Parents in South Carolina are working hard to pay their bills and take care of their families. Federal data tells us in most U.S. families, all the adults work. Fewer than 1 in 3 children have a full-time, stay-at-home parent. In order for that to be possible, families must entrust their young children to other caregivers. Often, that is a day care facility. childgroup

Approximately 11 million children are in non-relative child care programs across the country. Although many of these places are well-run, too often, daycare injuries result in hospitalization, long-term recovery, disability and death. Part of the issue had long been a lack of oversight. This is one area at least we can say in which South Carolina has greatly improved in recent years. Unfortunately, it took a horrific case of abuse and murder to spur those changes.

It’s been more than 20 years since the operator of a private home daycare in Irmo was investigated for the deaths of two babies in the injury of a third. A case was filed against the woman in 1993, and she was eventually sentenced to prison for life. Horrific as the case was, it forced the state to confront systemic regulatory failures of in-home day cares. It also exposed problems with how social workers and police investigated child injuries and deaths and how pathologists determined whether those injuries/ deaths were natural or the result of a crime. These changes have helped to improve safety for South Carolina’s children, though parents and loved ones still need to remain vigilant. Even where daycare workers do not intentionally harm children, acts of negligence (i.e., failure to supervise, failure to properly feed, failure to maintain playground equipment, etc.) can have the same tragic effect. Continue reading

It’s been nearly three years since the death of 14-month-old Jaylen Halley. He was killed in Lee County in December 2013 in a common – and preventable – mishap when a car driven by a relative backed up in a driveway and ran over him. South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers wanted to make sure everyone who heard about the incident knew it takes only a second, and that drivers should never back up unless they are sure there is no one and nothing behind.driveway

But these types of incidents – as well as other so-called “non-traffic crashes” – were not studied intensively by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The organization Kids and Cars ( has studied the issue of child vehicle backovers, but it isn’t a government agency.

Now, almost 10 years after Congress began requiring the agency to start collecting and maintaining information pertinent to these type of events (referred to as “non-traffic accidents”), the agency has released its first report. It defined non-traffic crashes as those that occur off public traffic ways. These are mostly single-vehicle crashes that happen on private roads or two-vehicle crashes that happen in parking facilities or pedestrian accidents that occur in driveways. (The agency also has been investigation “non-traffic incidents,” which might involve situations like a vehicle falling on top of a person or unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning or a child getting trapped or left in a vehicle.) Continue reading

Many people on-the-job are also on the roads each day. If those workers are involved in an accident, there may be grounds to hold the employer accountable. The worker could seek workers’ compensation insurance and, if the worker was at-fault, the other driver could pursue a claim of vicarious liability against the employer. However, in order for either of those claims to stick, there has to be proof the worker was acting in the course and scope of employment. driver2

The legal theory under which an employer can be held liable is called respondeat superior, or “Let the Master Answer.” However, there are all sorts of legal exceptions, such as the “coming-and-going rule” (employees aren’t covered while commuting to-and-from work) and others.

In the recent case of Jorge v. Culinary Inst. of Am., the California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District, Division Two, reversed an earlier jury trial finding awarding damages to a man injured when he was struck by a car driven by a chef instructor employed by defendant. The appellate court ruled the coming-and-going rule was applicable because as a chef instructor, defendant driver didn’t take his work home with him so the coming-and-going rule applied.  Continue reading

An Anderson, South Carolina who was pricked by needle in the parking lot of a Target has won what may be the largest award in the history of Anderson County, according to the Independent Mailhypodermicneedle1

After offering to settle the case for $12,000, plaintiff refused to accept Target’s counter offer of a measly $750. She took the case to trial, and it seems jurors wanted to send a message about failure to accept a reasonable settlement. Turns out, it was a $4.6 million message.

The incident happened in May 2014 in the Clemson Boulevard parking lot of the retail giant. Plaintiff parked her vehicle and as she stepped out, she saw her young daughter, who was 8-years-old at the time, picking up a hypodermic needle. She raced to her daughter’s side and swatted the needle from her daughter’s hand. As she did so, the needle stuck her in her right palm. In addition to being painful, plaintiff feared her exposure to contagious blood-borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C.  Continue reading

Just weeks ago, the River Bluff High School community was left devastating when a 14-year-old football player died just before his 15th birthday after collapsing in the school locker room. He’d just spent two hours and 15 minutes training outside in oppressive heat. The teen, standing 6-foot-2, was a defensive tackle in reportedly great health. Although the sophomore made it through practice, he started to stumble near the end, according to The State. He collapsed in the locker room, where his coaches gave him CPR and used a defibrillator. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead. football

Although the autopsy results were inconclusive, some questioned whether proper safety protocol for outdoor practices were followed. At the least, the coroner opined that external environmental factors – namely heat and humidity – probably contributed to the stress caused by strenuous physical exertion. The school and coaches insist players are encouraged to let them know when they don’t feel well, to constantly drink water and sports drinks – both before and during practices – and to take rest breaks. Coaches, though, need to be mindful of the temperature, safety experts say, and take that into account when determining how hard to push their players.

On the day in question, school officials say coaches were in fact using a wet-bulb device. For those unfamiliar, it’s the same kind used by drill sergeants training U.S. Army recruits outdoors. The devices measure not just the temperature, but the humidity and the radiated heat from the surface and sun. These readings allow the sergeants – or in this case, coaches – to adjust the training schedule, making more allowances for water, shedding heavy equipment or clothing and more frequent rest breaks in the shade. When conditions are too severe, conditioning can be canceled.  Continue reading

The 31-year-0ld father committed himself to getting healthier for his wife of a year-and-a-half and 13-month-old daughter. He wanted to be the best dad he could be. So he took up bicycling, which is known to be an excellent way to get some exercise and improve both physical and mental well-being. bicyclenight1

But all that was cut short recently in a Spartanburg bicycle accident. According to, the fatal crash happened around 6:45 p.m. on S.C. Highway 101 in Spartanburg, near Woodruff. Although the exact details haven’t been released, it appears the driver of a Toyota sport utility vehicle struck the young man from behind. The cyclist was wearing a helmet, but was rushed to Spartaburg Regional Hospital with critical injuries. Shortly thereafter, he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the SUV was not cited for any infraction at the scene, though authorities were careful to note that the Multi-jurisdictional Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) was continuing to investigate. The agencies involved did not rule out the possibility of charges being filed at a later date.  Continue reading

Following the largest outbreak of Hepatitis C in recent U.S. history, the hospital system and its primary health provider have agreed to a settlement with 21 of the victims – mostly nursing home residents – were infected. hospitalhallAttorneys for the health service, Trinity Health, asked a state judge in North Dakota to dismiss the pending lawsuit, asserting the defendant had reached a confidential settlement that resolved plaintiff’s claims. The health services defendant also asked for the judge to continue to allow the legal dispute between the hospital and ManorCare, the nursing home where most of the patients contracted the disease, to be resolved instead in state court. The court hasn’t yet ruled. 

Although the settlement still isn’t finalized, plaintiffs’ attorneys said an agreement had been reached “in principle.”  Continue reading

Sorting through the complex language of an auto insurance policy is the last thing grieving family members want to do when they’ve lost their loved one in a crash. This is why it’s so important to have an experienced injury lawyer advocating on your behalf at the very outset. motorcycle1

Although we cannot guarantee coverage, we can work to help you dispute denials or counter low-ball offers. We can help you determine when it’s in your best interest to accept a settlement, and when it makes more sense to take the fight to a jury. Insurance companies are always going to be looking out for their bottom line – even when you are enduring the devastating loss of a loved one.

The recent case of Edens v. Netherlands Insurance is no exception. This was an appeal out of Oklahoma heard recently by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. This case was about two parents seeking collection of $1 million in underinsured motorist benefits following the motorcycle accident death of their son. The policy in question was in the parents’ names, but the son was covered as a member of insured’s family. However, because the couple also owned the motorcycle the son was riding at the time of the crash, it was held that the policy didn’t cover the action due to an exclusion provision.  Continue reading

As students head back to school this semester, there are a range of potential dangers some may face on school grounds, on the bus or while playing sports. childhand

School districts do have a responsibility to properly supervise children and keep them safe. The extent of that responsibility may vary depending on the circumstances and age of the child. When child injury does occur, it’s important to seek out an experienced injury lawyer because these cases are complex due to the fact the school district is a branch of the government. That means assertions of sovereign immunity may need to be overcome, and these are not simple matters.

In the recent case of Benda v. Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, the question was whether parents were entitled to file a loss of consortium claim against the school district for the severe injuries suffered by their son, when loss of consortium claims are typically reserved for spousal losses.

For those who may be unfamiliar, loss of consortium is a type of claim in which a person alleges damages were suffered by certain family members of a person who was injured or killed by the negligent or intentional wrongful acts of another person. This type of claim can be filed by loved ones of the victim, though it is usually the spouse that reserves this right. Claims for filial loss of consortium may be filed in North Carolina, though these rights vary from state-to-state. Filial loss of consortium claims are meant to compensate a parent or parents for the loss of love and companionship of a child. Some states also allow parental consortium claims.  Continue reading

Reversing two lower courts, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled recently that a customer pursuing litigation against an indoor water park can proceed to trial with his case, despite having signed a waiver of liability prior to the accident. The ruling is a victory not just for plaintiff in Steinberg v. Sahara Sam’s Oasis, but for others injured despite having signed a liability waiver. It signals that a waiver isn’t the absolute line in the sand that defendants uphold it to be. waterpark

The state high court, in ruling the plaintiff could go on with his case, ruled that a reasonable juror could conclude the proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries was gross negligence on the part of the defendant.

Although liability waivers are becoming increasingly common, this case shows they are not impenetrable. One of the circumstances under which a plaintiff can sidestep a liability waiver is by asserting gross negligence, as opposed to simple negligence. Whereas negligence is merely a failure to use reasonable care, gross negligence is the conscious and voluntary disregard for the need to use reasonable care in a circumstance that is likely to cause foreseeable grave injury or harm to persons, property or both.  Continue reading

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