what cases are worth. Even when I am discussing settlement with an insurance adjuster, the touchstone for value is what a jury would think. You need an experienced trial lawyer to help you with your evaluation. Continue Reading

Geodesist measure land speak transmitterRecently, after a long court battle, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled in favor of land owners whose properties were basically frozen in time. The name of the case is Kirby v. North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Under a law called the Transportation Corridor Official Map Act (The Map Act), the Department of Transportation filed maps showing that the properties may be in an area where a highway “loop” might be built around a city at some point in the future. The Map Act allowed the Department of Transportation to file maps with the county Register of Deeds showing property that might become part of a highway. Once the map was filed, the Map Act would freeze development on the land by essentially denying the landowner any sort of building permit. Continue Reading

Broken carYear-end federal statistics show a decline in motor vehicle accident fatalities from 2012 to 2013, including an 11 percent drop in South Carolina. Even so, more than 1,000 S.C. drivers were involved in fatal accidents in 2013 and more than 600 drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or cyclists died in those accidents.

In its latest safety report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that fatalities on U.S. roadways were lower in 2013 than in 2012. The nation lost 32,719 people in crashes on roadways during 2013, down 3 percent from 33,782 in 2012. Traffic fatalities have been trending downward since 2006, except for a slight rise in 2012.

According to the NHTSA report, South Carolina had 767 fatal crashes in 2013. Those crashes resulted in the deaths of 488 people in passenger cars, 100 pedestrians, and 15 bicyclists or other cyclists. Those wrecks included 335 that involved alcohol impaired driving, down 3.8 percent from 2012 and 306 speeding related fatalities, down 4.9 percent from 2012.

The 2013 report showed a small increase in motorcycle accident fatalities in South Carolina in 2013, rising from 146 in 2012 to 149. The report also recorded a similar increase in motorcyclists dying while not wearing helmets, with those numbers rising from 102 to 106. Fourteen of those motorcycle accident deaths (seven each) were in Anderson and Spartanburg counties.

Sixty-five traffic fatalities in S.C. in 2013 involved large commercial trucks, the NHTSA says.

Anderson and Spartanburg counties each had 33 motor vehicle fatalities in 2013, which put them at No. 7 among the state’s top 10 counties for fatalities (Greenville County was No. 1 with 71 traffic deaths). The Anderson and Spartanburg figures for 2013 represent 31 and 34 percent declines, respectively, from 2012.

Over the five-year span from 2009 to 2013, Anderson County averaged 39.4 motor vehicle fatalities a year, and Spartanburg saw an average of 41 each year. That’s more than three highway deaths in each county every month.

Thirteen traffic accident deaths in Anderson County in 2013 and 11 in Spartanburg were alcohol related. Ten fatal crashes in each county involved a driver who was speeding.

The NHTSA reports only provide the type of hard numbers we’ve highlighted here. They don’t go into depth about the cause of fatal car accidents, other than noting alcohol and speeding involvement. But in our experience at Grimes Teich investigating accidents, we know that most car accidents are caused by driver error brought on by carelessness or recklessness.

The bottom line is that most car accidents can be prevented and when negligent drivers do not take care to avoid an accident, the injured parties, or surviving family members in a fatality, deserve compensation for their loss. That’s where the attorneys of Grimes Teich Anderson can stand up for the people of the Upstate of South Carolina.

ClocksSuppose your valid Social Security Disability claim is denied today, and you appeal that denial.  How long will it be before your hearing is held in Upstate South Carolina?  The wait could be up to 16 months! That is nearly a year and a half – on average – that you’ll have to wait before your appeal is heard, regardless of the validity of your need.

That bracing statistic is accurate as of December 2014 and can be found in the Social Security Administration’s online Public Data Files.  The Average Wait Time Until Hearing Held Report presents the average number of months from the hearing request date until a hearing is held for claims pending in local hearing offices across the country.

The 16-month wait is for the Greenville, South Carolina office, which is where your hearing would be held if you reside in Spartanburg or Anderson County, S.C. The 16-month wait is the sixth longest nationwide and is shared by 16 other offices. The longest average wait as of December was 22 months for the Fort Myers, Florida office.

Another public report says the Greenville office had 9,202 cases pending as of December 26 with an average processing time of 530 days, which is explained elsewhere as the average number of days until final disposition of the hearing request. Here again, the Greenville office is among the worst performers in terms of time spent on an appeal; it ranks 14th from the bottom among 163 offices.

These reports illustrate why you will benefit from experienced and knowledgeable assistance if you have a Social Security Disability claim.

It is not unusual for a valid SSD claim to be denied initially. Often it is because of a technical issue. For instance, required forms may be missing, or records in the application may have conflicting information. Sometimes a claims reviewer simply decides you do not qualify. There is no way to know ahead of time whether your claim for Social Security Disability benefits will be approved.

How To Get Help With Your Claim

The Grimes Teich Anderson legal team can review your claim package before it is submitted or before a hearing to make sure it is complete and accurate. We can help you obtain missing information, including your medical reports, which are necessary to prove you have an impairment the SSA considers severe enough to prevent you from doing any gainful activity. We can accompany you to a hearing and advocate for you.

If you are like most people seeking SSD benefits, being disabled is a whole new world to you. In addition to meeting your medical needs, suddenly you must learn the ins and outs of the Social Security Administration, one of the largest bureaucracies in the world.

Mother with her baby girlMany women who initially choose to breastfeed their child do not continue to do so after six months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 70 percent of mothers start breastfeeding immediately after birth, but less than 20 percent of those mothers are breastfeeding exclusively six months later. This can be attributed in part to difficulties with breastfeeding in public due to the lack of private areas and disapproving looks and comments. Many women may also find it difficult to breastfeed after returning to work. Unfortunately, many nursing mothers do not have supportive employers.

Federal Legal Protections for Breastfeeding Mothers

Federal laws are in place to make it easier for many women who want to continue breastfeeding to take lactation breaks at work. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) contained an important provision for nursing mothers, which took effect when the ACA was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Section 4207 of the ACA, known as The Nursing Mother Amendment, amends Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require some employers to provide lactation breaks and facilities for employees who are breastfeeding. Continue Reading

Soldier Holding CrutchMost veterans usually start pursuing disability benefits in the presence of strong economic incentives, such as recently losing a job, when retirement does not pay as much as expected, or when healthcare expenses become too burdensome. The danger in waiting to pursue VA Disability Benefits until it is needed is that you will not start receiving your benefits until it is already too late. The two questions most asked by veterans are:
1. How long will it take to start receiving my benefits?
2. How much back pay will I receive?

This article will attempt to answer this second question for the majority of case types.

In General
The amount of back pay or retroactive benefits, awarded to a veteran is dependent upon that particular veteran’s “effective date.” Generally the effective date is either the date that entitlement to the benefit arose, the date the claim was filed or the date a re-open claim was filed, whichever is later. This is true for most new claims and for claims to increase the rating of an already existing service-connected disability. Continue Reading

Pet Therapy Corkboard Word ConceptAccording to the Humane Society of the United States, pet ownership in the United
States has more than tripled since the 1970’s with about 62% of American households said to have at least one pet in 2012 and 47% of households owning at least one dog. Many of us experience first- hand the joys and benefits of pet ownership. But for those suffering from a mental or physical illness, animals and pets can provide much needed healing and therapeutic benefits.

There are two basic categories of animals that assist the disabled – service animals and therapy animals.

The American Disability Act provides a very specific definition of a “service animal” and as of March 15, 2011 only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA and are defined by the Act as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Service animals are not considered pets and are specifically trained to assist a disabled individual with things such as pushing a wheelchair, alerting one to the sounds of smoke alarms, timers, and telephones; or picking up and carrying
items for an individual. While many therapy animals are specifically trained to provide therapeutic benefits to the disabled, they are not service animals and do not have the same rights to public buildings as service animals. They do, however, provide many healing benefits to the disabled and their families and have been found to significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue for people suffering from mental and physical disabilities. Continue Reading

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