Categories
Social Security Disability Lawyer

Ask These 9 Questions Before Hiring an SSD Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer to handle your Social Security Disability (SSD) case is a big decision. In South Carolina, most Social Security claims take more than a year to resolve, and some claims drag on for nearly a decade. During that time, you’ll need to place a lot of trust in your Social Security Disability lawyer.

Before you sign a lawyer’s fee agreement, you should take some time and evaluate their qualifications as well as their personality and temperament. The following nine questions can help you identify whether an attorney is the right fit to handle your SSD claim.  

Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Here’s How a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Works in South Carolina

If you’ve been harmed by a doctor or other medical professional in South Carolina and you’re trying to decide whether you want to pursue a medical malpractice case against them, you’re probably wondering what will happen if you decide to do so. 

To help you understand what’s involved, clear up any misconceptions, and relieve your natural anxiety over the unknown, we’ve created a basic outline of what a medical malpractice lawsuit looks like so you know what to expect. In this article, we’ll outline the five primary steps involved in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit and explain each one.

If you’re not sure whether you are a victim of medical malpractice or medical negligence, read our recent blog article on this subject for more help.

Step One: Get a Free Initial Case Review from a Medical Malpractice Attorney

There are some types of lawsuits that people may be able to handle on their own without help from an attorney, but a medical malpractice suit isn’t one of them. These cases are very complex and require the attorney to gather lots of medical evidence, get testimony from expert medical witnesses, and negotiate with large insurance companies who have their own experienced legal teams.

Fortunately, you should be able to get an initial review of your case from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer without having to pay anything or sign any agreement. Your lawyer should also handle your case on a contingent fee basis, which means you won’t pay anything unless your lawyer gets you compensation through a settlement or verdict at trial.

At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we always offer free initial consultations with no strings attached for medical malpractice cases. During this time, we’ll listen to your story and advise you about your legal rights and options. We also represent medical malpractice clients on a contingent fee basis. That means you won’t pay any attorney’s fees or case expenses unless we achieve a financial recovery in your case.* This is the least we can do since many medical malpractice victims are suffering financially as well as physically and emotionally when they come to see us.

Of course, you may want to speak with or meet with multiple lawyers before you commit to one, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A medical malpractice case can be a long and complicated journey, and you should feel confident in your lawyer’s credentials, resources, attitude, and professionalism.

From this point on, the steps in a medical malpractice case may sound complex and intimidating, but your attorney should be able to guide you through them and offer informed advice at every step.

Step Two: Investigating Your Case and Reviewing the Medical Evidence

Your lawyer will need to get a complete and accurate picture of your health and your medical conditions, both before and after the incident that harmed you. They’ll want to sit down for an in-depth conversation with you about your medical history, and they’ll also contact your doctors to obtain all your medical records.

Most people don’t realize how complicated it is to gather and organize a person’s complete medical history, especially if they’ve recently received lots of treatment (which is usually the case for medical malpractice victims). This process involves lots of time and paperwork, and it can take months of hard work.

After this in-depth investigation and review, your lawyer should be able to give you a more informed assessment of your case’s strengths and weaknesses and advise you about whether you should go forward. While your lawyer should have reviewed your case during an initial consultation, they will now have a much more accurate picture of the evidence and your medical history. This is the time for them — and you — to make a final determination about how to proceed.

Step Three: Hiring Expert Medical Witnesses

If your lawyer thinks they can prove that you were the victim of medical negligence and that this negligence caused you harm, they’ll seek out and hire medical experts who can testify to this in court.

Often, your attorney will hire doctors who specialize in the same area of medicine as the medical professional who harmed you. These experts can review the negligent person’s conduct and explain exactly how it deviated from accepted standards of practice.

RELATED: What Happens When the Pharmacy Gives You the Wrong Medication?

While it’s impossible to successfully file a medical malpractice lawsuit without testimony from medical experts, these experts don’t work for free, and their fees often add up to thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Fortunately, your attorney should cover these costs as part of your case expenses. Depending on where you live and which attorney you work with, you may have to pay these expenses later even if you don’t win your case. But when you work with the Law Offices of David L. Hood, you only have to pay case expenses if we achieve a financial recovery in your case.*

Step Four: Negotiating With the Insurance Company

Now that your lawyer has secured expert medical witnesses, they’ll put together all the evidence. Using all the facts in the case, they will negotiate with the doctors’ and/or hospitals’ insurance companies to see if they will offer you a fair settlement that meets your financial needs and addresses the losses you’ve suffered.

While the insurance company may have made you an initial settlement offer, it was probably far too low and wouldn’t have come close to paying for your medical bills, lost wages, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering. However, now that your lawyer has gathered extensive medical evidence and hired witnesses with strong credentials, the insurance company may take your case more seriously and may decide to make you a fair offer.

In most medical malpractice cases, though, your lawyer will have to file a lawsuit and begin preparing for trial before the insurance company will make a serious settlement offer, and many medical malpractice cases do end up going all the way to trial.

Pre-Trial Part One: Discovery

You may have heard of the discovery phase of a lawsuit before. This is the part of the legal process where each side learns what the other side plans to argue in court and what evidence they’ll present. The discovery process usually involves lots and lots of documents, requests, and paperwork going back and forth between the two sides with the judge mediating the process.

During the discovery process, you will probably have to attend a deposition where the attorneys for the other side will ask you lots of questions. Your lawyer should be with you every step of the way before, during, and after the deposition. They should help you prepare and understand what to expect beforehand, and they should be there to protect your rights and advise you during the deposition itself.

A deposition can be a stressful process for a medical malpractice victim, but if your lawyer knows how to handle the process, it’s nothing to be afraid of. This is your chance to tell your side of the story on the record, and you should have the two most important assets on your side: an experienced lawyer and the truth.

Pre-Trial Part TwoNegotiation and Mediation

Before the trial begins, your attorney will talk one more time with the lawyers from the other side and see if they’re ready to offer you a fair settlement. In some cases, this part of the process might also involve mediation, which is where the attorneys from both sides work with a professional mediator to try and settle the case.

If negotiations go nowhere and mediation doesn’t work, then your lawyer will take your case to trial.

Step Five: A Medical Malpractice Trial

Compared to the very long build-up that often takes more than a year, the trial itself will be a quicker process. Most medical malpractice trials last from two to four weeks, although some can be shorter or longer. Your trial also may not go forward on the originally-scheduled date; it’s common for trials to get rescheduled, sometimes multiple times.

While the trial is a very involved process, your attorney should be doing all the heavy lifting at this point. Your lawyer will have put in lots of work to prepare for the trial, and they’ll be working very hard during the trial. But the trial shouldn’t be a difficult or stressful process for you. You may have to testify in court if the defense calls you as a witness, but your attorney will prepare you for this if it happens.

Just because your case has gone to trial doesn’t mean a settlement is out of the question. The other side can still make settlement offers, and if they decide to make a fair offer that will address your losses and create a stable financial situation for you, then you and your attorney may decide to take it, which will end the trial.

If the other side never makes a fair offer, then your attorney will continue to argue on your behalf in court and present evidence, and then it will be up to the jury to decide what happens.

However, even after the jury’s decision, the case isn’t necessarily over. The losing side may still be able to file an appeal, which will delay payment of any damages until the appeal is resolved.

Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood If You’ve Been Harmed by Medical Negligence or Medical Malpractice in South Carolina

A medical malpractice lawsuit can be a very complicated process, but that doesn’t mean you should ever have to feel stressed out or overwhelmed. You deserve justice and fair compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we, our co-counsel, and our team of experts will fight for you during every step of a medical malpractice claim so you can focus on your health and well-being with the confidence that your case is in good hands.

If you or someone you care about has suffered because of medical negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form. We handle all medical malpractice cases on a contingent fee basis so you won’t pay any fees or expenses unless we make a financial recovery in your case.* Let Attorney David L. Hood put his years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer

5 Common Examples of Lawsuit-Worthy Medical Malpractice

Every day, people put their trust in healthcare providers when they seek medical attention. They have faith that medical professionals will provide them with the best care, attention, and advice for their situation. However, when that trust is betrayed, serious harm can result and leave the patient and their family searching for answers and relief. 

Categories
Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Act Quickly If You’ve Been Hurt on the Job in South Carolina

If you’ve been hurt at work, you’ve probably got a lot on your mind: How will you pay your bills and afford day-to-day necessities? Is your career in jeopardy? What should you do next?

While there’s a lot to sort out after an on-the-job injury, it’s important to not let the stress and anxiety overwhelm you and keep you from taking action. We have seen too many cases where injured workers wait too long to get their workers’ compensation claim started and then miss out on benefits they deserve.

You need to act quickly if you want to have a chance at receiving compensation for your medical bills and lost wages by filing a workers’ compensation claim.

In this article, we’ll explore why time is of the essence when it comes to on-the-job injuries and discuss what you can do to make sure time doesn’t run out on your workers’ compensation claim.

Injured Workers Have a Duty to Notify Employers 

The first and most important thing you need to do if you’ve been hurt on the job is notify your employer about the injury as soon as possible. After an injury, you have a responsibility to tell your employer about it immediately (or within the soonest reasonable time frame if you’re unable to notify them right away). In particular, South Carolina law states that an employee must report any injury to their employer within 90 days.

Failing to tell your employer about the incident and your injuries could lead to denial of your workers’ compensation claim and the loss of any benefits that you might have been entitled to.

How Long Do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

If you’re not already familiar, workers’ compensation is a state-sponsored system that pays monetary benefits to workers who suffer injuries or become disabled during the course of their employment. Injured employees in South Carolina can apply to receive workers’ compensation benefits by filing a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC).

However, this short explanation makes it sound a lot easier than it really is to apply for and receive workers’ compensation benefits, but it should at least give you an idea of what the workers’ compensation system is all about.

Additionally, every state sets a specific window of time that injured workers have from the date of their injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. Once that time limit — which is formally called the “statute of limitations” — expires, the employee loses any chance to receive compensation for their injuries by filing a claim.

In South Carolina, employees have two years to file a workers’ compensation claim before the statute of limitations expires. While this might sound like a lot of time, it’s important to remember that the paperwork involved with filing a claim is complex, and it also takes time to gather the necessary information in order to fill out that paperwork in the first place.

All of this means that waiting until the last minute to pursue a claim is not a good idea.

How an Attorney Can Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

In general, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after suffering an on-the-job injury. An attorney should be able to investigate your potential claim, gather the necessary information, help you fill out the complicated paperwork in a timely fashion, and advise you about the statute of limitations and any other factors that may affect your claim.

RELATED: The “Final Offer”: A Common Insurance Company Bluff

Even if it seems like your employer’s insurance company plans to do the right thing and take care of you without a dispute after you are injured at work, it’s still a wise decision to talk with an attorney about your situation.

In some cases, the insurance company will at first pay for your medical treatment, leading you to think your medical bills are covered. However, unless the insurance company has paid total temporary disability in your case, they can still deny your claim and refuse to pay for your treatment — even after they’ve initially agreed to pay. We’ve encountered many clients who had the rug pulled out from under them in this way, and it came as an unpleasant shock when they received bills for medical treatment they thought had already been paid.

Working with an attorney who will deal with the insurance company and handle all the important details of your case is one way to avoid being surprised by an insurance company tactic like this. Even more importantly, it’s a way to keep your case on track and allow you to focus on your recovery instead of having to deal with the stress and hard work that comes with trying to handle a workers’ compensation claim alone.

David L. Hood: Advocating for Injured Workers in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Georgetown, and Throughout South Carolina

To learn more about your rights as an injured worker and receive the care and attention your workers’ compensation case deserves, contact The Law Offices of David L. Hood, a South Carolina workers’ compensation law firm with years of experience representing injured workers. We handle all cases on a contingent fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we win your case or negotiate a successful settlement.* Call our offices at (843) 491-6025 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with us today.

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Categories
Social Security Disability Lawyer

5 Reasons to Hire a Lawyer for Your SSD Claim

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits provide an important safety net for hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens who can’t work due to serious injuries or illnesses. Unfortunately, the process involved in applying for those benefits can be a stressful and intimidating one — so much so that many people turn back before they even start.

Applying for SSD benefits doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process, especially when you partner with an attorney like David L. Hood who has experience working with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and handling disability claims. In this article, we’ll explore several important reasons why hiring an experienced SSD attorney might be the right choice in your case. 

Categories
Motor Vehicle Accidents

What Do I Do If I Have Whiplash After a Car Accident?

What IWhiplash?

Whiplash injuries come from abrupt back-and-forth movement of the head and neck. Whiplash may also be characterized as a neck strain, a neck sprain, or a neck injury, but these terms can refer to other conditions as well.

The same back-and-forth motion associated with whiplash can cause other problems too, such as bone fractures, injuries to the discs of the spine, nerve damage, and injuries to the muscles and ligaments in the back.

Whiplash occurs most often in car accidents where the car suddenly stops, like in a rear-end collision. Since the victim’s body is traveling at high speeds, the neck keeps going forward and then is quickly jerked back when the car stops.

The resulting injury is often extremely painful, although the pain does not always present immediately after experiencing a trauma. Soft tissue injuries and back strains from whiplash, especially, may take a few days to show the full range of symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash Injuries

Symptoms of whiplash will vary from person to person, but they may include the following:

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck, especially when trying to move
  • Decreased range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the shoulder(s) and/or upper back
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation in the arms
  • Fatigue

In more extreme or complex cases (especially those that involve a traumatic brain injury as well), victims may also suffer from other symptoms, such as:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Disturbances in sleep patterns, such as feeling extremely tired (hypersomnia) or not being able to sleep (insomnia)
  • Changes in mood, such as increased irritability or suffering from depression
  • Difficulty concentrating or suffering from memory problems

Should I Seek Medical Treatment?

Getting medical treatment right away is essential after a car wreck, especially if you’re experiencing the symptoms of whiplash. Even if you aren’t suffering from any pain right away, it may be best to get checked out by a doctor. A qualified physician will be able to evaluate your condition, and they may detect signs and symptoms that you haven’t noticed yet.

RELATED: These 6 Tips Can Help You After a Car Accident

Having detailed medical records starting right after the crash will also help if you choose to file a personal injury claim to get compensation for your medical bills, lost wages for missed work, and other losses that result from your injury. Whiplash claims are often looked at with skepticism by insurance adjustors, but having proof of medical records directly after your injury will help support your claim and build a stronger legal case.

Filing a Whiplash Injury Claim

If you’re experiencing whiplash symptoms after a crash, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney like David L. Hood. During a free initial consultation, your attorney can listen to the details of your story and give you informed advice about what your best course of action is moving forward.

Unfortunately, many people don’t consider speaking with an attorney until the medical bills start to pile up or until they get a meager settlement offer from the insurance company. An experienced lawyer can still help them at this point, but it requires a lot of catch-up if they haven’t been keeping track of their medical bills and expenses. If you have not yet spoken to a lawyer, it is important to keep careful track of documents like medical bills, pay stubs, and pharmacy receipts. Any out-of-pocket expenses or other financial losses could be eligible for compensation if you have a comprehensive paper trail.

And if the insurance company offers you a settlement that doesn’t cover your expenses and meet your financial needs — or if they don’t offer you a settlement at all — then call David L. Hood for help.

David L. Hood: Helping Whiplash Victims in South Carolina

If you have been injured by another driver in a car accident — especially if you are suffering from a neck, spine, or back injury — please the Law Offices of David L. Hood right away at (843) 491-6025 or fill out our brief online contact form. We offer free consultations where we can listen to your story and give you advice about what your best course of action is moving forward. And if you choose David L. Hood to handle your personal injury claim, our legal team will handle all the details of your case so you can focus on healing.

We aggressively pursue justice and compensation for those who have been harmed in car accidents, and if we take on your case, you do not have to pay us unless we reach a settlement or win your case in court.*

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

Categories
Medical Malpractice Lawyer Pharmacy Malpractice

What Happens When the Pharmacy Gives You the Wrong Medication?

Getting the wrong medication from the pharmacy and suffering serious harm sounds like a nightmare, but it’s shockingly common:  according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure about 1.3 million people annually in the United States.So what happens when a medication error puts your health and well-being in jeopardy? Do you have any legal recourse against the pharmacy or the person who made the mistake? In this article, we’ll answer those questions and go over the basics of pharmacy malpractice law so you know what to do if a prescription error hurts you or someone you love.

Categories
Motor Vehicle Accidents

These 6 Tips Can Help You After a Car Accident

Even if you’re a careful driver, you can still be a victim of a crash when someone else is at fault. Being in a collision often leads to pain, anxiety, and anger, and the intensity of the experience can cause people to make decisions that may not serve their best interests. 

Categories
Social Security Disability Lawyer

Here’s What to Do When Your Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied

If you’ve been denied after filing a claim for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you’re far from alone. In fact, most SSD claimants receive a notice of denial after filing a claim. Statistically speaking, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies initial SSD claims at a rate of 65%, and reconsiderations (the initial stage of appeals) have an even higher denial rate of 85%.


After you find out your claim has been denied, you may be feeling frustrated, stressed, and anxious — but one thing you shouldn’t feel is hopeless. Even if the statistics regarding SSD claim denials seem discouraging, it’s important to remember that you’re not a statistic. Your case is unique, and just because some appeals are denied at an 85% rate doesn’t mean that your particular case has an 85% chance of being denied.

However, if you want your Social Security Disability appeal to have the best chance of success, it’s important to understand the next steps you need to take and what you can do differently this time around.

Understanding Your Social Security Disability Denial Notice

The denial notice you received from the SSA should contain a summary of your medical condition and impediments as well as the medical and non-medical records the SSA considered in rendering its decisions. The denial notice should also contain an explanation for your denial.

Some of the most common reasons that the SSA uses to deny Social Security Disability claims include:

  • You don’t meet the basic non-medical requirements (also called a technical denial).
  • Your medical condition won’t last long enough or isn’t severe enough.
  • You failed to follow the treatment plan your doctor prescribed.
  • You refused to cooperate with the SSA, including providing your medical history and attending any exams that they requested you attend.
  • The SSA can’t find you or get in touch with you.
  • Your disability is related to substance abuse issues.
  • There’s not enough medical evidence to support your claim.

Your denial notice may also include a “technical rationale,” which is a detailed explanation of the factors that caused the SSA to deny your claim. If the denial notice you received doesn’t include a rationale, make sure to request your file from the Social Security Administration so you can find out this information. Understanding why your claim was initially denied is crucial if you want your appeal to succeed.

Why You Should Appeal Your SSD Denial

Most SSD claimants who receive a denial notice don’t pursue their claim any further. Some people simply give up on the process, but many others don’t act quickly enough after receiving a notice of denial. Once you’ve received a notice of denial, you only have 60 days (plus five for mailing) to file an appeal before you’ll lose your right to appeal. If this happens, you’ll have to start over from scratch with a new Social Security Disability application if you want to receive any benefits.

RELATED: 5 Reasons to Hire a Lawyer for Your SSD Claim

Because filing an appeal sounds like a lot of work, some people simply start over and try to file a brand-new claim; however, this wastes additional time and almost always ends with a claim being denied for the same reasons as the first attempt. The appeals process, on the other hand, typically offers your best chance of successfully proving your claim and being awarded benefits.

If you’ve received a notice of denial, it’s critical to request an appeal immediately and give yourself plenty of time rather than waiting until the end of the 60-day window. And if you want your appeal to have the best chance, you should strongly consider working with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer who can guide you through the appeals process and make sure your claim has a fighting chance.

Do You Need a Social Security Disability Attorney?

While it’s possible to successfully appeal an SSD denial without help from an attorney, statistics show that a disability claimant who is represented by an attorney at the hearing level is twice as likely to be approved compared to a claimant who represents themselves.

Why do your odds improve so much when you work with an attorney? The fact is that working with the Social Security Administration’s many rules and procedures can be confusing, and most people have no idea how to navigate the process and prepare for a hearing. An experienced attorney, on the other hand, should understand every aspect of the process and be able to draw on past experiences they have had with the system. They should also have a good idea of what the judge in your case is looking for and what questions they need to ask medical experts to make sure that crucial information comes to light.

Even people who successfully appeal an SSD claim without help from an attorney may not obtain the results they could have had if they had worked with an SSD lawyer. For example, an experienced attorney can track down important medical records and test results and work with physicians to obtain and organize detailed statements about your medical conditions. They may also be able to use their knowledge of Social Security Disability law to obtain a more favorable “onset date” (the date your benefits should have begun) in your case, which could increase the overall amount of back pay you receive.

Disability lawyers also work on a contingent-fee basis, which means there’s little risk to you — if you don’t win your appeal, your lawyer doesn’t get paid. While your lawyer will receive a percentage of your back pay if your claim succeeds and the SSA approves your benefits, the law limits their fees to 25% of the past-due benefits you receive, up to a maximum of $6,000.

There’s certainly no requirement that says you must work with an attorney for your Social Security Disability appeal, and working with an attorney doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome.

However, when you consider the risk versus the potential reward, working with an experienced SSD attorney is a statistically smart decision that can pay great dividends and save you a lot of stress and frustration throughout the Social Security Disability filing and appeals process.

The Law Offices of David L. Hood: Representing Social Security Disability Applicants in Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Murrells Inlet, and Throughout Georgetown and Horry Counties

If you’ve received a notice of denial for your Social Security Disability claim, you may be feeling frustrated, but don’t count yourself out. While the process of appealing an SSD claim denial isn’t a simple one, our team at The Law Offices of David L. Hood is here to help. With years of experience representing clients throughout the SSD filing and appeals process, we’ll fight to make sure that your claim receives full and fair consideration and work to ensure that all the appropriate evidence comes to light throughout the process.

To speak with Attorney David L. Hood at no risk to you, call the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or fill out the online contact form on our homepage and we’ll get in touch shortly to schedule your free initial consultation.

References

U.S. Social Security Administration. (2016, October). Annual statistical report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program 2015. Washington, DC: Social Security Administration Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (SSA Publication No. 13-11826). Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2015/di_asr15.pdf

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Categories
Bodily Injury Lawyer

The “Final Offer”: A Common Insurance Company Bluff

If an insurance adjuster tells you that he or she will be unable to make any further offers, they may be bluffing, especially if it’s still early in your personal injury case. After learning a little about the way insurance companies and personal injury claims work, you’ll see that insurance companies often have very little to gain from following through on such a bluff.