Honest. Aggressive. Professional.
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hazard signThe federal district court in South Carolina reached a decision in a case, Humphrey v. Day & Zimmerman Intern Inc., 997 F. Supp. 2d 388 (2014), regarding when an individual’s intervening actions take the potential claim of negligence away from the original party, thus preventing them from seeking compensation from someone else.

In the case, the plaintiff was working as an employee at a chemical plant when the defendant’s employees who were working as contractors accidentally and negligently severed a pipeline containing a hazardous chemical called Acrylonitrile (“AN”). During the course of removing the damaged AN line, an employee of the chemical factory, the plaintiff, was exposed to AN and became severely injured as a result. The employee sued the contract company whose employees severed the line for negligence, seeking monetary damages for his injuries, inability to work, and so forth.

The employee was trained in proper techniques to minimize the potential chance of exposure to the chemical.

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ambulance bayThe Supreme Court of South Carolina recently reached a decision that will help to further delineate the difference between medical malpractice claims and regular negligence cases.

In the decision, Dawkins v. Union Hosp. Dist., 758 SE 2d 501 (2014), the appellant (hereinafter referred to as plaintiff) was transported to the hospital (hereinafter referred to as defendant) after her daughter called an ambulance, fearing her mother had suffered a stroke. She reported that her mother had reported dizziness and instability, among other similar symptoms. Once at the hospital, the plaintiff’s family was prohibited from accompanying her to the emergency room area. Sometime after she was admitted, but before she received treatment, the plaintiff got up to use the restroom and fell, fracturing her foot. The plaintiff’s family sued, alleging that the hospital was negligent in failing to supervise a woman who had been complaining of dizziness and related symptoms.

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writing a checkEstate planning is an often discussed topic, yet many individuals who find themselves thinking about creating a formal estate plan will not follow through. In fact, it is estimated that some 30-50% of individuals in South Carolina do not have a will. The start of a new year is the perfect time to get your estate affairs in order.

Estate planning is not simply for the wealthy, the elderly, those with complex businesses, or celebrities contemplating marriage.

In fact, the people who have the most to gain in saved legal expenses are those who can avoid having to potentially navigate the probate system by having a solid estate plan in place.

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broken legIn an opinion released on the same day as another decision recently discussed here, the Supreme Court of South Carolina reached a decision that provides clarification for the topic that is trending in workers’ compensation cases across the country:  idiopathic falls.

An idiopathic fall is one that appears to occur for no particular reason. The facts of the case often involve an employee either walking or standing, and for some reason, the employee falls and gets hurt. The issue, then, is whether the injury arises out of employment and is therefore compensable under the workers’ compensation system.

In this case, Barnes v. Charter 1 Realty, SC Supreme Court (2015), the employee Barnes was walking from her desk to check the email of one of the realtors in the office, and she tripped and fell, sustaining serious injuries, including a broken femur, a broken humerus, and a torn rotator cuff. She then filed a claim for workers’ compensation. At the hearing, she testified as to what had happened. She also introduced evidence regarding her husband’s comments about the shoes she was wearing, which seemed to suggest they may have contributed to the fall.

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hospital bedsIn another workers’ compensation case involving a fall, the South Carolina Court of Appeals ruled recently on the case of Shatto v. McLeod Regional Medical Center, 759 SE 2d 443 (2014).

The employee in the case, Shatto, was working through a temporary staffing agency as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) at McLeod. On the day of the incident, Shatto was assisting in the anesthetization of a patient, when she fell onto the operating room floor, later suffering an eye contusion.

A single commissioner found that Shatto was an employee and suffered an injury during the course of her employment. McLeod appealed, and the appellate panel affirmed the commissioner. McLeod then appealed to the court of appeals, challenging the finding of Shatto as an employee in the first place. During that appeal, the court found that she was not an employee.

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yellow spillThe U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina recently reached a decision in a premises liability case that is certain to have ramifications in similar slip and fall cases within South Carolina.

The case, Norris v. Wal-Mart Stores East LP, No. 1:2012cv02592 – Document 37 (D.S.C. 2014), arose out of an incident whereby the plaintiff, Karron Norris, claims that she fell in the frozen food section of a Wal-Mart store after stepping onto a slippery, oily substance. The plaintiff alleges that she sustained injuries to her lower back, right side, and right leg, requiring surgical repair, as a result of the fall. The day after the accident, the assistant manager of the defendant’s store purportedly found a half-empty bottle of canola oil on a clearance rack.

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green roomThe Supreme Court of South Carolina recently handed down a decision with some major implications for nursing home personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits.

In the case, Dean v. Heritage Healthcare of Ridgeway, 759 SE 2d 727 (2014), a patient signed an arbitration agreement when she was admitted to a nursing home, agreeing to binding arbitration as the sole remedy. Following her admittance, the patient later passed away.

After she became a resident, the patient fell three times within a 10-day period. With the last fall, she fractured her hip. During the two months following the fall, the patient underwent two hip surgeries, but due to complications following the procedures, she died shortly afterwards.

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carpet textureThe South Carolina Supreme Court announced an important decision just last month in the matter of determining whether accidents that occur at work are compensable. The case, Nicholson v. SC Department of Social Services, S.C. Sup. Ct. (2015), dealt with the injury of a woman who fell on her way to a meeting. Her fall necessitated treatment for pain to her neck, shoulder, and left side.

Initially, the woman’s workers’ compensation claim was denied by a sole commissioner, since the commissioner found that she failed to prove a causal connection between her employment and the fall. He stated that there was nothing particular about the floor at her place of work that contributed to her fall, and she could have easily fallen anywhere.

Thereafter, a split panel of the commission reversed the single commissioner, finding that, although there was nothing particularly dangerous about the area where the employee tripped, she fell at work. Therefore, her fall arose out of her employment and was compensable.

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The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina handed down a judgment last spring that offers some insight into workshoptwo potential issues that may arise in products liability personal injury lawsuits.

In 2009, the plaintiff in Kennedy v. Techtronic Industries North America, Inc. cut his hand while using a Ryobi table saw manufactured by the defendant, Techtronic Industries North America, Inc. (“TINA”). The plaintiff is a citizen of Ohio. The defendant, although a Delaware corporation, has its principal place of business in South Carolina.Therefore, the plaintiff alleged it was proper to sue it under South Carolina law.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn a decision released just this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit handed down an opinion that is certain to have an impact on personal injury lawsuits arising out of work-related injuries. Although the facts of the case dealt with North Carolina and Virginia, the law is binding in South Carolina as well, since South Carolina is one of the states located within the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit.

The case, Demetres v. East West Construction, Inc., Ct. App. 4th (2015), involved Demetres, a resident of North Carolina, who was employed by Ashland Construction Co., a North Carolina corporation. Ashland hired East West, a Virginia corporation, as a subcontractor to prepare a site in Virginia Beach in order to build a CVS pharmacy. They designated Demetres as the superintendent.

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