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How Does My North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Get Paid?

"How do I pay you?"

I get this question all the time. Let's face it, money doesn't grow on trees. An injury at work can make a tight financial situation even tighter and nobody wants to worry about money when they're hurting (that's what we do for you!).

But as nice as it would be for someone else to work on getting your workers' comp payments started, or negotiating for more money, if your work injury has you struggling to put food on the table, how can you possibly afford to pay a lawyer?

NEVER FEAR! CONTINGENCY FEES ARE HERE!

Let me try to ease your mind while answering some important questions about attorney's fees for workers' compensation cases in North Carolina.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

To put it simply, a contingency fee means your lawyer doesn't get paid an attorney's fee unless you get paid.

If you have a workers' compensation case in North Carolina, you should almost never have to worry about paying your attorney's fees out of your own pocket.


Here's How Contingency Fees Work

In North Carolina, your workers' comp attorney's fee is regulated by the state and must be approved by the Industrial Commission. The standard fee is 25%, which usually comes out of any payments your attorney helps you collect from the insurance company. These payments can come in many different forms, depending on the details of your particular case. Here are just a few possible examples of payments you may be entitled to receive after an on-the-job injury:

  • A weekly check from the insurance company while you're out of work
  • A monetary judgment after taking your case to court (and winning!)
  • A lump sum settlement after negotiating with the insurance company at the end of your case

Please keep in mind that every workers' compensation case is unique so there's no guarantee that any or all of the payments described above will apply to you. However, one thing is certain: if you have a workers' compensation case in North Carolina, you should almost never have to worry about paying your attorney's fees out of your own pocket.

Are There Any Other Fees I Should Expect?

Whether there might be other fees depends. Some North Carolina workers' compensation attorneys choose to recoup additional costs on top of their 25% fee for expenses related to the administration of your case. This includes things like medical record charges, filing fees, and expert witness costs. In many cases, your attorney's firm will pay these costs upfront on your behalf with the expectation that they will be repaid when your case resolves. It's always a good idea to discuss any additional costs with your lawyer before you sign a retainer.

How Do Contingency Fees Benefit Injured Workers?

The contingency fee system is particularly important for injured workers!

In my experience, work-related injuries almost always result in some level of financial hardship. Without contingency fees, thousands of injured workers throughout the state would be unable to afford legal representation, leaving the door open for insurance companies to call all the shots.

Contingency fees also level the playing field. Think about it. With regulated attorney's fees, you shouldn't have to worry about a particular lawyer being "too expensive." This gives you an opportunity to do your research and find the best candidate to help you.

A Workers' Comp Attorney Can Potentially Help:

  • Move your case along quicker to get your payments started.
  • Negotiate a higher settlement than you may be able to on your own.
  • Obtain medical benefits the insurance company is denying.
  • Attain a measure of job security, if for example, the insurance company forces you to go back to a made up job, which may be disguised as "light duty," "modified duty," or "restrictive" employment. These jobs are sometimes eliminated later.
  • Give you added peace of mind knowing you have someone championing your rights against Big Insurance.

Click here for many other good reasons to hire a NC workers' comp attorney.

We know you're hurting. Fortunately, North Carolina has a contingency fee structure in place that is designed to help keep your wallet from hurting too.

North Carolina Workers' Comp Attorneys

Don't let the thought of fees prevent you from potentially getting the legal and financial help you deserve.

If you've been injured at work, click here to contact us right away or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078. Let one of our workers' comp attorneys - six of whom are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation Law - evaluate your situation for free!

PS: Check out these helpful workers' comp booklets:

How to Choose a Lawyer for Your Workers' Compensation Claim

How to Take Control of Your Workers' Compensation Claim

 

Categories: Posts

Can I Apply for Unemployment Benefits While Waiting for Worker’s Comp Benefits?

WorkersComp10_06042014_SMIf you've been injured on the job and are now out of work, you may be struggling financially. It's often difficult to find information about the smartest route to take - applying for unemployment or for workers' comp.

Workers' comp is the obvious choice, particularly if your employer wants to keep you on as an employee after you've healed.

However, you may have heard that workers' comp claims can take a long time to process, and are sometimes, after a long deliberation process, outright denied. That means you could wait for weeks for a verdict on your claim - only to find out no checks are forthcoming.

On the other hand, applying for unemployment, while it can be processed much more quickly, generally nets you far less money to pay your bills. And you may not even be eligible for unemployment. In North Carolina, you are only eligible for unemployment if you worked 12 out of the last 16 months.

What Is the Monetary Difference Between Unemployment and Workers' Comp?

(Please note that all figures in this article are for the purposes of illustration. They are not a guarantee of the actual monetary amount you will receive if you apply for either unemployment or workers' compensation).

Unemployment Benefits

In North Carolina, your weekly unemployment benefits are calculated by adding up your wages in the last two quarters of the base period and dividing that amount by 52. That figure determines what your weekly unemployment check will be. (Currently, the most you can receive each week is $350 per week.)
For example, if you earn an annual salary of $40,000, your last two quarters would be approximately $20,000. Dividing that by 52 you get approximately $384.61, so you'd receive the maximum weekly unemployment check of $350 a week - less than half the salary you'd formerly been relying on.

Workers' Comp Benefits

By contrast, a successful workers' comp claim is two-thirds of your average weekly wage for the year prior to your injury. If you've worked for the employer for less than a year, they would use your earnings up until the date of injury.  In our scenario where your salary is $40,000/year, the amount of your weekly checks would be about $513 - much better than the $350 from unemployment.

Can You Apply for Both Unemployment and Workers' Comp?

Are you allowed to apply for both unemployment and workers' comp - as a sort of safeguard in case one doesn't come through?

The short answer is yes, you can. The long answer is: yes, you can, but you really shouldn't without solid legal representation, because if you don't handle the situation exactly right, you could find yourself being denied for both!

What Makes Applying For Both Such a Tricky Scenario?

Unemployment benefits are designed to help you pay your bills when you lose your job. Workers' compensation replaces your wages at your existing job when you can no longer work because of an on-the-job injury.

Collecting workers' comp and unemployment is not legal for one simple reason: workers' comp implies that you still have a job, even though you're not currently performing your duties because of an injury. In the eyes of the state you do not qualify for unemployment since, technically, you are still employed.

That said, workers' comp claims can take some time to process, and you don't know whether your claim will be granted or denied. During that time, when your workers' comp claim is still in limbo, you may be able to collect unemployment to cover your bills - with some serious caveats.

You can apply for unemployment in North Carolina while your claim for workers' comp is being processed and you may receive benefits up until the point that your workers' comp claim is granted. This can be the best option for many people, since workers' comp claims can take some time to process, and in the meantime, of course, you need to keep a roof over your head.

We strongly recommend that you have a qualified workers' compensation lawyer handle this scenario for you.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

A lawyer can help make sure you're not accidentally setting off alarm bells at the various agencies processing these claims. In many cases, employees who apply for both workers' comp and unemployment are seen as attempting to defraud the system, and you want to avoid that at all costs. We've seen a lot of people who applied for both without representation, and were denied because the agencies may have assumed they were trying to double dip.

When applying for both unemployment and workers' comp correctly and legally, you won't actually be receiving double benefits. And with the aid of a lawyer, the state of North Carolina will have no reason to think you're attempting to do so.

If your workers' comp claim is accepted, you will be entitled to disability checks dating from one week after the date your injury - which is to say, checks that cover a period of time that has already passed while the claim was being processed.

If you've been collecting unemployment during this time (which is legal), you would effectively be in the position where you were collecting unemployment and workers' comp checks during the same period of time (which is not legal). To ward off any likelihood of double dipping, your workers' comp insurance carrier is typically given credit for the amount of unemployment benefits you've already received.

Once again, this is a situation where a lawyer can be extremely beneficial. The deduction for credit against your workers' comp benefits is not absolute and has to be approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. You'll want a solid legal team behind you to be sure the final accounting comes out properly.

NC Workers Comp Attorneys Can Evaluate Your Claim - FREE

If you've recently been injured on the job and aren't sure whether unemployment or workers' comp - or both (with legal support) - is best for you, please click here or give us a call toll free at 1-866-900-7078.

We work on a contingency fee basis to help our clients figure out the best options for their situation, and we may be able to help you determine what course of action is most likely to keep food on the table and lights on overhead while you recover from your injury.

“I’m Afraid My Child’s Father/Mother Will Take the Money from Their Accident Settlement"

At our firm, many of us are parents. We understand that your child being hurt in an accident is the worst thing that can happen to you.

Since cases involving minors are often more complicated and so much is at stake, we recommend all parents reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney for advice. (Click here to talk to one.)

But many parents have initially been afraid of involving an attorney because they believe their child's absentee mom or deadbeat dad might suddenly appear once they hear their child might be entitled to a settlement. Those fears are often well-founded, but the right attorney can help try to make sure funds go where they're really needed.

Two Circumstances Which Can Immediately Exclude the Other Parent

We've seen our share of cases where the parent handling the case does not want the other parent involved. Oftentimes it takes some compromise, but there are two legal scenarios we've utilized to keep the other parent out of the equation:

  1. A parent must be on the birth certificate in order to be involved in the case. If the other parent is not on that document, then he or she cannot be involved - period. That is why we would advise you to give a copy of the birth certificate to your attorney as soon as possible.
  2. A Court document granting the signing parent sole custody. This means that a judge previously signed an order after a hearing, and determined that the legal and physical custody of the minor belongs solely to one parent. A copy of this documentation should also be given immediately to your attorney.

If neither situation exists, then the insurance company can legally require the other parent to be involved or sign off prior to completion of the settlement. But there are ways to reduce the risk that a parent will affect a minor's personal injury claim.

Keeping the Other Parent Out of Decisions - Guardian ad Litem

If you can't provide legal documentation of custody, but still don't want participation from the other parent, you may be able to ask your attorney to hire a "Guardian ad Litem."

A Guardian ad Litem is either a trained community volunteer or, more likely, a licensed attorney, without interest in the outcome of the case. This person is appointed by the Courts to investigate and determine the best interests of any child who is the subject of a Court case.

A Guardian ad Litem's opinion is generally weighted more heavily because he or she is a neutral party with no investment in the outcome of the case.

This is a good option for parents who are both involved in their child's life, but cannot agree with one another on how to proceed. In this situation, it would be best for both parents to agree that a neutral third party, i.e., a Guardian ad Litem, be appointed to handle the matter.

However in the case of an absentee parent, such as an incarcerated or transient parent, you will likely have to show documentation that the parent has generally had no interest or role in the minor child's life.

How North Carolina Laws Protect Your Child's Settlement

Most parents in these situations fear the other parent will try to siphon money from the minor's settlement proceeds. Fortunately, North Carolina courts have considered this possibility.

To protect a minor's settlement, the State requires that settlements for minors, over a certain amount, be placed with the Clerk of Court to be held in trust for the benefit of the minor until the minor turns 18 years of age. The settlement may also, if large enough, be invested and form a structured settlement with the Court's approval. If the minor's settlement is approved by the Court, then the minor's portion of that settlement is placed with the Clerk of Court until age 18. At that time the minor can request that the Court release his or her settlement proceeds after showing valid identification, proof of address, and allowing the Court time to process the request.

Reimbursing You for Medical Expenses

A parent has no claim to the settlement proceeds of a minor with the exception of out of pocket medical expenses paid by that parent. A parent may request at the Court approval hearing that a judge order reimbursement to that parent by showing proof of payment of such expenses. It is ultimately the judge's decision as to whether the parent is reimbursed and for what amount.

A parent's claim for expenses is not a separate claim and will come directly from the minor's portion of the settlement. Because there is no separate pot of money with which to reimburse a parent for a minor's medical expenses, a judge will not make this decision lightly and will weigh all factors available, including, but not limited to, the minor's injuries, age, permanent impairment, future medical needs, as well as the amount of the settlement.

Insurance Company May Use Your Situation Against You

We have seen some insurance companies try to use the fact that another parent is involved to delay settlement or settlement negotiations, especially if the insurance company is contacted by the other parent directly, or the other parent hired an attorney.

However, your attorney can try to help you overcome these obstacles in several ways, including hiring a neutral Guardian ad Litem, and/or by working directly with counsel hired by the other parent to protect the child's best interests.

Either way, your attorney should not let an insurance company prejudice your child's rights by delaying settlement negotiations or refusing to settle due to the involvement of another parent.

North Carolina Car Wreck Attorneys

We're attorneys, but we're also parents. We understand that sometimes you have to fight tooth and nail for your child's best interests - and we'd like to do that on your behalf.

If we have to fight to keep the other parent at bay, we will pull out the tools in our legal toolkit to try to make that happen.

If you need help to try to ensure the best outcome for your child's accident recovery and future click here for a FREE case evaluation or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078. We're here for you 24/7/365.

What Can I Do If My Workers’ Comp Company Denied Me a Second Opinion?

When you're hurt on the job and the insurance company accepts your claim, they have the right to pick the doctors you see. And since they get to stop paying your benefits once you're back to work, it's not surprising that some insurance companies may send you to doctors who are more likely to return you to work quickly - sometimes even if you haven't completely healed!

We see injured workers all the time who are released to return to work by their treating doctors too soon. Fortunately, North Carolina's workers' compensation laws give you a way to try to get a second-opinion evaluation from a doctor who isn't chosen solely by the insurance company.

What Are My Rights Regarding Second Opinions?

North Carolina's workers' compensation laws protect your right to request a second opinion from a doctor you choose. There are two kinds of second opinions in North Carolina.
One is called a "comprehensive" second opinion. It is designed to let a doctor evaluate you so he can form an opinion about what's wrong with you, what treatment you may need, what work restrictions you should be under, and any permanent disability you suffer.

This is similar to any second opinion you're used to - like getting a second opinion on your car after a mechanic says you need to replace your engine, but you want to know if other options are available.

The other kind of second opinion is called a "ratings-only" opinion. At the conclusion of treatment in a workers' compensation case, if you've suffered permanent damage, you'll be given a rating by your doctor. For example, a doctor might say you lost 10% of the use of your arm as a result of your work injury. This rating will determine how much you're due for damages, so it's extremely important.

You can choose to get a second opinion on this rating, during which a doctor will evaluate you to form an opinion only on how much permanent disability you have as a result of your work injury (your rating).

When Do I Ask for a Second Opinion?

Most times, it's prudent to get a comprehensive second opinion rather than a ratings-only second opinion. Here's why.

Comprehensive Second Opinion

Once the doctor your insurance company selected gives you the green light and concludes he's done all he can, you may have questions. You may want to know, "Is this really as good as I am going to get? Can I really go back to doing my job? Am I really not in need of more medical care?" To answer these questions, you may need a comprehensive second opinion with a doctor other than the one the insurance company handpicked.

Ratings-Only Second Opinion

You should ask for a ratings-only second opinion only if you agree with your treating doctor that you're as good as you're going to get, and you don't need more medical treatment. If you get a ratings-only second opinion, the doctor you go to will not generally offer his opinion about your diagnosis, treatment, or work restrictions.

How Do I Ask for a Second Opinion?

Now that you know you have the right to request a second opinion. Here's how you can try to get one.

Asking for a Comprehensive Second Opinion

If you're unhappy with the treatment you've received from the handpicked insurance company doctor or the work restrictions he has placed on you, you can submit a written request to the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim and request that another doctor evaluate you. When you make this request, you shouldn't just ask for an appointment with any random doctor. If you do, the insurance company may send you to another doctor of their choosing. Request a doctor you select.

Once you make this written request, the insurance company will do one of three things:

  • Agree to one of the doctors you suggested
  • Suggest a different doctor (rarely a good option for you because you may end up with another doctor that you feel is not sympathetic to your situation)
  • Deny or ignore a request for a second opinion altogether

It's been my experience that most insurance companies have systematically tended to opt for #2 or #3. My two cents? Challenge those decisions. Neither is likely in your best interest.

If you and the insurance company do not agree to a second-opinion doctor within 14 days of your written request, you have the right to ask the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which runs the workers' compensation system, to order the insurance company to authorize a second-opinion evaluation.

This requires filing papers with the Industrial Commission asking them to make the insurance company pay for a second opinion. The insurance company will respond to your request, and then the Industrial Commission will make a decision. Even if the Industrial Commission orders the insurance company to allow you to see the doctor of your choice, the insurance company can slow down the process by dragging their feet or refusing to pay what the doctor is charging to complete your evaluation.

Of course, as attorneys who have our clients' best interests at stake, we have often helped navigate the second-opinion maze.

Asking for a Ratings-Only Second Opinion

If you're asking for a ratings-only second opinion, North Carolina's workers' compensation laws allow you to select any doctor you would like to evaluate you. The insurance company is not supposed to have a say. But let me emphasize, they can (and many often do!) drag their feet or refuse to pay what the doctor is charging to complete the second opinion. This slows down the process or sometimes may prevent you from seeing the second-opinion doctor altogether.

What Can I Do to Protect Myself?

The law gives you rights! The bad news is that many insurance companies have strategies they've used over and over to navigate around those rights. The good news? We have strategies of our own. They start with our workers' comp teams. Many of these folks have worked for the very insurance companies we deal with every day. They know firsthand how to recognize the insurance company's "delay and deny" maneuvers, and other legal, but not very nice, tactics. And they know how to mount a counter offense.

The most important issue is for you to get better so you can go back to work if and when you're medically ready.

North Carolina Workers' Comp Lawyers Evaluate Your Claim - FREE

We know worker's comp laws inside and out. But don't just take our word for it.

In a peer-reviewed survey, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin was ranked the highest ranking possible for Workers' Compensation in the Greater Raleigh Metro area by U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" in 20161.

Six of our workers' comp attorneys are North Carolina Board Certified Workers' Compensation Specialists, and we also have a former Special Deputy Commissioner, and a former Deputy Commissioner from the North Carolina Industrial Commission, (one of whom was a state senator).

If you want a second opinion, but feel like you're getting the runaround, click here, or call us for a free case evaluation on our North Carolina workers' comp 24/7 hotline, 1-866-900-7078.

 

1 Visit http://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/ for more information about criteria for inclusion.

 

How Much Can I Recover After My Car Accident?

After you're injured in a car wreck, it's bad enough you have to suffer as a result of your injuries. But the suffering gets even worse once the bills start pouring in - the ER visit, car repairs, X-rays, physical therapy, you name it.

Little wonder a common question we often hear is: "How much will I receive from the insurance company for my accident?"

While each case is specific to its own particulars, understanding a bit about how insurance policy limits work in North Carolina can offer valuable information in your financial recovery efforts.

Tip! 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.


How North Carolina's "Fault" System Affects Your Bottom Line
After a car accident in North Carolina, authorities will assign fault to one or more drivers.

These drivers (and their insurance companies) bear liability for damages or injuries their actions caused. In other words, they may be responsible for paying medical bills, car repairs, time out of work, pain and suffering, and physical damages of those who were not at fault.

Some states assign percentages of blame, such as, say, 80% to one driver and 20% to the other. Everyone pays according to their percentage of fault.

Not so under North Carolina's contributory negligence rule. This rule says that if you're found to be even 1% at fault, you could be barred from recovering anything, even if the other driver was 99% at fault! (North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that still has this rule on the books.)

Tip! If you think you may have contributed to your accident even the slightest bit (speeding, jaywalking, texting, etc.), it would be prudent to talk with a personal injury representative right away.


Policy Limits in North Carolina

Who pays and how much gets paid can depend on what the at-fault driver's policy limits are. All North Carolina drivers are required to carry a certain amount of auto insurance coverage. This coverage has maximum and minimum policy limits, which are used to cover damages.

So, for example, if you're passing through an intersection and someone runs a red light and hits you ("their fault" scenario), their insurance company is responsible for paying your damages within the policy limits - but not one cent over.

What If My Damages are Greater Than the Policy Limits?
If your damages are greater than the limits on the policy of the at-fault driver, you do have options - options we highly recommend utilizing an experienced auto accident lawyer for. Some of those options include:

  • Collect Through Uninsured and Underinsured (UM/UIM) Motorist Coverage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is required in North Carolina. This coverage protects you if another driver is at fault but does not have insurance, or have enough insurance to pay for your damages. Simply stated, UM/UIM coverage provides you with an additional means to collect damages for your injuries and other expenses incurred.
  • Sue the defendant.
  • Recover under an umbrella policy (an additional liability coverage many people have).

What if the other driver's insurer claims that you contributed to the auto accident, even if you believe you didn't? Or what if you suffered serious injuries, but the insurer is contesting the extent or costs of your medical treatment? What if you actually did contribute to the accident? No matter the scenario, it is prudent to let an experienced personal injury lawyer evaluate your situation.

North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help Collect

  • In 2015, alone, we recovered over $75 million (gross) for over 2,700 clients1
  • We have recovered over $600 million (gross) for over 30,000 clients since 19971
  • These numbers don't include the $1.25 billion we helped recover against the U.S. government for 18,400 claimants in a historic class action case1
  • We've done this because we have quality professionals - many who've worked on the "other side" (insurance companies). Over 30 attorneys. Over 100 staff. Seven attorneys board certified in North Carolina in their fields - a differentiator that fewer than 4%2 of North Carolina attorneys can claim

Don't leave your settlement to chance - or to the insurance companies. Click here to contact us right now or call 1-866-900-7078. We will evaluate your situation for FREE over the phone or online  - 24/7.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

1 Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin led a team of firms to recover $1.25 billion for African-American farmers from the U. S. government for discrimination.

2 Percentage calculated from figures supplied by the North Carolina State Bar, through December 31, 2015.

How Many Beers Can You Drink in an Hour and Still Drive?

You've seen the ads: "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving." You've heard the DWI statistics. But unless you have personally felt the effects of drunk driving or you work as a personal injury lawyer representing actual people whose lives have been ripped apart by the real devastation a drunk driver can cause, it probably doesn't hit home.

But home is exactly where drunk drivers hit - and hit hard.

Families shattered. Children and teens' lives cut short. Or left permanently disabled, severely disfigured. Brain damaged.

I'll never forget one case in particular. It haunts me to this day.

A man was in his vehicle, stopped in traffic. The other driver - the drunk driver - had skipped out of work early and started drinking with his buddies. He was so drunk when he got behind the wheel that he plowed right into my client's car, hitting him so hard, the man was ejected from the vehicle and killed. The man had a wife and young children, and was a pillar in his community. This one irresponsible, irreversible event plunged his family into a downward spiral.

While we could not help this poor family's emotional burden, our team went into overdrive to get that family everything we could to help ease their financial burden. We left no stone unturned to get them a settlement that would help pay for therapy, loss of financial support, funeral expenses, and punitive damages, among other things*.

Drunk Driving: The Facts

So here are those statistics again.  Read them. But this time read them knowing that each statistic represents a real person. Real people just like you and me.

NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts reported that in 2013, every 52 minutes a death occurred as a result of a drunk driver whose blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.08 or higher.

That's 10,076 deaths.

A BAC level of .08 g/dL, is about four standard drinks in one hour for a 170-lb. man or three drinks in an hour for a 140-lb. woman.

Among those fatalities, 68% were in crashes in which at least one driver in the crash had a BAC of .15 g/dL or higher - or roughly six to eight drinks in an hour.

Those 10,076 deaths represented 31% of all traffic fatalities for that year! Simply put, drunk drivers were behind a third of all traffic deaths!

The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2013 was nearly four times higher at night than during the day.

The highest rates of drunk driving occur among drivers aged 21-24. This age group makes up 35% of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal collisions.

 

We all know what alcohol does to the body and brain - slowing our reactions, blurring our vision, making us brave, making us take unnecessary risks. Here are some links worth sharing with friends, family and others - especially teens and twenty-somethings.

Drunk Driving Links Worth Sharing

And, it bears repeating, if you've been drinking, call a cab, or Uber or Lyft. Contact a sober friend or relative. Use public transportation. Use your head - DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!

*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.

Why We Take the Fight for Fair Treatment of Spanish-Speakers Personally

Attorney at Law magazine once referred to the big bright sign that beams Law Offices of James Scott Farrin above our Durham office building as "empowerment" that's just a phone call away.

This light shines as a beacon over a diverse community. Based on my experience, nowhere is empowerment welcomed as much as in our Spanish-speaking community.

As a firm, and individually, we are very involved in providing both legal and community services to the Hispanic/Latino community. Why? Because many of us have ties to this community. And we know firsthand that people often try to take advantage of those who only speak un poquito English.

Here's just one example of a coworker's story:

 "I remember a case I handled for a Spanish-speaking client. When I called the adjuster, he told me they already settled the case for a few hundred dollars. The client had no idea. I requested copies of what my client signed, and the explanation the adjuster gave him. It turns out, the insurance company did not offer any explanation to my client in Spanish that he was settling the case. When confronted, the adjuster admitted this was not the correct procedure, and we were able to reverse the settlement.* Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Some insurance companies take advantage of someone who is not fluent in English, and coerce injured people to closing their cases without knowing it. We insist the insurance company follow all the legal steps, and offer an explanation every step of the way - in your language." 

That's the kind of in-your-face satisfaction that gets me out of bed in the mornings and motivates me to come to work every day. While many of us speak fluent Spanish, even more regularly volunteer in the Hispanic/Latino community in an effort to help empower this community. I don't know the exact statistics, but I believe we are a leading law firm in North Carolina when it comes to the number of employees who speak fluent Spanish, and who regularly do pro bono and other community work within the Hispanic/Latino community.

Within our 14 offices, we have:

  • More than 30 bilingual employees
  • More than 35 attorneys, 4 who are fluent in Spanish

Our Dedicated Latino Affairs Committee Is Very Active
Our firm's Latino Affairs Committee is an informational bridge supporting our Spanish-speaking neighbors - helping direct them to appropriate agencies and resources when they need services, advice, and referrals. A cornerstone of this bridge is our membership in El Centro Hispano, an organization dedicated to serving more than 11,000 Hispanic/Latino residents in greater Durham. We partner with many organizations that cater to the Spanish-speaking population, including the Mexican Consulate and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ). There are so many - too many to list! Here are just a few of the organizations and events we were recently involved in:

Please note: This list only comprises our "official" services during 2015. Many of our employees, and  our Spanish-speaking attorneys, Rick Fleming, Cali Schmitt, Gabe Talton, and I, are involved in numerous service activities apart from the firm.

Citizenship Clinics - Two More Upcoming!

For the fourth year in a row we've partnered with El Centro Hispano and the NCAJ to give residents a chance to become U.S. citizens. We help fill out citizenship applications for free, saving applicants from $500 to $1,500 in attorney costs. Several of us have immigrated to America, ourselves, and we appreciate the opportunity to help others become U.S. citizens. Here are clinics where we'll be volunteering the first half of 2016:

U.S. Citizenship Workshop in Raleigh, Saturday, April 9
To register, you must first call: 1-888-839-8682
Time: Workshop begins:  9 a.m.
Location: North Carolina Advocates for Justice Building
1312 Annapolis Drive, #115
Raleigh, NC 27608

U.S. Citizenship Workshop in Durham, Saturday, May 21st

To register, you must first call: 1-888-839-8682
Time: Workshop begins:  9 a.m.
Location: El Centro Hispano 
Lakewood Shopping Center
2000 Chapel Hill Road, Suite 26A
Durham, NC 27707

Fiesta de Salud
We participated in Fiesta de la Salud. This organization helps educate the Hispanic/Latino community about Durham's health resources and provides free on-site screenings for blood pressure, glucose levels, body mass index, cholesterol levels, flu vaccines, and HIV/STD. At the most recent event, it was touching to hear many of the kids say they wanted to become attorneys!

MUJER, Preparate Para el Exito
Mujer, Preparate Para el Exito helps motivate and prepare women for success. In 2015, the inaugural year, we were the main sponsor of this event, which covered:

  • Leadership development
  • Emotional wellbeing and self-care
  • How to start and sustain your own business
  • Motivation

WRAL's Hola NC
I have occasionally been a guest speaker on WRAL's Hola NC. If you missed my recent segment on what to do after a car accident, click here.

A Strong Stance Against Discrimination
Our firm was built on taking a stand against discriminatory injustice. In one of the largest civil-rights cases in U.S. history, we led a team of law firms to recover $1.25 billion* for farmers who'd been discriminated against by the United States government because of the color of their skin.

Lies, Lies, and More Lies
You wouldn't believe some insurance companies' shameful lies and deceptive practices our Spanish-speaking clients have endured. Some undocumented clients who had been hurt at work were fired and told they couldn't receive WC benefits. That's a lie.

In auto accident cases, some clients were offered much less money just because they were Hispanic/Latino. Why? Because the insurance company was betting that they'd probably rather not go to court. Some insurance companies have told our undocumented clients that because they were driving without a license the accident was their fault. Another lie. Or because their license had expired, they couldn't file a claim, or they didn't qualify for the same benefits as citizens. The lies go on and on!

We deal with these situations every day - and we know how to fight for our Hispanic/Latino clients and the benefits and compensation they may deserve.

And in most cases, we can help regardless of immigration status.

We Are Recognized Experts
Our firm and attorneys have won awards, authored books, spoken at seminars, been featured on public radio, TV, and nearly 100 newspapers and websites. And several of our attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in their respective areas of practice - the highest designation many North Carolina attorneys can achieve.

Our Practice Areas Include

North Carolina Law Firm Can Evaluate Your Claim FREE - in Spanish
If you are injured in an accident, we recommend that you speak with an experienced attorney. In fact, the insurance industry's own studies show that on average accident victims who work with a personal injury lawyer recover 3.5 times more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own.**

We are available 24/7/365. Our investigators can come to your home, work, hospital, or place of your choice - any time, including weekends. If you need someone who speaks Spanish to help you, just ask. We've got that covered, too!

* Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. References to our experiences with insurance companies, adjusters, clients, or others are specific examples with some companies. These examples do not necessarily represent any industry as a whole. References are based upon recollections of individual staff members.

**Source: Insurance Research Council, 1999


 

¿Por qué nos tomamos personalmente la lucha por un trato justo para los hispanos?

Por Anabel Rosa

La revista Attorney at Law, una vez se refirió al letrero grande y luminoso que lee James Scott Farrin y está en lo alto de nuestro edificio en Durham como "empoderamiento" a tan sólo una llamada.

Esta luz brilla como un faro sobre una comunidad diversa. En base a mi experiencia, en ninguna parte se da la bienvenida al empoderamiento tanto como en nuestra comunidad de habla hispana.

Como firma, y de manera personal, estamos muy involucrados en la prestación de servicios tanto legales como comunitarios para la comunidad hispana/latina. ¿Por qué? Debido a que muchos de nosotros tenemos vínculos con esta comunidad. Y sabemos de antemano que a menudo algunas personas tratan de tomar ventaja de los que sólo hablan un poquito de inglés.

Aquí esta sólo un ejemplo de una historia de un compañero de trabajo:

"Recuerdo un caso que manejé para un cliente de habla hispana. Cuando llamé al ajustador de seguros, me dijo que el caso ya se había negociado y cerrado por unos pocos cientos de dólares. El cliente no tenía idea. Solicité copias de lo que mi cliente había firmado, y la explicación que el ajustador le había dado. Resulta que, la compañía de seguros no ofreció ninguna explicación a mi cliente en español sobre la liquidación del caso. Cuando lo confronte, el ajustador admitió que este no era el procedimiento correcto, y fuimos capaces de revertir este desembolso.* Por desgracia, esto sucede todo el tiempo. Algunas compañías de seguros se aprovechan de alguien que no habla inglés fluidamente, y presiona a las personas lesionadas a cerrar sus casos sin saberlo. Nosotros insistimos en que la compañía de seguros siga todos los pasos legales, y ofrezca una explicación detallada paso a paso - en su idioma".

Ese es el tipo de recompensa que me motiva a salir de la cama y venir a trabajar todos los días. Muchos de nosotros hablamos español con fluidez, y somos voluntarios en diferentes eventos en la comunidad hispana/latina en un esfuerzo por ayudar a dar mayor poder a nuestra comunidad. No conozco estadísticas exactas, pero sé que somos una firma líder en Carolina del Norte, en cuanto al número de empleados que hablan español, y que regularmente hacen trabajo pro bono y otros tipos de trabajo dentro de la comunidad hispana/latina.

Dentro de nuestras 14  oficinas tenemos:

  • Más de 30 empleados bilingües
  • Más de 35 abogados, 4 de ellos hablan español

Nuestro Comité de Asuntos Latinos es muy activo

El comité de Asuntos Latinos de nuestra firma es un puente informativo para apoyar a la comunidad de habla española - ayudarles a encontrar las agencias y los recursos adecuados cuando necesitan diferentes servicios, asesoramiento y referencias. Una piedra angular de este puente es nuestra membresía con El Centro Hispano, una organización dedicada a servir a más de 11,000 residentes hispanos/latinos en Durham. Nos hemos asociado con muchas organizaciones que atienden a la población de habla española, incluyendo el Consulado Mexicano y North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ). Son muchas - demasiadas para enumerarlas. Aquí están sólo algunas de las organizaciones y eventos en lo que hemos participado recientemente:

Por favor, tome en cuenta que esta lista solo comprende los servicios "oficiales" durante el 2015. Muchos de nuestros empleados, y nuestros abogados de habla hispana, Rick Fleming, Cali Schmitt, Gabe Talton y mi persona, estamos involucrados en muchas otras actividades fuera de la firma.

Clínicas de ciudadanía -  Próximamente!

Por cuarto año consecutivo nos hemos asociado con el Centro Hispano y NCAJ para brindar a residentes permanentes la oportunidad de convertirse en ciudadanos estadounidenses. Les ayudamos a llenar las solicitudes de ciudadanía de forma gratuita, los solicitantes usualmente se ahorran de $500 a $1,500 en costos de abogados. Varios de nosotros hemos emigrado a América, por nuestra propia cuenta y apreciamos la oportunidad de ayudar a otros a convertirse en ciudadanos estadounidenses.

Fiesta de la Salud

Participamos en el evento Fiesta de la Salud. Esta organización ayuda a educar a la comunidad hispana/latina sobre los recursos de salud en Durham y ofrece un servicio gratuito durante el evento para medir la presión arterial, los niveles de glucosa, el índice de masa corporal, los niveles de colesterol, y también vacunas contra la gripe y el VIH/ETS. En el evento más reciente, fue emocionante escuchar a muchos de los niños decir que querían ser abogados!

MUJER, Prepárate Para el Éxito

Como su nombre lo indica, Mujer, Prepárate Para El Éxito ayuda a motivar y preparar a las mujeres para el éxito. En el 2015, el año inaugural, fuimos el principal patrocinador de este evento, que cubre:

  • Desarrollo de liderazgo
  • Bienestar emocional y autocuidado
  • ¿Cómo iniciar y sostener su propio negocio
  • Motivación

WRAL's Hola NC

En ocasiones he participado como invitada en WRAL TV en el programa Hola NC. Si usted se perdió mi  más reciente segmento sobre qué hacer después de un accidente de coche, haga clic en este enlace para que lo vea click here.

Una Postura Fuerte Contra la Discriminación

Our firm was built on taking a stand against discriminatory injustice. In one of the largest civil-rights cases in U.S. history, we led a team of law firms to recover $1.25 billion* for farmers who'd been discriminated against by the United States government because of the color of their skin.

Nuestra firma fue construida en base a tomar una posición en contra la discriminación. En uno de los mayores casos de derechos civiles en la historia de EE.UU., lideramos un equipo de bufetes de abogados para recuperar $1.25 billones* para los agricultores que habían sido discriminados por el gobierno de los Estados Unidos por el color de su piel.

Mentiras, Mentiras y más Mentiras

No podrá creer las mentiras y mañas tan vergonzosas que usan algunas compañías de seguros y  que nuestros clientes de habla hispana han tenido que aguantar. Algunos clientes indocumentados que se lastimaron en el trabajo fueron despedidos y les dijeron que no podían recibir los beneficios de compensación laboral. Eso es una mentira.

En casos de accidentes de automóviles, a algunos clientes les ofrecieron mucho menos dinero sólo porque eran latinos/hispanos. ¿Por qué? Debido a que la compañía de seguros piensa que probablemente preferirían no ir a la corte. Algunas compañías de seguros les han dicho a nuestros clientes indocumentados que debido a que estaban conduciendo sin licencia el accidente fue su culpa - otra mentira. O porque su licencia había expirado, no podían presentar una reclamación, o que no califican para los mismos beneficios que los ciudadanos. ¡Las mentiras siguen y siguen!

Nosotros manejamos estas situaciones todos los días - y sabemos cómo luchar por nuestros clientes hispanos/latinos y los beneficios y compensaciones que pueden merecer.

Y en la mayoría de los casos, podemos ayudar sin importar su estatus migratorio.

Somos Reconocidos Expertos

Nuestro bufete y nuestros abogados han ganado varios premios, publicado libros, participado en seminarios como panelistas, han sido invitados en la radio y televisión, y han aparecido en reportajes en cerca de 100 periódicos y páginas web. Además varios de nuestros abogados son especialistas certificados por la Asociación de Abogados de Carolina del Norte en sus respectivas áreas de práctica - esta es la designación más alta que un abogado de Carolina del Norte puede lograr.

Nuestras Áreas de Practica Incluyen:

  • Accidentes automovilísticos/DWI
  • Accidentes de camiones y vehículos comerciales
  • Accidentes de motocicleta
  • Compensación Laboral
  • Beneficios por incapacidad del Seguro Social
  • Dominio eminente
  • Lesiones personales/productos defectuosos/demandas colectivas

Bufete de Abogados de Carolina del Norte puede evaluar su reclamación GRATIS - en Español

Si se lesiona en un accidente, es recomendable que hable con un abogado con experiencia. De hecho, los propios estudios de la industria de seguros muestran que en promedio las víctimas de accidentes que trabajan con un abogado de lesiones personales recuperan hasta 3.5 veces más por su pérdida de lo que recuperarían por su propia cuenta.**

Estamos disponibles 24/7/365. Nuestros investigadores pueden llegar a su casa, trabajo, hospital o lugar de su elección - en cualquier momento, incluyendo fines de semana. Si necesita alguien que hable español para ayudarle, sólo déjenos saber. Lo tenemos todo bajo control!

* Cada caso es único y debe ser evaluado por sus propios méritos. Los resultados anteriores no garantizan un resultado similar. Las referencias a nuestras experiencias con las compañías de seguros, ajustadores, clientes u otros, son ejemplos específicos con algunas empresas. Estos ejemplos no representan necesariamente cualquier industria en su totalidad. Las referencias se basan en las experiencias de los miembros del personal.

** Fuente: Consejo de Investigación de Seguros de 1999

 

Categories: Personal Injury

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

201 McCullough Drive, Suite 220
Charlotte, NC 28262
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