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Congratulations to the UofSC School of Law Mock Trial Team!

Congratulations to the UofSC School of Law Mock Trial Team!

Earlier this month, the University of South Carolina School of Law Mock Trial hosted a regional of the National Trial Competition. Nineteen teams traveled to Columbia, South Carolina to compete at the event along with the USC School of Law’s Mock Trial Team to earn a spot at the 2019 National Competition.

Mock Trial is a program that was developed to help students from middle school to law school to advance their trial advocacy skills. These skills include a working knowledge of the United States judicial systems as well as the ability to analyze and communicate effectively. In addition, students learn all about the obligations and responsibilities that they will have as future members of the Bar. Students try out for teams, and competitions held all across the country throughout the fall and spring semesters.

Our office actively supports the USC School of Law—after all, it’s where two of our attorneys, Robert Goings and Jess Gooding, graduated from! We were proud to be sponsors of this year’s Regional Mock Trial competition, and we were even more proud of how the USC School of Law Mock Trial Team represented our local university. Their team was named a 2019 Regional Champion! This is the second year in a row that they have been champions of their region, and this is the fourth time in the last five years that they have advanced to Nationals. They’ll head to San Antonio from March 27 – 31 of this year to compete against the regional winners from across the nation.

Photo by: Nicholas Brausch

Our law clerk, second year University of South Carolina School of Law student Chris Pascal, is a member of the University’s Mock Trial Team. Chris competed with his team in the Regionals and afterwards, was named an Outstanding Advocate for the completion. What an incredible honor—congratulations, Chris! We’ll all be cheering you and your team on during Nationals!

Photo by: Nicholas Brausch


Drunk Driver Collision – Can I Sue the Bar?


We often are asked by clients if they can sue a bar, restaurant, or business for over-serving a person that caused a drunk driving related accident.
The answer is “YES”.

South Carolina does not have a statutory law known as a “dram stop statute” like many states have enacted governing civil liability for alcohol sales. Rather, through common law, the South Carolina Supreme Court has established legal precedent that allows injured victims to pursue recovery from alcohol-related accidents by creating a duty of care based on statutory laws that govern the sale of alcohol. For example, S.C. Code Ann. §61-4-580(1) prohibits the sale of alcohol persons under the age of 21 and S.C. Code Ann. § 61-4-580(2) prohibits the sale of the sale alcohol to an intoxicated person.

Most lawsuits filed against bars, taverns, and restaurants assert a theory of negligence that relate to selling alcohol to intoxicated persons. These lawsuits are based on the fact that it is illegal to sell alcohol to a patron if a server knows, or should have known, that the patron is intoxicated. Likewise, a convenience store may be liable if it sells beer to someone underage, and that underage person gets behind the wheel after drinking, causing a serious collision resulting in injury or death.

While South Carolina does not have a specific “dram shop” statute, in July 2017, a new law came into effect in that requires all bars and restaurants that serve alcohol past 5:00 p.m. to carry at least $1 million ($1,000,000) in liquor liability insurance. This statute amends current state alcohol licensing and permit laws by noting that businesses seeking a new permit or to renew an existing one will be affected by the law. The important consideration of this new law is to allow victims to recover due to liability caused by the wrongful serving, consumption, or use of alcoholic beverages. This is especially true because many drunk drivers do not have enough insurance coverage or personal assets that are collectable to pay for the serious harm. Often times, the only way to fully recover for the harm of a drunk driver is to bring a legal claim against the businesses that profit and promote this illegal behavior.

Attorneys that Sue Bars and Drinking Establishments in South Carolina

The Goings Law Firm is known in the legal community for successfully winning lawsuits against bars, restaurants, convenience stores, and drinking establishments. We seek justice against the businesses that profit and promote intoxicated behavior. If you or a family member have been injured or killed by a drunk driver in an automobile accident, call us to explore a legal action against the businesses that enabled that wrongful conduct. Contacting us today is important so that we can begin our investigation and gather critical evidence to help establish liability before it gets lost or destroyed. Contact the attorneys at the Goings Law Firm by calling us at (803) 350-9230 or through our contact page immediately for a FREE consultation.


DRUNK DRIVING AND WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUITS

Car key on the bar with spilled alcohol

Alcohol impairment is one of the leading causes of traffic collisions. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was an alcohol-impaired traffic fatality every 48 minutes in 2017.  Based on the legal definition of impaired driving, alcohol-impaired crashes are those that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or above.

According to NHTSA 10,874 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2017. Alcohol-impaired crash fatalities accounted for 29 percent of all crash fatalities. Unfortunately, the DUI arrest rate is much lower.  Statistics show that  with nearly a million drivers were arrested in 2016 for driving under the influence  compared to the 111 million self-reported incidents of alcohol-impaired driving that same year.

If you’ve lost a loved one in a DUI crash, you may be wondering what legal action you can take. Depending on the specifics of the case, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?

Wrongful death laws allow survivors to pursue monetary compensation for those whose negligence or intentional act of harm caused a loved one’s death. Each state has its own wrongful death statute which governs how a wrongful death action is brought, the types of civil damages that are recoverable, and which family members are allowed to receive compensation. In South Carolina, a wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, except the estate of the deceased person steps in to seek compensation on their behalf.  The wrongful death action can only be brought by a person that is determined by the court to be the “personal representative.”  So, not just any family members of the deceased to file the claim.

HOW STATE LAWS AFFECT DAMAGES

Though many DUI crashes result in criminal charges, some do not. If your loved one was killed in a drug or alcohol related collision, and the driver was not charged by the police, you still may be able to file a wrongful death claim in civil court.

South Carolina law also affect how damages are handled. Because a wrongful death case is a civil claim, liability comes in the form of damages, rather than punishment by imprisonment or other penalties that can be decided in a criminal case.  South Carolina law the recovery of “compensatory damages, which includes the following:

  1. Pecuniary Loss – the loss of the deceased’s ability to earn money in which the beneficiary might logically and reasonable have been expected to share, such as money for the care and protection of the deceased’s spouse and children and for the education and training of the deceased’s children. Where the relationship of husband and wife or parent and child exists, pecuniary loss will be presumed.
  2. Mental Shock and Suffering.
  3. Wounded Feelings.
  4. Grief and Sorrow.
  5. Loss of Companionship.
  6. Loss of the use and comfort of the deceased’s society, including the loss of the deceased’s experience, knowledge, and judgment in managing the affairs of the deceased and his or her beneficiaries.
  7. medical and funeral expenses

In cases involving a drunk or impaired driver, South Carolina law may also permit punitive damages, which are designed the punish a defendant who’s found negligent and deter similar negligent actions in future.

WHEN TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT

When a loved one dies in an alcohol-related crash, family members are often left stunned and unsure where to turn for help. Seeking legal advice immediately following the accident is advised, as evidence can be collected and eyewitnesses can be contacted. Memories get fuzzy, damages get repaired and the chance of video or photographic evidence being deleted or lost rises as time passes. Acting quickly is the best way to ensure as much evidence as possible is collected.  You should never delay in determining your legal rights.

It is important to know that each state has a unique statute of limitations.  A statute of limitations is the legal principle that sets a time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In South Carolina, a case generally must be filed within three (3) years of the date of the collision.  In certain situations, this statute of limitations may be shortened to two (2) years if for some reason the case is governed by the S.C. Tort Claims Act.  It is important to understand that if you fail to bring the case within the applicable statute of limitations period, you will forfeit your rights to assert any action.

LEGAL HELP FOR WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS IN SOUTH CAROLINA

If you’re considering filing a wrongful death claim, it’s wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can answer any questions you have about your case.

The attorneys at Goings Law Firm, LLC have represented many families who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents. Our team understands the importance of working quickly to gather evidence that can be used to help us fight for the justice you deserve. We have extensive experience representing the families of victims  and other wrongful death claims in Alabama.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone getting behind the wheel when they were intoxicated or otherwise acting irresponsibly, call (803) 350-9230 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation.


An Overview of South Carolina Workers Compensation Laws – The Basics

The Workers’ Compensation Act in South Carolina provides that if an employee suffers injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, that individual is entitled to recover medical expenses, temporary total compensation for lost time, and permanent disability benefits if he/she suffered any permanent injury as a result of the work accident. The workers’ compensation laws in South Carolina can be complex, difficult to understand, and hard to navigate without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Under the current law, your employer and its insurance carrier has the right to select the doctor who will treat you. If you go to see your own doctor without permission of the employer/carrier, then then employer/carrier may not be responsible for paying for the the medical treatment, unless it constitutes an emergency condition. However, you have the right to choose a physician to evaluate you for the specific disability but typically it will not be paid for by the employer.

Once you suffer an injury on the job you should immediately report it to your supervisor. This should be the same day of the accident, if possible. Never, ever delay reporting the injury to your employer. You should also request that the employer provide appropriate medical treatment. In the event that medical treatment is not provided or not paid for, it would be best to consult with an attorney to determine your rights.

If the claim continues to be contested, or denied, your lawyer should file a Form 50 on your behalf with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to request a contested hearing. This sets out the various parties, the date and description of the accident, who you reported it to, the injuries suffered, whether medical treatment is needed, any disfigurement you may have received and any other relief you may be requesting.

The employer, unless self insured, is usually represented by an insurance company known as the carrier. The carrier files an answer on a Form 51, where they may admit or deny what you have said in your Form 50. The case is then placed on the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s docket, and assigned to an individual Commissioner who acts as a fact finder and also rules on the law. A hearing is usually held within three to five months, and at the hearing the employee presents his/her case. You should understand that the employer/carrier will always have an attorney defending the case. If the employer/carrier has an experienced lawyer, shouldn’t you?

Usually medical testimony is presented in the form of a deposition and your physician will not attend a hearing. The other medical evidence that the Commissioner will rely upon are the medical records you and the Carrier present.

Once a commissioner has ruled on the case, the Commissioner will issue an Opinion and Award which sets forth his/her ruling of fact and law, and what relief, if any, the employee gets. If either party is dissatisfied with the decision, the case can be appealed to the full Commission which is made up of all the Workers’ Compensation Commissioners except for the one who heard the case originally. After that hearing is held, if either party is dissatisfied with the decision, it can be appealed to the Circuit Court and on up to the South Carolina Supreme Court, depending on the procedural posture of the claim. You have 14 days from the date of the Order to file an appeal.

Fault or negligence is not an issue regarding the payment of a workers’ compensation claim unless, for example, the employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury. Remember, if you are injured on the job, report the incident to your supervisor.

If you feel like you are not getting medical treatment or not being paid for being out of work, these are tell-tell signs that seeking legal assistance may be necessary. We are happy to discuss your claim with you to see if an attorney would be your best route to protect you. Call us today for an honest and confidential evaluation of your workers’ compensation claim. The number to the Goings Law Firm, LLC is (803) 350-9230.


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