Columbia Construction Work Injuries- Are you Covered?

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Posted on January 31, 2018

Construction accidents can be life-altering and oftentimes are legally complex. Many people that are injured on the job aren’t aware of what coverages they are owed from their employers workers’ compensation plan. As the American economy continues to improve there are more commercial developments in major metropolitan cities like Columbia, SC and therefore the rate of construction work injuries have also been on the rise.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that 1 in 10 construction site workers are injured every year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics figured this statistic to roughly 150,000 construction site accident injuries each year. According to CLC, Construction Labor Contractors, “most construction site injuries involve construction workers’ backs, spines, and trunks” leaving many disabled or unable to perform their jobs for many weeks and months (

What is workers compensation in the state of South Carolina?

Workers’ compensation is insurance designed to provide wage replacement and cover medical expenses for employees injured on the job. In exchange for this coverage, an employee’s rights to sue their employer for negligence is waived. Worker’s compensation is a state administered program and requirements and benefits vary greatly by state. Read more about workers’ compensation in South Carolina-

So what action steps can you take if you are injured on the construction site? What is your responsibility in reporting an accident, getting proper care and filing a claim for workers’ compensation coverage? What is your employer’s responsibility and how do you know if you are getting the full extent of the benefit to get you back to 100% health and back on the job? The attorneys of Popowski, Callas and Shirley, in Columbia, South Carolina, can assess the circumstances of your case and help you obtain all the compensation and benefits to which you are entitled.

Can I sue my employer?

One common mistake that injured workers make is thinking that they can sue their employers for job site injuries. Instead, workers are entitled to receive medical care and a portion of their average weekly wages through the workers compensation system. Processing a claim, filing paperwork and even accessing eyewitness accounts of the accident and the conditions surrounding it can be very cumbersome and time consuming- especially for someone who is seriously injured and possibly even hospitalized. Our attorneys have the expertise to properly represent you and ensure that all of the required details of your case are processed promptly.

Oftentimes workers are unaware what they are entitled to even beyond what is offered under workers’ compensation. You may be entitled to more! Our lawyers will evaluate whether or not your case warrants enough evidence that someone other than your employer is responsible for your injuries and other damages. For example, if your injury involved faulty equipment that contributed to the accident we would pursue not only a workers’ compensation claim, but also file a case against the manufacturer of the equipment under question. In a third-party case we will aggressively pursue financial compensation for damages, including lost wages for income, medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, permanent disability or disfigurement and more.

It is in your best interest to contact a qualified professional attorney agency when an on-site construction work injury occurs. Our team at Popowski, Callas and Shirley, P.A., in Columbia, South Carolina are fully committed to seeing to seeing your case through in an effort to get the full extent of coverage and wages that you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation as early in the the process as possible.  Call 803-799-2100


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Hit and Run Accidents Around the Holidays

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Posted on December 21, 2017

Tis the season for holiday parties, family get-togethers and the panic of Christmas shopping. With poor road conditions in the wintertime and simply more cars flooding the roadways it means more accidents and typically more hit-and- run incidents. And a major factor adding to this dilemma is the increase in alcohol-impaired drivers on the road; leaving the office Christmas party or a night out on the town.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the Christmas season, an average of 45 fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver occurred each day, and soared to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday.

“The problem is bigger than I think most people are aware,” according to Peter Kissinger, president, and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The foundation’s analysis of hit-and- run crashes found that about one-in- five of all pedestrian fatalities are hit-and- runs, and 60% of hit-and- run fatalities have pedestrians as victims, he says.

“Intoxication is a major, major part of the problem, from the driver’s perspective, especially. The main thing we can do as a society to sort of combat this problem is to simply be more alert as pedestrians,” Kissinger says.

But what do you do if you are involved in a hit-and- run accident, either as a pedestrian or as a driver? Oftentimes, the perpetrator is a drunk driver or someone driving without a license. Even if the at-fault driver is later caught, they may not have insurance to cover your bills. However, you may still be able to recover compensation from your own car insurance provider.

Your first step needs to be contacting our attorneys in Columbia, SC as soon as possible if you have been involved in a hit-and- run accident. We will immediately begin investigating your accident to preserve evidence and build a strong case for you.

There are two primary criteria that we will need to recover compensation for you:
1. An eye-witness who observed the hit-and- run.
2. Physical evidence showing that another car was involved in the accident

Physical evidence can be something as simple as some of the other car’s paint left on your car. Or in the case of a pedestrian hit-and- run, it can be the impact made to you which a physician could document that it was made by the substantial impact from a moving vehicle. Our personal injury attorneys and accident investigation experts will look at the physical evidence, take pictures and interview witnesses. Then we’ll bring this evidence — as well as evidence of your injury — to negotiations with your auto insurance company.

In the case of an underinsured/ uninsured motorist, most insurance policies will include coverage in these instances. We will review your car insurance policy to determine whether you have uninsured motorist insurance. Then, we will fight for the compensation you deserve under that policy. If the car insurance company does not agree to pay that amount, we will bring them to court.

During this season of celebration and family traditions, be aware of the increase of unsafe drivers on the road and take every precaution necessary. If you are involved in a hit-and- run accident, stay calm and remember what criteria you need to recover compensation that will pay your medical bills and repair your car. At Popowski, Callas & Shirley, P.A., we care about you and will fight for every dime that you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.  803-799-2100.

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What Am I Entitled to If Hit by a Drunk Driver?

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Posted on November 16, 2017

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. A 2015 study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation adds that, each day, people drive drunk more than 300,000 times, but only about 2,800 are arrested.

Given these statistics, chances are that you or a loved one may be injured by someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. What should you do if involved in an accident and you suspect the driver was impaired? What types of compensation are you entitled to if you’re injured by a drunk driver?

If you are involved in an accident involving alcohol or other illegal substances, take the following action.

Contact the Police. Driving while impaired is a crime and the police must be contacted. Do not let the impaired driver talk you into handling this without getting the authorities involved. The impaired driver is a danger to himself and others and must be taken off the road immediately. Plus, you may need the police report to document the accident for potential legal action.

Gather Information. Do you think you smell alcohol on the other driver’s breath? Did you see the driver throw away bottles or cups before the police arrived? Did the driver put eye drops in his eyes? Take your own photos of the accident. Pay attention to the details. You are involved in a crime scene and every little detail may prove important.

Get Medical Attention. Occasionally, injuries from car and other accidents are not immediately apparent. Do not refuse medical treatment even if you feel you have not been injured. A thorough medical report after an accident is an important piece of documentation if you need to seek compensation.

Don’t Sign Anything. Almost immediately after an accident, you may be contacted by the insurance company of the impaired driver looking to make a quick settlement. While it may be tempting to sign away your rights for immediate compensation, hold off until you have a complete understanding of your injuries, both physical and psychological, and your legal rights for various forms of compensation.

Types of Compensation You May Be Entitled to if Hit by a Drunk Driver

If you are involved in an accident with a drunk driver and feel you’ve suffered property damage or personal injury, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will put together a settlement document requesting the compensation that you are entitled to.

Typical damages in DUI claims include:

Property damage. In addition to damages done to your vehicle, damage to personal property inside the vehicle is eligible for compensation.

Lost Wages. Wages lost due to the accident are eligible for compensation as well as future lost wages if you are permanently injured.

Medical bills. All medical bills including physicians, hospital charges, physical therapy sessions, psychological treatment can be included in your settlement. The cost of future medical treatments may be factored in as well.

Burial Expenses. Cremation, funeral and other burial expenses are recoverable in the event of a wrongful death.

Enjoyment of Life. Physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental anguish can diminish your quality of life and deserve financial consideration.

Punitive damages. In some cases, punitive damages, those damages exceeding simple compensation and awarded to punish the defendant, are an appropriate remedy.

At Popowski, Callas & Shirley, P.A., we understand that victims of drunk drivers often feel violated and sometimes suffer psychological injuries. Our job as personal injury lawyers is more than getting you the best compensation possible for your injuries. We want to empower you to move forward.

For more information, call us at 803-799-2100 or send us an e-mail to arrange a free consultation. Drunk driver victims pay no fees until after we recover money for their claim.

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Protect Your Children from Dog Bites at Halloween and All Year Long!

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Posted on October 05, 2017

Halloween’s just around the corner and that means millions of little ghosts, ghouls and goblins will out and about in search of delicious treats! And while we think trick or treaters are cute, our four-legged friends can be frightened by these unusual sights and sounds and may react with barking, snarling and, unfortunately, biting.

According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States with almost 1 in 5 of these bites becoming infected. Don’t let this happen to your children at Halloween or any time during the year.

What should my child do if an unfamiliar dog approaches?

  • Stop! Stay still and be calm
  • Do not panic
  • Do not make loud noises
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the dog
  • Say "No" or "Go Home" in a firm, deep voice
  • Stand with the side of your body facing the dog. Facing a dog directly appears aggressive to the dog
  • Slowly raise your hands to your neck, with your elbows in
  • Wait for the dog to pass or slowly back away

What should I do if my child is bitten or attacked by a dog?

  • Immediately wash wounds with soap and water, apply an antibiotic cream and cover wound with a clean bandage.
  • Seek medical attention if:
    • The wound is serious (uncontrolled bleeding, loss of function, extreme pain, muscle or bone exposure, etc.).
    • The wound becomes red, painful, warm, or swollen, or if you develop a fever.
    • It has been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot and the bite is deep.
  • Anyone bitten by a dog is at risk of getting rabies, contact your local animal control agency or police department to report the incident if:
    • If you don't know if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies.
    • If the dog appears sick or is acting strangely.
  • If possible, contact the owner and ensure the animal has a current rabies vaccination. You will need the rabies vaccine license number, name of the veterinarian who administered the vaccine, and the owner's name, address, and phone number.

Your legal right to compensation

Finally, if you or someone you love has been bitten in a public place, or had permission to be on the property of the dog’s owner when you were bitten, you have a legal right to compensation for damages.

To discuss the specifics of your dog bite or other animal attack case, please contact the personal injury lawyers of Popowski, Callas & Shirley, P.A., in Columbia. We offer a free consultation and charge no attorney's fees unless we win compensation in your case.

For more information on how to prevent and treat dog bites

The CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control provides additional information on to prevent and treat dog bites at

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Trust Your Instincts: Signs of Daycare and School Abuse

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Posted on October 05, 2017

Every day, millions of parents drop their children off at schools and daycare facilities trusting their kids will be well cared for and protected. Although the vast majority of children return home each day safe and sound, sometimes abuse does happen. A general rule of thumb is if you suspect something isn’t quite right, err on the side of caution and do some investigating.

Signs of Negligence or Abuse

  • Withdrawn or reclusive behavior
  • Acting out in social situations
  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, welts, scratches or other signs of a physical altercation
  • Fear of meeting new adults
  • Recurring nightmares or difficulty sleeping
  • Extremely agitation when around other crying children
  • Changes in bathroom habits
  • An unusual knowledge of or interest in sexual matters

Take Action Immediately

The above list is far from comprehensive. Again, if you even suspect there is an issue with the safety and well-being of your child, act immediately!

  • Remove your child from the person or facility you suspect of negligence or abuse


  • Take your child to the doctor or hospital for a medical evaluation. This is especially critical if you suspect sexual abuse. NOTE: Most states require medical professionals are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse.


  • Seek counseling for your child if needed


  • Contact the director of the school or daycare with any questions. If you are not 100% satisfied with their answers, contact local law enforcement officials.


  • Consult a personal injury attorney with expertise in these situations to ensure your legal rights are protected


If your child has been harmed at school or day care, please contact our law office in Columbia, South Carolina, for the experienced legal advice and representation. The initial consultation is free and you will pay no up-front costs and no attorney's fees unless we secure financial compensation in your day care or school injury claim.

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SC Rules for Workers' Compensation

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Posted on October 05, 2017

Workers’ compensation is insurance design to provide wage replacement and cover medical expenses for employees injured on the job. In exchange for this coverage, an employee’s rights to sue their employer for negligence is waived. Worker’s compensation is state administered program and requirements and benefits vary greatly by state.

Below are answers to some of the frequently asked questions employers have regarding this program in South Carolina.

As an employer in South Carolina, am I required to provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance?

Generally, if you regularly employ four or more workers you must provide workers’ compensation insurance under South Carolina law. The law makes no distinction between the number of full or part-time employees.

There are, however, some exception, including agricultural employees, railroad employees, railway express employees, Textile Hall Corporation employees and certain commission-based real estate agents.  Any employer with a total annual payroll in the previous year of less than $3,000 are also exempt regardless of the total number of workers employed.

If I’m required to provide workers' compensation insurance can I elect NOT to cover my employees? 


How do both employees and employers benefit from workers' compensation insurance?

Workers' compensation pays for a portion of lost wages and medical care for employees injured on the job. Workers' compensation also compensates employees who suffer permanent disability or disfigurement. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault approach which limits the employer's liability to those benefits provided by the Workers' Compensation Act; it is an inclusive remedy for on-the-job injuries.

What is the definition of “employee” with regard to workers’ compensation?

For workers’ compensation the definition of employee is quite broad and includes full-time and part-time workers, adults and minors. The law also requires employers to cover employees of sub-contractors if the sub-contractor does not offer workers’ compensation coverage.

Am I required to provide workers’ compensation for volunteers?

No, unpaid volunteers are not subject to the workers’ compensation regulations.

As a sole proprietor or partner, am I covered under workers’ compensation?

No, sole proprietors and/or partners are considered business owners and are not covered but can elect to be covered if active in the running of the business.

Can I require employees to pay for workers' compensation insurance or some of their medical costs? 

No. It is illegal to require employees to pay any portion of the premium for workers' compensation insurance or to pay for any medical treatment resulting from a job-related injury.

How are my workers' compensation premiums determined? 

How much an employer pays for workers' compensation insurance is determined by a number of factors including: number of employees, total wages, type of job, and the employer's history of accidents and claims.

Can I self-insure for workers' compensation? 

Yes. Hundreds of employers in South Carolina are self-insured. In order to self-insure, an employer must apply, meet certain financial and other requirements, and be approved by the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission.

What am I required to do when an accident occurs on the job? 

The first, and most important, obligation is to ensure the injured employee receives prompt medical attention. The employer is also required to report the injury to the insurance carrier, who reports it to the Commission.

What options do I have in case of a disagreement with the injured employee about compensation or medical treatment? 

An employer can request a hearing before a Commissioner, as can the injured employee. This hearing is usually held in the county in which the injury occurred.

How is compensation determined for an injury? 

Workers' compensation pays for necessary medical treatment, loss of wages during the disability, and compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement. If an injured employee is unable to work for more than seven days, the employee is eligible for payment for lost wages. This compensation is limited to two-thirds of the employee's weekly wage, limited to the current weekly wage in South Carolina. If the employee is out of work for more than 14 days, the employee is entitled to compensation from the day of the accident. The award for total disability or death is limited by law to compensation for 500 weeks. Paraplegics, quadriplegics, and brain-damaged workers are eligible for lifetime benefits. Compensation for partial disability is determined by the Commission from medical reports, testimony of the parties, and the impact of the disability on the injured employee's livelihood.

How are disputes settled over whether an injury occurred on the job? 

The commissioners are responsible for hearing and deciding contested cases, for conducting informal conferences with employers and employees, and for approving settlements and hearing appeals. A single commissioner hears the case first. The commissioner's decision may be appealed to the full Commission, and in turn to courts at various levels.

Information for this article excerpted from

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Back Injuries That Can Lead To Workers' Compensation

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Posted on February 06, 2017

Severe back disorders can often be overlooked when workers are continually over exercising their muscles during their daily work routine. Repetitive activity over time such as lifting heavy materials every day or a single traumatic event can trigger a back injury. Those who have a higher risk for suffering from back injuries tend to work in the following types of occupations:

  • Police Work
  • Fire Fighting
  • Construction
  • Office Work
  • Truck Driving
  • Landscaping
  • Health Care
  • Factory Work

Whether it’s sitting at your desk, driving an automobile, or lifting heavy weights, those types of activities are straining to a worker’s spine. Back injuries, if left untreated, can result in a disabling injury that can affect the overall wellness and lifestyle of living. It’s important to know the causes of back pain so each type of worker can be aware of the possible symptoms.   


Causes of Back Injuries at work:

  • Force- Exerting too much force on your back.
    • Lifting or moving heavy objects
  • Repetition- Repeating certain movements that involve twisting, bending or rotating your spine.
  • Inactivity- Sitting for an extended period of time.
    • Desk jobs can lead to back pain, especially if you have poor posture or have a chair with inadequate back support.

Symptoms of back injuries

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Sharp pain
  • Pulsating Pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tenderness
  • Sciatica (Shooting pain that goes down one or both legs

If you work in one of the occupations listed above and injured your back on the job due to one of the causes, it is important to go to the doctor and to also talk to a personal injury lawyer. If an injury leads to a more serious and complicated disability such as, paraplegia or quadriplegia, the injured worker is entitled to lifetime benefits. For this reason, it is vital to contact an experienced lawyer who can help you document the injury and provide proof of the lifetime cost and severe and permanently disabling back injury.


If you are seeking workers' compensation for a back injury, it is vital to be able to document both the cause of the injury and the extent to which the injury interferes with your ability to work. The attorneys of Popowski, Callas & Shirley, P.A., have substantial experience in assisting South Carolina workers obtain workers' compensation benefits after a serious back injury on the job.

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Recognize and Prepare For These Halloween Hazards Before They Happen!

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Posted on October 31, 2016

Halloween is a holiday that many people let go of their typical selves, and they can create a fantasy character to identify with for the night. This holiday allows them to embrace a new unique personality that is united with becoming someone or something different. No matter how you want to celebrate Halloween, whether you go to a haunted house, trick or treat, or hold a costume party, it’s important to be informed how to prevent injury and/or protect yourself from unsafe situations. Although you may be in a super hero costume while trick or treaters approach your house, you can be sure if they sustain injuries they won’t be suing Batman. Therefore, being able to recognize what dangerous hazards are before they happen could save you from a law suit.


Potential Hazards with Trick or Treaters

Opening your home to trick or treaters, is a liability that homeowners need to recognize and then do everything in their power to mitigate the risk of an injury on their property. Clear walkways so that no one trips on clutter or decorations. Light sidewalks so guests can clearly see the path, and avoid tripping. You are technically liable for any injuries that may occur on your property. So while you are decorating for the holiday, keep your walkways and sidewalks well-lit and obstacle free.


Halloween Party Precautions and Liabilities

Although Halloween parties are a great excuse to dress up, Halloween costumes may lead to dangerous outcomes. Prior to the event, there are precautions that you need to address that may save you from being sued. If alcohol is served at your party, and a guest drives home and hits another car and kills the another driver, you may be found liable for providing the alcohol. This is why it’s wise to assign a designated bartender and tell the bartenders to monitor your guests’ intake and notice if they become overly intoxicated. Additionally, ask your guests if they have a designated driver prior to any drinks being served. Prevent that scary situation from happening by communicating suggested drink limits to your guests.


Get Insurance

Halloween is known for bad luck, so before you cross paths with any black cats, double check that your insurance policies are covering you against injuries or liabilities on your property. In order for you to get a spooky vibe with the right amount of eerie glow, you may light candles around your home or inside pumpkins. Although this isn’t a horrible idea, a trick or treater or party guest has the opportunity to knock over a candle and start a fire in or around your home. To prepare for incident such as these, it’s best to maintain an updated homeowners insurance policy. Remember, if a trick or treater happens to get injured on your property, you are responsible for them. This is why it is important that you update your homeowners policy, so that it will cover their medical expenses, as well as any liability for their injuries.


The lawyers at Powpowski, Callas, & Shirley care about your safety, and we want you to keep you well informed about the possible hazards this holiday brings. But more importantly, we want you to have a fun and enjoyable holiday with your family and friends! 

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Workers' Compensation Mediation

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Posted on August 12, 2016




Mediation in South Carolina Workers’ Compensation cases was “established to resolve disputes without the necessity of a hearing.” R 67-1801(A).  At a hearing, the amount of money paid to an injured worker is determined by a Commissioner who is appointed by the governor.  A Commissioner is bound by law to decide in favor of one part or other.  Mediation allows the parties to reach a compromise - split the baby where the Commission is unable to do this. 

Historically, Workers’ Compensation insurance companies have tried to minimize their exposure, and the money paid to an injured worker, by proposing awards based upon ratings outlined in the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment and schedules for “Loss of Use of a Member” found in the S.C. Workers’ Compensation code.


  • AMA Guides – L5-S1 diskectomy with pain down leg – 10% Impairment
  • SC WC Act section 42-9-30(21) – loss of use of back – 300 weeks
  • 10% of 300 weeks = 30 weeks
  • Compensation Weekly Rate is 2/3 of Average Weekly Wage
  • Assuming a $300.00 compensation weekly rate - $300.00 x 30 weeks = $9,000.00


This may appear mathematical and scientific, but is fundamentally unfair when the injured worker is unable to reenter the work force.          

Injured workers and their attorneys have always had the option of presenting a claim for permanent and total disability (inability to perform services other than those that are so limited in quality, dependability, or quantity that a reasonably stable market for them does not exist).  This would entitle the injured worker to an award based on the remainder of 500 weeks commuted to present-day value.  The same injury and compensation rate above could result in an award of over $136,000.00. 

Changes to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act have made mediation mandatory when the injured worker is “claiming permanent and total disability.” R 67-1802(A).  An attorney representing injured workers in South Carolina, when appropriate, should be able to frame a claim to make such subject to mandatory mediation. Moreover, under the new law the insurance company must “provide a representative, who shall attend the mediation” and “have authority to enter into negotiations, in good faith.” R67-1805.

Mediation gives injured workers and their attorneys a forum to present a case in which the insurance company has to consider all of its exposure.  This exposure includes the strength of the injured worker’s case for permanent and total disability.  This exposure may also include the dollar value for future medical care.  Conversely, at a hearing, a Commissioner, by law, can only award actual future medical care required based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty and cannot award a dollar amount for such


Mediation may be in the injured workers’ best interest.  However, one cannot just come to the table and expect a permanent and total disability settlement.  An attorney representing injured workers in mediation must have a network of experts including the following:

1. Functional Capacity Evaluation

This evaluation is performed by a physical therapist to assign physical limitations such as heavy, light, or sedentary duty.  It is important that an injured worker give consistent effort within their physical restrictions to avoid finding of malingering and exaggeration.

2. Vocational Assessment

The injured worker’s restrictions, education, prior work skills, and any other pertinent factors are considered to determine if a return to the work force is possible. 

3. Independent Medical Exam

This exam is performed by a physician to determine the degree of disability, usually using the AMA Guides.  It is helpful if the physician is willing to review the FCE and/or Vocational Assessment.

4. Future Medical Projection

This is simply the cost of future related medical care and treatment.  This is only effective when the injured worker is able to trade away the value of future medical care and the insurance company is willing to do so.  This report will not serve as evidence if mediation fails and the case is heard.   

Expert reports are expensive.  An attorney should be able to identify the issues in the case and determine which reports are necessary.  Fortunately, if the injured worker is unable to return to work most of these expert reports can be used to support a claim for Social Security Disability benefits.  It is important that attorneys representing injured workers counsel them as to when to apply for Social Security, in order to keep all negotiation options open and to be able to draft a Workers’ Compensation settlement which maximizes Social Security benefits. 



Make sure you hire the right attorney.  Your attorney should be familiar with Workers’ Compensation Mediation Regulations, and be able to draft your claim to be subject to mandatory mediation, if appropriate.  Your attorney should be able to identify the issues in order to determine which expert reports are necessary and which are a waste of money.  Finally, make sure the attorney you hire to bring your Permanent and Total case for Workers’ Compensation benefits is familiar with Federal Social Security Act.  Filing for Social Security too early will limit your ability to negotiate a Workers’ Compensation settlement, and if the settlement is not properly structured, your receipt of Social Security benefits will be severely delayed.

Attorneys Nicholas G. Callas and J. Scott Shirley have practiced before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation commission for well over 15 years each and developed a strong network of expert witnesses. Even before the introduction of the Mediation Statute in 2012, Nick and Scott regularly obtained mediation settlements for injured workers; including a 2011 settlement of $435,000 for an injured worker who sustained injury to the brain. Nick and Scott are professionals when it comes to knowing the law, and are able to understand your issues. They will obtain the necessary expert reports, and have excellent negotiation skills that can help you obtain the Workers’ Compensation settlement.

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Social Security Disability Income

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Posted on August 05, 2016

If you are suffering from an illness or from an accident that has led to your inability to work, it’s not easy. If you are the main source of income for your family, this type of situation may cause stress and worry, as you contemplate your chances of ever being able to work again.


A disabling condition caused by an illness or accident can cause you and your family to despair over how you are going to pay bills and replace lost income. In this type of situation, it may seem as if the world is against you, but there is good news. Depending on your financial status and the type of disability you have, there are options for families to gain financial help when disability occurs. One way to replace a significant portion of your lost income from a continuous disability is to apply for social security disability income (SSDI). SSDI is part of a federal program run by the Social Security Administration ( to provide medical and financial benefits to people with disabilities. While these programs are open to all qualified citizens of the United States, applying for these benefits can be complex. Obtaining the assistance of an attorney experienced in handling these claims can help you complete the  application with the Social Security Administration and assist you in navigating through the appeals process should your claim be denied. 


The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.


To be considered for Social Security Disability Income, one must meet these requirements:

  1. You must have a “total disability”. This means that you must be unable to work because of a permanent injury, illness, or medical condition.
  2. Your disability cannot be temporary - it must last more than one year or be fatal.
  3. You must have worked long enough and earned sufficient credits


The Social Security Administration organizes the human body into the following categories and identifies many health issues that might entitle an individual to social security disability benefits:

  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Special Senses and Speech
  • Respiratory System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Digestive System
  • Genitourinary Disorders
  • Hematological Disorders
  • Skin Disorders
  • Endocrine Disorders
  • Congenital Disorders that affect multiple body systems
  • Neurological
  • Mental Disorders
  • Cancer (Malignant neoplastic diseases)
  • Immune System Disorders

During your initial consultation with our firm, we will go over your entire work history, your medical conditions that prevent you from working as well as the medical records and opinions from your treating physicians.  We will then work with you in developing a plan to obtain disability benefits and assist you in the application and appeals process.


We understand that every situation is different and complicated by nature. This is why we highly encourage you to come into our office to talk to one of our attorneys about your specific case. Call today to set up your free consultation, and we will answer any questions you have about the disability process and help you figure out what type of benefits you might be eligible for under the law.   Call Popowski, Callas & Shirley, P.A. at (803)799-2100.




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Tips for having a safe 4th of July

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Posted on July 03, 2016

One of the scariest truths that our country has come to know is that our beloved nation’s birthday, a holiday we celebrate freedom and the pursuit of happiness, it is also one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to drunk driving crashes.


This is the dark side of this lit up holiday that no one likes to hear. Fourth of July is right in the middle of what highway patrol calls the “100 Deadliest Days” of summer, and this holiday, year after year, continues to prove that to be true.


To assure safety for drivers on their way home from watching fireworks or leaving the BBQ, highway patrol in South Carolina are cracking down on DUI checkpoints this holiday weekend.  


Great ideas to keep in mind while you’re celebrating our country’s Independence Day are:


Drink OR drive. Not both.


It’s always a great time to celebrate with friends and family at a BBQ or picnic, and watch fireworks to celebrate our freedom, but keep in mind that you have to get home somehow!

  • Decide ahead of time if you are going to be driving yourself home or calling an Uber.
  • If you live far away, make plans to stay the night someplace close.
  • Hand over your keys. It’s never a bad idea to let a sober friend or family member drive you home!


Look out for each other.


If you see any suspicious driving, call Highway Patrol and report it. Help keep the roads clear of intoxicated drivers, and protect fellow drivers on their way home.


We care for you.


At Popowski, Callas & Shirley, we understand that victims of drunk drivers often feel violated and sometimes suffer psychological injuries. Our personal injury lawyers are dedicated to getting you the best compensation and medical support possible.


We hope you and your family have a fun 4th of July, but remember to be safe and make wise decisions!






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“What Should Workers’ Compensation Cover if I Fall?”

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Posted on June 29, 2016

Remember that great nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty?


“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”


Well, from the sound of it, Humpty Dumpty’s day could have gone better.  It is safe to say that from this one fall, these injuries greatly impacted his life.  Have you ever wondered what the context was in this situation, or how he even fell off that wall?


If we were to retell this story, let’s say that Humpty Dumpty was working for the King, and fell off while he was on the job fixing a few bricks along the broken wall. Considering his damages caused from this serious accident, this makes for a great case for Humpty to get Workers’ Compensation.


These are the stages Humpty Dumpty should be going through to file a Workers’ Compensation claim:


  1. Determine if He has Coverage


He needs to figure out if there is coverage for Workers’ Compensation.  The two factors that determine his coverage are:


  • If he is an Employee; and
  • If his injury occurred as a result of his employment,
  • Did he sustain an injury by accident arising out of and in the course and scope of his employment – or-
  • Was his injury caused and/or exacerbated by repetitive trauma sustained in the course and scope of his employment?
  • Employment conditions causing mental injury “were extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the normal conditions of particular employment.”


Under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, every employer and employee, with certain notable exceptions, is presumed to be covered. However, the presumption of Workers’ Compensation coverage does not apply to:


  • An Employer who has regularly employed in service fewer than four Employees;
  • State and county fair associations, unless Employer voluntarily elects coverage;
  • Agricultural Employees, unless Employer voluntarily elects coverage;
  • Railroad and Railroad Employees;
  • Persons engaged in selling any agricultural product or producer of them, unless Employer voluntarily elects coverage;
  • Licensed real estate sales person on straight commission who has signed a valid independent contractor agreement;
  • Federal Employee in the State.   


The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides the exclusive remedy against an Employer for Employee’s work-related accident.  Even if the accident was due to the King’s fault or negligence, Humpty cannot bring a civil suit against his Employer to recover damages for pain and suffering or punitive damages.  However, if the accident was the fault or due to the negligence of an actor outside the scope of employment, Humpty could bring a civil action for damages against that actor.  The attorneys at Popowski, Callas & Shirley can help you identify and pursue a 3rd-party action.


  1. Employees’ Rights and Responsibilities


The next step for Humpty is to immediately report his injury to the employer and request medical treatment for his injuries. Humpty should also complete a first report of injury, listing all of his injuries and keep a copy.  In South Carolina, an Employee injured on the job has 90 days to give notice of the accident to his or her Employer, but should do so as soon as possible.  Some Workers’ Compensation Insurance Companies will attempt to discredit an employee’s testimony when notice is not given as soon as possible. It is also important that your employer notify his or her Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company so that your benefits can be started.


In a real world context, if you have fallen while working and have been injured, these benefits should be paid by your Employer’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company:


  • Medical care as directed and authorized by your Employer’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company;
  • Weekly benefits of 2/3 of your average weekly wage when you are held out by an authorized physician or the authorized physician has assigned restriction which the Employer chooses not to accommodate;
  • Compensation for permanent injuries or inability to earn prior wages;
  • Benefits to dependents of workers who are killed on the job.


  1. Consult with an Attorney


Humpty Dumpty may have been a good egg but he probably did not understand the complexities of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act and the several changes to the law that have occurred in recent years.  It is important that you get the information you need as soon as possible.  Missing deadlines such as notice periods and statutes of limitations, or settling 3rd-party claims, or applying for Social Security may adversely affect what you are able to recover. 

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Light duty a major part of workers compensation in Columbia

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Posted on January 05, 2016

South Carolina workers’ compensation law can attempt to ease employees back into their job by assigning them to light duty. Many times, when a person is injured, they will be ordered back to light duty before they can fully return to work.

Light duty can be temporary or permanent. It is defined as a job that is less physically or mentally taxing than one’s usual job duties. It could also be an alternative job created to meet the capabilities of an employee who is on the way back to a full recovery.

Workers who are injured on the job have the right to medical care deemed ‘reasonable and necessary.’ However, there is a catch to this. The doctor you will see in regards to your injury is selected by the insurance company of your employer. They are often referred to as company doctors.

It is these same company doctors who can order workers back to light duty. If your employer offers you some light duty, it is required that you accept it. Otherwise, your workers’ compensation may come to a halt.

In the event that you feel you cannot perform that light duty, you have the right to request a hearing. There, you will be able to plead your case to the Workers’ Compensation Commission. They are entrusted to review the evidence and ultimately decide whether you are capable of returning to light duty. This commission also hears cases to in which employers fail to report accidents or denies that an employee’s injury was caused by an accident.

If that commission rules in favor of ordering you back to light duty, you still have the right to receive your full worker’s compensation weekly payments. Workers’ compensation entitles you to 2/3’s of the weekly salary you were earning prior to your injury.

If you return to work and you receive limited hours or fewer wages, resulting in making less than 2/3’s of your original salary, then you are entitled to receive the difference. That difference would boost your weekly payouts back up to 2/3′s of your original salary.

Columbia residents who believe they have been unjustly ordered back to light duty can seek assistance from Popowski, Callas & Shirley, P.A. We can assign you a Columbia workers’ compensation attorney who has a vast amount of experience and success handling all different types of these cases in South Carolina.

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What kind of damages can be awarded in wrongful death lawsuits?

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Posted on December 21, 2015

No amount of money can ever be enough when it comes to losing a loved one. There are penalties a person or company must pay in cases of wrongful deaths.

When death comes unnaturally, and another party is at fault, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the executor of the estate belonging to the deceased individual. The statute of limitations for this lawsuit is three years after the time of death. In the event that there is not an executor to the deceased’s estate, the court would then name one.

A wrongful death claim can benefit family members such as surviving children, spouses, parents or those named as heirs. In cases where the deceased is an adult, parents can still recover damages with the help of a Columbia wrongful death attorney.

There is an array of damages that can be awarded, which could include funeral expenses, medical bills related to injuries incurred before death, and lost benefits or wages. Damages can also be awarded because of other financial losses that were the result of a wrongful death.

Pain and suffering of family members can also translate into payouts as the court considers the loss of the deceased’s life experience, knowledge and companionship. On top of that, the court may also choose to award exemplary damages, which is more prevalent in deaths that were the result of a reckless or deliberate action. This kind of measure is often viewed as a type of punishment to the guilty party.

In cases where a father or mother is the victim of a wrongful death, his or her children could be entitled to compensation. The financial support that children would have received from their deceased parent, usually, factors in the final amount awarded by the court.

A wrongful death charge is not classified as a criminal charge in the state of South Carolina. But even if a defendant beats a charge such as vehicular homicide, the person can still be tried in a civil court for wrongful death. The two proceedings are separate, and one has no impact on the other. In South Carolina, wrongful death is a sub category of tort law.

If anyone close to you has suffered a wrongful death, it’s time to turn to the professionals at Popowski, Callas & Shirley, P.A. During your time of need, we will assign you a Columbia wrongful death attorney who will work to bring justice to you and your family.


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