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Truck Accidents

Truck Accidents

South Carolina Truck Accident Lawyers

Fighting for Justice for Victims of Truck Crashes Throughout the State

The experienced South Carolina injury attorneys at the law firm of McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, understand how serious truck accidents can be. When accidents happen involving tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, big rigs and other large trucks, the injuries can often be extremely severe, sometimes even fatal. When someone survives a crash with an 18-wheeler, the catastrophic injuries they come away from the accident with may have a lasting impact on the individual’s life. That’s why it’s critical that injury victims contact us immediately. We will fight to protect your rights and get you the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Our knowledgeable South Carolina truck accident attorneys are familiar with the common causes of truck accidents, including speeding truckers, tired truck drivers and distracted truck drivers. We also know how to deal with all different types of truck accidents, whether you were injured in a jackknife truck accident or wide turn truck accident.

What Are the Main Causes of Truck Accidents in South Carolina?

The federal agencies that are responsible for the safety of our nation’s highways which include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted a research study called the Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) that took a look at the causes of large truck crashes in the United States. After the study was completed, the FMCSA announced that drivers’ error was ten times more likely to be the cause of a crash than the other common factors, which include:

The LTCSS revealed that driver behavior is an issue that continues to require attention to ensure the safety of everyone on the roadways. Commercial motor vehicle performance is another issue that has an impact on large truck safety.

Speeding truckers and their other dangerous behaviors

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) speeding is one of the major causes of highway fatalities in America: “It reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway, extends the distance necessary to stop a vehicle, and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation.” When the driver of a 17,000 pound semi-trailer speeds the vehicle’s size, weight, handling characteristics, and braking distance turn it into the equivalent of a deadly weapon. About 22 or 23 percent of passenger car occupants involved in a crash with a speeding truck survive, usually with severe or life-threatening injuries.

In a collision between an 80,000 pound semi-truck and a 4,000 pound passenger car, the car always comes out the loser. The unfortunate truth is, in fatal car and truck collisions 72 percent of the fatally injured are in the smaller vehicle. Excessive speed simply increases that percentage. Those fortunate enough to survive rarely if ever escape without serious, life-threatening injuries or permanent disabilities.

Excessive speed can be related to other factors in an accident, as a recent study of aggressive driving by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explored. In analyzing the reasons for speeding and the extent to which a tendency to speed correlates with a tendency towards other unsafe driving acts, researchers found statistical relationships between speeding and other unsafe acts such as:

  • Reckless Driving:Dangerous violations such as racing, driving drunk, and tailgating
  • Road Rage:Showing hostility and anger to other drivers
  • Dangerous Driving:Risk taking behaviors such as accelerating through a yellow light, taking risks when in a hurry, and cutting off other drivers

Tired truckers can cause serious accidents

In December 2011, the FMCSA issued a new rule to stop fatigued truck driving by making changes to existing “hours of service” rules. The new rule updated two earlier requirements:

  • First, drivers must now take a 30-minute rest break within the first 8 hours of their shifts so that they can stay alert on the road, and
  • Second, the 34-hour rest period, known as the “restart,” must now be used once every seven days, and must include at least two periods of rest between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

The updated rule requires that a driver have the opportunity to take a real rest and catch up on sleep before working another long week. The net effect of these changes has been to reduce the average maximum week a driver can work, from 82 hours to 70 hours.

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Symptoms of driver fatigue

It is very difficult for drivers to accurately assess their own level of fatigue. Although a driver’s ability to self-assess becomes increasingly impaired as they grow more fatigued, their self-confidence in this ability remains. Some of the warning signs that fatigue may already be impairing the driver’s performance include:

  • Trouble focusing, or narrowing of attention
  • Head nodding, or inability to keep the eyes open
  • Not remembering the last few minutes
  • Poor judgment, slower reaction time
  • “Zoning out” or mind wandering
  • Daydreaming and wandering thoughts
  • Constant yawning or eye rubbing
  • Drifting out of the traffic lane

When these kinds of problems result in an accident the truck driver can be said to have driven negligently. That is when you need to consult with an experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer to protect your interests and your family’s. 

Why do drivers drive when they are fatigued?

An article in Trucker’s Report offers this explanation: shippers and receivers often give a specific time to load or unload, and then fail to keep the appointment. A driver’s “sitting time,” sometimes as much as 6 to 8 hours or more, is not compensated. The driver sits and waits without sleep until the cargo is loaded.

As most drivers are paid by the mile rather than salaried, they only earn money when their wheels are turning; hence the need to drive as many miles as they can, fatigued or not. Even without sitting times, the lure of earning more money by driving more miles is hard to resist, fatigue notwithstanding.

What are common causes of truck driver distraction?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website distraction.gov lists numerous kinds of distractions and the numbers of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from them. While not all of them are applicable to truck drivers, those that are include:

  • Text messaging
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Reading maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.

What does South Carolina law say about drunk driving?

South Carolina has a zero-tolerance policy for drug impaired drivers, regardless of what kind of vehicle they drive. To be given a DUI as a passenger driver, you must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08; for commercial truck drivers, it is a .04 BAC.

The dangers of truckers driving drunk

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “The probability of a fatal crash rises significantly after 0.05 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and even more rapidly after 0.08 percent,” which is one of the reasons commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders have a lower allowable threshold for BAC than other vehicle drivers: it is simply too hard to stop short or avoid an accident with a truck that weighs 50,000 lbs.

It also takes far fewer drinks to reach a .04 BAC than many drivers assume. Two 12 oz beers in the course of an hour can bring a 200 lb. man’s BAC to a .03, according to one BAC calculator. Two pint-sized glasses can bring him up to a .04 BAC. At either point, a truck driver’s fine motor skills are likely to be affected, even under the best of circumstances. If that driver is hungry or tired, the effects are likely to be accelerated.

What problems are caused by overloaded semi-trucks?

What makes overloaded trucks so dangerous on roads and highways such as Interstate 20, Interstate 26, Interstate 85, and Interstate 77? A truck that is too heavy is harder to stop and may cause brake failure or a tire blowout. When an overloaded truck accident happens, innocent people can sustain serious, even life-threatening injuries. If a loved one died in an overloaded trailer accident, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

The following are some of the potential safety problems associated with an overloaded or an improperly loaded truck:

  • Higher center of gravity, which may lead to a rollover
  • Additional weight creates a more significant force in a crash
  • Tires become overstressed, leading to higher risk of a blowout
  • Additional stopping distance required

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What kind of maintenance is required for tractor-trailers?

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) issues and enforces regulations that apply to the road worthiness of trucks. Federal statute (49 CFR 393), entitled Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation, specifies every part of a commercial motor vehicle that must be inspected and kept in good operating condition. The law states: “Every employer and employee shall comply and be conversant with the requirements and specifications of this part. No employer shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, or cause or permit it to be operated, unless it is equipped in accordance with the requirements and specifications of this part.”

While the list of requirements is comprehensive, some of the parts which require regular maintenance include:

  • Brakes
  • Headlights, brake lights and other reflective surfaces
  • Tires
  • Windows
  • Fuel systems
  • Coupling devices
  • Heater systems
  • Sleeper cars
  • Power units
  • Electrical components
  • Gear shifters

Dangerous defects in the nation’s trucks would be rare if all trucking companies adhered to these federal safety regulations. True, there are expenses involved in doing so, and some of them are significant; but balancing them against human lives is never an acceptable cost control strategy.

How is a truck accident that involves poor maintenance investigated?

Whatever the cause of your truck accident, we can help. The South Carolina truck accident attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, have years of experience handling accidents that have complicated contributing factors, and investigate each case thoroughly in order to prove the cause of an accident. We begin an investigation by serving legal notice to the trucking carrier that they must preserve all physical evidence, including the truck itself. We then subpoena the drivers’ logs and employment record, truck maintenance records, ECM records and other important records which, by law, must be preserved. In this way the trucking company is prevented from “losing” evidence. Trust us to identify and hold the responsible parties legally and financially accountable to their victims.

Why Are Truck Accidents So Complicated?

Truck drivers and their employers must be held accountable when they have acted carelessly and caused serious injury. But truck accident cases are rarely simple. The driver who caused your accident may deny wrongdoing. His or her trucking company may try to say you caused the accident.

Trucking companies and their insurance carriers typically begin investigations within hours of the crash to protect their interests. They will look for any evidence that might minimize the fault of the driver or the company. That’s why you need to level the playing field by contacting an attorney as soon as possible. At McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, our South Carolina truck accident lawyers are committed to getting justice for our clients who have been injured or lost loved ones in South Carolina trucking accidents. Whether we settle your claim or file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf, we pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses.

Typical Truck Accident Injuries

Truck accidents can cause a wide range of injuries including:

  • Head and neck injuries.Severe injuries to the head and neck are a common occurrence in truck accidents.
  • Spinal cord injuries.In a truck crash the spinal cord can be terribly injured or broken leaving the injured person partially or completely paralyzed.
  • Traumatic brain injury.The tremendous forces involved in a truck accident can cause the brain to smack up against the inside of the front of the skull and then against the back of the skull causing varying degrees of injury, some of which can have a lasting impact on the victim’s life.
  • Amputations.Truck accident victims can face the difficult task of facing the rest of their lives while dealing with the loss of a limb.
  • Broken bones. Broken arms, legs, feet, shoulders can happen in a truck crash.
  • Burn injuries. A passenger vehicle may erupt in flames causing severe burns.

Unfortunately, fatal truck accidents are also common on I-20, the William Earle Berne Beltway, I-26, I-95, I-85, I-77 and other roads and highways throughout the state. When they have lost a loved one in a fatal accident, families may want to consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit in order to recover compensation for the terrible loss of their loved one.

Spinal cord injuries from South Carolina truck accidents

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is typically defined as a damage or trauma to the spinal cord area that results in a loss or impaired function resulting in reduced mobility or feeling. Each year, about 7,800 people sustain spinal cord injuries in the U.S., according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and about 400,000 people live with a spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injuries that lead to paralysis sometimes occur due to severe truck accidents. Such catastrophic injuries are often the result a truck crashing into another vehicle at a high rate of speeding. Speeding truckers may be responsible for the highway truck accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. We will pursue justice for a client and hold the negligent driver or trucking company accountable.

After a spinal cord injury, families will face medical bills, rehabilitation costs, medical equipment, and modifications to homes. The CDC estimates spinal injury victims’ annual medical costs to be between $15,000 to $30,000, and the average lifetime cost to be between $500,000 to $3 million dollars. These costs are more than most families can bear on their own.

Knowing what to do after a truck accident involving a tractor trailer or 18-wheeler can be confusing. Our attorneys in South Carolina can help. We know how to investigate accidents and uncover the truth. If necessary, we can help you file an accident claim in SC or wherever your truck accident took place.

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Head and neck injuries caused by truck accidents cover a wide range. Sometimes, such injuries can seem minor at first, but gradually develop into a serious neck or back injury. Other times, the seriousness of the injury is apparent right from the start. A truck accident may even result in paralysis or even death in certain extreme circumstances.

If you or a loved one is dealing with a serious truck accident injury to the head or neck, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced head injury attorney in South Carolina. Our results-driven team of South Carolina truck accident lawyers can fight for you. We have dealt with all different types of accidents throughout our careers as honest, hard-working South Carolina attorneys.

Head and neck injuries caused by reckless truck drivers might seem straightforward. But these accidents can lead to complicated legal claims. Several different companies and insurance carriers may be involved with your accident claim. The truck, its trailer and its contents might be owned by three different corporations with different insurers. And because there’s often so much money at stake, teams of lawyers and medical consultants for the insurance companies often work behind the scenes in the battle against victims of truck accidents.

Traumatic Brain Injuries caused by South Carolina truck accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are also a major cause of traumatic brain injuries, which, similar to spinal cord injuries, have severe long-term effects on patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention holds motor vehicle accidents as causing 17.3 percent of traumatic brain injuries annually, and that among all age groups, motor vehicle accidents resulted in the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths.

At McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, our experienced legal team understands the profound impact a traumatic brain injury can have on an accident victim’s life – and the lives of the victim’s family. Suddenly, your loved one might not be able to walk or move normally ever again. He or she might even be unable to work in any capacity.

The costs after a traumatic brain injury are astounding and can last a lifetime, depending on the severity of the injury. Many survivors of TBI benefit from in-patient rehabilitation centers that offer comprehensive physical, mental and speech therapy. Unfortunately, most insurance plans will not cover the entire amount of what could be a lengthy recovery period.

Our South Carolina lawyers work tirelessly for truck accident victims who sustain traumatic brain injuries. We work hard because we know the work we do serves a vital purpose for injury victims and their families. This money enables families to continue to live their lives with dignity. You didn’t do anything wrong. Why should your family pay for someone else’s mistakes?

Do I Need a Lawyer to Deal With the Trucking Company’s Insurance Carrier?

The insurance company may delay your claim, deny your claim, or even try to say you did something to cause the accident. You may feel overwhelmed and confused. Our attorneys want you to know that you don’t have to deal with the insurance company on your own after your truck accident.

Insurance companies will often dispute trucking company liability issues after an accident, especially when they’re working for the trucking company. In fact, many truck company liability issues are normally contentious because the truck driver and trucking companies are often reluctant to admit any wrongdoing. That’s why it’s critical you contact us. We will vigorously protect your rights and fight to hold reckless truck drivers responsible for their actions.

Truck accident liability

In the aftermath of a large-scale trucking accident, the main question families may be left wondering is: Who is to blame? While nothing can change the past, the experienced attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC work tirelessly to help families who sustained injuries from truck accidents answer that question and hold the responsible parties accountable.

Truck accident litigation differs from passenger auto accidents, as there may be multiple parties at fault. Our team of truck accident lawyers and expert reconstructionists commence independent investigations immediately to uncover the truth and find closure after severe and fatal truck accidents.

Truck drivers are liable for accidents

Truck driver error occurs when a driver does not follow the rules of the road or state and federal regulations. Sometimes, this is due to lack of training or experience. Based on the legal theory of negligence, a truck driver owes a duty to other motorists to operate the truck in a safe and prudent manner. If the driver causes a motor vehicle accident that causes injuries to others as a result, he or she will be personally liable.

Trucking corporations who employ the driver could be liable

Based on a legal theory known as respondent superior, employers are responsible for employees’ actions when working within the scope of employment. This means that a trucking company will also be liable for accidents caused by truck driver error.

Besides being responsible for drivers’ negligent actions, trucking carriers who do not comply with state or federal law will have additional liability for accidents that occur as a result. Carriers are responsible when they push drivers to skirt the legal limits, such as encouraging them to speed, work more or sleep less than the law allows, falsify logbooks, or overload the cargo trailer.

Insurance companies for the truck company will fight back

Just like passenger vehicles, trucking carriers are required to maintain liability insurance policies. The truck’s insurance company will therefore be named a party to truck accident litigation, and the insurance company will have its own attorneys representing its interests and will seek to place the blame elsewhere.

Suing loading companies for negligence

In some situations, truck loading companies may be liable if they acted negligently in overloading trailers or improperly loading cargo that results in an accident.

Truck part manufacturers can be liable for defective parts

If a defect in a truck part was the proximate cause of the accident, the auto part designer or manufacturer will be liable for any injuries that occurred as a result. This could include the original parts in a truck, or added or repaired auto parts.

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Frequently Asked Questions About South Carolina Truck Accidents

The South Carolina lawyers at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, understand how the aftermath of a truck accident can be confusing, and make those who have been injured feel overwhelmed. When you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, or delivery truck, so many different legal issues typically need to be addressed. You most likely have never been in a truck accident before, and you may not even know where to start. We understand. And we can help.

For decades, our truck accident attorneys in South Carolina have helped those injured in truck accidents just like you get honest answers and straightforward advice. When you contact us, you will receive our undivided attention. We will sit down with you and discuss all your legal options from pursuing a claim with an insurance company to filing a lawsuit in a South Carolina civil court against a trucking company.

Some of the most frequently asked questions about truck accidents we deal with at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC include:

  • How Are Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents?
  • How Might A Lawyer Can Help After A Truck Accident?
  • Should I File A Lawsuit After A Truck Accident?
  • What Compensation is Available in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
  • How Much Will it Cost to Hire an Attorney to Represent Me?

Q: How Are Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents?

A: South Carolina truck accident attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC know that truck accidents and car accidents are not the same when it comes to pursuing compensation. The biggest difference is you are not simply dealing with another driver and their insurance company if you’ve been injured in truck accident.

Truck accidents often involve taking legal action against several different companies and there are often several different insurance companies involved representing each company’s interests.

Another difference between truck accidents and car accidents is the injuries from truck accidents are often much more severe. Due to the large size of many tractor-trailers, truck accident injury victims often sustain spinal cord injuries and neck and back injuries, or traumatic brain injuries. All of these injuries demand strong legal action. If necessary, we will even file a lawsuit in if we believe that’s the best way to successfully resolve your case.

Q: How Might A Lawyer Can Help After A Truck Accident?

A: There are many different ways we can help you, but the bottom line is we can often help you obtain the maximum compensation you rightfully deserve after your accident. Some of the ways our experienced legal team can help you include:

  • Investigating your truck accident
  • Dealing directly with insurance companies
  • Filing a lawsuit in South Carolina if necessary
  • Holding reckless truck drivers and their employers accountable for their actions

The list goes on and on. And best of all, if you have any questions, we’re here for you and eager to provide you with honest answers and straightforward advice. Filing a lawsuit after truck accident might seem simple, but knowing who to sue and where to file the lawsuit can be a challenge. That’s because truck accidents often involve several large corporations, many of which are sometimes located in different states across the country. Our lawyers can help you cut through the red tape. You can count on us to provide straightforward advice and honest answers to your questions.

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a trucking accident, you will need someone on your side making sure your rights are protected every step of the way. Our South Carolina truck accident lawyers are prepared to fight for you. Our attorneys are familiar with rules and regulations spelled out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an arm of the Department of Transportation that regulates the interstate trucking industry. These are known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations or FMCSR and our lawyers often cite them while representing clients in truck accident cases.

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Q: Should I File A Lawsuit After A Truck Accident?

A: Deciding whether to file a lawsuit after a truck accident can be a difficult decision. You have many different legal options after a truck accident, and some people are reluctant to file a lawsuit for a variety of different reasons.

Our South Carolina accident lawyers can meet with you, discuss all your options, and allow you to make an informed decision. Often, many people decide to file a lawsuit against a trucking company because they believe they can obtain the maximum compensation for their injuries.

Your case is about more than just money. It’s about justice. It’s about upholding the law and about holding reckless people responsible for their actions. When you take legal action after your accident, you’re standing up for more than just yourself. You’re taking a stand for other innocent people in the same situation.

Q: What Compensation is Available in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

A: When it comes to recovering damages (financial compensation) in an injury lawsuit there are many variables to consider such as: the severity of your injuries, the long-term effect of your injuries, the cause and the circumstances of the accident will all play a role in your case. Each of these factors will have an impact on what type and how much compensation a jury might award in a lawsuit. Some of the different types of compensation include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity/ permanent disability
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Other damages

Q: How Much Will it Cost to Hire an Attorney to Represent Me?

A: When you hire a McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC truck accident attorney to represent you after you have been injured, you will not be required to pay them anything out-of-pocket. The South Carolina accident lawyers at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay attorney fees only if we are able to win compensation for you. Our attorney fees come out of the settlement or the jury verdict if we take your case to trial.

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Choosing the Right Truck Accident Lawyer

There are a lot of injury attorneys out there, and choosing the right one can seem difficult. You want a lawyer who is going to do what is best for you and your future – someone who will fight for you, and who has what it takes to handle complex claims in front of a jury and in settlement negotiations. When it comes to choosing the best truck accident lawyer for your needs, you should look at:

  • Experience in truck crash cases.While everyone must start somewhere, you want to choose an attorney who has several years of practice in resolving truck accident cases. Truck crashes are complicated because they tend to involve serious injuries, have many potential causes and defendants, and require familiarity with state and local transportation regulations. It is also important that the lawyer you hire has access to the experts you need such as accident reconstruction specialists, and medical experts.
  • How is the prospective attorney viewed in the community?When you ask your colleagues and friends about them, do you get a good impression? You want a lawyer with a reputation as a strong advocate for their clients, an effective negotiator, and someone who is willing to take the fight to court if the insurance companies are not being fair. Trucking companies are often huge corporations with a team of aggressive lawyers, whose singular goal is to pay as little compensation as they can get away with. You want a lawyer with a reputation for being able to stand up to the pressure.
  • Responsiveness and client care.It does not matter how great your truck accident attorney is if you cannot get them to respond to your phone calls. You want a lawyer who values you and your case. The right lawyer should be one who answers your questions, keeps you abreast of how your case is moving forward, and who sees you are a person with needs and goals.
  • Record of successful verdicts and settlements.As you narrow down your list of possible truck accident lawyers, review the verdicts and settlements on their website to get a feel for the kinds of cases they have won. Also, read the testimonials they have received from satisfied clients.

If you have questions after your or a family member’s truck accident, at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, we have the answers you are looking for. We are one of the premier truck accident law firms in South Carolina, and we put our years of experience to work for our clients every single day. We thoroughly investigate the accident, and we work with the trucking companies and their insurance companies to make sure you are fully compensated for your injuries and loss of income if you are unable work. We handle everything for you so you can focus on what really matters–your recovery.

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Considering Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit in South Carolina? Explore Your Options

If you were injured in a trucking accident, you may quickly feel overwhelmed by the insurance company red tape. Medical bills can add up quickly. You may face a mountain of confusing paperwork. Do you know how to negotiate a fair settlement with a large insurance company? Do you know how much your case is worth? A professional South Carolina truck accident attorney knows the answers to these and many other questions about trucking accidents.

You don’t have to face these challenges on your own. Demand justice. Expect more. Contact McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, and schedule a free case evaluation. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can help you get your life back on track. Call 803-327-7800 or fill out our contact form today to find out more.

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