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#1 Killer of Teens is Car Accidents — Could Defensive Driving Courses Help?

You never forget your first one.

Your first driver’s license, that is.

Remember when you first got your driver’s license and you couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of your mother’s station wagon? Funny how many things we’d eagerly volunteer to “go get” for our moms. Windows down, radio blaring, checking ourselves out in the rearview mirror, looking to see who sees us. (Never mind that you’re driving a mom mobile.)

The carefree days of teenage driving. It’s a rite of passage.

For today’s teens, it’s a rite that is fraught with responsibilities, distractions, and hazards many times over what we faced. Are your teen drivers prepared? Really prepared?

Car Accidents #1 Killer of Teens

Nationally, car accidents are the #1 killer among teens – and texting while driving is the #1 reason for those highway deaths, WRAL reported. Just in the first three months of 2016, nearly half as many teens have died in car accidents on North Carolina’s roads than in all of 2015, according to WRAL.

Put that on your Twitter page and tweet it (but not while driving).

To the Rescue! Defensive Driving Schools for Teen Drivers

To help teens become better prepared for today’s increasingly perilous driving environment a number of defensive driving schools and courses have been popping up nationwide, many here in North Carolina. This is not your father’s Driver’s Ed 101. It’s Driver’s Ed on steroids. Teens get up close and personal with roadway hazards by getting behind the wheel with a professional instructor to learn how to maneuver in an effort to avoid hazardous situations.

carHere is a statistic from one such school – Charlotte-based B.R.A.K.E.S (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe). This statistic is so alarming, even your over-confident teen driver may stop Snapchatting long enough to pay attention.

There’s an 89.2% chance a teen driver will be in a car accident during the first three years of driving.

The laws of rounding indicate that’s nearly a 100% chance. But don’t take away the keys just yet.

According to B.R.A.K.E.S, teens who have completed the free* four-hour B.R.A.K.E.S. training are 64% less likely to be in a car crash in the first three years of driving.

B.R.A.K.E.S is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering behind-the-wheel training in advanced safety maneuvers for teens. All of the instructors have backgrounds in various professional driving instruction, including racing, law enforcement, or stunt driving in movies. The school is AAA-approved, endorsed by the National Coalition for Safer Roads, and Consumer Reports listed the organization among its preferred list of defensive driving schools. KIA sponsors them by supplying the cars that the teens drive in the program.

The good news for North Carolina teens (and parents!) is that, although B.R.A.K.E.S offers training throughout the U.S., it is headquartered in Charlotte and offers monthly training courses at the Zmax Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as well as periodically in the Raleigh area. Here are some of the defensive skills they teach new teen drivers, according to their website.

Accident Avoidance/Slalom Exercise

The accident avoidance and slalom course is a two part course that forces students to make a split- second reaction to negotiate a quick, evasive lane change without losing control. This part of the course is designed to simulate an animal or object jumping out in front of a car. The second part of the course is a coned slalom course where students must negotiate their vehicle around cones while focusing on weight transfer, hand positioning, and eye scanning.

Drop Wheel/Off Road Recovery Exercise

The drop wheel recovery course teaches students how to effectively recover from a drop wheel situation by regaining control of the car and safely returning to the roadway. Drop wheel accidents are among the highest causes of injuries and deaths across the U.S.

Distraction Exercise

The distraction course forces a driver to negotiate a tightly coned course while being distracted by the instructor. The course is designed to demonstrate just how dangerous cell phones, text messaging, music, traffic, and friends in the car can be.

Panic Stop Exercise

The panic stop course is designed to teach students the proper technique to stop a vehicle in the shortest distance while maintaining control. Students experience first-hand the effects of an A.B.S. (Anti-Lock Braking System) and its ability to keep the wheels from locking while pulsating brake pressure.

Car Control and Recovery Exercise

The skid pad course is designed to prepare students how to drive in bad weather situations and not to lose grip (control). The students are taught how to properly recover from both over-steer (rear wheel) and under-steer (front wheel) skids.

A dad’s testimonial about putontheBRAKES.org

“My son and I attended BRAKES at the LA County Fairgrounds on April 26th. Yesterday, he was alone driving home from a high school baseball game approaching an intersection, on a green light about 45 mph. At the very last second, a car turned left in front of him. My son hit the brakes hard, engaging the abs, and steered away from the car as he stayed hard in the brakes, narrowly avoiding a collision. He attributed his reaction and collision avoidance to everything he learned at BRAKES. He described how, during the incident, he had anticipated the other driver turning in front of him and he knew the ABS engaged because of the feel and knew to stay on them as he steered away. The scenario was virtually identical to what he experienced at the school. Your school paid for itself 1000 times over last night. Thank you so much.”

 

North Carolina Defensive Driving Training

Here is a list of some of the defensive driving courses in NC as of May 2016.

Charlotte

B.R.A.K.E.S once a month

Offers courses once a month at the ZMax Dragway in Charlotte. Four 4-hour classes are offered each weekend – two on Saturday and two on Sunday.

Raleigh

NCSHP Training Center, 380 East Tryon Road, Raleigh, NC 27529

Franklin

Street Survival School Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Sutton Public Safety Training Center, 225 Industrial Park Loop, Franklin, NC 28734

NC Attorneys Evaluate Car Accidents FREE

The last thing we want is your teen in an accident. Many of us are parents and we understand how much is at stake. If you’re in that unfortunate situation, let us help with the legal issues. Click here to contact us 24/7, or call 1-866-900-7078. We will evaluate your situation for FREE over the phone or online.

 

*B.R.A.K.E.S training asks for a $99 refundable deposit to hold your reservation. If you choose to leave your deposit, it will turn into a donation, which is tax deductible.

Isn’t My Insurance Company Looking Out for My Best Interests?

In an effort to illustrate why you probably shouldn’t deal with insurance companies without a lawyer on your side, let’s play make-believe.

Let’s pretend you are the head of a large profitable company. An insurance company. The competition on the insurance company playground is tough. Some don’t always play fair and they’ll do anything to take business (translation: money) away from your insurance company. Even if it means trying not to pay out money to accident victims.

Experience has taught us that the insurance company playground can have its share of bullies. Bullies who have been known to try to take money away from accident victims, just like schoolyard bullies try to take candy from little kids! And just as appalling, some clients may not even know they’re being bullied into giving away their candy!

Here’s a perfect example* as recalled by one of our negotiators:

“We often hear about some insurance adjusters who will put $500 checks and releases on the cars of people who have been in wrecks to encourage them to take the settlement money. If the people sign the checks, sometimes there’s nothing we can do. They don’t realize they’re signing away their rights. This happens a lot in the Latino community because the releases and checks are in English.”

Dealing with Insurance Companies up Close and Personal

If this isn’t shocking enough, check out some of the stories in Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly. It highlights even more actual situations as told by our own employees – wonderful people who stand up for what’s right day after day. These good folks – lawyers, paralegals, negotiators, and hard-working administrators – fight tooth and nail to try and achieve results. We believe our firm stands out precisely because of who these people are and how much they care.

The anecdotes and insights in these stories are real (although unfortunate) accounts. They serve as a microscopic view into what the real world of dealing with some insurance companies can look like up close and personal. And it shows how we have made a difference for thousands of clients*.

N.C. Personal Injury Law Firm Offers FREE Case Analysis

Years of experience has taught us a painful lesson. Sometimes, some insurance companies (and others) don’t play nice. We won’t stand for that kind of abuse of the system, the laws, and especially our clients – 30,000 for whom we’ve recovered over $600 million total since 1997!*

If you’ve been injured and you feel like you’re getting the run-around from the insurance company, click here to contact us right now or call 1-866-900-7078. We’re here 24/7, and we will evaluate your situation for FREE over the phone or online.

PS: If you feel like you need a bath after reading through Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly, click here for a collection of soul cleansing stories that reveal just how far we have been known to go on our clients’ behalf*.

*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, clients, or others. These stories do not necessarily represent any industry as a whole. These descriptions of events are based on upon the recollections of individual staff members.

Are UBER and Lyft Insured if You’re Injured in a Car Wreck?

E-hail ride sharing services like UBER and Lyft are super convenient. You just download their app, enter your pick-up location and credit card information, and a driver will pick you up and take you where you need to go.

But what happens if your super convenient UBER or Lyft driver is involved in a car crash and you are injured? Who pays for your injuries?

UBER and Lyft Carry $1 Million Coverage Per Accident

You may be covered. Each company carries $1 million per accident to protect passengers and others in the event that one of their cars is involved in a car wreck.

And depending on the circumstances of the accident, there might be other coverages available to you if there are delays or problems with the primary coverage. In some instances the at-fault driver’s liability insurance may kick in.

Lots of ifs.

uber

UBER and Lyft Accident Coverage vs. Taxi Coverage

UBER and Lyft, in most instances, carry higher liability than is typical of taxis in most cities. Take the $1 million per incident insurance limits and compare them to those of taxis in three of America’s largest cities. Wallet Hub, a social media company that compares financial products, offers these comparisons:

  • Chicago taxi: $350,000 per incident
  • Los Angeles taxi: $750,000 per incident
  • New York City taxi: $100,000 per person; $300,000 per incident

What if the At-Fault Driver is Uninsured?

If you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver, UBER and Lyft carry a $1 million policy limit, to help try to ensure that your medical expenses are covered.

If you are injured as a passenger in a taxi cab, you may file a claim with the insurance company of the taxi driver. You may be limited, however, to the policy the driver is covered under. If the taxi cab driver does not have uninsured motorist coverage and you do not have your own personal uninsured motorist coverage, then pursuing compensation can be difficult.

Using a Lawyer Could Potentially Triple Your Compensation1

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received three-and-a-half times more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own2.

While using the new e-hailing services, like UBER or Lyft, or using a traditional taxi is a personal matter of choice, if you end up in a car wreck, we believe it’s in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately.

Based on our experience, it can be hard enough for accident victims to try to get compensated fairly from their own insurance companies, let alone, dealing with other insurance companies.

North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help

  • 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 35 attorneys. Over 100 staff. Seven attorneys board certified in North Carolina in their fields – a differentiator that fewer than 4%3 of North Carolina attorneys can claim

If you’re injured while riding in a cab or UBER or Lyft, click here to contact us 24/7, or call 1-866-900-7078. We will evaluate your situation for FREE over the phone or online.

 

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 Insurance Research Council 1999

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

 

 

 

“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.

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.

Car Crash Deaths Trending Higher – Here’s Why

After trending lower for over 10 years, crash fatalities rose in the first six months of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014. What gives?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver error is a leading cause of the rise in roadway fatalities – 94%. This research is based upon a weighted sample of 5,470 crashes over a period of roughly two years.

NHTSA crash data for 2014 shows:

  • Crashes involving a drunk driver accounted for almost one-third of motor vehicle deaths in the United States
  • Nearly half (49%) of those who died were not wearing seat belts
  • Distracted driving accounted for approximately 10% of all crash fatalities
  • Drowsy driving accounted for 2.6% of all crash fatalities
  • The number of motorcyclists killed was much higher in states without strong helmet laws
  • Cyclist deaths declined by 2.3%
  • Pedestrian deaths rose by 3.1%

What Caused the Rise in Car Crash Fatalities from 2014 to 2015?
From about 2012 through 2014, crash deaths had been on a downward trend. But the NHTSA preliminary crash data from 2015 shows there were a lot more deadly crashes in the first six months of 2015 than there were during the same period in the year prior. Understanding why is important so changes can be made going forward.

Why the sudden uptick?

One possible explanation is that people were able to drive more due to improved economic conditions, like lower gas prices and lower unemployment.

However, the way the NHTSA measures fatality rates clarifies a potential misunderstanding in this viewpoint. It looks at how many people died per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. According to the NHTSA, this method helps illuminate whether the increase was because people drove more or because they weren’t driving as safely.

During the first six months of 2015 there was an 8.1% increase in overall fatalities and a 4.4% increase in the rate per 100 million miles. This means that even after accounting for increased traffic, there were still more fatal collisions. Driver safety, therefore, played a significant role in the overall increased cause of deaths.

To determine how much North Carolina drivers contributed to the added risk, National Safety Council (NSC) data from the first six mon­­ths of 2014 to the first six months 2015 in North Carolina were compared. Their data shows that 19% more people died on North Carolina’s highways in 2015 as a result of driver error.

What’s the Solution to Try to Reverse the Rise in Traffic Fatalities?
The NHTSA has launched a series of safety initiatives. These initiatives address such issues as the risks of driving while intoxicated, drowsy driving, using electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle, and failure to utilize readily available safety features like seat belts and car seats. Other initiatives are also being designed specifically to protect non-motorists who share the roads, such as pedestrians and cyclists.

As both local and federal government agencies continue to increase their focus on policy decisions that can potentially make our roads safer, each of us can also do our part to help ensure our own safety and those around us by committing to be more careful.

No drinking and driving. No distracted driving – no texting, no applying makeup on the freeway, no reaching in the back seat to pick up your toddler’s sippy cup. You get the picture.

North Carolina Auto Accident Attorneys
If you are hurt by a distracted driver in North Carolina, contact us now for a free consultation to see if we can help. Call us at 1-866-900-7078. We’re here for you 24/7/365.

 

Could I Potentially Get More After Trial Than if I Settle?

It’s a common misconception that your personal injury case will be worth more if you “take it to trial” rather than through settlement negotiations. Whether a case can get more after a trial depends on the circumstances of your case. There is a chance that you could get more, but there’s also the chance you could get less – even nothing. It all depends on what is discovered as you prepare for litigation.

We Endeavor to Get the Most for You – Trial or No Trial
At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we evaluate each case individually and advise litigation only if we believe it will result in the greatest financial return for our clients. Our lawyers will not take your case to court if they do not feel a jury would award the case’s fair value.

Before we take a case to trial we evaluate a number of factors. Here are three important factors we consider.

  1. Is there enough evidence to obtain fair value?
    Our primary objective for your case is to try to get the highest fair value for your circumstances. Fair value is based on evidence. For example, in cases with muscle-related injuries, such as sprains and strains like whiplash, medical treatment that lasted under four to six months, and medical expenses, fair settlement would be an offer that covers all those bills plus pain and suffering.
  2. Did the insurance company offer that much less than what a jury may potentially award?
    We may also consider whether there might be a large enough discrepancy between what the insurance company offers and what we think a potential jury might award. If the settlement offer includes your bills and considers your inconvenience for medical treatment, then your attorney will let you know what is reasonable versus what you would expect to get from a jury.

    A jury trial is not always the answer.A jury verdict is influenced by more than simply the facts of your case. It is influenced by the jury’s demographic makeup, the geographic region where you live (i.e., what is typically seen in similar cases in your hometown court), any preconceived prejudices the jurors may have. Let’s say, for example, juror #4 thinks all motorcycle drivers are reckless – especially the under-40 crowd. If you were the one injured through no fault of your own, yet you were driving a motorcycle and you happen to be under the age of 40, that juror may not be very sympathetic to your situation.

  3. Is trial worth the financial and emotional stress on you?
    We will also weigh the benefits of the financial and emotional stress you may experience by going in front of a jury. We consider how costly and lengthy a trial might become, and whether it may potentially cause you undue hardship versus the financial benefits you may potentially derive. Because trials can be expensive, we don’t want a trial to eat away at your potential gains.

Free Case Evaluation from a North Carolina Auto Accident Law Firm
If you have been injured in a car wreck, don’t wait to call us. Sometimes, the sooner we get involved the less involved your case can potentially become.

Our Personal Injury Department has more than 150 years of combined legal experience. Several of our attorneys have at least 15 years’ experience, and some were formerly defense attorneys for the insurance industry – so they’ve seen the law from both sides.

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How Does Mediation Work?

When injured in an accident that isn’t your fault, it’s probably safe to assume that you, like most people, simply want to be paid what’s fair. While obtaining fair payment may seem like a simple and straightforward process, it can quickly become complicated and confusing.

When negotiations with the insurance adjuster fail, then options exist to try to ensure that your compensation is fair and just. From offer to counteroffer, court filings, mediations, to trial, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has experienced professionals on staff to counsel you at all levels of civil litigation – including mediation.

Will My Case Require Me to Go to Mediation?

Mediation is not the same thing as settlement negotiations, which occur at the beginning of your case, and mediation is only undertaken after settlement negotiations fail and you file a lawsuit. After settlement negotiations fail, you would begin your lawsuit by filing your case in civil court.

Whether or not you proceed to mediation depends on whether you file in superior court or district court. For the purposes of this blog, the primary difference between superior court and district court is the amount of money you seek in your lawsuit.

If your case involves more than $25,000, you must file it in superior court, and mediation is required. Superior court rarely allows you to skip mediation and go straight to trial.

If your damages are $25,000 or less, then you must file in district court where mediation is not required.

What Happens in Mediation?

Let’s say you are headed to mediation. Here’s what it might look like.

Mediation takes place outside the court, typically at an office. There is no judge. No facts will be decided. The point of mediation is to reach a settlement. The people who attend mediation are:

  • The plaintiff (that’s you – the person filing a claim for damages). You must attend mediation, because you have final settlement authority. In other words, you are the only one who can determine if the terms the other party is offering are acceptable, and thereby end the mediation.
  • Your attorney, who will negotiate on your behalf
  • The attorney from the defendant’s insurance company
  • The mediator, who is a neutral third party

The defendant doesn’t necessarily need to attend. Your lawyer has the option of excusing him or her.

Mediation vs. Trial

Mediation may potentially benefit you by eliminating the costs of going to court. For example, you will likely not have to pay an expert witness (such as an accident reconstructionist) to testify on your behalf. Moreover, going to court involves additional costs that can chip away at the final dollar amount you may receive.

Headed to Mediation?

The best advice when headed to mediation is to arm yourself with an experienced legal team who has researched your case, talked with you about the value of your case, and knows what your case may really be worth.

Combined, our attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin have handled countless mediations. We can prepare you for mediation, attend mediation with you, counsel you on the reasonableness of the defendant’s offers and counteroffers, and advise whether to accept your settlement or proceed to trial.

If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, call us 24/7 at 1-866-900-7078 or click here for a free case evaluation.

The Money the Insurance Company Offered Seems Fair. Should I Settle?

You might be surprised – even relieved – when an adjuster offers you a settlement for your injuries within a few days of your accident. But be forewarned.  If you’re still hurting or injured, you should not accept a settlement from the adjuster – even if it sounds like a good offer.

Even if you feel like you’ve recovered from your injuries, it’s still prudent to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to help gain a better understanding of your legal options.

Why Shouldn’t I Settle as Soon as Possible?

Once you accept a settlement from the insurance company, your case is closed. Period. That means you release the insurance company from all future claims pertaining to that accident. Their responsibility for your medical treatment or anything else related to the accident is finished.

Moreover, the beginning of your case is usually too early to assign a value to your injury claims. Most people don’t know the full extent of their injuries and treatment plan until time has passed. Severe bruising, for example, could turn into a blood clot, which could travel to your lungs. A slight head injury might seem benign at first, but could lead to swelling on the brain or a concussion. You just don’t know, and only time and medical treatment can tell.

Why Shouldn’t I Sign a Scheduled Release?

You might encounter what we refer to as a “scheduled release.” This is when the adjuster offers to keep your claim “open” for a certain number of days to cover medical bills up to a specified amount within that time period. The problem with a scheduled release is that – again – you can’t predict how your medical condition will progress or regress. What happens if you don’t get better during that time period and you need further treatment? What happens if you get worse – when that headache slowly turns into double vision? If you sign a scheduled release – you’re out of luck.

Insurance Company Tactics to Try to Pay You Less

I’ve found that these and other quick offers can be a common practice among some insurance companies. Experience in dealing with personal injury matters has taught me that most injured people do not know their rights and how the law works. Unfortunately, some insurance companies can use this to their advantage. Remember, their objective is often to pay you the least amount possible on your claim, and the adjuster’s objective may be to get you to accept the least amount sooner rather than later.

Why Do I Need to Get Medical Care Immediately?

The importance of obtaining medical treatment cannot be stressed enough. If you aren’t getting treatment, there’s no documentation or proof that you were injured. There are any number of issues related to treatment that you might be unaware of that could have a detrimental effect on your case. Poor treatment, overtreatment, and gaps in treatment, for example, can effect compensation and create difficulties when trying to negotiate maximum compensation.

Our job as attorneys is not to direct medical treatment. However, we can let you know the effects and various outcomes that different treatment situations may potentially have on your compensation at the end of your case. In general, you should receive the necessary treatment for recovery, follow your doctor’s recommendations, avoid large gaps of time with no treatment, and meet all your scheduled appointments.

Once treatment is complete and you are no longer considered injured, we are in a much better position to properly evaluate the value of your claim.

Will an Attorney be Able to Get Me More Money?

Compensation varies case by case. The overall goal of representation is to increase the amount of your recovery and put you in a better financial position – even after fees. That is why, if you are injured, it’s important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.

If you have questions, or want to see if we can help, contact us or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078.  After your free evaluation, we can let you know whether or not representation might possibly add value to your claim.