Christmas Law Firm - March/April 2019

March/April 2019

O n P ersonal G rowth and the V alue of E mpathy A s we dive headfirst into spring, growth is on everyone’s mind. For some, this means heading out into the garden to plant a variety of flowers and vegetables. For others, it means a moment of reflection, looking back over challenges they faced and how they

primary avenue for treatment. For years, I struggled to find a physical

therapist who could help me. The pain I woke up with every morning scared me out of participating in any of the physical activities I had always enjoyed so much. I was so nervous that I

were able to overcome them. While I certainly enjoy homegrown produce, I’m definitely one of the latter. One of the greatest mental and physical challenges I’ve experienced began when I was 28. I was in what insurance companies call a “low-impact” accident. I clipped the cement foundation for a light pole that had been recently removed, and the unfortunate angle at which I hit it caused my right leg to jam into my pelvis. I suffered immediate debilitating back pain. Since I was young, I never imagined the pain would be permanent, so I took a couple of days to recover and went on with my life. At the time of the accident, I was the most physically active I had ever been. In addition to constantly snowboarding, wakeboarding, playing soccer, and going to the gym, I had taken up taekwondo. While in class one day, my sensei made the mistake of telling me that I had one of the best sidekicks he had ever seen. What does that do to the male ego? I showed up every day kicking as hard as I possibly could. Unbeknownst to me, I was causing repetitive trauma to my already injured body, which eventually caught up with me one day when I helped a friend move furniture. I saw the best surgeons and medical providers in the state, all of whom recommended that I try physical therapy as a

would cause more damage that my back muscles started to atrophy. After several years of intense physical and emotional pain, I finally met a rehabilitation specialist who gave me the advice I needed to be able to get my life back. He told me that my physical therapy regimen was helping but that I needed to fix what treatment couldn’t by working out. He encouraged me to start with Pilates. While the fear of further injuring myself lingered in my mind, I found a Pilates instructor who had struggled through her own back injury and empathized with my initial trepidation. She helped me gently and carefully ease my body back into activity. After the first three weeks, I didn’t notice any improvement, but both my instructor and the rehabilitation specialist said, “Keep at it. If it’s not causing you more pain, keep pushing forward.” Miraculously, after just three months, I couldn’t even tell I’d ever had an injury! While I now know that I will have to continue with Pilates for the rest of my life to keep the pain at bay, in a way, I’m thankful for the injury. I believe God allowed it to happen so that I could empathize with clients who have suffered their own injuries. I would never want to compare my suffering to theirs, but for years, I felt angry, depressed, and miserable trying to find a solution for my pain. I know what physical therapy is supposed to do for clients, but I also know why it fails. While I feel blessed that I was able to find a way to manage my pain when so many people in the world don’t have that option, I’m also thankful for my experience (even the bad parts) because it has helped me approach my cases from a much more understanding perspective. It helped me learn the value of empathy. –Gary Christmas 1 843-535-8000


More and more people are welcoming in the Amazon Echo or the Google Home into their spaces. Everyone knows they make great Bluetooth speakers and can tell you the weather forecast, but they’re also capable of so much more. Digital assistants can do a variety of tasks depending on how much you want them to do for you. For example, if you want your digital assistant to be heavily involved in your daily life, you can use the Echo or the Home as the core of your “connected home.” You can connect numerous compatible devices to these assistants, including other Bluetooth or networked speakers, lights, thermostats, coffee makers, refrigerators, and even microwaves. Of course, therein lies the challenge — you must have compatible devices to make a connected home efficient. And let’s be honest: Many of us aren’t going to buy a connected fridge or Wi-Fi enabled lightbulbs just to get the most out of our digital assistants. What you can do, however, is make use of what you already have. Here are some

ways to put your digital assistants to work without committing to a connected home. Both the Echo and the Home make excellent communication hubs. In the home, they can be used as a local intercom system. Do you have a few Echo Dots or Google Home Minis? If you do, you’re set. You can communicate in any room where another device is present. Your digital assistant can also make outgoing calls. As long as the device has access to your contacts (or the person you’re trying to contact has an Echo or Home), you can easily make the connection. Want to send a text message? No problem! You can dictate a text to anyone in your smartphone’s contact list and send it without ever touching your phone. Aside from communications, the assistants can handle calendars, appointments, emails, and more. You can ask for information relevant to you, like “When is my flight again?” Google Home can recognize your voice, or the voice of anyone in the house, and respond accordingly. There’s no worry that anyone’s calendar or appointments will be mixed up with yours. If you want to learn more, search for tutorials online. We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to what these digital assistants can do for you.

G et the M ost out of Y our D igital H ome A ssistant

O ne of O ur R ecent S ettlements

He l p i ng a Fami l y Dur i ng a Dark Time

In recent years, it has become difficult to turn on the news without hearing about an accident involving an impaired driver. While drunk driving is a widespread problem, it’s an especially pressing issue in South Carolina. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 7.98 impaired driving fatalities per 100,000 residents in South Carolina in 2018. This officially (and sadly) ranks our state second in the nation for drunk-driving deaths. While the state’s highway patrol is currently working with local municipalities to keep the roadways safe and prevent future accidents from happening, there are still drivers out there who trust themselves to get behind the wheel after too many drinks. Their reckless behavior endangers the lives of everyone around them. This danger unfortunately became a reality for one South Carolina family who lost their son when he was struck by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle. In an effort to provide some kind of

light to the motorcyclist’s family during an unimaginably dark time, our team at Christmas Law Firm helped get them a settlement of $1,075,000. As an experienced Charleston personal injury lawyer, Gary Christmas has represented hundreds of clients throughout his career and continues to vigorously fight to help injured people receive compensation. If you or someone you know is the victim of a drunk driving accident, please give our office a call.



All of us here at Christmas Law Firm are excited to celebrate our partnership with the Charleston Kids Fair for their 31st annual event! Ever since the first day we opened our firm, we have been dedicated to promoting bicycle safety for the children residing in our community. We believe it’s of the utmost importance to give kids the necessary equipment in order for them to be responsible and safe riders. This is why we gave a brand-new bike to one lucky child and free helmets to all the children who attended the event!

With sponsors like Sesame Burgers and Beer, Five Loaves Cafe, and Charleston Taekwondo, we were able to help host this great event to spread awareness about bike safety for all our young riders in the area. Thank you so much to those in our community who donated to the cause or nominated children for the bike giveaway! While the next Charleston Kids Fair is still a year out, if you’re looking for a way to help us prepare for the 32nd annual event, you can get involved with our nonprofit

organization, Lowcountry Helmets for Kids. By teaming up with local organizations in our community, Lowcountry Helmets for Kids promotes bike safety and brain injury awareness to kids across the state. The organization is proudly funded by our firm, and all donations go directly toward the cost of helmets. If you would like to get involved or donate, please contact our office at 843-268-2917 or go to our website at ChristmasInjuryLawyers. com/Helmets-For-Kids.

A N ew N ame and A N ew L ocation

Everything Popcorn Inspired by Food & Wine magazine

Check Out These New Of f i ce Changes !


• 3/4 cup popcorn kernels • 2 tablespoons flaky sea salt • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds • 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds

• 2 teaspoons granulated garlic • 2 teaspoons granulated onion • 1/3 cup canola oil • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

While our team has enjoyed being a part of Howell & Christmas Law Firm for the last 20 years, we have exciting news for our family of outstanding clients! First, we are pleased to announce that this year, we have opened our own office, Christmas Law Firm. Second, our firm is expanding — we have now opened our office in Summerville, South Carolina, to better serve you. We are very excited to officially become a part of the Berkeley County area and are especially thrilled to be closer to you. Please feel free to stop by and check out our new office anytime. We look forward to seeing and serving you there!


1. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds. Shake skillet often and cook until white seeds are golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and add garlic, onion, and salt. 2. In a large saucepan, combine popcorn kernels and oil. Cook over medium-high heat, covered, until popcorn kernels start to pop. Once popping, continue cooking and shaking the pan intermittently until popping ceases, about 3–5 minutes. 3. Transfer popcorn to a large mixing bowl. Pour in butter and toss to coat. Finally, add seasoning, toss again, and serve.

3 843-535-8000



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

On Personal Growth and the Value of Empathy Are You Getting the Most out of Your Digital Home Assistant? inside this issue 1 2

2 3 3 4

Check Out This Recent Settlement!

31st Annual Bicycle Giveaway at Charleston Kids Fair

Everything Popcorn

Llamas, Pigs, and Horses … Oh, My!

H o

Rojo the Llama Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas in Portland, Oregon, has conducted over 1,500 visits during the last decade and helps over 10,000 people each year. Their star llama, Rojo, is one of just 14 llamas registered as a therapy animal in the United States. Rojo’s exceptionally gentle temperament is calming to everyone who meets him. He’s so well-loved and has become such a big deal that he has his own Facebook page and two children’s books! Buttercup the Pot-Bellied Pig Lois Brady, a speech pathologist who works with special needs students in San Francisco, has a secret weapon in her arsenal: Buttercup, her black, 70-pound Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. His docile nature makes him the perfect companion for autistic children, who are often easily startled. Because Buttercup is an unusual

sight in classrooms, children find him fascinating. In 2017, an autistic student who had never spoken to his classmates before felt compelled to crawl out from beneath his desk to pet Buttercup. Afterward, the child spoke to the class for the first time. “It was a remarkable breakthrough,” says Brady. Rocky the Miniature Horse At just 32 inches high and 325 pounds, Rocky packs a lot of cuteness into one small package. He’s not a pony but rather a breed of miniature horse historically used in coal mines in the 17th century. His specialty is working with retired veterans at the VA Community Living Center in Phoenix, Arizona, where the residents know him and look forward to his visits. For some, Rocky’s visits are bittersweet. “I wish I could have had more time to spend with horses,” says one veteran as he scratches Rocky’s ears. “There’s something calming about them.”

Everyone has heard of therapy dogs and cats, but did you know virtually any critter can be a therapy or support animal? Therapy animals help humans cope with PTSD, anxiety, depression, injury, high blood pressure, and chronic pain, as well as a wide range of other conditions and difficulties. Therapy animals range from guinea pigs that can fit in a purse to dolphins that swim with amputees. Here are three unique companions who make a difference in the lives of people who need them.


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