Frequently Asked Questions

Once you take my case, can I count on you to win?

We will do our best to represent our clients. There are no guarantees associated with any lawsuit or claim. Our clients can count on the fact that we work hard to make sure the cases we pursue are thoroughly prepared and ready for trial.

How do you decide whether to accept a settlement or take my case before a jury?

Deciding when to accept or reject a settlement is rarely an easy decision. Our lawyers will advise you of the pros and cons of trying your case versus settling it before trial. We will do our best to help you decide whether a settlement offer is a fair one, but the decision is ultimately yours.

Who pays for out-of-pocket expenses while my case is pending?

This will depend on the fee and cost agreement that is agreed to in your case. Where we are handling a case on a contingency fee basis, we typically advance expenses incurred during our representation. In that situation, our fee will be a percentage of the recovery computed before deducting expenses. If and when the case reaches a successful conclusion, the costs we have expended are returned to us out of recovery. If your case is the type of case where we do not advance expenses incurred during our representation, you will be advised of that in your initial meeting. In that situation, we will discuss in detail the projected expenses and the appropriate way to handle the payment of expenses.

Will I have to put up money to get started?

The majority of cases we handle involve a contingent fee contract. That means we do not get paid a fee until and unless our client makes a recovery. Generally, our fees will be a percentage with recovery computed before deducting expenses. In some circumstances, we will represent the client on an hourly basis if the case calls for such a contract, in which case a retainer agreement may be made. In either instance, the full details of the fee and cost agreement you have with our firm will be explained to you in detail before we begin pursuing your case.

What should I look for in selecting a lawyer to represent me?

Before hiring a lawyer, you should spend some time researching the firm you are considering. Ask for information about the lawyer’s education, training, and experience dealing with cases similar to yours. Ask the lawyer to go over the fee contract with you in detail, and be sure you understand how you will pay the lawyer’s fees and costs at the end of the case. Ask about the possible adverse consequences if your case is lost. Ask if your lawyer intends to handle your case alone, and, if you are told that lawyers from outside firms will be assisting, find out what the fee arrangements will be.

Is there a time limit on bringing a lawsuit?

South Carolina has a variety of different statutes of limitation depending on the kind of case you have. Most cases have a 3-year statute of limitations, but you should always seek legal advice as to the specific statute of limitations applicable to your specific case. Generally, claims which involve the government are subject to special rules, including a different, and usually shorter, statute of limitations. If you believe the government may be involved in your case, please notify us immediately.

Will a lawsuit be necessary?

The answer to that is if we cannot reach an amicable agreement with the at- fault party and/or their insurance company, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to obtain an adequate recovery. This is a legal decision that should be made by your attorney with your advice and consent. Before filing suit in your case, we will obtain your permission and explain to you why we believe a lawsuit should be filed.

Although a lawsuit may have to be filed, settlement is always possible at any stage during the lawsuit. Negotiations continue and only a small percentage of lawsuits actually go to trial.

What is the value of my case?

It is impossible for us to tell immediately how much compensation, if any, you will recover in connection with your case. There is no formula, and each case is unique and different. In cases of serious injury, the ultimate recovery is often related to the amount of insurance coverage available as well as the nature, extent, and duration of your injuries, although with an assessment of liability. As your attorneys, we feel it is our primary duty to obtain compensation which will fairly and justly compensate you for your injuries. We’ll make every effort to do this by locating all sources of compensation. We will advise you of our evaluation in this regard.

How long will it take to resolve my case?

The time period it takes to resolve your case depends on a number of factors. We cannot make your claim until after the doctors have given us reports stating exactly what your medical condition is and what they expect it to be in the future—in other words, until you have reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). If we try to settle your case before your medical condition is stabilized, you may lose compensation that you might be entitled to for a condition that did not show up until after your case was settled.

It is important to know that you case will not be settled until the damages have been determined and all investigation to determine who is liable has been completed. It generally takes several months to gather the necessary information. If a trial becomes necessary, it can take several years to complete a case. One of the most difficult requests we make of you is to have patience. We will work as hard and as fast as possible to settle your case quickly.

Are payments made by my health insurance carrier paid back out of settlement proceeds?

If any insurance company pays some of your medical or other expenses arising from your injury, the law provides “subrogation”, which means that the insurance company stands “in your shoes” and can recover from the liable party some or all of the amounts paid on your behalf. If this is the case, they usually are required to pay their proportionate share of the attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with the recovery. This is handled on a case-by-case basis.

How are my medical bills paid if I don’t have health insurance?

Some of our clients are involved in an accident where there is no medical payments insurance, workers’ compensation or private health insurance. In such cases, your doctor may expect to be paid while the case is pending or at the conclusion of the case. If your doctor agrees to be paid at the conclusion of the case, often, they will require you to agree, in writing, to have us paid indirectly from the proceeds you receive. State law sometimes permits healthcare providers to file a “lien” which must be paid out of the proceeds of your case. If your doctor asks you to sign what is often called a “Lien Letter”, be sure to contact our office. In some cases, it may not be appropriate for you to sign such an agreement.

What kind of records should I keep?

You should keep records of the following:

  • Lost time from work and wages
  • Other expenses resulting from your injuries, i.e., transportation, home care, etc.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Your physical limitations

It is important to keep records on an on-going basis. Copies of checks and receipts of payment, as well as the above records, will be very helpful when you may be asked by the insurance company or an attorney to recall your pain, physical disabilities, and any out of pocket expenses including medication.

What do I do about paying my medical bills before my case is settled?

While your case is pending against the insurance company of the person who caused your injury, we try to arrange to have your medical bills paid by your own insurance company. This could be from the medical payments provision of your own automobile insurance policy or your own health insurance policy, or, if applicable, workers’ compensation insurance. Please be sure that all medical bills that relate to your injury are sent to our office so we may forward them to the appropriate insurance company.

Should I sign anything prior to retaining legal representation through your firm?

No. Any necessary information from employers, schools or other persons will be obtained by us. You should not sign anything for anyone else until you check with us first.

After I have retained your firm, who do I talk to?

Do not talk about your case with anyone except this office and your doctors. If your own insurance company wants to talk about your case or they pay your medical bills, please refer them to us.

What are the first steps in representing me?

On the first interview, general information regarding your case is obtained. We will answer any questions you have regarding your case. You will be requested to sign certain authorization forms which allow us to obtain your medical records and other necessary information.

We will notify the person who is responsible for your injuries and/or their insurance company that you have retained us as your attorneys. Requests will be sent to all the physicians and hospitals involved in your care for your chart and billing information.

What information do you need from me to assess my case?

We typically need general information about you (name, contact information, SSN, DOB, etc.), about your case (description of what happened, photographs, correspondence, etc.), and about your injuries (names of hospitals, physicians, and other medical providers seen or intend to see).

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Meet Our Attorneys

Eugene C. Covington, Jr.'s Profile Image
Eugene C. Covington, Jr.
Douglas F. Patrick's Profile Image
Douglas F. Patrick
John A. Hagins, Jr.'s Profile Image
John A. Hagins, Jr.
Stephen R. H. Lewis's Profile Image
Stephen R. H. Lewis
Austin F. Watts's Profile Image
Austin F. Watts
Russell (Rusty) W. Patrick's Profile Image
Russell (Rusty) W. Patrick

Contact Us

Covington Patrick Hagins Stern & Lewis, LLC
211 Pettigru Street
Greenville, SC 29601
Please Send Mail To:
PO Box 2343
Greenville SC 29602
Phone: (864) 242-9000