Categories
Bodily Injury Lawyer

Commercial Water Sports Industry in SC is Largely Unregulated

A man vacationing with his family in Myrtle Beach lost both of his legs in a parasailing accident. Henry Owens was in the midst of transferring from the parasailing vessel to a banana boat (a long yellow raft) when he fell into the water and his legs got caught in the propellers of the parasailing vessel. The Post and Courier reports that Owens said, “I remember going underneath. The propellers were there. I was trying to work my way up and my legs got caught in the propellers.”

Owens was taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, where he was put into a medically-induced coma for two days. Afterwards, both of his legs had to be amputated above the knee.

The Coast Guard is investigating this incident, according to Lt. L.B. Zorn, spokesperson for the Charleston sector of the Coast Guard.

The Post and Courier reports,

Parasailing doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of any public authority in South Carolina: It is not overseen by the department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which inspects amusement rides, nor by the Department of Natural Resources, which registers and titles watercraft.

The U.S. Coast Guard doesn’t have jurisdiction over parasailing either, though it does issue licenses for boat captains that ferry paying customers.

The Coast Guard also inspects some watercraft annually, but the boat involved in the Myrtle Beach incident was small enough that it did not have to be inspected, said Lt. J.B. Zorn, spokesperson for the Charleston sector of the Coast Guard.

Per Zorn, inspection is not required for boats carrying less than six people.

Another Myrtle Beach customer fractured a hip earlier in the summer, in the same process of transferring from the parasailing boat to a banana boat.

Matthew Dvorak of the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA) said parasailing has been unregulated in most of the United States until a few years ago, after video captured several high-profile accidents. At that time, best practices were drafted by members of the industry.

The Myrtle Beach Sun News reports, “The parasailing industry remains largely unregulated in South Carolina as other states step up regulations in the wake of several high-profile accidents that were caught on video.”

The Coast Guard has also put pressure on the WSIA. Dvorak said, “It got to the point where they said, ‘You either do this, or we’ll do it for you.’

These best practices guidelines, which mostly refer to what to do in bad weather and poor water conditions, “served as a basis for legislation that since have passed in several states, including Florida,”, per Dvorak. Since the WSIA wrote these best practices, safety statistics have dramatically improved.

Because of inadequate regulations of the parasailing industry in South Carolina, there are no legal requirements as to “what conditions they may operate in, the quality of their equipment or how much insurance they should carry.” The Post and Courier

Members of the South Carolina industry argue that inspections by insurers do provide some safeguards for their businesses. Members say they self-regulate to avoid accidents like customers who are aloft floating away, or colliding with buildings.

However, “the process of transferring a customer from one craft to another in open water is now being examined by the main parasailing industry group. That transfer is necessary in locations like the Grand Strand, where a long stretch of popular beach means boats can’t pick up customers on the shore.” The Post and Courier

THE LAW OFFICES OF DAVID L. HOOD: HERE TO FIGHT FOR INJURY VICTIMS IN GEORGETOWN AND HORRY COUNTIES AND THROUGHOUT SOUTH CAROLINA

Here at the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we have years of experience representing injured victims in South Carolina, and we offer a free initial consultation so we can listen to your story and provide candid advice about what your legal options are. If you choose to hire us, we also work on a contingent fee basis, which means you don’t pay fees or expenses unless we achieve a settlement or win your case in court.

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a water sports accident, contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025, or fill out our brief online contact form, and we’ll get in touch to schedule your free consultation. We know an accident can turn a person’s life upside-down, but we’re here to support you and guide you at every step in your journey toward justice and healing.

Categories
Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

How the Value of Workers’ Compensation Claim is Determined in South Carolina

Suffering a serious injury on the job can be very stressful. You will probably have a lot on your mind as you try to figure out how you will pay for any treatment. Also, you will be wondering about how you will be able to pay your bills while you are out of work.

In all states across the US, there are laws that make many employers liable to compensate an employee for his/her injuries. These benefits vary from state to state. For example, the compensation you receive in South Carolina for the loss of an arm will be different from the amount you would receive from a similar claim made in Charlotte, North Carolina or Augusta, Georgia.

According to the South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act, if an employee gets hurt on the job, they may be entitled to compensation. This compensation can include payment of medical expenses, a weekly check when the doctor has written the employee out of work and benefits for any permanent injury the employee suffers in an accident.

In South Carolina, if the employer falls under the workers’ compensation act they (or their insurance company) will have the right to choose the treating doctor and will also be responsible for paying all the medical bills related to your work injury. Additionally, other benefits and compensation are determined by taking different factors into consideration.

The best way to figure out what benefits and compensation you may be entitled to (and to make sure your claim is filed properly), is to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Your lawyer should be able to help you understand the law, your rights, and the value of your case. After thoroughly reviewing all your injuries and the possible effects they will have on your life, your attorney should file a Form 50 with The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission in Columbia. This will make sure your case is established with The Commission and put your employer on notice that you were injured on the job and have made a claim.

The following are three areas you need to consider when figuring out the amount of compensation you may receive.

The Worker’s Average Weekly Salary

According to South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Law, your average weekly wage is the factor used to calculate the amount of compensation you will receive. To determine the average weekly wage, you need to look at your gross weekly earnings before taxes for the last four quarters you worked – not including the quarter you got hurt in.

If your injuries causes the doctor to write you out of work, you should be eligible to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage. However, if your average weekly wage is determined to be less than $75/week, you will most likely receive that amount.

Additionally, the Worker’s Compensation law in South Carolina caps the amount of weekly compensation you can receive. If two-thirds of your weekly pay exceeds the cap, you will only receive the cap amount. According to the limits set in 2018, you cannot receive more than $838.21 , even if your average weekly wage is a lot higher than this amount.

The Location of the Injury

The Workers’ Compensation Code of Law in each state limits the amount and length of your compensation depending on which body part has been injured. For example, if you lose the use of a particular body part, your benefits will be covered for a limited amount of time.

Like in every other state, South Carolina law has limits for how much an injured worker can recover. The South Carolina Code of Laws Title 42, Chapter 9 (Workers’ Compensation), contains a schedule of Compensation and Payment for disability. Below are some examples of coverage length from Section 42-9-30:

  • Loss of use of an index finger is covered for 40 weeks.
  • Loss of use of a thumb is covered for 65 weeks.
  • Loss of use of a hand is covered for 185 weeks.
  • Loss of an eye is covered for 140 weeks.
  • Complete loss of hearing in one ear is covered for 80 weeks along with The Commission providing the determination of proportional benefits based on national medical standards.
  • Loss of use of a hip is covered for 280 weeks.

Within the clauses in this section, you will also find the amount of benefits you will receive when you lose the use of, or lose a particular body part. Calculating your benefits under South Carolina law can be complicated – you’ll generally receive a certain percentage of your average weekly wage ( 2/3s ), then you need to figure out which body part ( or parts ) is injured and how badly it is injured.

This schedule and the specific body part or parts you injured will determine the amount of benefits, and the number of weeks you will receive benefits. In most cases involving permanent injury, the employee’s doctor gives an impairment rating. A lawyer can use this rating to begin negotiations for a settlement.

The Nature of the Injury

The nature of the injury or injuries you suffered is the next detail you will need to take into consideration. You will need a doctor’s evaluation detailing the severity of the disability and the effects it will have on your ability to continue work and move forward in with your life. This will have a significant impact on your case as it will determine what added benefits and compensation you may be eligible to receive. As mentioned previously, the impairment rating assigned to your injury or injuries will be a key factor in this process.

Impairment ratings, also called permanent disability ratings, are used to determine the severity of the damage that resulted from an injury. A scale published by the American Medical Association (AMA) is normally used by doctors as a guide to determine the level of permanent damage.

In the majority of cases, the doctor determines the impairment rating once the injured person has reached the maximum level of medical improvement and is released from treatment. The rating given is typically a percentage between 0 and 100.

If the physician gives an unfair rating (significantly lower than the AMA guide), you might consider getting a second opinion. Your attorney should be able to make an appointment for an Independent Medical Examination (IME) with an independent medical examiner who has no connection with the employer/insurer.

Remember that this rating is an essential tool that can help your lawyer negotiate a higher settlement. So make sure that your impairment rating is accurate and represents the severity of your injury or injuries correctly.

The Law Offices of David L. Hood – Representing Injured Workers in South Carolina

Navigating your way through all of these areas and the details involved in filing a workers’ compensation claim can be a difficult process. If you’re injured, in pain and facing financial problems you might naturally miss some important details in your case.

Working with an experienced attorney should make the process that much easier for you. Your lawyer should be able to keep up with the insurance company, your employer, and keep your case on track. This will give you time to focus on your recovery instead of stressing out about handling the claim alone.

The Law Offices of David L. Hood have been fighting for the rights of injured workers in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Georgetown, Charleston and all across South Carolina for over 25 years. We have a dedicated team that will strive to take care of your claim professionally and treat you with respect. Over the years we’ve represented hundreds of injured workers and their families, working hard to get them the medical treatment and compensation they deserve.

To learn more about what we can do for you, contact our offices to set up a free initial consultation. If you choose to work with us, we will handle your case on a contingent fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we make a recovery for you. To get in touch with us, you can call our offices at (843) 491-6025 or email us here.

Categories
Motor Vehicle Accidents

What to Do after You’ve Been Rear-Ended in South Carolina

With over 222 million drivers in the United States, serious auto accidents happen every day. Whether it is in a rural area like Kingstree, South Carolina, or a busy tourist area like Myrtle Beach, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death, injuries, and damage across the US. In 2015 alone, there were approximately 6 million car crashes with millions of injuries and deaths.

Out of these millions of auto accidents, rear-end crashes are one of the most frequently occurring types of accidents. In fact, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, almost 29 percent of car accidents are rear-end collisions that result in millions of cases of injuries and even fatalities. According to these statistics, almost 1.7 million accidents are rear-end collisions across the USA every year, killing almost 1,700 people. In South Carolina (according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety), there were 445 fatal crashes in 2017 alone with 519 people killed in those accidents and as of July 1, 2018, there were already 445 fatal wrecks with 483 people killed.

With these statistics, there is a good chance that at some point you may fall victim to a rear-end collision. Even if you drive carefully and keep your eyes glued to the road, accidents can happen through no fault of your own. Even a minor accident can leave you feeling a bit shaken and possibly angry. The sudden shock, pain and intense anger can sometimes cause you to make rash decisions. No matter how upset you are, it is in your best interest to remain level-headed.

Do yourself a favor and stay calm. Wait for authorities to arrive. Keeping calm will allow you to accurately tell police, the insurance company and your attorney what happened. This is crucial because accurate information will be needed to file a claim, and for you to receive compensation for any injuries and/or car damage.

It is irrational to assume that you will be in the state of mind to know what to do immediately after an accident. Give yourself some time. There’s no need to search for your phone and begin researching right then and there.

Keeping this in consideration, we have put together a comprehensive list of steps you need to take after being rear-ended. These steps are easy to remember and will help if you decide to file a personal injury claim.

1. Check for Injuries

Your health and safety should be your immediate concern after your car has been rear-ended. You might think that rear-end collisions don’t normally cause serious injuries, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Even if you feel uninjured or have only minor injuries, it’s best to seek medical help immediately.

In many instances, a sudden shock like an accident can push your body into over-drive and you might experience a surge of adrenaline that can mask your symptoms. But after your body adjusts to the shock, you may suddenly start feeling aches and pains. Whiplash is one of the most common repercussions of a rear-end collision and can cause back or neck injuries.

Also, if you have passengers or pets in your car, check to make sure they are not injured.

2. Contact Police or Emergency Personnel

After you have made sure that you and your passengers have no injuries that need immediate attention, check to see if the other car is still there. If someone has suffered an injury, call 911 immediately.

If there are no injuries, you should contact the non-emergency line of the police department and have an officer come to the scene of the accident. While you are waiting for the police to arrive, make sure that you don’t touch anything or remove anything from the crash site. The other car’s position and other external factors (like trees, stoplights, intersections, etc.) can prove to be important evidence; so stay where you are until the police arrive.

Having a police officer at the site will make it easy for you to file an official report, which is crucial to have when you file your insurance claim. The official report will validate the claim. Also, having a police officer there will prevent fights and keep everyone under control.

3. Document Information

While you wait for the police to check the scene and look for evidence to write their report, you should gather and document information of the rear-end collision. Walk around the site where the cars collided and take pictures with your cell phone. But only do this if it’s safe to do so. These photos can be used as proof and are vital if you are forced to file a personal injury claim.

Also, take a few notes from the site including the full name, license number, insurance information and contact details of the other driver who hit you. Talk to some eye-witnesses and ask them if they can provide their contact information if the need arises for you to contact them.

After you have gone over the accident site, take note of, and pictures of bodily injuries if you suffered any. Keep a record of all prescriptions, reports, and/or bills related to any injuries caused by the accident. This will help your attorney build your case.

4. Notify your Insurance Company

If you have any bodily injuries or your car suffers any damage, make a call to your auto insurance company and notify them of the accident. They will need exact information about the collision so they can get a statement from the driver who rear-ended your car.

At the same time, if you receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company asking you for a statement, avoid talking to them until you talk to your attorney. You should know that you are under no obligation to speak to them. It is better to say nothing and wait to talk to your attorney. Otherwise, you may say something that may hurt your case, and that could be held against you in the proceedings.

5. Contact an Attorney

The last and most important step you will need to take is to call your attorney, as you need someone on your side to deal with the insurers, medical claims, etc. Simply get in touch with a trustworthy lawyer and avoid speaking to anyone until that time. Remain calm and wait for your attorney to give you advice on the best way to handle your case.

The Law Offices of David L. Hood – Serving Car Accident Victims in South Carolina

If you have suffered a rear-end collision in South Carolina, the legal team at the Law Offices of David L. Hood will help you navigate the situation professionally. We have years of experience in helping people involved in serious accidents figure out the legal requirements and details needed to move forward after an accident. After gathering all the necessary information we will pour our efforts into building your case to get a fair settlement or take it to court if the need arises.

Our entire team has years of experience representing various clients and car accident victims in South Carolina. Having a passion to help, we offer a free initial consultation where we provide candid legal advice on what options you may have. If you choose to work with us, we promise a contingent-fee based case, where you don’t pay unless we get a recovery in your case.

You can find our contact information on the page here and schedule your free consultation session. From that moment until your case is closed, we will stay with you each step of the way in the fight to achieve justice for you and your family.

Categories
Motor Vehicle Accidents

What Happens When I’m Hit by a Drunk Driver in South Carolina?

About one-third of all traffic fatalities in South Carolina involve a drunk driver, which is one of the highest rates in the nation. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of a drunk driver’s negligence, you might be eligible for compensation for your medical bills and other costs. Learn more about the problem of drunk driving and how to proceed with a drunk-driving related auto accident claim below.

There are More Car Accident Fatalities During Spring Break in South Carolina

During Spring Break season, fatal car accidents increase dramatically. In 2014, researchers studied crash data in 14 popular Spring Break locations, including Myrtle Beach and Horry County, South Carolina. They found that traffic deaths increased by 9.1% during traditional Spring Break weeks. Most of these fatal crashes involved young, out-of-state drivers.

Why Are Drunk and Drugged Drivers So Dangerous?

Alcohol impairs both your decision-making skills and your physical coordination and reflexes, even if you’re below the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two alcoholic drinks can cause decreased visual function, problems multi-tasking, and poor judgment.

If you’re a male of average height and weight, drinking about three alcoholic drinks in an hour will give you a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05, which is below the legal BAC limit. However, A 0.05 BAC is still enough to impair coordination, decrease your visual tracking abilities, and slow your reaction time by about a tenth of a second.

This might sound minor, but if you’re driving at 70 mph with a 0.05 BAC, it means you’ll travel about one extra car length before responding to a hazard. Based on this information, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggested in 2013 that the U.S. impose a 0.05 BAC limit instead of the current 0.08.

Studies have also shown that drivers who have a 0.08 BAC have relatively poor concentration, difficulties with perception and self-control, decreased motor skills, and blurred vision. They also typically struggle to control the speed of their car and to make good driving decisions.

Now, imagine a drunk driver on Spring Break. They’re trying to follow directions in an unfamiliar location, perhaps fiddling with the maps app on their phone, and they also can’t properly steer, see, or make decisions. Under these circumstances, one error can easily lead to catastrophic results for a driver, passenger, or pedestrian.

Who Is Liable When Drunk Drivers Cause Crashes and Injure People?

If you’ve been hit and injured by a drunk driver, you might have multiple lawsuits and claims depending on the circumstances surrounding your crash. These claims could include:

  • Liability claims against the driver: There’s a good chance you have a claim against the at-fault driver (or drivers) who caused the crash and their insurance companies.
  • Dram shop claims against a bar, restaurant, or liquor store: If a bar or restaurant overserved the drunk driver or sold alcohol to a minor driver, you might have a negligence claim against the business.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist claims: Your personal uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage might cover some of your losses if the drunk driver doesn’t have insurance or if they have minimal insurance coverage.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) claims: If you have a PIP policy, it might help cover some of your lost wages and medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the crash.

Every drunk driving claim is unique, so it’s impossible to generalize about your case without knowing all of the facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your potential claims, contact an experienced South Carolina auto accident lawyer for help and advice.

What Should I Do After a Drunk Driver Causes a Crash?

In the aftermath of a drunk driving wreck, it’s understandably hard to think clearly. Your focus is on your safety, getting medical attention, and calling law enforcement. If you didn’t think to take pictures or identify witnesses, don’t panic. An experienced South Carolina car accident and personal injury lawyer can investigate the crash that injured you and help collect evidence for your claim.

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

After the accident, you’ll typically have to file a series of insurance claims. While the insurance adjuster might want to interview you alone and might discourage you from hiring a personal injury lawyer, it’s not in your best interest to make statements or negotiate a settlement without help from an attorney. Instead, you should contact an experienced auto accident lawyer right away for help.

The Law Office of David L. Hood: Fighting for Victims of Drunk Driving and Negligence in South Carolina

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a serious drunk driving crash or other type of auto accident in South Carolina, contact the Law Office of David L. Hood for help right away. We have served South Carolina accident victims for over 25 years by standing up to insurance companies, demanding fair compensation, and helping our clients rebuild their lives. Contact us online or call us at (843) 491-6025 to schedule your free, no-risk initial consultation with David L. Hood today.

References

French, M., & Gumus, G. (2014, April 7). Fast times during spring breaks: Are traffic fatalities another consequence? Economic Inquiry. Retrieved from http://conference.iza.org/conference_files/riskonomics2014/french_m10000.pdf

Uren, B. (2016, July 29). How alcohol impairs your ability to drive. University of Michigan Health. Retrieved from https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/how-alcohol-impairs-your-ability-to-drive

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