Frequently Asked Questions
Personal Injury Claims
Your firm doesn’t have as many attorneys as some others. Why shouldn’t I hire one of the guys I see on TV or on billboard ads?
This is an important question, and one that many people ask when they consult with personal injury lawyers who aren’t on billboards and don’t run TV ads throughout the day. The firms that you see advertising on television differ from the Geel Law Firm in a number of important ways.
First and foremost is communication. When you call billboard law firms, your call is answered by a call center, not an attorney. Those firms have full-time employees who do nothing but answer the phones all day. The cases are primarily handled by non-lawyers. If you hire those firms to handle your case, you will rarely (if ever) speak with a licensed attorney about your case. Our firm is different. We keep a small roster of clients, and make ourselves personally available to each and every one of them.
Second, because we take on fewer cases, we are able to fight for the maximum compensation for each of our clients. Billboard personal injury firms are interested in one thing: volume. Rather than getting 3 cases and putting in hard work to resolve them all favorably, they would prefer to get 300 cases and cash them all in for a quick payday. With the Geel Law Firm, our goal is maximizing compensation for our clients, irrespective of the number of hours each case requires.
Third, we take a personal interest in each and every case we get. We know our clients’ names, their spouses’ names, and their children’s names. We take client calls on our personal cell phones. We talk with our clients regularly, and don’t put call centers, answering services, paralegals, or other strangers between ourselves and our clients. We know the facts of each case, and can discuss our clients’ injuries in detail, and absolutely will not settle for less than every single penny our clients deserve.
Fourth, we are courtroom lawyers, we take cases to trial. A lawyer who can’t or won’t take a case to trial is no use to their client. Although we aspire to settle claims whenever it is in our client’s best interests, occasionally the threat of litigation and trial becomes necessary. If you are not represented by a lawyer who is ready, willing, and able to take your case to trial, you will not obtain maximum recovery for your injuries. Insurance companies know their business. They know which lawyers are willing to take them to court if the need arises, and they tailor their settlement offers accordingly.
I was injured by a drunk driver. Who is responsible for this?
Most people know and understand that the person who drove drunk and caused your injuries is responsible for any damage or injuries that they caused. What many people do not know is that if the drunk driver consumed alcohol at a business or other establishment that supplied him with an excessive quantity of alcohol, the establishment may be liable too. This is referred to as “dram shop liability.” If you have been injured by a drunk driver, it is important to determine whether you are entitled to additional compensation from the establishment that supplied that driver with alcohol.
I don’t want to take my case to court. Do I need a lawyer?
Many people wonder whether they need a lawyer, if they have no intention of taking their case to court. What many people do not realize is that insurance companies will try to pay injured parties as little as possible. If you are not experienced in dealing with insurance companies and injury claims, you likely will not know whether their offers are reasonable. Insurance companies bank on the fact that individuals without lawyers will probably not be able to distinguish a fair offer from an unfair offer, and they exploit that fact. You can be fairly sure that any offer an insurance company makes to an unrepresented individual is not as high as the amount they would actually be willing to pay to avoid a lawsuit. So, in order to maximize your recovery, it is best to have a lawyer representing you, so that the threat of filing suit is always present in the mind of the insurance company (even if you do not actually intend to follow through with it). In practical terms, what this means is that even if you do not want to file a lawsuit, it is still in your best interests to have a lawyer negotiating on your behalf.
I’m thinking of hiring a lawyer soon, but the insurance company is already offering me a bunch of money. Should I take it?
No! Insurance companies will often make an offer to settle the case for far less money than you are entitled to. In exchange for accepting that check, the insurance company will require you to sign a waiver of any further claims against them. These waivers prevent an individual from getting any additional money, even if they are entitled to it under the law. You may be signing away thousands of dollars by accepting that check! Do not do it without first consulting with an attorney.
I’m injured and I need treatment, but I can’t afford these medical bills. What should I do?
Simply put, if you are injured you need to find a way to get treatment. We can help walk you through that process. Failing to treat your injuries can leave you in a position where your injury claim suffers – medical bills can demonstrate the extent of your injuries, and provide a verifiable amount of financial compensation that will be required to resolve your case, which improves our negotiating position. Obtaining compensation for speculative or future treatments can be difficult, and insurance companies may be reluctant to compensate you for bills that we believe you are likely to incur at a later date. There are a number of ways that you may be compensated for medical bills that you incur in order to fully recover from your injuries. Our personal injury lawyers may be able to provide a doctor who will treat your injuries on a contingency basis (so you will owe nothing up-front). Alternatively, they may provide treatment and simply defer payment of the bills until your case has been settled.
How much will it cost me to hire a lawyer for my personal injury case?
Clients are normally pleased to hear that hiring a personal injury lawyer does not require any up-front fees. Personal injury lawyers take their cases on a contingency basis, which means that we will receive a percentage of any money that we obtain on your behalf. So, you will not have to bear any up-front costs, no matter how much work your case will involve. And if we aren’t able to obtain any compensation for your injuries, you owe us nothing. Contingency fees are usually around 33 percent, but that percentage increases if we have to file suit and take the case to trial. If you choose to retain our firm, the entire fee agreement will be completely transparent, in writing, and signed by you and your attorney. We endeavor to avoid any surprises when it comes to financial arrangements with our clients. We further endeavor to leave every client feeling as though they made a wise decision retaining our firm to fight on their behalf.
How long do I have after an injury to file my case?
The length of time that an individual has to file suit after they are injured is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” Once this period of time has passed, an individual is strictly prohibited from filing suit, no matter how serious their injuries may be. These periods of time vary from state to state. In South Carolina, the following statues of limitations apply to civil causes of action, depending on the type of lawsuit and the nature of the injury:
These cases include car accidents, truck accidents, cycling accidents, slip and fall injuries, or other injuries caused by another party’s negligence. The statute of limitations for this type of case in South Carolina is three years.
A wrongful death suit is a lawsuit where the family of a deceased individual sue on behalf of the deceased party. South Carolina’s statute of limitations for this type of case is typically three years from the date of death.
These claims stem from injuries caused by a doctor or other healthcare provider. In most cases, an individual must file suit within three years from the date of the treatment that caused the injury, or from the discovery of the injury. However, depending on the nature of the injury, the applicable limitations period may be as much as six years or as little as two years. Be sure to consult with an attorney immediately if you have been injured by a doctor.
This type of lawsuit claims that a manufacturer of a dangerous product is responsible for the harm that its product inflicted on the client. In South Carolina, these types of cases are subject to a three year statute of limitations.
How long will it take to resolve my personal injury case?
This is a question that many people ask when they have been injured. Soon after a client is injured, medical bills begin stacking up. Clients miss work. They are forced to deal with surgeries, doctor visits, physical therapy, and more time off of work to recuperate from these procedures. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know how long each case will take to reach a resolution, because every case is different. Some cases can be resolved in a matter of weeks. Others may take years to conclude. What we can tell you is that it is important to retain an attorney who can devote significant time and attention to your case. When the attorney who is handling a personal injury claim makes a commitment to pushing cases forward in a timely fashion, they can significantly reduce the time it takes for you to receive your compensation. Once we have had an opportunity to review all the pertinent details of your case, we will be able to provide more a more concrete answer to this question.
But what if I really don’t want to go to court?
In most cases, you do not have to worry about going to court if you don’t want to. Court is stressful, it’s a hassle, and in most cases it will require the client to miss even more work that they already have due to their injuries. We understand that most people would prefer to avoid this. Do not worry. The vast majority of cases settle prior to any court appearances. Although we go to court regularly, and will not shy away from taking a case to trial if it is in our clients’ best interests, we are aware that most clients would prefer to avoid this. We will do everything we can to maximize your recovery, and if this can be accomplished without going to court, that is what we will do. On occasion, a client’s injuries are so serious (or the defendant behaves so unreasonably) that negotiations simply fail to produce a reasonable offer. In cases such as these, a competent and dedicated lawyer has no choice but to take the case to court. However, we can assure you that these types of cases are unusual.
My loved one was injured. Can I hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit on their behalf?
Possibly. There are situations where you can file a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one. Two common examples of situations where you can file suit on another person’s behalf are: (1) If the injury resulted in death, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf; or (2) if the injured person is your child, you may be entitled to sue on their behalf. If you have a loved one who was killed or injured, you should speak with a lawyer about whether you are entitled to compensation.
Are there any exceptions to the statute of limitations?
Yes. Certain circumstances can “toll” the statute of limitations. “Tolling” means the clock is paused, and you will not be prohibited from filing suit, even when the typical three-year period after injury has elapsed. The most common tolling events are situations where the injured party is under 18 years old, or when the injured party lives outside of the state for a substantial period of time after their injury. However, it is important to be cautious. Do not assume that the statute of limitations clock isn’t running in your case, even if these circumstances apply to your case. Consult an attorney if you have been injured, and be sure that you file suit (if you must) within the statute of limitations period.
Can I talk to a lawyer for free?
Yes. Call us any time. (843) 277-5080.
I am partially to blame for the accident, how will this affect my case?
South Carolina is a “comparative negligence” state. What this means is that you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, provided that your fault does not exceed that of the other at-fault party. We can help you figure out what percentage of fault will likely be assigned to each party, and give you a sense of whether you’re entitled to compensation.
What kinds of compensation am I entitled to as a result of my injuries?
You are probably entitled to compensation for any medical expenses you incurred in order to treat your injuries, any property damage caused by the incident, any lost wages you suffered due to your injuries and treatment, and any future difficulties or disabilities that will persist in the future as a result of the injuries. You may also be entitled to additional compensation for things such as pain and suffering, mental and emotional trauma, and similar difficulties that result from your injury.