If you have been injured or charged with a crime, chances are you have questions. Below are some of the questions I hear frequently from my clients.
I got hurt on the job. They can’t fire me if I got hurt on the job, right?
There is nothing in the workers’ compensation code that prohibits an employer from firing an employee because he or she got injured on the job. There may be something in your employment contract, however, if you have one. Also, Section 41-1-80 of the South Carolina Code of Laws prevents an employer from firing you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Generally, however, the Worker’s Compensation Act is not helpful to the worker in this regard.
I got a ticket for underaged drinking. The officer said I could just forfeit the bond and I won’t need to come to court. A lawyer would just be a needless extra expense.
First of all, forfeiting bond means the charge will go on your criminal record. Secondly, Section 56-1-746 of the South Carolina Code of Laws requires that you lose your license for 120 days if you have this on your record. Third, if you are on a South Carolina LIFE Scholarship, you may lose that scholarship for one year if you are convicted (this includes forfeiting your bond) and have a prior conviction. See Section 59-149-90. The assistance of a qualified lawyer may help you avoid these harsh collateral consequences.
A sample of other offenses in South Carolina that trigger losing your driver’s license:
- Felony DUI
- Drug offenses
- Driving under suspension
- Reckless homicide
How about an open container charge? Will I lose my license for this?
Technically, you could lose your license for the open container of liquor because of an old bootlegging law still on the books. We have actually never seen it enforced, but it is still possible. Your car could also be forfeited as well. This does not apply if only beer or wine is involved.
I got in a wreck and it wasn’t my fault. Should I use my health insurance?
Generally, yes. Auto liability settlements usually take a while and may even take years depending on the nature of the injuries. If you don’t pay the doctors and hospitals through health insurance, they will often refer you to collection agencies and this can not only be aggravating but it can also mess up your credit. Be aware, however, if your health insurance pays a bill and you later collect proceeds from the person who caused the accident, you will have to reimburse your health insurance carrier for the money they paid out. There is no “double dipping.” Our firm regularly coordinates with the health insurance carriers of our clients to make sure the carriers are properly reimbursed and there is no adverse affect on the client’s coverage.
The insurance adjuster for the guy that hit me said I should handle the property damage through my collision coverage and they will work things out with my company later. Is this some kind of trick?
Not necessarily. There are many times that it is to everyone’s advantage to initially process a property damage claim through your own collision coverage to speed up the repair or replacement of your vehicle. This is not always the case, however, so you should consult a lawyer.
I was unable to go to traffic court against the person who caused the accident, so the judge apparently threw the ticket out. Does this mean I forfeited my right to be reimbursed?
Absolutely not. The results of the criminal portion of the case (i.e. the traffic ticket) are generally not even admissible in the civil portion of the case unless the defendant actually enters a guilty plea. Even if you had shown up at the trial on the traffic ticket and lost, it would not necessarily be controlling in the civil portion of the case. Remember O. J. Simpson? He was found not guilty in the criminal portion of the case but an award of $25 million dollars was rendered against him in the civil portion of virtually the same case. That is an extreme example, obviously, but many of the same principles apply.