July 2016 Archives

It's Your Home, Fight for It - Taking on the Foreclosure Process

Just because you've been informed that your home is either about to be foreclosed on or has already been initiated into the process, this doesn't mean that you don't have any ways of fighting back.  Although foreclosure laws may differ from state to state, there are still different ways of slowing down the process or stopping it altogether

Finding the Perfect Real Estate Attorney

No matter what kind of property you're looking for, whether it's a new home or a commercial space for a new business venture, having a real estate attorney to turn to is going to be a major asset.  When looking for a property, you obviously want to hire a realtor that really knows what they're doing - one that can understand and anticipate your specific needs. 

How to Deal With a Car Accident in Charleston, SC

An accident of any kind is unpleasant, and a car accident can be especially so. It's one of those things that you never expect to happen, but the reality is there are over five million car accidents every year in the United States. Even if you are a good driver and take all of the necessary precautions, it is not always possible to avoid the negligence of other, less careful drivers. After an accident, you'll be tempted to assign blame, but do your best to avoid this. It will only create more stress in an already stressful situation. Besides, no matter whose fault an accident happens to be, there are actions that need to be taken that can save major headaches later on. It adds insult to injury when you go to hire a personal injury attorney after your accident, only to be told that you don't have a case because you didn't follow the necessary procedures.

heck to See if Anyone Is Injured

The first thing you should do after you've been in an accident is seeing if anyone is hurt. Start by checking yourself, as you'll be no good to anyone else if you're badly injured. After you've checked yourself over, go to everyone else involved in the accident to see if they have any injuries. When you've been in an accident, you're often in a state where you're highly emotional and aren't thinking clearly, so it's easy to forget the small but important details. Obviously, if anyone is severely wounded, you should call 911 right away. The moments immediately following an accident can be some of the most gut-wrenching. Showing concern and being the calm amidst the chaos is one way of making a difficult situation just a little bit easier. So, even if your emotions are running high, remember that asking the other people in your car and everyone else involved in the accident if they are okay may be the most important thing you can do.

Get Out of the Roadway

Immediately after you've made sure that nobody is visibly injured, get everyone out of the roadway. This may seem too obvious to even say, but with everything that goes on after an accident, it's easy to forget. Once everyone is off of the road, turn on your hazard lights or put out flares so other drivers know to stay away.

Report the Accident

If you get into an accident, you should call 911 as soon as possible. Even if the other party tries to convince you not to get the police involved, it is still the first thing you should do. Generally people don't want the police involved when they have something to lose. As is often the case with people who don't want police involvement, they may not have insurance. It is also possible that they have a perfect driving record which they want to keep unblem ished so their insurance doesn't rise. Worst case scenario: The person you got into an accident with may be intoxicated in some way and wants to avoid criminal charges. Whatever their reasons, protect yourself and call 911 so the incident can be properly documented. It's just too easy to make an emotional decision right after an event like an accident, and you may be tempted to be overly cooperative with the other person. Unfortunately, as trustworthy as most people are, there are many others who will lie to you so they can avoid paying for the damage they caused. So, after you see whether or not anyone is hurt, assess the damage and call 911. When the police show up, tell them your side of the story clearly so that they are able to accurately report what you said. Too often, clients come in with complaints that the police officer on the scene did not get their story straight. On that note, if the police officer asks you if you're hurt, politely tell them that you aren't sure, and you plan to have a doctor examine you. While you may not feel hurt at the time, soft tissue injuries often don't make their presence felt until two or three days later, while other injuries may not show their symptoms until weeks after the accident. It's also common for the other driver to admit fault immediately upon the accident happening, only to change their tune as soon as the police arrive. This happens all the time. On that note, officers responding should ensure that each party is able to give their statements separate from one another so that one cannot hear the other. You don't want the other person to be able to form their defense based on what you say. And get statements from witnesses. These can be invaluable when it comes time to go to court or reach a settlement.

File an Accident Report

If you don't call the police right away from the scene of the accident, the next best thing you can do is file an accident report. Simply go to the police precinct closest to where the accident took place and tell an officer that you were in an accident and would like to fill out a report. This needs to be done as soon as possible (preferably at the scene of the accident). If you're not sure where the nearest precinct is located, call 311 and tell them where the accident happened. They will point you in the right direction. There are cases where the police do not arrive at the scene when you call them, so sometimes filing a report is your best option. In South Carolina, police who arrive on the scene will provide those involved in the accident with a FR-10 form to fill out.

Ensure the Accuracy of the Other Party's Information

Getting the other driver's information is crucial after an accident, and getting all of the information you need up front saves a major hassle later. This information includes:
  • Name and address of all drivers and passengers
  • Name and address of the vehicles' registered owners
  • Drivers' license numbers
  • Proof of valid insurance (also note that different states have different laws regarding insurance)
  • Name, address, and contact information of any witnesses
  • Location of accident scene
  • Description of damage and injuries (including pictures)
  • Name of the police officers at the scene
  • Notes about who (if anyone) claimed responsibility
  • If you suspect anyone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, note your reasons for your suspicions
As you are gathering all of the other party's information, take measures to confirm that what they say is true. We all want to believe what other people tell us, but the sad truth of the matter is that people lie, especially when doing so can help them avoid taking responsibility for something they've done. Get a good look at their insurance information, taking note whether or not their policy is up to date. If they give you their phone number (which they should), call it on the spot to verify that it is indeed their phone number. We don't say this to make you untrusting of people as a whole, but too many people have been burned by taking a total stranger at their word. So, as the old saying goes: Trust, but verify.

Take Photographs of the Accident Scene

Everyone hates awkward photographs, and it can be more than awkward taking a picture of the accident scene. Awkwardness aside, it needs to be done. Often, after an accident, your car will be blocking traffic, and people will ask you (sometimes not so politely) to move your car. Do not give in to the pressure to do this. Before you even think about moving your vehicle, take pictures of all of the cars involved from multiple angles. There are many tips online that can help ensure you get all of the pictures you need. Accident scene pictures shouldn't be limited to just vehicles. Include photos of any traffic lights, stop signs, and even intersections relevant to the collision. Whatever you do, don't move your vehicle before the police arrive to document everything and you have taken all of the necessary pictures. If you don't follow these steps, it's possible you may be left in a situation where it is your word against theirs. When it comes time to go to court or settle, this can make all the difference. After an accident, pictures really can say a thousand words.

Go to the Hospital

After an accident, adrenaline is running high, and sometimes we don't even realize we're hurt until the next day. When the police arrive, they will ask if anyone is injured. If you aren't sure if you're hurt or not, don't say so. If you tell them that you're not hurt, the statement can later be used against you by the other party's insurance company. Don't feel dishonest about saying that you aren't sure if you're hurt, even if you feel fine. As we've discussed, there are many injuries that you may not feel until days, or even weeks, later. Again, tell the police that you are going to get examined by a doctor to determine the extent (if any) of your injuries. If you know or even think that you may be injured, go to the hospital, preferably by ambulance. If you can't leave your car at the scene, drive yourself to the hospital. Emergency room doctors deal with a lot of intense situations and may try to minimize your injuries if you don't have any obvious fractures. If this happens, or if you decide not to go to the hospital that day, consult a no-fault doctor as soon as possible.

Learn About Your Rights

There's no way you can be expected to know all of the state laws regarding accidents, but being aware of some of your basic rights is never a bad idea. Laws are often similar from state to state, but knowing the specifics about things like how long you have to file a lawsuit where you live can mean the difference between getting properly compensated and getting stuck paying the entire bill for an accident that wasn't your fault.

What Not to Do

No discussion about what to do after a car accident would be complete without an overview about what NOT to do. For starters, don't leave the scene unless it's via ambulance. Also, don't forget to call 911. It may not be an emergency, and sometimes the police may not even show up, but a quick 911 call can help document that an accident happened. Last, but certainly not least, don't lose your temper. Accidents are bad, and people are already shaken up emotionally and maybe even physically. Blowing a gasket will only pour gasoline on the fire, which will do no good for you or anyone else.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

Getting in an accident can leave you with many side effects. Besides physical injuries, they cause property damage, mental suffering, and financial losses, as you may be out of work depending on how serious your injuries are. A personal injury attorney will help you learn what your rights are after an accident. It is often the case that people are entitled to far more than they realize - from being compensated for property damage, lost wages, time, to even pain and suffering. Most lawyers in the personal injury field work on contingency, so you won't be charged any out-of-pocket expenses. Instead, you will only owe them if they collect money from the other person's insurance company. If you've been in an accident and would like a free consultation, contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Sometimes the most important thing to do after an accident is to stay on top of your case, and having somebody on your side who is experienced and knowledgeable can help you do exactly that.

Buying New Property: Why Every Perspective Buyer Needs a Good Attorney

Buying a new home always comes with its own checklist.  Perspective buyers look for the right square footage, good school zones, the best realtors, and all of the particulars regarding financing and other related purchase costs.  People don't always think about lawyers before they get into the home buying process, though. 

Law Office of
Jason S. Stevens, LLC

215 East Bay Street Suite 500-H
Charleston, SC 29401

Phone: 843-410-3953
Fax: 843-414-7240
Charleston Law Office Map

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