Christmas Law Firm - July/August 2019

July/August 2019

B e Y our O wn H ero The Impor tance of Independence M ore than 200 years after the Revolutionary War, it’s easy to forget the Fourth of July is about more than fireworks and backyard barbecues.

Every freshman at the University of South Carolina has to take a class called University 101, which lasts for a few

weeks and sets the stage for college and life after it. The best advice I ever got about school came from an older student in that class. He said, “The habits that you start today are the habits you’ll carry for the rest of your life.” In other words, start sleeping in until 2 p.m. in college, and you’ll probably always be a late sleeper.

But July 4th is known as Independence Day for a reason: It marks the date when the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the American colonies finally extricated themselves from the British government. I like to think of the colonies as kids who were finally mature enough to stand up to their parents and struck out on their own for the first time. That comparison always reminds me of my own first stab at adulthood, although I have a lot more affection for my parents than the Founding Fathers had for King George III. The moment of truth came right after I graduated high school. That summer, my parents sold the house where I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, and moved to the mountains of Brevard, North Carolina. I left for my college dorm around the same time, and it felt like I no longer had a home to go back to. I would visit my parents, but when I moved downtown to attend the University of South Carolina, I felt like I was completely on my own. Even if that wasn’t true — I was still in my hometown, after all — that’s how it felt. The experience was a real awakening, and I suddenly understood it was up to me to steer my life from there. During that year, I worked at becoming self-sufficient and independent. I learned to cook my own meals on a budget, did my own laundry, and found a good study partner. To this day, I think of that as the most transformative year of my life. Even though I’ve gotten married, dealt with the death of a parent, and become the father of two kids, I’ll always remember my freshman year of college as the time that helped me become the man I am today.

To a large extent, I think he was right. A lot of my friends from college went on to have successful careers, but my best friend and I ended up going the furthest and ascending the fastest. He became a high-ranking vice president at Dell, and I started my own law firm. I credit a big portion of our success to us really believing we were independent at 18 years old. We realized there wasn’t some distant date when life would begin, but rather, we were responsible for our lives already. If I could give everyone entering college at the end of this summer one piece of advice, it would be this: Consider your actions carefully because what you’re doing now has a lot to do with the trajectory of your life and how you’ll conduct it. Sure, you can’t control everything that will happen to you, but you can control your outlook and actions. Though it can sometimes seem like teachers are preparing you for a life that starts at some point in the future, life actually starts now, not at graduation or in 10 years. My sons are still young —Austin is 12 and Walker is 7 — but I’m already trying to teach them to take responsibility for their lives. Austin, who is in the 6th- grade gifted program, recently brought home his first B. He was disappointed but shrugged it off because his grades “wouldn’t count” until he was older. I pointed out that while there’s nothing wrong with a B, I knew it wasn’t his best, and doing your best always counts. Even as a 6th grader, you’re responsible for making good choices, and taking personal responsibility is an important part of having a productive, joyful, and fulfilling life. Whether you’re 7, 12, or 50, now is the time to learn how to be your own hero. –Gary Christmas 1 843-535-8000



Have you heard the story of Terrence Dickson? Even if you don’t know the name, you might have heard his strange tale. Dickson was a burglar in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. One day, after breaking into a house and helping himself to some valuables, Dickson decided to leave through the garage. After discovering the automatic garage door was stuck closed, Dickson turned around and was horrified to realize he’d locked himself inside. To make matters worse, the family he was stealing from had just left for an extended vacation, so Dickson lived off of soda and dried dog food for eight days. When the family returned and found the unlucky burglar, a lawsuit was filed — by Dickson! He sued for mental anguish, and the jury awarded him $500,000. There’s nothing that shakes our faith in the justice system quite like injustice being served. When Dickson’s story first gained notoriety in 2001, thanks to an email circulated by the now-defunct Stella Awards newsletter, which

highlighted “outrageous lawsuits,” people were rightfully enraged. There was just one problem: Terrence Dickson never existed. In 2002, a reporter from Pennsylvania contacted the Bucks County prothonotary’s office, where all records for civil cases in the county are kept. He discovered there was no record of any cases involving such a burglar. It’s worth noting the original email where this story first appeared ended with a call for tort reform from a made-up law firm in Ohio. Likely, this hoax was an attempt to manipulate the public perception of the justice system. Despite being debunked 17 years ago, this tall tale still makes the rounds and often appears on lists of “outrageous lawsuits,” many of which are featured on the websites of legitimate law firms! There are plenty of wacky legal cases, but when a story is too ridiculous, there’s a good chance a few important details are being left out or the readers are being lied to. Don’t believe everything you read online!

G one to the D ogs

T he G reen H eart H arvest D inner THANK YOU FOR ANOTHER WONDERFUL YEAR When we’re not advocating for your safety in the workplace, Christmas Injury Lawyers is busy with our other passion: helping to strengthen the South Carolina community. This May, we were lucky enough to partner with the Green Heart Project, an initiative that shares our values of hard work and strong ethics, to participate in its 9th Annual Green Harvest Dinner at Mitchell Elementary School — a pot-luck style barbecue that brought in over 900 attendees and raised more than $40,000 for the Farms to Schools Program. We love the Green Heart Project’s mission of educating school- aged kids on the benefits of growing fresh produce on urban farms because it helps the next generation stay healthy and teaches them perseverance, patience, civic responsibility, and the value of hard work. Many of the students who participate come from low-income households without easy access to fresh produce, but the Green Heart Project teaches them the skills they need to maintain their own gardens for life.

Since its founding in 2009, the project has grown to include six elementary schools and a summer program, and its efforts have been proven to positively impact students’ enthusiasm for learning, along with their science and understanding skills, standardized test scores, GPAs, higher-order thinking skills, and confidence. The kids involved also developed better school attendance and had fewer disciplinary problems after working together to care for their crops. At the Green Harvest Dinner, all of that positivity permeated the air as attendees dined on the food they’d grown. We’re so lucky we were afforded the opportunity to give back to our community with an organization that provides students with unique lessons on health in the greater Charleston area. We’d like to give a big thank you to Green Heart Project for all of the amazing work they have done and the many successes to come!



during this period each year more than 1,000 people are killed in collisions involving teen drivers. That’s an average of roughly 10 deaths per day, a 14% jump in frequency from the rest of the year. So, how can you protect yourself this summer? Here are a few ideas: Drive Only When Necessary A pleasure cruise with the windows rolled down can be tempting when it’s warm, but the best way to stay safe during the 100 Deadliest Days is to stay off of the roads entirely. You can decrease your risk of getting in an accident by limiting your trips to those that are absolutely necessary. When possible, choose alternate forms of transportation like biking or walking to get from point A to point B. Stick to the Sunshine If driving is your only option, try to schedule your trips when it’s still light outside. After nightfall, it’s more difficult to see obstacles and other drivers, particularly if they’ve

neglected their headlights. To make matters worse, people on the road are more likely to be tired or inebriated after the sun goes down, increasing the chance of a collision. Forbes reports that 54% of crashes at night are alcohol-related, compared to 18% during the day. Buckle Up You’ve doubtless heard this advice a thousand times, but it’s worth repeating: Always, always use your seatbelt. The National Highways Traffic Safety Administration says that seatbelts saved 14,955 lives in 2017 alone but could have saved 2,549 more if everyone had used them. In addition to clicking your own belt into place, make sure any young children in your car are properly buckled up in their car seats or boosters. If you do wind up in a crash this summer, Christmas Injury Lawyers is here to help. Give us a call at (843) 268-2917 for a free consultation.

Summer is both the best and the worst time for road trips. While dry roads and seemingly endless sunshine can make it extremely enticing to pack up a cooler, top off your oil, and hit the pavement, the stretch of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is also the most dangerous to be behind the wheel. Nicknamed the 100 Deadliest Days, AAA reports that


Juicy Lucy Sliders

Inspired by Bon Appétit Magazine


DIRECTIONS • 2 lbs. ground chuck beef, 20% lean • 8 slices melting cheese (like American, Swiss, Muenster, or cheddar) • 16 small potato rolls, toasted • Salt and pepper, to taste • Your favorite burger accompaniments 1. Divide beef into 16 evenly sized balls. 2. Rip cheese into roughly equal pieces, creating 16 equal portions. 3. Using your index finger, create a small indentation in each ball. 4. Fill indention with cheese and pinch meat around to seal. Then gently form balls into 3/4-inch-thick patties. Season patties. 5. Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron skillet to medium-high. 6. Lightly coat skillet with oil and cook patties in batches. Brown one side undisturbed, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until desired doneness, about 3 minutes for medium. 7. Serve on toasted potato rolls with your favorite accompaniments.

Barbeque Campfire Camping Firework

Hot Independence July Lemonade Outdoors

Summer Sun Swimming Tanning Ufo Volleyball Watermelon

Fishing Friends Hiking

Sandals Skewers

3 843-535-8000



105 S. Cedar Street Suite D Summerville, SC 29483 843-535-8000

The Importance of Independence inside this issue 1 2 2 3 3 4 Did You Hear About the Dog Food Burglar? Bringing Values to the Table Tips for Surviving the 100 Deadliest Days Juicy Lucy Sliders A Tail of Bravery

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members and Tessa in the car, but Odin, seated proudly next to the eight goats, refused to get in. Try as they might, the Hendels could not get him to come with them, and there wasn’t enough room in the car for the eight goats. With the firestorm quickly approaching and the risk of losing even more family members increasing with each passing minute, the Hendels made the heart-wrenching decision to leave Odin and the goats behind. The family made it to safety with Tessa in tow, relieved to be together but heartbroken that Odin and the goats weren’t with them. After several agonizing days, it was finally safe enough for them to return home and survey the destruction. What did the Hendels find? Ashes, rubble, their barn and home burned to the ground

— and Odin. There he was, still guarding his eight goats and some small deer that had sought shelter with the brave canine. Weakened, burned, and limping, but nevertheless steadfast, Odin had never left his goats, even as the fire raged around them. Odin wagged his tail as he saw his family, happy to see they were also safe. The Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue and the Goatlandia Animal Sanctuary provided temporary shelter for the goats and pups while the Hendels rebuilt their barn. Odin received all the care he needed, along with a lot of love and treats. Today, Odin and his goats are back with their family, rebuilding their lives after this devastating wildfire. But the Hendels, and anyone who’s heard the story, won’t soon forget the bravery of Odin, the amazing pup.

Amid the devastation of the wildfires that tore through California in the fall of 2017, a few heroic tales rose up to give people hope. One such tale was of Odin, a loyal Great Pyrenees guard dog. Along with his sister, Tessa, and eight rescue goats, Odin is part of the Hendel family. It was mid-October when the Hendels were awoken by the smell of smoke, a fierce orange sky, and sounds of destruction — urgent warnings from Mother Nature. Gathering everyone as quickly as they could, the Hendels got their human family


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