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K.C. Mangus Lohr - attorney, lawyer, sc, charleston
The Mangus Law Firm, LLC
4000 Faber Place, Suite 300, N. Charleston, SC 29405
Ph: 843-323-4380   Cell: 843-312-8073    Fax: 843-213-6964

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CHARLESTON PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER     JUNE 05, 2017

 

Understanding Attorney’s Fees in Personal Injury Settlements

 

You have watched the commercials during which an ecstatic client exclaims “My attorney got me a $125,000.00 for my car accident!”  This kind of advertising is deceptive because the likelihood of the full $125,000.00 settlement ending up in the client’s pocket is somewhere between slim and none.  That is because the attorney-client representation agreement, which is signed when a client hires a personal injury lawyer, typically lists several deductions from the personal injury settlement funds.  These deductions include (1) the attorney’s fees; (2) the costs advanced by the attorney to work up the case; and (3) any other reimbursements or “liens” to be paid out of the personal injury settlement funds such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or a private health insurance company. 

 

The first thing that is typically deducted from settlement funds is the attorney’s fee.  This is what a personal injury client agrees to pay the attorney when the attorney is hired.  Most of the time these fees are contingent on the personal injury lawyer recovering money on a client’s behalf.  If the personal injury attorney does not make a recovery for the client, then the attorney is not owed a fee.  However, there are some cases where the attorney is paid an hourly rate rather than a contingency fee. 

 

Attorney’s fees are typically 33 1/3 % or 40 % and that fee is deducted from the total personal injury settlement amount.  The personal injury attorney’s fee is generally not based on the amount of personal injury settlement funds left after the costs or other liens are deducted.

 

An attorney’s fee of 33 1/3 % is the fee that generally applies if the personal injury lawyer can settle the case with the negligent party or his/her insurance carrier before filing a lawsuit.  That fee covers the work a personal injury lawyer does in communicating with the negligent party or his/her insurance company, which may include:

 

·        investigating the accident and the parties

·        speaking to witnesses to the accident and the client’s healing process

·        obtaining the medical records and bills

·        negotiating health insurance reimbursement issues

·        calculating lost wages/loss of earning capacity

·        analyzing medical causation issues and future medical needs

·        drafting the personal injury settlement demand

·        negotiating and finalizing the personal injury settlement  

 

Generally, an attorney’s fee increases from 33 1/3 % to 40% once a lawsuit is filed.  The fee increases because once the lawsuit is filed, the attorney’s workload increases substantially to prepare the case for trial.  This increase in fee covers this additional work, which may include:

 

·        preparing the summons and complaint

·        filing the summons and complaint

·        serving the summons and complaint on necessary parties in the manner and within the time limitations set forth under the law and the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure

·        serving various types of discovery devices on opposing parties and analyzing the answers

·        answering various types of discovery devices on behalf of clients

·        taking the depositions of witnesses, medical providers and experts

·        working with experts on causation and damages issues

·        filing motions and supporting memorandum on various legal issues to protect the client’s case or to defend against opposing parties’ attempts to derail it

·        arguing various motions throughout the course of litigation

·        preparing and participating in mediations

·        drafting and serving pre-trial motions

·        participating in pre-trial conferences

·        trying cases before a judge or jury

·        dealing with post-trial motions and appeals   

 

It is very important to choose a personal injury lawyer that will provide you with a complete understanding of how personal injury settlements work and what things are to be paid out of the settlement funds.  Since 2001, K.C. Mangus has gained extensive experience dealing with personal injury cases.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck in Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown and Orangeburg counties, call the Mangus Law Firm today.  K.C. is a personal injury lawyer that will take the time to meet with you and fight for the fair compensation you deserve. 

 

CHARLESTON DOG BITE LAWYER FEBRUARY 29, 2016

 

South Carolina Layla’s Law Protects Guide Dogs and Service Animals

 

South Carolina is one of a few states protecting citizens with disabilities and their guide dogs and service animals.  “Layla’s Law” was conceived by Hy Cohen, a disabled resident of Washington State.  Mr. Cohen and his black lab guide dog, Layla, were repeatedly threatened by an aggressive dog.  As a result of these repeated threats, Layla’s ability to guide Mr. Cohen and work as the team member she was trained to be was seriously impaired.  Through Mr. Cohen’s tireless efforts to effect change through the legislative process, “Layla’s Law” was passed by the Washington State legislature.  South Carolina passed Layla’s Law in 2003.

 

South Carolina’s Layla’s Law can be found at Title 47, Chapter 3, Section 910.  Generally, the law makes it a misdemeanor for a person to interfere with the use of a guide dog or a service animal or to allow his dog to interfere with the use of a guide dog or a service animal.  A “guide dog” is a dog that is trained to guide blind persons or assist hearing impaired persons.  A “service animal” is an animal that is trained to assist or accommodate the sensory, mental, or physical disability of a disabled person.

 

For a person to be criminally liable, the following things need to occur.  First, the owner of the guide dog or service animal must give the interfering person/dog owner notice that his behavior or his animal’s behavior is interfering with the use of the animal.  “Notice” means an actual verbal or written warning that the person or dog is interfering with the use of the guide dog or service animal and a request that the behavior stop.  Second, the person/dog owner must ignore the request and continue his behavior or allow his dog to continue to jeopardize the safety of the animal or its user. 

 

It is illegal under South Carolina Layla’s Law for a person or his dog to interfere with the use of a guide dog or service animal by “obstructing, intimidating, or jeopardizing the safety of the guide dog or service animal or its user”.  It is also illegal for a person to wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over a guide dog or service animal with the intention of depriving its user of the animal.  Finally, it is illegal for a person or his dog to injure disable, or cause the death of a guide dog or a service animal. 

 

A person convicted of violating Layla’s Law may be ordered to make full restitution for incurred by the guide dog, service animal or its user.  Restitution may include the following:

 

(1) the value of the replacement of an incapacitated or deceased guide dog or service animal;

(2) the training of a replacement guide dog or service animal;

(3) the retraining of the guide dog or service animal;

(4) related veterinary and care expenses;

(5) medical expenses of the user of the guide dog or service animal;

(6) training of the user of the guide dog or service animal;

(7) compensation for wages or income lost by the user of the guide dog or service animal. 

 

According to Guide Dogs of America, the average cost of training a guide dog and its user is approximately $42,000.  The cost to obtain a fully trained service animal begins at approximately $20,000 according to multiple service animal websites.  Of course, the true value to the user of a guide dog and service animal is much higher than that. 

 

If a guide dog or service animal that you or your loved one uses to assist with a disability has been interfered with, injured or killed as a result of someone’s intentional interference with that animal, call K.C. at the Mangus Law Firm today.  K.C. represents injured victims in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg counties.   

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER SEPT 08, 2015

 

Meaningful Offers of Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

 

In meetings with new South Carolina car accident injury clients, I always ask if they have underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).  Often times my South Carolina car wreck injury clients tell me that, yes, they have “full coverage”.  So, I file a bodily injury claim for my South Carolina auto accident injury clients with the liability insurance carrier of the at-fault driver and with my client’s automobile insurance carrier for UIM coverage.  On several occasions, I have received letters from my client’s automobile insurance carrier informing me that my client did not choose to buy UIM coverage on their policy.

 

In this situation, many lawyers would simply give up pursing their client’s UIM coverage, but not me.  I take it a step further because I know that under South Carolina law, automobile insurance companies are required to offer optional underinsured motorist coverage up to the limits of the insured’s liability coverage. (Remember that in South Carolina, UIM coverage is optional, not mandatory like uninsured motorist coverage, which is automatically added to your policy in the minimum statutory limits of $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.) South Carolina law requires that the automobile insurance company provide adequate information to the insured (the person buying the coverage) so that he/she can make an intelligent decision whether to buy the optional UIM coverage or reject it.  In other words, the automobile insurance company must make a “meaningful” offer of optional UIM coverage.

 

Whether an offer of UIM coverage to an insured was “meaningful” must be determined on a case by case basis.  There are both statutory rules and common law rules (judge-made rules) that insurance companies must follow in proving that they made a meaningful offer of UIM coverage.  But sometimes insurance companies make mistakes.  When they make mistakes, I am prepared to fight to make the insurance company take responsibility for their mistake. In fact, I recently won a fight against an insurance company who failed to make a meaningful offer of UIM coverage to my clients.  You can read U.S. District Court Judge’s Order here.

 

What’s important to understand is that an automobile insurance company’s failure to meet its statutory obligations to make a meaningful offer of UIM coverage will result in reformation of the automobile insurance policy by operation of law to include UIM limits up to the insured’s liability limits.  That means if the insurance company failed to make a meaningful offer of UIM coverage to you, then you may be able to reform your automobile policy up to the limits of your liability coverage.  If you have $25,000/$50,000/$25,000 in liability limits, then your policy may be reformed to include UIM coverage at $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.  If you have $100,000/$300,000/$100,000 in liability coverage then your policy may be reformed to include UIM coverage of $100,000/$300,000/$100,000.  Plus, that coverage may be stackable if you had more than one car insured under the policy.  For example, if you had liability coverage of $25,000/$50,000/$25,000 on each of your three cars and your automobile policy was reformed because the insurance company failed to make a meaningful offer of UIM coverage, then the reformed policy may provide those limits on each of the three cars for a total amount of $75,000/$150,000/$75,000 in underinsured motorist coverage. 

 

It is important for South Carolina automobile accident injury victims to have an attorney who fully understands underinsured motorist coverage.  Attorneys who don’t may leave a lot of money on the table.  I have been representing South Carolina car accident injury victims for fourteen years.  I love a good fight which you will see for yourself if you read the Judge’s Order. If you or a loved one is a South Carolina car accident injury victim, call me and I will take the time to talk with you about your case and give you a free case evaluation.  I do not take a fee unless I win.  And I like to win.

 

I represent South Carolina car wreck injury victims in Moncks Corner, Bonneau, Goose Creek, Summerville, St. George, Ridgeville, Holly Hill, Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Georgetown, Huger, McClellanville, West Ashley, James Island, Johns Island, Wadmalaw Island, Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, Edisto, Hollywood, Ravenel, North Charleston, Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Awendaw, Adams Run, Folly Beach, Ladson, Hanahan, Wando, Pinopolis, Harleyville, Reevesville, Orangeburg, Cross, and St. Stephen.

 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER July 15, 2015

 

Using Your Underinsured Motorist Coverage

 

Unlike uninsured motorist coverage, having underinsured motorist coverage on your car is not required by South Carolina law.  However, as a Charleston personal injury lawyer who has represented car wreck victims in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown and Orangeburg Counties, I am always thankful when my clients have underinsured motorist coverage.

 

Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage kicks in when the amount of the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage is lower than your total damages.  Here is an example:

 

You are driving along when a driver runs a stop sign from a side street and t-bones you on the passenger side of your vehicle.  The impact causes your car to spin but abruptly stop when it slams into a large tree on your driver’s side front quarter panel.  As a result of this car wreck, you have a head injury, cuts and glass in your face, a whiplash injury to your neck, seat belt and airbag burns, a herniated disc in your lower back and several broken bones.  This is a serious accident.  But the at-fault driver only has the minimum liability limits of $25,000 for bodily injury.  Furthermore, he has no assets from which you can collect.  Your medical bills and lost wages total more than $100,000.00 and this does not even include pain and suffering or your spouse’s loss of consortium claim.  This is where UIM coverage kicks in. Underinsured motorist coverage will pay for damages up to the limits of your coverage.

 

If you have more than one vehicle with underinsured motorist coverage under your automobile insurance policy, you can stack the UIM coverage.  For example, you have three cars insured with UIM under your automobile insurance policy.  Car 1, your car, is insured for $100,000/$300,000/$100,000.  Car 2, your spouse’s car, is insured for $100,000/$300,000/$100,000.  Car 3, an older model car driven by your teenager, is insured for $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.  So the total that you may be able to collect from your UIM coverage is $225,000.          

 

Insurance companies like to hold onto their money and use all kinds of tricks to keep from paying you the UIM coverage that you spent your hard-earned dollars to have.  Since 2001, K.C. Mangus Lohr has been fighting against insurance company tricks.  If you have been injured in a car accident in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg counties, call the car wreck lawyer at Mangus Law Firm today.  K.C. will take the time to meet with you and fight for the fair compensation you deserve. 

 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER June 22, 2015

 

Car Wrecks Caused By Unknown Drivers

 

What happens after you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident caused by an unknown driver, also called a John Doe driver?  Typically, you or a loved one would pursue your uninsured motorist coverage (UM) under your own automobile insurance policy.  These types of claims can be tricky and your insurance company will look for any reason not to pay you benefits under UM coverage.  Keep in mind that not only is UM coverage mandated by state law but also, and more importantly, that you have paid your hard-earned money for that coverage. 

 

Because claims that an accident was caused by a John Doe driver are subject to abuse and fraud, South Carolina law requires the following in order to collect under your own uninsured motorist coverage:

 

1.      The accident has to be reported to the police within a reasonable time after it happens. 

2.      The injured driver or owner must not be negligent in failing to identify the other vehicle or other driver at the time of the accident.

3.      There must have been physical contact between the John Doe vehicle and the injured person’s vehicle OR a witness who is not the owner or the driver of the vehicle must sign an affidavit (swearing under oath) stating the facts and circumstances of the accident caused by the John Doe Driver. 

 

You or your loved one cannot pursue uninsured motorist benefits or file a lawsuit against a John Doe driver unless these requirements are met.  Insurance companies love to split hairs over whether the requirements have been met so you can get the uninsured motorist coverage that you have paid for.   That’s why you need a lawyer that is experienced in dealing with uninsured motorist claims.  K.C. Mangus Lohr has handled many John Doe driver claims and worked with clients and witnesses to make sure that the state law requirements have been met so that her clients get the compensation they deserve.  If you have been injured by an uninsured driver in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg counties, call the Mangus Law Firm today.

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CHARLESTON CAR WRECK LAWYER May 13, 2015

 

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

 

State law requires that all vehicles driven on South Carolina roads have liability insurance coverage.  But many South Carolina drivers do not have liability insurance coverage on their vehicles.  According to the Insurance Information Institute, 7.7% of South Carolina drivers were uninsured in 2012.  When an insured driver causes a car accident, the injured victim can seek compensation from the driver’s liability policy.  But what does an injured victim do when they have been seriously injured by an uninsured driver?

 

Luckily, South Carolina law also requires that drivers have uninsured motorist coverage on their vehicles.  So a driver who has their vehicle insured not only has liability coverage but also uninsured motorist coverage in at least the minimum limits.  The minimum limits of uninsured motorist coverage are $25,000/$50,000/$25,000.   The first $25,000 refers to the maximum amount the insurance company will pay per person for bodily injury in a single automobile accident.  The $50,000 refers to the maximum amount the insurance company will pay to all persons injured in a single automobile accident.  The last $25,000 is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay for all property damage to the vehicle and its contents.        

 

Uninsured motorist coverage typically applies in two situations.   The first, as discussed above, is when an uninsured driver causes a car wreck.  The second occurs when an unknown driver, also called a John Doe driver, hits another vehicle but leaves the scene or causes the car accident without physical contact, such as running a driver off the road.  I will discuss John Doe drivers in my next blog. 

 

In the first scenario, the insurance carrier for the at-fault driver will inform the injured victim or his/her attorney that there may not be liability insurance on the vehicle when the claim is initially filed or shortly thereafter.   The automobile liability insurance carrier will then perform a “coverage investigation” to make sure that the at-fault driver’s liability coverage was cancelled in accordance with state law.  The coverage investigation can take several days, even weeks.  The liability carrier then will advise the injured victim or attorney that there is no liability coverage on the at-fault vehicle. 

 

Once the at-fault driver is deemed uninsured, the injured victim looks to the uninsured motorist coverage on the vehicle in which he/she was riding or driving by filing a claim with that carrier.  The uninsured motorist insurance carrier may require some kind of proof from the liability insurance carrier that the at-fault driver was uninsured.  It then becomes the uninsured motorist insurance carrier’s responsibility to compensate the injured victim.

 

But getting the uninsured motorist insurance carrier to pay is not always easy.  That’s why you need a lawyer that is experienced in dealing with uninsured motorist claims.  Since 2001, K.C. Mangus Lohr has gained extensive experience handling uninsured motorist claims.  If you have been injured by an uninsured driver in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg counties, call the Mangus Law Firm today.  K.C. will take the time to meet with you and fight for the fair compensation you deserve. 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER May 01, 2015

 

The FR-10 Form

 

South Carolina Code §56-9-350 provides that the investigating officer will issue a form called an FR-10 after a car accident resulting in property damage of $400.00 or more, bodily injury or death.  The official title of the form is “South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles FR-10 Notice of Requirement”.  This form provides verification that the vehicles involved in the car wreck had liability insurance coverage.  Each driver (even the driver that was not at fault for causing the car accident) must provide this form to their respective insurance companies for verification of liability coverage. 

 

The FR-10 form lists the date, time, county, road type and location of the car wreck.  It also lists the name, address, phone number, date of birth and driver’s license number of each driver and the name and address of each owner of the vehicles.  The make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN) of each vehicle is noted as well.  The investigating officer indicates who, in his/her opinion, contributed to the collision.  The insurance company name and policy number for each vehicle is provided and the phone numbers and insurance agency names may also be provided.  The investigating officer obtains this information from each driver’s license and the vehicles’ registration and insurance cards.   

 

A driver can provide the FR-10 to his/her insurance company by mail, email, fax or by dropping it off at the agent’s office.  Often the insurance company will make a copy of the FR-10 and will submit verification of the driver’s insurance information to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) online.   The FR-10 must be submitted to the DMV within 15 days of delivery by the officer (delivery typically occurs at the scene of the car accident).  Failure to return the verified and completed FR-10 to the DMV within 15 days is prima facie evidence that the vehicle was uninsured.

 

The DMV may suspend the license of a driver whose vehicle is uninsured at the time of a car accident.  The DMV may also suspend all of the registrations of an uninsured vehicle owner.  

 

If you or a loved one has been involved in a Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg car accident with an uninsured vehicle, call the Mangus Law Firm today.  K.C. Mangus Lohr is a Charleston car accident lawyer with over a decade of experience dealing with serious injuries cause by drivers of uninsured vehicles.  Consultations are free and there is no fee unless you collect.

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER April 09,2015

 

Responsibilities After A Car Wreck Involving Injury or Death

 

No driver wants to cause a car accident where another person is injured or dies.  But what are you supposed to do if you are involved in a car wreck and another driver or passenger is injured or killed?

 

Under South Carolina law, drivers are required to stop the vehicles at the scene or as close to the scene as possible and remain there until authorities arrive.  The drivers must stop the vehicles without obstructing traffic more than necessary.   A driver may only leave the scene to report the car accident to the authorities. 

 

The driver must immediately report the car accident to the local police department through the quickest means of communication possible.  Today, the quickest means of communication is by dialing 911 on a cell phone.  However, if a driver of a vehicle is physically incapable of making a report of the car wreck to the authorities and there is a passenger in the vehicle, then the passenger is required to notify the authorities of the car accident.  If a driver of the vehicle is not the owner of the vehicle and the driver is physically incapable of reporting the car wreck, then the owner shall report the car wreck to the authorities within five days after learning of the collision.     

 

Law enforcement officers or Department of Transportation employees may move the disabled vehicles and debris from the car wreck.  However, when a car accident involves great bodily injury or death, the involved vehicles may not be moved until authorized by the investigating law enforcement officer.  South Carolina law defines great bodily injury as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.

 

All drivers involved in the car accident must provide his/her name, address and registration number of their vehicle and show the other driver or passenger a copy of his/her driver’s license, if asked.  Drivers are also required to provide reasonable assistance to any injured person, which includes calling EMS.   

 

Leaving the scene of a car wreck can result in the following criminal penalties:

 

Where there is injury but not great bodily injury, a driver is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, can be imprisoned from 30 days to one year or fined between $100.00 to $5,000.00 or both;

 

Where there is great bodily injury, a driver is guilty of a felony, and, upon conviction, can be imprisoned from 30 days to ten years and fined between $5,000 to $10,000; and

 

Where there is death, a driver is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, can be imprisoned from one year to 25 years and fined between $10,000 and $25,000. 

 

Additionally, the Department of Motor Vehicles must revoke the driver’s license of a driver convicted of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death.

 

If you or a loved one has been involved in a Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg car accident, call the Mangus Law Firm today.  K.C. Mangus Lohr is a Charleston car accident lawyer who will take the time to talk with you.  Consultations are free and there is no fee unless you collect. 

 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER March 27, 2015

 

Responsibilities After A Car Wreck Involving Only Property Damage

 

South Carolina law imposes several duties on drivers involved in car accidents.  This blog will discuss a driver’s responsibilities after a car wreck involving only property damage.  The next blog will discuss a driver’s responsibilities after a car accident involving injury or death.

 

After a car wreck, drivers are required to stop the vehicles at the scene or as close to the scene as possible and remain there until authorities arrive.  A driver may only leave the scene to report the car accident to the authorities.  The drivers must stop the vehicles without obstructing traffic more than necessary.  If the vehicles are obstructing traffic, the drivers must make every reasonable effort to move any vehicle that is capable of being driven safely off the roadway to allow for the continued flow of traffic.  Quickly photographing the positions of the vehicles before moving them may assist the law enforcement officer’s assessment of who was at fault for the car accident.  Law enforcement officers or Department of Transportation employees may move the disabled vehicles and debris from the car wreck.    

 

Drivers must give his/her name, address and vehicle registration number, and, if asked, show his/her driver’s license to the other driver.  If a driver hits an unattended vehicle, the at-fault driver must immediately stop and locate the owner or operator of the damaged vehicle.  The driver must provide his/her name and address, and the owner’s name and address, if different, to the owner/operator of the damaged vehicle.  If the owner/operator of the unattended, damaged vehicle cannot be found, then the at-fault driver must write this information down, including the circumstances of the car wreck, and leave it in an easily noticeable place. 

 

If a driver hits a fixture upon or next to the roadway such as a stop sign or telephone pole, the driver must take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner or person in charge of the property of the car accident.  The driver must provide his/her name, address and vehicle registration number and show his/her driver’s license upon request.  

 

If a driver is involved in a car wreck that results in total property damage greater than $1,000 and that car accident is not reported to law enforcement officers, then the driver must forward a written report and proof of liability insurance coverage to the Department of Motor Vehicles using one of its specific forms within 15 days of the car wreck.  Failure to send in the form within 15 days is prima facie evidence that the vehicle was uninsured at the time of the car accident.   


Leaving the scene of a car wreck is never a good idea.  A driver who leaves the scene of a car accident involving only property damage is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, can be imprisoned up to one year or fined between $100 to $5,000 or both.

 

Call Charleston car wreck lawyer K.C. Mangus Lohr if you have been in a car accident in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg counties.  K.C. Mangus Lohr will take the time to talk with you.  Consultations are free and there is no fee unless you collect. 

 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER March 11, 2015

 

Liability Coverage in Car Accident Cases

 

As a Charleston personal injury lawyer who has represented car wreck victims in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown and Orangeburg Counties, my first order of business after making sure my clients are okay is figuring how who will compensate them for their injuries.  

 

In South Carolina, car owners must prove that their automobiles are covered by liability insurance when initially registering their vehicles with the state Department of Motor Vehicles and at each renewal period.  Automobile liability insurance covers both physical damage to a vehicle (“property damage”) and injury to a person (“bodily injury”) when a driver is negligent and causes and injury.  For example, if Driver A runs a red light and t-bones Driver B damaging his car and injuring his back and neck, then Driver A’s automobile liability insurance coverage should pay for the property damage and bodily injury up to the limits of liability coverage.  I say “should” because insurance companies do not always do what they are supposed to do.

 

The minimum limits for mandatory automobile liability insurance coverage on all vehicles registered in this state is $25,000.00/$50,000/$25,000.  Let’s take the last $25,000 number first.  The last $25,000 is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay for all property damage to the vehicle and its contents.  In most insurance contracts, property damage is valued as the lesser of what it will cost to repair the vehicle versus the fair market value of the vehicle.  If it will cost more to repair the vehicle than what the vehicle is worth, then the vehicle may be “totaled” and the insurance company would pay you the fair market value of the vehicle. 

 

The first $25,000 refers to the maximum amount the insurance company will pay per person for bodily injury in a single automobile accident.  The $50,000 refers to the maximum amount the insurance company will pay to all persons injured in a single automobile accident.  Here are a few scenarios illustrating how the $50,000 per accident bodily injury limit may be split among injured parties.

 

Example 1:  Driver A hits Driver B’s vehicle injuring Driver B, and Passengers A, B & C.  Driver B and Passengers A, B, & C each have $15,000 in medical bills.  The medical bills total $60,000.  The $50,000 per accident bodily injury limit may be evenly split between the injured victims so that Driver B and Passengers A, B & C each receive $12,500.        

 

Example 2:  Driver B has $27,000 in medical bills, Passenger A has $20,000 in medical bills, Passenger B has $19,000 in medical bills and Passenger C has $16,000 in medical bills.  The medical bills total $82,000.  In this situation, the liability carrier and the injured victims may agree to a pro rata split of the $50,000.  Driver B’s percentage is 33% ($27,000/$82,000), Passenger A’s percentage is 24%, Passenger B’s percentage is 23% and Passenger C’s percentage is 20%.  In a pro rata split, Driver B would receive 33% of the $50,000 or $16,500.  Passenger A would receive 24% or $12,000, Passenger B would receive 23% or $11,500, and Passenger C would receive 20% or $10,000.

 

Example 3:  Driver B has $75,000 in medical bills, Passenger A has $15,000 in medical bills, Passenger B has $12,000 in medical bills and Passenger C has $10,000 in medical bills.  Driver B would most likely receive the full $25,000 per person bodily injury limit since her medical bills are much higher than the passengers.  Passengers A, B & C would be paid the remaining $25,000 on a pro rata split.

 

Please keep in mind that these examples to do not take into account lost wages or pain and suffering or any other type of damage other than past medical bills; they are simple calculations.  It is often much more complicated.  That is why calling the Mangus Law Firm to help you or your loved one after a car accident is so important.  K.C. Mangus Lohr will take the time to talk with you.  Consultations are free and there is no fee unless you collect. 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER February 06, 2015

 

Negligence in Car Accident Cases – Damages

 

 

Personal injury damages drive the value of Charleston car wreck cases.  People can sustain all types of damages in car accidents ranging from minor to catastrophic.  In any car accident case, the injured victim must prove that the at-fault driver breached a duty of care which caused the victim’s injuries and damages.  There are three types of damages:  nominal, actual, and punitive.

 

Nominal Damages


A jury may award a small sum, also called nominal damages, when they find that a defendant has breached a duty of care but the breach did not cause the plaintiff substantial injury or the plaintiff’s evidence fails to show the amount of the actual injury.  Nominal damages in the amount of $1.00 can be awarded by a jury.  While the award of nominal damages is not ideal for a plaintiff, it can support an award for punitive damages. 

 

Actual Damages

 

Actual damages are also called compensatory damages because they are meant to compensate the injured victim or to make the party whole.  Anyone who has sustained serious or catastrophic injuries in a Charleston car accident knows that there is never enough money to put a person in the same position as he or she was in before the car wreck.  But money is the only thing a jury can award to compensate an injured victim for their loss.  Actual damages include elements such as:

 

·        Past and future medical bills

·        Out-of-Pocket Expenses

·        Lost wages or income

·        Pain and suffering

·        Loss of earning capacity or the ability to earn wages in the future

·        Emotional and psychological injuries

·        Permanent impairment of the body

·        Sexual dysfunction

·        Scarring or disfigurement

·        Loss of enjoyment of life

·        Loss of consortium or loss of services and companionship of a spouse

·        Deprivation of normal life expectancy

        

Actual damages include compensation for all injuries that naturally flow from a person’s negligence (there is that causation issue again!).  While the amount of actual damages does not need to be proved with mathematical certainty, the jury may not speculate or guess about the existence, causation, or amount of actual damages.  Damages must be proved with a reasonable degree of certainty.

 

Punitive Damages

 

A plaintiff may seek punitive damages against a defendant in a Charleston car accident case. Punitive damages cannot be awarded where an at-fault driver simply breaches a duty of care; an award of punitive damages requires more than that.  The jury can award punitive damages in Charleston car accident cases where the plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions were willful, wanton, malicious, or in reckless disregard of the injured victim’s rights.  “Wanton” describes a person who shows no thought or care for the rights, feelings or safety of others.    A conscious failure to exercise due care constitutes willfulness.  Punitive damages do not compensate an injured victim; they are meant to punish a completely careless, reckless or malicious defendant.  Punitive damages are also meant to serve as a warning or example to society of unacceptable behavior.     

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg counties, you need an experienced car accident lawyer to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.  K.C. Mangus Lohr is that lawyer.  Call the Mangus Law Firm at 843-312-8073 today for a free consultation.  There is no fee unless you collect.   

 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYEFebruary 02, 2015

 

Negligence in Car Accident Cases – Causation

 

As a Charleston personal injury lawyer, I wrestle with proving causation in car wreck cases all the time.  It sounds simple enough:  a driver breaches his duty of care, causes a car accident, and hurts another person.  Sometimes it is that simple to prove causation in a car wreck case. In other car accident cases, causation can be the trickiest element in proving that a client sustained a personal injury.  Let’s talk about two types of car wreck scenarios where proving causation of personal injuries can be quite complicated.

 

Car Accidents Involving Multiple Cars

 

Multiple-car pileups, chain reaction rear-end collisions, and other car accidents involving more than one car can be a field day for the at-fault drivers’ insurance companies.  The fight becomes who caused what injury and when.  For example, Driver A enters an intersection on a green light.  Driver B runs his red light and strikes Driver A at a moderate speed causing disabling damage to Driver A’s car.  Driver A suffers a broken arm and a neck injury.  Driver C is traveling in the opposite direction as Driver A.  As Driver C approaches the intersection, she is too busy texting to notice the car wreck in front of her.  Driver C looks up at the last minute, slams on her brakes, and hits Driver A’s vehicle at low speed causing minor damage.  Driver A’s neck is again whipped back and forth as a result of this second car wreck.  In this situation, the insurance companies for Driver B (first car wreck) may argue that any injury to Driver A’s neck was caused by Driver C (second car wreck).  The insurance company for Driver C may argue that any injury to Driver A’s neck was caused by Driver B since there was more damage in the first car accident.  The same arguments are made in chain reaction rear-end car accidents and multiple-car pileups.     

 

Aggravations of Pre-Existing Conditions

 

I have represented many clients in car accident cases who had a prior history of spine or neck surgery or degenerative disc or joint disease.  The at-fault driver’s insurance company or lawyers often argue that medical treatment obtained after a car wreck by an injured person is not causally related to the driver’s negligence but was related to a natural progression of an injured person’s preexisting condition.  This argument can be quite successful in front of conservative juries.  Degenerative disc disease (DDD) or degenerative joint disease (DJD) is a common condition that human beings suffer from by virtue of walking upright under gravity. Many of my clients have been working full time, engaging in hobbies and living life to the fullest with DDD or DJD.  In many situations, clients do not even know that they have DDD or DJD until they have been injured in a car wreck.  It is the car accident that causes DDD or DJD to become symptomatic.  The at-fault driver may be liable regardless of whether he caused a new injury or aggravated a preexisting one.  Talking to a Charleston personal injury lawyer soon after a car wreck is critical in countering these types of arguments.     

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg counties, please call the Mangus Law Firm at 843-312-8073 today for a free consultation.  There is no fee unless you collect.

 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER January 23, 2015

 

Negligence in Car Accident Cases – Breach of Duty

 

driver negligence charleston scNegligence of drivers causes personal injuries in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown and Orangeburg car accidents.  Negligence actions consist of four elements:  duty, breach, causation and damages.  Last week’s blog included a discussion on a driver’s duty of care and the source of various duties in South Carolina.   This week, the discussion will focus on breaches of duties of care as they relate to car wrecks.      

 

A driver breaches a duty of care when he does something that he should not do or fails to do something that he should do.  When drivers breach duties, car wrecks happen and personal injuries result.  Here are some examples of breaches of duties: 

 

·        A driver breaches his duty to keep a proper lookout and properly back his car when he knocks over an elderly person as he is backing out of a parking space;

·        An owner/driver of a vehicle breaches his duty of care when he knows that his brakes are in poor condition, continues to drive the car anyway, and rear-ends another vehicle because of brake failure;

·        A driver breaches her duty of care when she changes lanes without looking and hits another car causing it to run off the road and into a tree; 

·        A driver breaches his duty of care when he passes a vehicle on a double-lined two lane road and strikes the oncoming vehicle in the opposite lane of traffic head-on; and   

·        A driver breaches her duty of care when she pulls into the path of an oncoming vehicle and causes a t-bone style car wreck.    

 

Additionally, a single driver can breach multiple duties in a car accident.  For example, a driver breaches her duty of care when she is texting as she drives and rear-ends the car in front of her.  She has breached two duties:  texting while driving and following too closely, both of which are violation of South Carolina statutory law. 

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck, it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.  Evidence proving a breach in a duty of care needs to be gathered as quickly as possible after a car accident.  As a Charleston personal injury lawyer, my goal is to determine how the at-fault driver’s breaches caused your personal injuries and damages.  Sometimes, it is very straight forward, other times it can be quite complicated. 

 

If a recent car wreck has plagued your family, please call the Mangus Law Firm at 843-312-8073 today for a free consultation.  There is no fee unless you collect.   

 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER January 15, 2015

 

Negligence in Car Accident Cases -- Duty

 

How does a Charleston car accident victim prove his/her case against a negligent driver?  As a Charleston personal injury lawyer, I constantly think about four things:  duty, breach, causation, and damages.  These four things are drilled into a law student’s mind with maddening repetition and any Charleston personal injury lawyer will tell you that any personal injury case is framed with these four elements in mind.  But this blog will focus on duty in the context of Charleston car accidents.     

 

The first element is duty.   Duty is what a driver should or should not do while operating a motor vehicle.   It is relatively easy to determine a driver’s duty in car wreck cases.    Duties are the rules of the road.  The rules arise from common law or statutory law.    

 

The common law rules of the road require a driver to exercise due care.  Due care means that a driver is required to exercise the same amount of care that normal, careful, everyday people use.  The common law duty of care includes the duty to keep a proper lookout for other cars and pedestrians.  It includes the duty to keep a vehicle under control.  It includes the duty to avoid causing a car accident.  It includes the duty to maintain a motor vehicle so that it does not cause a car wreck while on the road.

 

Statutory duties arise from statutes, regulation, ordinances, etc.  These are the rules that have been voted on by elected representatives.  Drivers’ statutory duties are mostly codified in the Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways, which is in Chapter 5 of Title 56 of the South Carolina Code of Laws.  These statutes define a driver’s duties in many different situations, including:

 

·        Proper backing

·        Brake equipment and maintenance

·        Following too closely

·        Use of headlights

·        Changing lanes

·        Overtaking and passing

·        Speed

·        Right-of-way

 

After a car wreck, the investigating officer may cite the at-fault driver for causing the car accident and write the statutory violation on the ticket or citation.  The investigating officer may also include the violation on the accident report.  It is important to understand that a driver can fail to fulfill many duties at one time.  Those failures can lead to a car wreck that causes serious personal injuries and death to innocent victims.

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown or Orangeburg counties, call the Mangus Law Firm for a free consultation today.  There is no fee unless you collect.    

 

 

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CHARLESTON AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT LAWYER January 09, 2015

 

Teens and Distracted Driving Related Car Wrecks

 

As a Charleston automobile accident lawyer, I am knee deep in horror stories about the personal injuries and damages people sustain during a car wreck.  The worst cases, the ones that keep me up at night and my stomach in knots, involve representing a parent of a teenager killed during an automobile accident.  These types of cases always bring to mind my first experience with a teen dying during a car wreck. 

 

My classmate, Travis Jordan, was killed on October 6, 1987 when we were sophomores in high school.  His friend, a senior driving his parent’s Trans Am with the tops out, was giving Travis a ride home after school.  He lost control and Travis was ejected from the car.  Travis and I were in the same homeroom, our lockers were near each other, and we were friends.  Heck, he was everyone’s friend.  He was one of those kids that had the uncanny ability to relate to every high school clique.  He moved with ease among them all.  His death devastated our small community.  At his funeral, the line of people paying their respects wrapped around the outside of the door and snaked through the parking lot.  I remember sitting in the pew at the funeral home watching his mother.  She was overwhelmed with grief.  She was never the same after that.  I don’t think any parent is. 

 

I think about the distractions that teens had in 1987 and they are nothing like they are today. Today’s teenagers are connected in a way that my generation never was.  Using cell phones while driving has become our new normal; especially for teenagers and young people who do not know a world without smart phones.  Teens and young people have the highest risk for being injured or killed while using a cell phone and driving.  As I said in my previous blog, 71% of teens and young people admit composing or sending a text message while driving and 78% of teens and young people admit reading a text while driving.  I am guilty myself.  But text messaging makes a car wreck up to 23 times more likely.  It’s a terrible price to pay for being so connected to our smart phones.  Here are some websites with heart-wrenching facts and stories of severe injuries and death caused by distracted driving:

 

·        textinganddrivingsafety.com

·        txtresponsibly.org

·        distraction.gov

·        stoptextsstopwrecks.org

 

No one wants to bury a child, especially a teen who has his/her whole life in front of them. Hopefully, these websites can give you a starting place to begin a conversation with your child, regardless of their age. 

 

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, please call the Mangus Law Firm for a free consultation.  I will take the time to listen to you and help you decide the best course of action after the severe injury or death caused by a car accident.    

 

 

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CHARLESTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER December 14, 2014

 

South Carolina’s Effort to Curb Distracted Driving

 

According to Distraction.gov, a federal government website focused on distracted driving, 421,000 people were injured and 3,328 people died as a result of distracted-driving crashes in 2012.  Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from driving a vehicle. Distraction.gov lists the following as distracted-driving activities:

 

·         Texting

·         Using a cell phone or smartphone

·         Eating and drinking

·         Talking to passengers

·         Grooming

·         Reading, including maps

·         Using a navigation system

·         Watching a video

·         Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player

 

mangus law frim south carolina scTexting is the most dangerous distraction because it requires the driver’s visual, manual and cognitive attention.  Texting while driving causes car wrecks and sometimes can be deadly. Text messaging makes a crash up to 23 times more likely. According to distraction.gov, five seconds is the minimum amount of time your attention is taken away from the road when you’re texting and driving; if you’re traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to drive the length of a football field without looking at the road.  According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 71% of teens and young people admit composing or sending a text message while driving; 78% of teens and young people admit reading a text while driving.  Adults, including myself, are also guilty of composing, sending or reading texts while driving.   

 

The South Carolina General Assembly enacted §56-5-3890 to address the growing problem of cell phone use while driving.  The law, effective on June 9, 2014, contained a 180-day grace period during which only warnings could be issued by law enforcement.  The 180-day grace period has now ended.  So here is what you need to know.   

 

Under the law, it is now illegal for drivers to compose, send or read texts while driving on South Carolina roads.  The ban does not apply if you are legally parked or stopped; using a hands-free electronic communication device (aka Bluetooth); calling for emergency assistance; sending or receiving data from a digital dispatch system; or using GPS to navigate or obtain traffic and road condition information.  The first offense is a $25.00 fine.  Thereafter, the fine increases to $50.00.  Failure to appear in court or pay the fine may result in an arrest warrant.    

 

I am a Charleston car accident lawyer who has represented many clients injured by a distracted driver over the years.  These types of car wrecks cause serious personal injury and sometimes death.  If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, please call The Mangus Law Firm for a free consultation.  There is no fee unless you collect.