Millions in Legal Fees for Citizens Property Insurance

According to the Miami Herald, Citizens Property Insurance spent over $100 million in the past two years in legal fees.  The opinions as to what caused this recent and dramatic spike differ.  Representatives of Citizens claim that it is because aggressive lawyers have targeted them in the Miami-Dade area for water-damage losses.  However, these attorneys state that Citizens has a reputation for delaying claims, especially water-damage claims, forcing the cases into litigation.  Citizens spent $64 million in defense fees in 2012 and $46 million this year.  Citizens is reportedly trying to alter its litigation strategies.

Insurance companies have the resources available to fight large claims.  While they may be aware of their liability, they usually want to reimburse the insured for the least amount possible.  As a result, they will not always be quick to offer a settlement.  It is in these types of situations where you will need an experienced civil trial attorney.  Our leading civil attorney, Russell W. Mace III, has handled hundreds of trials and was voted as one of the top 100 trial attorneys nationwide.  He has over 15 years of experience in the legal field and his effective representation for his civil clients has enabled him to become a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.  When dealing with insurance companies like Citizens, it is vital to have an knowledgeable civil trial attorney by your side.  Mr. Mace will provide you with the best representation possible on your case and will fight to win your claim.

To schedule a free consultation with our civil trial attorney, Russell Mace, contact our office at 1-800-94-TRIAL or contact us online.  He is licensed in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Motorcycle Accident on U.S. 17 Bypass

Personal injury lawyers are always on high alert during the summer months in Myrtle Beach due to the increase in motorcycle traffic.  According to the WMBF News, a fatal accident occurred on U.S. 17 Bypass near 21st Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  The Myrtle Beach Police Department has confirmed that one male who was on a motorcycle has been killed as a result of the accident.  There is no indication as to whether he was wearing a helmet.  A woman, accompanying the man on the motorcycle, was transported to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center and was reported to be in critical condition.  Police state that the motorcycle was heading north and lost control.  It crossed the median and hit an SUV traveling south.  Passengers in the SUV were also taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.  It is unclear as to the state of their conditions.

U.S. 17 Bypass is a dangerous road.  Drivers have to be especially cautious on this highway because accidents occur on a daily basis.  Here are just a few examples of the catastrophes that have occurred on this highway:

October   2, 2013: runner hit by car while running near her home on U.S. 17   Bypass.  Her pelvis, wrist, and several bones in her back were   broken.  She is currently at Grand Strand Regional Hospital in serious   condition.

March   31, 2013: pedestrian killed by hit-and-run vehicle on U.S. 17   Bypass.  He died of internal injuries from the accident.

September   10, 2012: woman died in a two car accident on U.S. 17 Bypass.  She   was attempting to cross the highway in her vehicle and was struck by an   oncoming motorist.  Both drivers were taken to the Grand Strand Regional   Medical Center.

April   2, 2012: two car accident on U.S. 17 Bypass.  Several people injured   and taken to Grand Strand Regional Hospital.

May   24, 2011: man died from head trauma following a motorcycle accident on   U.S. 17 Bypass.  The at-fault driver failed to yield the right of way to   the man.

February   28, 2010: SUV was flipped onto the driver’s side and man in vehicle was   seriously injured on U.S. 17 Bypass.  He was transported by helicopter   to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

It only takes one negligent driver for horrible consequences to result.  At times, it is not the act of a negligent driver but a defective product that causes an accident.  Our personal injury lawyer in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are aware of the dangers on these highways.  Unfortunately, these types of accidents occur quite frequently.  The last thing a victim or family member should be concerned with is how to cover the costs of their loved one’s medical expenses or worse, funeral arrangements.  Our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers can assist you through every step of this process.  We can help you recover for your or your loved one’s medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, rehabilitative costs, and any other expenses associated with the incident.  No amount of money will take away the pain or bring your loved one back, but the process will often bring some type of closure and hold the accountable party responsible for their negligence.  Here at The Mace Firm, we are advocates for victims and seek to provide them the best representation possible.

If you are considering filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim, contact one of our Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyers for a free consultation at 1-800-94-TRIAL.  You may also contact us online.  Visit our website for more information on wrongful death claims or car accident claims.

Ross Ulbricht Indicted in Silk Road Conspiracy

According to Wired, Ross Ulbricht has been identified by the FBI as the mastermind behind Silk Road.  Allegedly, Ulbricht was the owner and manager of Silk Road, an anonymous marketplace for narcotics sales and distribution, forged IDs, and murder-for-hire contracts worldwide.  There is no indication that he has hired a criminal defense lawyer at this time.  Reportedly, Silk Road has had over $1.2 billion in sales since its creation 2 1/2 years ago.  Silk Road obtained $80 million in commissions for its service.  Payments were made with a currency known as “Bitcoin,” a cryptocurrency that can be transferred electronically without the use of a financial institution.  Because Bitcoin was difficult to trace and not subject to any government regulation, Silk Road was able to thrive for 2 1/2 years.

The criminal complaint stated as follows:

Silk Road has emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today.  The site has sought to make conducting illegal transactions on the Internet as easy and frictionless as shopping online at mainstream e-commerce websites.

There are also allegations that Ulbricht solicited the murder of a Silk Road vendor who threatened to reveal site users if Ulbricht did not pay him $500,000.  The FBI claims that Ulbricht went by the name of Dread Pirate Roberts after a character from the film The Princess Bride.  Ulbricht’s family and friends were interviewed and there is no indication that any of them knew that Ulbricht could potentially be involved in the Silk Road market.

His defense attorney will need to be knowledgeable about several aspects of criminal defense, including computer networking and how that comes into play in the narcotics conspiracy.  The discovery in this case will have to be closely evaluated to determine how exactly Ulbricht is linked to the Silk Road narcotics market and the overall conspiracy.

Our federal criminal defense attorney is experienced and licensed in several states, including South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia.  If you are been investigated or have been charged with a federal crime in any of these jurisdictions, contact our office toll free at 1-800-94-TRIAL.

South Carolina Automobile Insurance Law

South Carolina automobile insurance law can often be confusing.  It is best to hire a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury and accident attorney to determine if you have a potential claim.  However, in this post, we will attempt to explain the basics of South Carolina insurance law as to liability insurance, underinsured motorist coverage, and uninsured motorist coverage.  Please note that such an analysis may not apply in your particular case.

When you are involved in an accident, there are three possible routes to insurance coverage depending on the extent of your injuries: (1) liability insurance; (2) first-party insurance; and (3) un-involved vehicle underinsured motorist and uninsured motorist coverage.


South Carolina requires that insurance policies governed by its laws have a minimum amount of liability coverage.  The minimum amount is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence (“$25,000/$50,000”).  See S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-140.  This means that the insurer will pay each victim up to $25,000, but no more than $50,000 for that accident.  Of course, individuals seeking an insurance policy may opt for more than the minimum amount.

The liability insurance would be the first place an injured party would seek reimbursement for his or her injuries.  Liability insurance is insurance that provides payment to an injured party when an insured under the policy is legally liable.  The at-fault driver cannot collect liability insurance because this policy only pays for liability and you cannot be liable to yourself for “self-inflicted” injuries.  In order for an injured party to collect from the policy, it must be determined whether the at-fault driver is an insured on that specific vehicle’s policy.  This does not necessarily mean that the at-fault driver must be the named-insured on the policy.  They could be a resident relative or spouse and be covered under the policy.  They could also have permission to drive the vehicle which would also invoke coverage if the at-fault driver acted within the scope of that permission.  See S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-140(7) (“‘Insured’ means the named insured and, while resident of the same household, the spouse of any named insured and relative of either, while in a motor vehicle or others, and any person who uses with the consent, express of implied, of the named insured the motor vehicle to which the policy applies . . . .”)


An injured party would next look to first-party insurance on the vehicle that was involved in the accident if the liability coverage was not enough to cover your injuries or if the at-fault party was uninsured.  In this case, you would be seeking underinsured motorist coverage (“UIM”) or uninsured motorist coverage (“UM”).  UIM applies when your injuries exceed the amount of the at-fault driver’s policy limits.  See S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-140(15).  UM applies either when the at-fault driver is uninsured and has no insurance policy, when the at-fault driver is unknown, or when the at-fault driver’s coverage is less than the minimum requirement for liability insurance (i.e., $25,000 per person/$50,000 per occurrence).  See S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-140(14).  A person may have less than the minimum requirement if they are from another state that requires less coverage than South Carolina law.  UM coverage is mandatory in South Carolina and an insured is entitled to at least the $25,000/$50,000 in coverage.  See Burgess v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 373 S.C. 37, 40-41, 644 S.E.2d 40, 42 (2007).  UIM; however, is not mandatory in South Carolina.  Id.  Your insurer must offer you the coverage, but you have no obligation to accept it.  Id.

First-party insurance is different from liability insurance.  It is an auto policy in which the injured claimant is an insured.  There are two categories of insureds: Class I insureds and Class II insureds.  See Concrete Services, Inc. v. U.S. Fidelity & Guar. Co., 331 S.C. 506, 509, 498 S.E.2d 865, 866 (1998).  Class I insureds include the named-insured, the named-insured’s spouse, and any resident relatives of the named-insured.  Class II insureds are permissive users and guests.  Id.  Class I and II insureds are entitled to collect UM or UIM (if available) on the insurance policy.  Id.  In other words, you do not necessarily have to be paying directly on the policy to receive coverage.  In fact, you may not even know the insurance policy exists and may still be considered an insured if you fall within the two categories.


Next, you would seek coverage on any un-involved vehicles that you are a Class I insured on if the previous two options were not enough to cover your injuries.  UIM and UM are personal and portable.  Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Rhoden, 398 S.C. 393, 399, 728 S.E.2d 477, 480 (2012)In other words, UM and UIM is for the benefit of the insured and follows the insured, not the vehicle.  It makes no difference whether you were injured in the vehicle that has the UIM or UM coverage.  Depending on your status as an insured in the involved vehicle, you may be able to stack or reach back to your UM or UIM policy on an un-involved vehicle or vehicles.

An insured may stack multiple policies when they are considered a Class I on the vehicle involved in the accident (i.e., the vehicle you were driving or riding in at the time).  However, you can only get as much from each policy as you collected from the involved-vehicle.  For example, if the involved-vehicle policy provided $25,000 in UIM, then any stacked policies cannot provide more than $25,000.

If you are not a Class I insured on the vehicle involved in the accident, then you have the option to reach back to one other policy to which you are a Class I insured.  You may only reach back to one policy, unlike stacking.  However, you are not limited by the involved vehicle’s policy coverage.  For example, if the involved-vehicle policy provided $25,000 in UIM and you have a vehicle with $100,000 in UIM in which you are a Class I insured, you may be able to collect the full limits depending on the extent of your injuries.  This means that the best alternative is obviously to go after the policy that has the most coverage.  It is not clear whether UM has the same limitations in South Carolina law.  Therefore, it is arguable that you could potentially reach back to as many UM policies as you have available.


These are the most common ways in seeking automobile insurance coverage after an automobile accident.  Of course, most insurance policies include an exhaustion policy in which you are not entitled to UIM coverage until you have exhausted the liability coverage.  Because this process can be very complicated, it is best to speak to a knowledgeable car accident attorney to determine your options and potential for coverage.  Our injury attorneys at The Mace Firm will ensure that we do everything possible to get reimbursement for your injuries.  Our personal injury lawyer, Russell W. Mace III, has over 15 years of experience in personal injury litigation and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.  Mr. Mace aggressively represents his clients and is always concerned for their best interests.

If you would like to speak with a personal injury attorney, please contact our office at (843) 829-2900 or toll free at 1-800-94-TRIAL for a free consultation.  You may also contact us online.