Answers to common questions we get from our clients.
The attorneys of Lewis Babcock in Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina welcome questions from prospective clients related to our practice areas. Here are some of the basic questions we hear frequently, together with brief answers to help you as you consider taking legal action. For advice on your particular case, please contact our firm directly.
- Should I provide a statement to an insurance company without a lawyer’s help?
- How much is my case worth?
- Can I challenge the amount of money the government is willing to pay for my condemned property?
- If I am successful in challenging the government’s efforts to take my property, will I be responsible for my own attorneys’ fees and costs?
- What is “full compensation”?
It is in your best interests to provide only your contact information to an insurance company until you consult with a lawyer. The more significant your injuries, the more imperative it becomes to seek legal counsel before providing any statement.
Many factors determine how much compensation you may receive, including the severity of your injuries and your past medical history. An attorney can assess the potential value of your claim.
The decision usually rests on two factors: the size of your claim and your willingness to litigate it yourself. If you have been harmed only to a small extent, it will usually make sense to join with others and litigate the claim as a class action. So if your bank has illegally charged you overdraft fees in $35 sums, you will want to join the perhaps thousands of other customers it has done this to in a class action. On the other hand, if you have suffered serious injury as a result of a defective braking system in your automobile, you may want to litigate this separately even though the braking system defect affects thousands of cars. Individual litigation means you must be willing to endure the hassle of trial. These are general guidelines, and your decision should be made in consultation with an experienced attorney.
To learn more about these types of cases, see Steps To Take in a Class Action Lawsuit.
Yes. You are entitled to full compensation for any taking. Therefore, you are entitled to challenge the government if you feel their initial offer was not appropriate.
If I am successful in challenging the government’s efforts to take my property, will I be responsible for my own attorneys’ fees and costs?
Where a property owner successfully challenges the government’s right to take his or her property by eminent domain/condemnation, the law provides that the eminent domain/condemnation proceeding may be dismissed. The property owner generally is then entitled to recover his or her litigation expenses including attorneys’ fees and reasonable costs incurred in the eminent domain/condemnation action.
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that private property may not be taken for a public use without payment of just compensation. The items for which a property owner may generally attempt to seek full compensation are real property, fixtures and equipment, moving costs, severance damages, interest, attorneys’ fees and costs of expert witnesses. The items for which a business owner may attempt to seek full compensation include lost profits, loss of goodwill, costs related to moving and selling equipment, attorneys’ fees and costs of expert witnesses. Full compensation for these items is generally the fair market value of the item as of a particular date. Contact us for info about the factors that affect fair market value.
A lawyer not communicating is the most often-cited complaint being made to state bar associations. Sometimes the failure to communicate is not a true indication of the level of time or work an attorney is actually doing on a case, but is symptomatic of poor organizational skills. Send your attorney a note letting him or her know that you have been trying to reach the office and speak with him or her, and would greatly appreciate a return call as well as a written update and specific responses to your questions. The letter creates a paper trail of communication with your attorney. The longer the attorney is unresponsive, especially after sending him or her a letter, the stronger a case for malpractice may be.