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Why We Are Not Wired to Multitask and Drive

North Carolina Distracted Driving Accident AttorneysBy Sidney Fligel

What is Multitasking?

You know what multitasking is. Everyone does. It’s almost a given these days. I don’t care what task you are performing you are probably in the habit of multitasking while doing it.

I’m multitasking right now.

I’m answering a colleague’s question, kicking off my shoe under the desk, while I am typing this sentence. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift is whining on Spotify about some guy who’s so mean all he’s ever gonna amount to is mean. But she’ll be livin’ in a big ol’ city. Oh… and I just got a ping from my cell – my sister wants me to drive to her house this weekend (150 miles). Her peaches are coming in fast and she has to pick them before the birds eat them. So now I’m also weighing the pros and cons of fighting holiday traffic for a bag of fresh-picked peaches.

But I am stationary behind my computer screen. I am not behind the wheel of a two ton vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour with many other innocent drivers and bystanders nearby.

Do I multitask behind the wheel?

Do you?

Unfortunately we all do. And we may not even realize we do it.

Back in the day it used to be fine to sip a soft drink while driving, and maybe even change the radio “dial” or “roll down” our windows. But that was before seven-lane highways rife with left turns, commuting bicyclists, roadway signage everywhere, and millions of cars on the roads with minivan-wielding soccer moms filled with distracting kids rushing from practice to Chik-fil-A and on to the next practice.

And cell phones. Texting. Bluetoothing.

Our driving habits have become a real mess.

Who’s Guilty of Distracted Driving?

We are all guilty. Teens. Moms. Dads. You. Me.

Many people think distracted driving is a teenager problem. Not entirely. All of us become side-tracked and distracted without even realizing we’re doing it. Or realizing what a mistake it can mean to your life or someone else’s.

I was shopping in a locally-owned shop recently when the owner learned I work at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin in personal injury. She shared her tragic story of why she had to go back to work after she’d retired. Her husband was hit by a distracted driver, suffered a severe brain injury and had to leave his job as CEO of a major corporation. Their lives took an abrupt about face as they lost nearly everything they had due to medical bills. (He did not hire a lawyer, unfortunately.)

The at-fault driver was a teenager. He was texting.

The woman shared with me how very sad she felt for that teen who was not only unrepentant, but snarky about what his carelessness did to her family.

I was stunned.

One careless mistake and an entire family’s path went south.

Multitasking Behind the Wheel is Epidemic

Distracted driving has become epidemic. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) statics show distracted driving was the highest cause of “human choice” accidents, with six of 10 caused by distractions.

Cell phones, as we all know, are a common distraction (and one of the most deadly). In the era of Smartphones, one of the most common causes of accidents has been distractions from texting and using apps behind the wheel – even a map app.

Why Our Brains are Not Wired to Multitask

According to numerous research studies, our brains were not designed to focus on multiple tasks at once. Psychologists who study what happens inside your brain when people try to perform more than one task at a time have found that we are not wired for heavy-duty multitasking.

Switching between tasks (multitasking) can cause a whopping 40% loss in brain productivity, and the National Safety Council underscores why multitasking is particularly dangerous behind the wheel.

If you can walk and chew gum at the same time, why can’t you drive and talk on your cell phone? Walking and chewing gum involve both thinking and a non-thinking task. Driving while talking on your phone are two thinking tasks that involve many areas of the brain. Your brain rapidly switches between two cognitive activities rather than processing both simultaneously and some things can get lost or minimized in the switching.

Isn’t talking on a cell phone the same as talking to someone in the car? No. Drivers talking on cell phones are more oblivious to changing traffic conditions because they are the only ones in the conversation who are aware of the road. When you are talking to another adult in the car (with another set of eyes) they may be able to help you remain aware of traffic.

Isn’t using hands-free devices safer than a cell? Research shows it is not. As different parts of our brain share tasks, activity in one part will decrease as activity in another part increases. If you focus on a conversation, whether it’s with another passenger, using a hand held device, or cell phone, activity in the parietal lobe will decrease by as much as 37% says a Carnegie Mellon University study.

When you use a cell phone you get what is known as “inattention blindness.” You look but you may not see. You can miss seeing up to 50% of your driving environment.

Drinking and driving vs. driving while distracted. A study by the University of Utah illustrated in a controlled simulator that using a cell phone while driving is just as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08, which is the legal limit behind the wheel in North Carolina. Just like alcohol, people can become addicted to their cell phones. Click here to find out the fascinating biological reason why.

Text behind the wheel and you are 23% more likely to cause a crash says the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) website, nhtsa.gov.  As a matter of fact, it’s the same as drinking four beers. Both cause distraction and impaired driving that can result in following too closely, not being able to brake on time, or weaving into oncoming traffic.

We’ve all seen those cars that drift outside their lane. The RAC Foundation, a British motoring research organization, reports that texting while driving reduces steering control by 91%. And it decreases reaction time by 35%.

Multitasking Results in TMI

All of this is a result of too much information causing cognitive overload – our brain’s inability to hold so much information.

We are wired to have a working memory that can retain only two to four pieces of information at a time.

When more is required, our brain replaces the old with the new or it borrows from the auditory and visual parts of the brain.

Even when contemplating the next task, researchers discovered that an interruption – be it a phone call or deciding to check your email can cause you to take up to five minutes to refocus on your work.

Here’s a trivia question for you. What is the #1 distraction behind the wheel? Cell phones or wandering thoughts? (Keep reading for the answer.)

Just Drive

  • Don’t put your car in drive until you and your passengers are settled in and ready to go.
  • Take the time to check your surroundings and make sure anything you may need while driving is in reach so you won’t need to look for them on the road
  • If you need directions, get them before you put your car in gear

Keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road and just drive.

Tell Us Your Good Driving HabitsGet a FREE Case Evaluation from an N.C. Car Wreck Lawyer

If you or a loved one were the victim of any kind of distracted driving accident, we strongly encourage you to seek legal help. We don’t want anyone to end up in a situation like the shop owner whose husband was incapacitated and didn’t hire a lawyer which could have potentially helped save his family from financial ruin as a result of that car wreck.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer received 3.5 times more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for your free case evaluation.

Trivia answer. The #1 distraction behind the wheel, according to Safestart.com? Wandering thoughts.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

I’ve worked all my life. Why aren’t I eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Not everyone is eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Only those who have worked and paid FICA taxes within five of the past 10 years and meet the government’s disability requirements.

Here is a simplified explanation of what you need to know if you’re thinking of applying for Social Security Disability benefits.

SSDI is Insurance for Disabled Workers

Social Security Disability Insurance is just what its name implies. Insurance.

When you work, a portion of each paycheck goes into a federal insurance fund (FICA, which stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act). This is a fund for SSDI. Just like medical insurance or car insurance, you hope you never have to use your SSDI. But if you’ve paid into it (which you are required to if you receive a paycheck) you will be covered for benefits if you become disabled and the Social Security Administration determines that you are unable to work.

Spotty Work History?

What if you were working but you stopped temporarily to raise your children through elementary school? Or what if you were laid off and subsequently unable to find a suitable job for several years? What if you’ve been out of work due to a work injury?

Whether you may get SSDI depends largely on the date you last worked.

The government considers this very important date as the last date you would potentially be eligible for SSDI. To determine whether you may be eligible you must pass a "recent work" test. There is only one question on this test, so you either pass or fail.

Have you worked five of the past 10 years (or in government jargon, 20 of the last 40 quarters?

If you become disabled after your date last insured (DLI) has passed, you cannot get SSDI benefits. It would be similar to getting in a car accident after you stopped paying for car insurance.

Here is an example of DLI. If you worked up until five years ago today, your DLI would be today’s date. If you worked up until two years ago, your DLI would be three years from now. If you haven't worked for six years, your DLI passed one year ago and you are no longer eligible for SSDI unless you are found disabled before your DLI.

Show Me the Money

Occasionally we have seen instances in which someone assumed they were not eligible for SSDI. Yet upon closer inspection and reviewing their work and payment history, we discovered that a client’s employer failed to pay the employer and employee taxes and sought to correct the error. (Of course, payment is subject to IRS provisions on the ability to amend tax returns or file late.) While this doesn’t happen often, it serves as a reminder of how we have been able to help people uncover benefits they did not know were available to them*.

What if You Do Not Qualify for SSDI?

If you do not qualify for SSDI, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income or SSI benefits, provided you meet the extremely low income and asset requirements threshold.

SSI is for people who have never worked or haven't worked enough to qualify for SSDI. You can only get SSI if your income and assets are extremely low.

For 2017, the federal benefit rate is $735 per month for individuals and $1,103 for couples (and this is subject to reductions). Some states supplement the federal amount. North Carolina is not one of them.

Think You Can’t Afford a Social Security Disability Lawyer?

Think again. Uncle Sam limits the contingency fees for all Social Security Disability lawyers to 25% of back-due benefits or $6,000, whichever is less.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From N.C. Social Security Disability Lawyers

We know applying for Social Security Disability can be a confusing and lengthy process. (It can take nearly two years in N.C. just to get a judge to hear your case – 23 months in Charlotte, 22 in Greensboro, 20 months in Fayetteville, and 19 in Raleigh.)

We understand from firsthand experience what you are up against.

Nearly every person on our Social Security Disability team has worked inside the Social Security Administration.

We know how the system works, what they look for to accept a claim, the importance of filing the correct forms and meeting strict deadlines, and what medical records to present. And sometimes we know where to look for benefits you may not be aware of.

If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability, contact us as soon as possible or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation about your unique situation. We’re available 24/7.

*Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

I’ve Been Given a Workers’ Comp Rating. Should I Close My Case?

Workers Compensation Attorney North CarolinaBy Jacob Goad

One of the questions we often hear from injured workers is whether they should accept what the workers’ comp insurance company is offering to pay them, based on a rating of the injured person’s body part or parts.

That’s a good question. The answer can often depend on your unique circumstances. And sometimes on how much a doctor knows about North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) ratings guidelines. We had a case a while back that illustrates this point.

A hip replacement is generally considered to be worth a 40% rating, according to NCIC guidelines. Surprisingly, not all doctors know about these NCIC guidelines. One doctor who did not know about the NCIC guidelines gave our client a rating significantly below 40% for a hip replacement. We sent the client for a second opinion with a knowledgeable doctor who assigned the more appropriate rating of 40%.

Just about every body part that you can imagine is named in the Workers’ Compensation Act, and is given a value in weeks of compensation. Here’s an illustration of hand, arm, leg, eye, hearing, and foot injury ratings, according to the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) ratings guidelines. (It is interesting, and in my opinion somewhat disturbing, to know that every finger on your hand has a value.)

NCIC Payments for Various Body Parts

Thumb 75 weeks Arm 240 weeks
First or index finger 45 weeks Foot 144 weeks
Second or middle finger 40 weeks Leg 200 weeks
Third or ring finger 25 weeks Eye 120 weeks
Fourth or little finger 20 weeks Hearing (one ear) 70 weeks
Great toe 35 weeks Hearing (both ears) 150 weeks
Any other toe 10 weeks Back 300 weeks
Hand 200 weeks

Whether You Should Settle Depends on Your Circumstances

Many people contact us with questions about whether they should settle based on a rating, and the answer to that question will vary depending on your circumstances. Here are some of the things we consider:

  1. Do you intend to continue working with the employer where your injury occurred?
  2. Are you receiving a weekly check from the workers’ compensation company?
  3. Do you have a substantial need of medical treatment?
  4. Have you undergone a functional capacity evaluation, and has your employer offered you employment that is appropriate for your injury?
  5. Have you been informed about your rights to file a Form 18M (an Employee’s Application for Additional Medical Compensation)?
  6. Is the impairment rating given by the doctor (often chosen by the insurance company) reasonable in light of your injury?
  7. Would you benefit from a second opinion by another doctor that is agreed upon by both you and the insurance company, and is paid for by the insurance company?

When You Settle Your Workers’ Comp Claim

The first step to resolving a case based solely on an impairment rating is by signing a Form 26A.  A Form 26A is an employer’s admission of the employee’s right to permanent partial disability to a body part or parts. We urge you to contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney before settling on a rating. You simply don’t know what you don’t know. One recent case comes to mind that illustrates this point.

We represented an injured worker who enjoyed her job and was looking forward to going back to it. The workers’ comp insurance company stood in the way of that goal however. Its guidelines for a full settlement of the claim stated that you must also resign from the company where you were working when you got hurt. Our client did not want to resign. So she decided to settle based on a rating alone. This would not have been in her best interest, so we embarked on extensive research that uncovered a gold nugget of information, which subsequently favored our client. Because of this new information, our client received much more than she would have otherwise based on her rating alone*. And she got to go back to a job she loved!

N.C. Workers’ Comp Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

Case evaluations are free. Furthermore, we work on a contingency basis, which means if we don’t get you compensation, you don’t owe us an attorney’s fee. We urge you to contact us if you are considering settling based on a rating – or settling period.

PS…There are lots of good N.C. workers’ comp attorneys you could choose from. Here are five important reasons we believe you should consider hiring us.

*Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results. Client identity has been removed or changed to protect client’s privacy.

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Has Filed Class Action Claims Against Chemours and DuPont for GenX and PFOA Contamination of the Cape Fear River Water Supply in Wilmington, N.C.

Cape Fear River Water Contamination

By Gary Jackson

On October 3, 2017, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin and our co-counsel The Hannon Law Firm, LLC have filed suit against The Chemours Company and duPont Chemical Corporation seeking compensation for property related damages and funds for a monitoring program for early detection of disease because of GenX and other toxic contamination released from the companies’ Fayetteville Works Site. The GenX and other toxic chemicals, including PFOA and other perfluorinated chemicals, have contaminated water that the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) in Wilmington, North Carolina uses to supply the majority of properties in Wilmington.

The CFPUA provides water to over 100,000 residents in Wilmington using surface water from the Cape Fear River. Testing done by North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (“NCEDQ”) has verified that PFAS and PFECAs including GenX released from the Fayetteville Works Site have contaminated the CFPUA water supply from the Cape Fear River.

Read the Nix v. The Chemours Company, et al. Complaint

Learn More About GenX

On June 22, 2017, the US EPA measured over 720 ppt of GenX in the finished water delivered to properties serviced by CFPUA. In July, 2017, CPPFUA reported GenX in finished water from CFPUA at 250, 286, and 185 ppt. High levels of other perflourinated compounds including PFO2HxA and PFO3A were also found in July.

North Carolina Law Firm Offers Free GenX Case Evaluation

If you think you have been impacted by the Cape Fear River contamination, call us right now for a free case evaluation. We will review your claim and try to answer any questions you have.

Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for your free case evaluation.

Categories: Legal News

N.C. Police Target Aggressive Drivers in Ghost Cruisers

Car Accident Lawyer North CarolinaBy LaDonna Williams

Most drivers view aggressive driving as a serious or extremely serious risk that puts everyone’s safety in jeopardy. They are right, of course, but that doesn’t stop many from doing it, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Recently, authorities in North Carolina committed to cracking down on this issue by investing in “ghost cars.” CBS North Carolina reports that these cars don’t look like your typical marked cruisers, as you can see from this WBTV NC photo.

The cruisers do have markings, but their graphics and decals are barely visible during daylight hours, allowing law enforcement officers to blend in with the rest of traffic. People are on their best behavior when they spot a police cruiser, the logic goes. The goal with ghost cars is to address aggressive driving habits, like speeding, tailgating, and unsafe lane changes by putting motorists on notice that police may be in the midst.

North Carolina law defines aggressive driving as careless or heedless operation of a vehicle in a manner that willfully or wantonly disregards the rights and safety of other drivers. To prove a violation, officers need to show an offender committed two or more of the following:

  • Running a red light
  • Running a stop sign
  • Passing illegally
  • Failing to yield right-of-way
  • Following too closely

A violation is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor – a charge that may betray the severity of impact these actions can have on innocent passengers and other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

One study published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention revealed that aggressive driving tends to increase the severity of traffic crashes.

Recovering Damages After an Aggressive Driving Accident

In some cases after an aggressive driving accident the involved parties may find themselves tempted to argue with the other driver. On the other hand, others may sometimes feel compelled to apologize. However, our North Carolina accident attorneys would urge drivers involved in any crash to neither blame nor apologize after any kind of car crash. Instead, a polite exchange of insurance and driver’s license information as well as contact information of potential witnesses is in order. Also, if you are injured, seek immediate medical attention. Click here for steps to take after you’ve been involved in a car crash.

A person who is injured and plans to file a North Carolina car accident lawsuit for damages will have to prove negligence. Your attorney will need to show:

  • Defendant owed a duty of care (in this case, to safely operate a motor vehicle)
  • Defendant breached that duty (by failing to safely operate a motor vehicle)
  • Defendant driver’s actions were the actual and proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries
  • Plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the crash

N.C. Car Wreck Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

Aggressive driving behaviors are undoubtedly a breach of a motorist’s duty. However, proving it sometimes can be challenging, and this is why we encourage injured parties to seek legal counsel from an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney.

If aggressive driving has led to a serious accident resulting in personal injury, we can help you explore your legal options.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

Contact us for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

N.C. Workers’ Compensation Settlements: Proceed With Caution!

North Carolina Workers Comp AttorneysBy Ryan Bliss

At some point, most injured workers receive a phone call from the workers’ compensation insurance company asking whether they’re ready to settle their case. Maybe you’ve already received that call…

If so, it’s probably a good time to consult a James Scott Farrin workers’ compensation attorney. More than half our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation law. This is the highest level of specialization available in N.C., and only a small percentage of N.C. attorneys can make that claim. Very small.

Navigating the twists and turns of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system is hard enough while your case is still open. But when you receive that phone call, you’ve got a whole new set of issues to consider. This is your livelihood we’re talking about. You don’t want to make any decisions you later regret. And when it comes to determining the “value” of your case, Facebook said it best:

IT’S COMPLICATED!

Do all workers’ comp cases settle?

First thing’s first. It’s important for every injured worker in North Carolina to understand that not all workers’ compensation cases settle. There is no requirement that your case should eventually settle, and you can’t force a workers’ compensation insurance company to offer a settlement. In fact, based on my experience, some injured workers are better off leaving their cases open. That being said, many cases do eventually resolve by “clincher” agreement. This means the insurance company offers a lump sum of money to an injured worker in return for a full and final settlement of their case. A clincher (or settlement agreement) typically closes the case in full, including all medical treatment and wage replacement benefits.

If you find yourself considering a settlement, BE CAREFUL! Before making any big decisions, there are two important issues you should examine.

Is it a good time to settle your case?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Every workers’ compensation case is different. Based on my opinion, however, for most cases, the best time to settle is after your major medical treatment has concluded. If the insurance company pushes you toward a settlement too quickly, they may be unable to reasonably evaluate the value of your case. This can result in lowball settlement offers, which typically do more harm than good.

Additionally, there are many other benefits you may or may not be receiving, which can adversely affect (or be adversely affected by) a workers’ compensation settlement. Social Security Disability benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, and even private disability/health insurance plans can cause complicated legal issues when it comes time to settle your workers’ compensation case. All of these issues must be carefully considered in order to determine whether settlement is a good idea, based on your particular set of circumstances.

What is the “value” of your case?

Once you decide it’s a good time to settle your case, there’s still another looming question that will need to be answered: How much?

My job as a workers’ compensation attorney would be a lot easier if there was a magic “settlement calculator,” but unfortunately, it doesn’t exist. In order to determine the reasonable value of your claim, an experienced professional will typically consider the following:

  • The cost of your future medical treatment
  • The likelihood that your injury will prevent you from returning to work in some capacity down the road
  • Any decreased earning potential resulting from your injury

Additionally, you may be entitled to an award for a permanent partial disability rating to your injured body part or parts. This is typically determined by your doctor. The calculation associated with this potential award is set by statute in North Carolina.

James Scott Farrin workers’ comp attorneys are trained to help you weigh the pros and cons of settling your case. If you decide to move forward with settlement, your attorney can then help you negotiate with the insurance company in order to try to maximize the amount you could potentially receive. Regardless of whether or not you decide to retain an attorney, when it comes to settling your workers’ compensation case, proceed with caution.

North Carolina Workers’ Comp Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

Workers’ comp is complicated to navigate. We urge you to consult with us if you have any questions whatsoever.

If you think you can't afford a workers’ comp lawyer, you may be surprised. Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis to try to help our clients navigate the best course of action for their unique situation.

Feel free to contact us by clicking here or calling us toll free at 1-866-900-7078. We'll have an attorney evaluate your case for FREE.

Will I Be Denied Social Security Disability Benefits if I Work 1 Day a Week?

The government has a methodical five-step evaluation process to determine if you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Social Security examiners must follow those five steps in sequential order every time someone walks in their office to find out if they qualify for benefits.

There’s no wiggle room.

We know from firsthand experience. Nearly everyone on our Social Security Disability team previously worked for the Social Security Administration. You must be able to proceed through the first three steps or all five steps in order to be found disabled.

However, if you fail the first step the inquiry ends altogether.

Step 1. Are You Working?

The first step is the one that trips up many people. It is at this step that the inquiry can end abruptly. Here is how this works.

Step 1 asks about your current work status. What many clients do not realize is the weight and importance the government gives to whether or not you are working. It is very telling that your work status is the first question rather than what disability or disabilities you claim to have.

Here is what the Social Security Administration says about work status as it relates to potential benefits:

“At the first step, we consider your work activity, if any. If you are doing substantial gainful activity, we will find that you are not disabled.”

What is Substantial Gainful Activity?

As you might imagine, the government has a very specific definition as to what substantial and gainful activity means with regard to your potential to receive disability benefits.

Substantial refers to anything you are doing physically or mentally, and can even include part time work or volunteer work.

Gainful is something you get paid to do. But even if you don’t get paid (such as volunteering or helping a friend or family member with their startup business by taping boxes to ship) the Social Security Administration may conclude your activity is gainful if other people usually get paid to do it.

In 2017, substantial gainful activity is defined as earning $1,170 or more monthly ($1,950 for those who are blind).

Someone Has to Put Food on the Table”

We will sometimes have clients come to us and say they are working only because it is necessary in order to put food on the table for their family. They explain to us how difficult it is for them because of XYZ disability and they are barely getting by. We understand and we empathize. But the government reasons, if you are able to put food on the table today, you can do it tomorrow and the next day. The Social Security Disability Benefits document makes this very clear:

“Social Security pays benefits to people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death. While some programs give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability, Social Security does not.”

FREE Social Security Disability Case Evaluation

When you are completely unable to work to put food on the table is when you should come see us. Unfortunately, the government ties the hands of all Social Security Disability lawyers unless you say you are not working during Step 1 questioning.

Everyone’s situation is unique and we have helped hundreds in their time of need. If you’d like a FREE case evaluation, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. We would love to try to help in any way we can.

Fatalities More Likely In Older Vehicle Car Crashes

By Jennifer A. Taylor

Vintage car dashboardA colleague and I were chatting over coffee, and she shared a concern that I thought others may have. She said she and her husband received an insurance bill for an old beat-up Ford Bronco that her husband drives up at their cabin.  She joked that her sunglasses are worth more than that Bronco, so she was shocked to see the insurance bill for it was more than they pay for their newer Lexus SUV.

The reasoning behind this is simple and makes sense when you think about it.

More Fatalities Likely in Older Cars

While newer cars can be more expensive, the insurance on older vehicles may cost more because many older vehicles may not be as safe. A 2013 research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded …

If involved in a fatal crash, the older a car is the more likely its driver will die in that crash.

The risk of serious injury or death from a car accident, whether it’s on the I-77 near Charlotte, N.C. 12 along the Outer Banks, or scenic Rt. 221 through the Blue Ridge Mountains., spikes in an older-model car. And the older the car the more likely the severity of the injury, including fatality.

Minimum Insurance Coverage Enough?

The North Carolina Department of Insurance notes the minimum coverage for bodily injury liability is $30,000 per person and $60,000 per crash and $25,000 for property damage. However, as a personal injury attorney, I can tell you in many cases this is rarely enough to fully cover many damages, particularly in more serious collisions. A good North Carolina car wreck lawyer will generally also seek compensation through the at-fault driver’s uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage, as outlined in N.C.G.S. 20-279.21.

Although there is a general perception that newer vehicles are less expensive to insure, the reality is that safety is considered a key factor when insurers determine how much to charge customers.

Almost all insurers give discounts for vehicles that come fully loaded with modern safety features, such as multiple airbags, rearview cameras, improved crumple zone design, blind spot sensors, and more. Vehicles manufactured prior to 2000 were not routinely equipped with those features, many of which were introduced after 2015. Safety and prevention of car accidents in North Carolina can often depend on features such as these.

When you are considering how much auto insurance you need, recognize that even if you can squeak by with lower rates on an older car, you may want to consider increasing your limit because of the heightened risk of serious injuries.

North Carolina is an at-fault state or tort-based system when it comes to how an injured person will be compensated following a car accident. That means the person who was legally at fault generally bears financial responsibility for the crash.

However, keep in mind that many people carry only the minimum level of auto insurance. If you’re in an older car and you suffer serious injuries, it is unlikely that having the minimums will be enough to cover the full scope of your damages. In those situations, you may need to tap into your own uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage for compensation. While sometimes auto insurers have been known to push back on this in an effort to minimize their own payouts, our personal injury lawyers will fight to try to ensure you receive the compensation you may deserve.

N.C. Car Wreck Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

If you have been injured by or in an older model car, I urge you to contact the James Scott Farrin personal injury Hurt Line for a free case evaluation. Things can get very complicated very fast, and with medical bills, and quite probably time out of work, you want to try to get the compensation you potentially deserve.

On average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

Contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078. We’re here for you 24/7.

*Insurance Research Council 1999

Hurt on the Job? Forms That Need to be Completed for Possible Compensation

When you’re injured on the job in North Carolina, it’s enough to deal with just trying to recover. Let alone, trying to put food on the table and pay the light bill while you’re not able to work.

In order to try to help make those payments and to propel your worker’s comp claim from one step to the next, the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) will play a key role in your claims process. It is the state agency responsible for ensuring that you, your employer, and its insurance company are all playing by the rules and treating each other fair and square.

We know these rules from first-hand experience. Two of our workers’ compensation lawyers, Doug Berger and Matthew Harbin were formerly NCIC commissioners presiding over workers’ comp hearings. As a former four-term N.C. state senator, Mr. Berger helped write some of our workers’ compensation laws.

As with many large bureaucratic agencies, you will be required to fill out a number of forms during the course of your claim. Strict deadlines apply. If your forms are late, you can lose your claim rights.

People can often be confused and intimidated as to which forms to fill out and why. We get it. We fill them out all day every day. That’s one of the conveniences of having a workers’ compensation lawyer handle your case.

If you do not have a workers’ comp lawyer working on your behalf, and you’ve decided to try to tackle your claim on your own, we have compiled a list of some of the more common forms the North Carolina Industrial Commission requires.

NCIC Workers’ Compensation Forms

File Immediately After a Work Injury

Form 18

Your report of the injury. A Form 18 should be filed with the NCIC as soon as possible, but no later than two years from your date of injury. You should notify your employer immediately after you are injured, or as soon as is practical, and within 30 days of your injury. This form lets the NCIC and your employer know that you are requesting to be compensated for your injuries. If you do not file within the 30-day deadline (which begins the day you were injured), your claim may be dismissed after a period of time.

Form 19

Your employer’s report of the injury. Form 19 must be filed within five days of the employer’s knowledge that you were injured. Do not assume your employer will file this claim or file it within the deadline. We have seen employees’ claims get bogged down right from the start because this form was not filed or not filed on time. If you are able, we suggest you follow up, as there is no penalty to the employer if they do not file.

File to Determine Benefits Status and Amount

Form 60

If your employer accepts the claim, they need to file a Form 60 admitting responsibility and agreeing to pay full workers’ comp benefits (wage loss benefits and medical treatment).

Form 61

If your employer denies responsibility for your injury, they need to file a Form 61 stating the reasons why they are denying responsibility.

Form 62

Your employer or insurance carrier should file a Form 62 to make modifications to your weekly benefit amounts and the reasons for doing so.

Form 63

A Form 63 allows your workers’ comp insurance carrier to pay some of your medical bills, while they investigate your claim. However it does not obligate them to accept responsibility for your injury or to pay wage loss benefits.

File for Mileage Reimbursement

Form 25T

The insurance company may not always mention this mileage benefit to you. You should be aware that you are allowed reimbursement for mileage to medical appointments when you have to drive more than 20 miles round trip.

Returning to Work

Form 26A

Be vigilant when signing Form 26A. This form is typically used when you are able to continue working for your employer in your pre-injury job after your medical treatment has concluded. The insurance company fills out Form 26A utilizing the information from your doctor’s assigned permanent partial impairment rating. You will receive a lump sum based on a statutory formula, which is based on your weekly compensation rate and the part of your body that was injured. We have handled thousands of workers’ comp settlements. We can tell you from experience that it is prudent to have a worker’s comp lawyer on your side when finalizing your settlement amount.

We guarantee you the insurance company has their own lawyers to call on when
determining your settlement amount.

Request an NCIC Hearing

Form 33

If you believe you require a hearing before the North Carolina Industrial Commission, you can file Form 33 to request one.  Be forewarned. Your employer and the insurance company will almost certainly be represented by attorneys who will fight for their rights which could include not paying you benefits.

We do not recommend you go through an NCIC hearing without your own workers’ comp attorney to help try to even the battlefield on your behalf.

You Can Afford a James Scott Farrin Workers’ Comp Lawyer

Many of our clients come to us after trying to negotiate the workers’ comp bureaucracy with its many forms, deadlines, and confusing and seemingly conflicting information on their own. While we have helped many who threw in the towel mid-process, we suggest injured workers come to us right after their injury. You can see why. The NCIC clock starts ticking on Day 1 of your injury.

Our contingency fee is the same whether you hire us from the beginning, middle, or toward the end. So you might as well take full advantage and hire us from the start. If we take your case, you don't pay an attorney's fee unless we recover compensation for you. And you only pay a percentage of the money you potentially recover.

If we don't recover for you, we won't charge you an attorney's fee.

NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Offer Free Evaluation

Of the more than 28,000 attorneys who are licensed in North Carolina, only 140 are N.C. Board Certified in workers’ compensation law*. Several of our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation law.

If you have been injured on the job, take full advantage of the experience we have to offer. Don’t wait. Contact us right after your injury for a free case evaluation. As you can see, the forms alone are a lot to deal with, and we’d love to help you fight for the compensation you potentially deserve.

Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for your FREE case evaluation.

*Figures provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December, 2016.

 

Is it Too Late to Hire a North Carolina Workers’ Comp Lawyer?

There are many reasons people may choose not to contact or hire an attorney during the course of their workers’ compensation case. Some people are afraid of losing their jobs or feel intimidated by their employers. Some feel that they are getting adequate medical care and receiving a weekly check, and therefore do not see the value of contacting an attorney.

When Problems Arise During a Worker’s Comp Case

Problems can arise at any time during a workers’ comp case. Unfortunately, too often, injured workers may become more aware of these problems at or near the end of a case. Those who do not seek legal advice are faced with the prospect of dealing with the insurance companies on their own, and without knowing their rights. That’s an outmanned battle.

It is never too early or too late to contact an attorney to discuss your particular situation. But what we have often found is it is generally better to get an attorney involved earlier on, when appropriate, to make sure your workers’ compensation rights are complied with by the insurance company – and your employer.

If, however, you don’t seek legal guidance from the beginning, we strongly urge you to consider hiring an attorney when settlement time comes. Just because things may go smoothly and your weekly checks are being sent, we’ve seen the tides turn dramatically when settlement money is on the table.

Workers’ Comp Laws Can Be Lengthy and Complex

No one should ever attempt to resolve or settle their case with a workers’ compensation insurance company without knowing and understanding their rights under the law. Many clients have questions that, without an attorney’s guidance, are nearly impossible to answer because there are literally thousands of pages of North Carolina workers’ compensation laws and just as many interpretations of those laws. Moreover, many insurance companies have at their disposal entire departments full of lawyers and other professionals who are trained to try to settle for as little money as possible.

That is why we strongly urge injured workers to contact, not just a worker’s comp law firm, but one with lawyers experienced in N.C. worker’s compensation law. Decisions that are made at and near the end of a workers’ compensation case can have a huge impact on the rest of an injured worker’s life and the lives of their family members. An attorney may be able to identify and help resolve problems that lead to a better result for the injured worker.

Ways Some Insurance Companies Minimize Settlement Payouts

There are all kinds of ways some insurance companies may try to minimize your settlement payout – and you may not even realize they are doing it. Bullying is a favorite settlement tactic with some workers’ comp insurance companies.

We had a client* who is over the age of 65. He could not drive and he walked with a cane. He was on Social Security retirement with multiple injuries and restrictions…and he had a limited education. His insurance company wanted him to try vocational rehabilitation to see if he could find a job, but the chances of that happening were slim. But, we believe they knew that already. I wonder if their intention was to stress our client to the point that he’d take the offer that was on the table. His case is an example of how some insurance companies will seemingly try to bully our clients into accepting their offer.

Stonewalling is another approach we’ve seen some use. We feature a story* in our free booklet, Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly about an insurance adjuster who waited months before responding to an injured worker. When we got involved and reached the adjuster, she made light of the fact that she had ignored our client, and said she would make a decision in two weeks. Two weeks?

Attorneys do not create rights. Your rights under the workers compensation system are established by our state legislature, and may be enforced through the North Carolina Industrial Commission. I discuss those rights with injured workers on a daily basis. I see firsthand how some insurance companies sometimes try to limit entitlement to those rights. I have talked with people who are near or at the end of their case and think they have been treated “fairly.” When I explain what the law actually provides, oftentimes these people feel betrayed by the insurance company.

A client* of ours worked at a store for over 20 years making minimum wage. He fell at work and before we intervened, the adjuster didn’t want to give him anything. His employer gave him time off work, and asked him not to come back.

He came back, though. With us.

What that employer did was just plain wrong. Legally, ethically, and morally. Yet we see situations like this all the time.

We had a client* who came to us after he had asked for a second opinion from another doctor – one not provided by the workers’ comp insurance company. That second opinion confirmed that our client would need additional therapy and more time off work. His employer fired him because he “took too long to heal.” It didn’t take him long to contact us after that. Here is his inspirational story.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From Our NC Workers Comp Lawyers

Even if your worker's compensation case has been pending for weeks, months, or years, contact us about your situation. You can see there is a lot at stake, and if you’re trying to negotiate alone against a big powerful insurance company, you are likely at a huge disadvantage.

There is no charge to call us for an initial case evaluation.
It is completely FREE to you.

Click here to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

 

P.S. Think you can’t afford a James Scott Farrin workers’ comp attorney? Click here to see why you can.

 

*Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results. These are specific examples of experiences we have had with some insurance companies, adjusters, employers, clients or others. These stories do not necessarily represent any industry or employer as a whole. These descriptions of events are based upon the recollections of individual staff members. Client identities have been removed or changed to protect their privacy.

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

5848-100 Faringdon Place
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: 919-834-1184
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Durham Law Office

280 South Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
Fax: 800-716-7881

Fayetteville Law Office

517 Owen Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28304
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

1001 Morehead Square Drive, Suite 350
Charlotte, NC 28203
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

New Bern Law Office

1505 South Glenburnie Rd, Unit P
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Greenville Law Office

702 G Cromwell Dr.
Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3227

Greensboro Law Office

300 N. Greene Street, Suite 850
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

214 South William Street, Suite 3
Goldsboro, NC 27530
Phone: (919)-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Henderson Law Office

514 Dabney Drive, Suite 200
Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Rocky Mount Law Office

3202 Sunset Avenue, Suite B
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Wilson Law Office

2315 Airport Blvd Suite A
Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Winston-Salem Law Office

301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078