Contact the Law Office of James Scott Farrin

1-866-900-7078

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.

I Was Injured in a Car Wreck. Will I Have to Go to Court?

You’ve been hurt in a car wreck. The insurance company fails to negotiate a fair settlement. Even mediation didn’t nudge the insurance company to offer enough for your medical bills. In this situation and others that are similar, it may be in your best interest to go to court.

When Trial May be Necessary

Most car accident cases don’t require that you go to court. The majority of them settle through negotiations – the back-and-forth process of your attorney’s demand and the insurance company’s counteroffer. This back-and-forth continues until both parties agree on a dollar amount to settle the insurance claim.

But when negotiations fail, and the parties cannot come to a settlement agreement, the next option is to file a civil lawsuit in court.

You may need to file a lawsuit if your insurance company continues to:

  • Question liability (they insist their client wasn’t at fault and deny your claim)
  • Undervalue your case or give you a low offer

What Happens After Filing a Lawsuit?

No one wants to file a lawsuit and then have to appear in court. It’s time-consuming and bureaucratic. If you do find it necessary to file a lawsuit, here is what you can expect.

Step 1 – Discovery. The first step would be the discovery phase in which you exchange written questions called interrogatories.

Step 2 – Depositions. After interrogatories, each side takes depositions. Depositions are done in an office setting outside the courtroom. A deposition is a process whereby you are questioned about the specifics of the incident, and the questions and your answers are recorded and transcribed.

Step 3 – Mediation. If both parties still have not reached an agreement, mediation is the next step. Mediation is a negotiation process, also done in an office, whereby your attorney and the insurance company’s attorney will try to come to a settlement you are satisfied with. You will be present to agree or disagree with the terms, and a mediator will be present to guide the process.

Step 4 – Final prep for trial. If mediation is not satisfactory and court is your last option, then your lawyers will begin final prep for trial. This often includes special depositions of treating doctors, which are videotaped and shown at the trial.

Sometimes, during each of these processes, both sides reach a settlement agreement. If that is the case, then you don’t have to go to court. If not, and the case goes to trial, then you will have to appear because you are the primary witness for your case.

Attorneys and Staff with Extensive Experience

Our attorneys have argued many cases in courtrooms all across North Carolina. While the majority of personal injury or car accident cases can settle without going to court, it can be important to have an experienced legal team on your side before you ever speak to the insurance company. This can help protect your case from potential pitfalls in the event that a trial is needed.

Experience in the courtroom and beyond has taught me that the insurance company is working to protect their assets – not yours. At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we always evaluate each case individually and advise litigation only if we believe it can potentially result in the greatest financial return for our clients. If your case does go to trial, we have an entire department dedicated to litigation.

Several of our firm’s more than 35 attorneys have won awards and authored or co-authored publications. Some are involved in teaching law-related courses from time to time – one is an adjunct professor at a university.

Moreover, several of our staff members have worked for insurance companies – giving us additional knowledge about how the “other side” operates.

Take advantage of our knowledge and experience. If you’ve been injured, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078. Click here to have one of our attorneys review your case for free. You won’t pay an attorney’s fee unless we recover compensation for your claim.

Why Do I Need Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance?

No one wants to be involved in a car wreck. Believe me, as a personal injury attorney I’ve seen my share of injured clients. And while the physical injuries are difficult enough for my clients to deal with, I’ve witnessed financial hardships accident victims have gone through who received little or no financial compensation. Why? Because they didn’t carry uninsured motorist insurance (UM) or underinsured motorist insurance (UIM).

What Can Happen if I Don’t Carry UM or UIM?

First of all, if your car is insured in North Carolina under a personal policy, you automatically have UM. That’s because in 2009, it became mandatory for all insured drivers in the state to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is just what its name implies – it covers you if you are injured by an uninsured driver.

When you or your passengers are involved in a car wreck – whether you’re a driver, a pedestrian, riding a bike, etc., – the “at fault” driver (or their insurance company) is typically responsible for paying your medical bills and other related expenses. Even though medical bills can potentially reach tens of thousands of dollars, North Carolina only requires a minimum of $30,000/$60,000 in auto insurance:

  • $30,000 is the maximum insurance will pay to one individual
  • $60,000 is the maximum amount it will pay to all injured victims. In other words, no matter how many people are hurt, the insurance company will pay out no more than $60,000 divided among them, whether that amount covers their bills or not.

Roughly One of Every 11 NC-Licensed Drivers is Not Insured

Although car insurance is mandatory in North Carolina, the latest statistics (2012) from the Insurance Information Institute show that 9.1% of North Carolina drivers do not have car insurance. That means roughly one of every 11 NC drivers you might encounter along I-40 have no insurance to help pay medical and other bills if they sideswipe you – maybe while texting!

Here are three primary situations to be aware of where underinsured or uninsured drivers can make your life miserable if you don’t have UM or UIM:

  1. Driver is not insured at all (the 9.1%)
  2. Driver flees the scene in a hit and run
  3. Driver does not have enough auto insurance

Let’s look at a couple of scenarios to see how the three situations above would play out with and without UM or UIM.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

Driver 1 is not paying attention and rear-ends your car. Driver 1 is cooperative, but has no insurance. You could take her to court, but there is a decent chance she is judgment proof. Being judgment proof in North Carolina means you may not be able to go after a bank account or other property to collect. Depending on the circumstances, this means you could sue her and even win, but you may never see any of the money you “won” from the lawsuit. If you have UM, you can file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. And since you were not at fault, you have an opportunity to be compensated fairly without your rates going up.

Now let’s assume Driver 2 runs into you as you’re walking on the sidewalk. He flees the scene, and the police are not able to catch him. If there’s no driver, there’s no one to go after for your medical bills. UM coverage may also help you in this scenario, by potentially allowing you to recover money – without your rates going up.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

Unlike uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage is optional in North Carolina. That being said, UIM is fairly cheap and can save you a lot of money and headache if you’re seriously injured. As the name implies, underinsured motorist coverage applies when a driver is underinsured, meaning they do not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills or damages.

Here’s how it might play out. When you are injured by a negligent driver, you first collect from their insurance company. If the driver does not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills and other expenses, then you could potentially be stuck paying those bills yourself – unless you have underinsured motorist coverage. As discussed earlier, the person who hit you may be judgment proof, and you may never collect the full amount due, even if you get a successful verdict in the lawsuit. So to get the money you need for bills, you may be able to file an underinsured motorist claim. This may potentially cover the difference from what the other guy’s insurance pays and the bills you owe.

As an example, let’s assume Driver 3 injures you and your claim is worth $80,000. Driver 3 admits fault, but only has the $30,000 minimum insurance required in North Carolina. This means his insurance company would only be required to pay you $30,000. After collecting the full $30,000 from his insurance company, you still have $50,000 in bills. If you have underinsured motorist coverage, and depending on the amount of your policy, your insurance company may cover the difference.

These scenarios – which our law firm deals with far too often – represent why I emphasize the need for UM and UIM. Each can be a financial life saver. And filing a claim with your UM or UIM shouldn’t make your rates go up.

Do I Need an Attorney for UM or UIM Claims?

Based on my experience, typically the answer is YES. Even though you are dealing with your own insurance company, experience has taught me that they may try to pay you the least amount of money possible. That’s why it can be important to have someone fighting for you who knows the system. You may have had nothing but good experiences with your agent or a customer service rep in the past, but all that love can potentially change when money is on the table. If you find yourself in one of these or other unfortunate scenarios, contact one of our personal injury attorneys by clicking here or call 1-866-900-7078.

 

How Can I Negotiate With the Insurance Company for a Better Offer for My Car?

Car Accident_06082014_smIn a car accident, the at-fault insurance company may accept responsibility for the damage to your vehicle and make an offer to settle the property damage claim. You will almost always deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company through its adjuster. An adjuster is the person the insurance company hired to review and negotiate your claim. Typically, part of the adjuster’s job is to try to minimize your claim in order to control costs for the company. When the insurance company accepts fault, and makes an offer, this will either result in repair of your vehicle, or they will decide the vehicle was a total loss and pay you for the vehicle’s value.

If you are satisfied with the insurance company’s first offer, then it is fine to accept it. However, what should you do if you do not believe the offer is fair? If you are not satisfied with the insurance company’s offer, then you should arm yourself with information to negotiate with the insurance adjuster.

Offers to Repair

An insurance company will often offer to repair a vehicle if the cost of repairs plus supplemental claims equal less than 75% of the vehicle’s pre-accident cash value. “Supplemental claims” include things like the projected rental vehicle costs during the repair period.

The pre-accident cash value is sometimes called the “fair market value.” Fair market value is the price a willing buyer would pay a willing seller, when neither is being compelled to buy and/or sell, and both have reasonable knowledge about the relevant facts. When calculating repair costs versus value, insurance adjusters may use the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) publication, the “Official Used Car Guide,” to determine the fair market value. The NADA is published monthly. It is available online at www.nadaguides.com.

While the insurance company may use the NADA book value to determine fair market value, the book is only a guide. There is more room to negotiate based on the actual condition of your vehicle.

You should get estimates for the amount of repairs your vehicle will need. After you get the estimates, and provide them to the insurance company, the insurance adjuster may make an offer over the telephone. If you do not agree with the telephone offer and the adjuster has never seen the damaged vehicle, then you can require the adjuster or the insurance company’s appraiser to personally inspect your damaged vehicle.

If you do not agree with the settlement offered by the adjuster, you have the right to request that the adjuster send to you in writing the amount of the offer along with the specific policy provisions or legal basis the adjuster is relying on in support of the offer.

An adjuster may tell you they want you to take your car to a particular garage – typically, a garage with which they get a volume discount. However, you have the right to take your vehicle to any repair shop of your choosing.

Offers to Pay Cash Value for a Total Loss

Car Accident_07312014_SMA vehicle is legally considered a total loss if the cost of repairs and supplemental claims equal or exceed 75% of the fair market value. If this is the case, the liability insurance carrier is required to pay fair market value for the vehicle.

Fair market value is often determined via a local market survey. Local fair market value must be determined by using either the local market price of comparable vehicles or, if no comparable vehicles can be found, quotes from at least two qualified dealers within the local market area. If your vehicle was in better-than-average condition prior to the collision, the adjuster is required to give due consideration to this fact when determining value.

It is also important to note that the insurance company is not necessarily obligated to pay the full balance of an existing lien on the vehicle. If you owe more on the car than it is worth at the time of loss, all the insurance company has to pay is still fair market value, not the payoff amount.

You should require the adjuster to give you a written statement, along with the total loss payment. This statement should include estimates, evaluations and deductions used in calculating the payment, as well as stating the source of these values.


Complaints About the Insurance Company

Claims Adjustor_06132014_SMIf you have a complaint about an insurance company and the way they are handling your claim, you may call or write the Consumer Insurance Information Division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance. The toll-free telephone number is 855-408-1212. The mailing address is: North Carolina Department of Insurance, Consumers Services Division, 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699.

The Consumer Services Division will take information from you and then an analyst from the Division will request information from the insurance company, agent or adjuster. If the analyst finds that there is just cause for the complaint then a recommendation will be made to both sides as to how to settle the situation. If this does not resolve the problem, a deputy commissioner may arrange a conference with the insurance company involved to resolve the problem. If the conference does not resolve the disputed issue, then the deputy commissioner may recommend to the commissioner that appropriate legal action be taken including a public hearing (filing a lawsuit).

Our Recommendation:  No Need For an Attorney Unless You Were Hurt

At our firm, we recommend you handle most property damage claims yourself. This can save you both time and money—you do not want to unnecessarily delay the property damage aspect of your claim, and it is often not cost effective to hire an attorney to pursue property damage.

However, if we represent you on a bodily injury claim related to the accident,

Whatever the size of your case, we believe you deserve the best representation and service we can provide. If you have questions, or want to see if we can help, give us a call at 1-866-900-7078.

How Can I Get Medical Treatment Without Health Insurance After a Car Accident?

Ambulance_06082014After you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you’ll have to negotiate with the insurance company for how much they may owe you for your damages. And you’ll need a lot more than just your words.

The only way to prove the extent of your injuries is to get medical treatment. This treatment becomes evidence to show why you should be compensated. You have to show what it took to resolve your injury—this becomes the story of why the insurance company should compensate you.

When does the insurance company actually pay you?

This “story” for trying to prove your case begins at the time of your injury and ends at the last date of your medical treatment. This is why you often have to wait until “maximum medical improvement” (or “MMI”) before the insurance company will talk about settling and paying your claim. So they are really just reimbursing you for all of the bills you’ve already had to pay. Note: if the insurance company attempts to settle your injury claim before you are done treating, you are at risk and should contact an attorney right away.

You may also have a right to compensation for other, non-medical things, like how your injuries affect your daily life, time off of work, physical damages (such as scars or disabilities), emotional damages and expenses associated with your medical care.

How can you pay for medical care if you don’t have health insurance?

It’s worth saying again: treatment is imperative. Without medical treatment to document your injuries, there is no springboard to try to get a settlement. But since most doctors and other medical providers require payment at the time of service, if you don’t have health insurance, it may seem impossible to get medical treatment.

Medical20_06082014Emergency Room Visits

After a car accident, most people go to the emergency room (ER) for initial treatment. The ER visit needs to happen early in your treatment, preferably the day of the accident. Remember: you are protecting the connection between your accident and your injuries. You need to go to the doctor as soon as there is an issue from the accident. However, you should not go to the ER repeatedly because an ER is set up for emergency visits only, not for ongoing care. Multiple treatments at the ER risk the insurance company refusing to pay for the multiple ER bills.

Some ERs will attach a “lien” to your bill. A lien means the provider will give you treatment without immediate payment, and instead collect the payment later, out of the final settlement. The lien gives them a legal right to be paid directly out of the settlement.

Other ERs do not automatically attach a lien and instead try to collect payment at the normally-scheduled interval. If the ER tries to collect payment immediately, then you should let them know your treatment was the result of a collision and the status of your case. Ask the ER to give you the option to pay the bill when the case is settled. If this is not an option, offer to pay very small amounts to keep the bill out of collections, and then pay the balance once the case is settled. Bottom line: it is important to stay in touch with the medical provider so they do not just send the bill to collections.

Medical31_07232014Follow-up Care for Muscle Strains/Sprains

After the initial ER care, if you have general muscle strains and sprains, chiropractic treatment is normally a good option, and chiropractors often treat on a lien.

The reason chiropractors are helpful is because they do a good job with soft tissue injuries, which are common after car accidents. Also, chiropractors are highly accessible: you can normally schedule an appointment within a day, which means you are protecting the connection between your accident and your treatment for the accident.  Plus, they often will not require immediate payment.

It is important to not miss appointments – the insurance company may take that as a sign that the appointment wasn’t necessary. In general, you should follow the chiropractor’s plan, but constantly communicate with the chiropractor about what is working, and what is not working.

Follow-up Care for More Serious Injuries

If you suffered more serious injuries, or you don’t feel better after several weeks of consistent chiropractic care, you may need to seek medical attention from a family care doctor or a specialist. You may have to find a clinic or family care doctor who will treat you on a lien, and ask them for a referral to a specialist who can treat you on a lien. These providers can be difficult to find, but if they are available, they can be invaluable to your case.

There are some urgent care facilities that will treat on a lien. You can also investigate free clinics and free medical providers in your area. There are usually links to these services through your local health department. Large providers in our area, like Duke University Health Systems and UNC Health Systems, often provide charitable care services for uninsured individuals.

Finding an Attorney

In many cases, it is important to have well-informed representation that can help direct your case with your best interests at heart. Without an attorney, you risk making a mistake that could cost you. With our team of over 30 attorneys, we have extensive knowledge to assist our clients who are uninsured to get the treatment they need. This is important because settlement is completely related to your treatment.

Negotiating a Lien

If you get treatment on a lien, the extent to which a provider is paid is based on the final settlement. If the provider is not paid in full then you are responsible for the rest. There are some times that the attorney can negotiate with the lien holder to try to reduce the out of pocket expense to the client. For example, once the case settles if the medial provider is only scheduled to be reimbursed 70% of their bill, then the medical provider may agree to not charge the client for the remaining 30%.

If you’ve been injured, time is not on your side. Click here to have one of our attorneys review your case for free. Remember, there’s no attorney’s fee unless we recover compensation for your claim.

 

My child was hurt. I missed work. Will the insurance company pay me for time off?

Child Carseat_07212014When a minor is injured in a car accident, many questions arise. The biggest concern is your child’s health and safety. Sprains and strains are some of the most common injuries from car accidents and require appropriate medical treatment to resolve. Of course, some injuries are even more serious and demand intensive treatment. What happens if you have to take time off work to take your minor to doctors’ appointments? Will the insurance company reimburse lost wages?

If your child is injured and you miss work to take him or her to medical appointments, you will need proper documentation in order to have the best chance of recovering your lost income from the insurance company.

Lost Wages Form

When you take time off work, you must show that the hours you missed (therefore, the wages that you lost) were for the sole purpose of taking your child to the doctor.

You will need your employer to verify (in writing!) the date(s) you missed work, the hours you missed, and the amount of money you make per hour. At our firm, we created a “lost wage form” that takes only a few minutes to fill out and records information you need to try to prove your lost wages to the insurance company.

Be “Reasonable”

By law, the amount of time you missed from work must be “reasonable.” To decide whether something is “reasonable,” the insurance company does not consider your individual opinion and beliefs. “Reasonable” means you used a degree of care that an ordinary, competent person would use in the same or similar situation: You must act sensibly, do things without serious delay, and take proper, but not excessive, precautions. For example, if you say that you took your child to the doctor, the appointment would not likely take all day and result in a full day of lost wages.

Remember “reasonableness” in everything. This also applies to the type of treatment that you seek for your child’s injuries. Again, in most cases, car accidents result in sprains and strains. Medical treatment should begin at the time of injury, and normally includes an immediate visit to the emergency room. The emergency room visit not only provides an initial assessment to treat injuries, but also protects the connection between your child’s accident and the treatment for the accident. (In order to create evidence to show why your child should be compensated, you must show a continuous timeline of treatment and what it took for the injuries to resolve.)

Medical Care for a Child Vs. an Adult

After the initial emergency room visit, you may miss time from work to take your child to ongoing medical appointments. The type of treatment underlying these appointments must also be reasonable.

After being seen in the emergency room, it is best for your child to follow up with his or her pediatrician. Then follow the advice of your pediatrician in terms of the type of follow up care the child needs. Keep in mind that children’s injuries typically resolve very quickly in comparison to adults. Observe your child: if he or she seems to be back to normal, this is not strange. Children are resilient and heal fairly fast. If you continue treating after your child is well, an insurance company will likely question the “reasonableness” of these actions.

Bills3_06082014Document, Document, Document

Keep good records of the time that you are out of work and make sure your employer can corroborate the time you missed from work and that the time relates-back to the date(s) the child had doctors’ appointments. This way, you have a better argument to recover your lost wages from the insurance company.

If your employer refuses to sign something that corroborates your personal statement, and there is nothing to show loss of income during the time period you took off, it will be difficult to prove lost wages. If you can get a medical excuse from the doctor’s office showing that you were at your child’s appointment then provide that paperwork, along with information from the employer. The more evidence you have, the better.

  • Proper documentation is most important to recover lost wages.
  • Documentation from your employer should include verification of the date(s) that you missed work, the hours that you missed, and the amount of money that you make per hour.
  • Documentation from the doctor must show that you attended the appointment with your child, such as a medical excuse, or “absence” note.
  • Remember “reasonableness” in everything.

Focus on Your Child – We’ll Take Care of the Rest

In the aftermath of a car accident, having an attorney provides peace of mind to know a strong legal team is fighting for your child’s rights while you focus on your child’s recovery. You shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll be paid for the time you have to take off to take your child to the doctor – that’s what we do.

We understand you need every penny during times like these and that’s why we will fight for everything you may deserve.

The information in this article is meant to provide a general snapshot on how to claim your lost wages. Contact us right now to see if we can help protect you and your family.

What to Do After an Accident (4 Easy Steps)

Woman hurt neck in car accidentYou’ve been in an accident.

What should you do next?

Accidents often have short-term effects (ex. missing work) and long-term effects (ex. ongoing medical care). If the accident wasn’t your fault, an insurance company should compensate you for these consequences, but you need to take steps to protect your rights.

Below are 4 steps that may help, but click here if you want to contact a NC car accident lawyer right now, or call us at 1-866-900-7078. Your initial case evaluation is free.

 
Medical17_072320141)      Medical Care – Be Thorough With Your Doctor
It’s natural to feel scared after an accident – especially if you’ve experienced serious bodily damage. While it may be difficult to focus on the minor injuries, reporting every scratch, cut, and ache to your doctor will make sure every injury is documented and help ensure that your rights are protected.

Warning: Not reporting an injury right away could lead to serious complications in your case.

For example: let’s say you have a broken leg and a sore shoulder after an accident. You know that soreness after an accident is somewhat normal, so you don’t mention the shoulder to your doctor. However, weeks later, it’s just getting worse. You find out it’s a torn rotator cuff and you need surgery.

But when you send the surgery bill to your insurance company, they balk. Since you didn’t report the injury right away, they argue that it wasn’t a result of the accident and say that they won’t pay it. (If this happens, please contact a NC car crash attorney right away).

Reporting every injury you see or feel is essential to try to make sure that you do not end up paying the price for someone else’s negligence.

It is also important to get consistent treatment for all of your injuries until they are fully healed. Frequent visits allow the doctor and insurance company to have a detailed history of your resulting medical problems and expenses.
 
2) Collect and Save Evidence From Day One
After years of experience, we can say that you never know what shred of evidence can end up supporting your claim.

Photos, clothing, paper, and other seemingly mundane materials could be important to building your case. The best rule is to just keep everything.  If in doubt, ask your attorney.

For example: one of the most important pieces of evidence could be the clothes you wore on the day of the accident – particularly if you were bleeding or thrown from the vehicle. Therefore, it is important to keep them and not to wash them in order to preserve their integrity.

Keep a record of all medical appointments, examination records, bills, and pictures of injuries. Be meticulous about how you manage all this material. With respect to your car, have someone take and keep pictures of vehicle damage, any other property damage, skid marks, and/or street signs. Keep witnesses’ names and telephone numbers. Record the weather on the day of the accident. All of this information could eventually play an important role in building your case.

As soon as you’re able, write down everything you can remember about what happened — or dictate the details to a loved one. Thorough documentation is incredibly important!
 
3) Keep an Accident Journal
One of the best ways to keep a record of everything is to start an accident journal. These journals can contain whatever information you find relevant, but most importantly they become a personal timeline of your experience that you can share with your attorney to help build a stronger case. Additionally, since these cases can sometimes last for years, starting a journal immediately means you will have something to look back on to refresh your recollection of how you were feeling shortly after the accident, when you are questioned about it.

What to include in your accident journal:

  • Name/contact information of anyone you speak to regarding your case (police officers, insurance adjustors, doctors, etc.)
  • When you spoke to them
  • Notes of your conversations and anything you think could be relevant

 
Paperwork3_07312014Bonus tip #1 (speaking with your insurance agent): Although we strongly recommend you speak with an attorney before talking with an insurance agent, if you find yourself in a position where you have to speak with them, this video may help you prepare.
 
4) Get a Professional Opinion – At No Cost
We’ve been doing this for many years. We’ve seen how insurance companies might seem sweet and accommodating up front, but as the bills add up, they may not be as accommodating as they were in the beginning. You should know:

It is very likely that an insurance company – whether the at-fault driver’s or your own – may offer to pay you far less than what you may deserve for your injuries and damages. Don’t sign anything or agree to a settlement without an attorney on your side reviewing the offer to ensure you aren’t losing rights, compensation or benefits.

Many personal injury attorneys will review your claim for free.

Bonus tip #2 (hiring an attorney): If you think you may want an attorney, hire one early. If they work on contingency, it won’t cost you any more than it would if you waited and they can help keep you from making inadvertent mistakes that may hurt your case.

Secondly, when you choose an attorney, we recommend you find one who has successfully represented people in car crashes like yours in court – just in case you need to take your case that far, and so the insurance company knows they’re willing to go there.

If you want the opinion or advice of an experienced NC car accident lawyer, please call us at 1-866-900-7078.  We’ll try to answer any questions you have, and there is no obligation to hire us afterward.

25 Things to Do After You’ve Been Hurt in an Accident

Simulated Accident_07182014A lot is at stake after an accident. As such, there’s a lot to do if you want to protect yourself. We’ve put together a quick list to get you started, but it is by no means comprehensive.

A NC car accident attorney may be able to help with many of these items.

  1. Gather information from multiple sources – names, numbers, statements, records of everyone on the scene, especially driver, police officers, witnesses, EMT personnel, if you can. Get the other driver’s insurance information.
  2. Deal with the insurance adjuster, who will ask questions about the accident and your injuries. He/she may insist on a statement. Make sure you know what to say and what not to say
  3. Get medical attention for any injuries and symptoms. Go to all appointments. Follow doctors’ orders.
  4. Figure out who is paying for your treatment, or will be expected to.
  5. Be aware of liens the hospital/medical provider may immediately ask you to sign if you don’t have health insurance.
  6. Obtain, keep track of all medical records – diagnoses, tests, bills – physicians, hospitals, clinics, ER and EMT.
  7. Use your health insurance for all its coverages. Handle all those details carefully and promptly. Keep all records.
  8. Take photos of the scene right at the time of accident and after. Take photos of all vehicles involved, especially your own, while they are at the scene. Photograph skid marks.
  9. Obtain the police report.
  10. Find out all the details of your auto insurance policies. Everything. Read the policy’s “summary booklet.”
  11. Find out all the details of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
  12. Determine if uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is going to be a factor
  13. Research whether you can utilize another family/household member’s policy.
  14. If you have to take time off from work due to injury – or you lose your job, keep track of all records and lost wages dealing with employment that are given to you or sent by employer. Handle any possible appeals of the employer’s decision to terminate.
  15. Save all evidence in and around your car at the scene…pieces of your car or theirs.
  16. Check to see if MedPay is available.
  17. Document & copy all reimbursements received from insurance company for any expense.
  18. Where is your car? Who’s paying for storage? Would your collision coverage pay for that after it leaves a tow lot?
  19. Keep a journal – on everything insurance company, doctors, police officers, witnesses say. Track your healing progress (including how you are feeling) or lack of progress in writing and in periodic photos, if injuries are visible. Record what you do related to the accident.
  20. Get the car independently appraised. If you get repairs, have damage/problems/repairs documented by mechanic.
  21. Keep a log of your driving or other expenses to get to and from doctors.
  22. Have you made arrangements with the appropriate parties to make sure your rent or mortgage is paid?
  23. Prepare for your own formal negotiations with the insurance company, if you feel they give you the opportunity. The insurance company is interested in keeping its costs down. Know all the traps you may face.
  24. Make sure you fully understand all of the legal/financial aspects of any settlement offer, for the short and long term.
  25. Assess whether a given settlement offer accounts for your future medical needs.

And these are just 25 actions you may need to take after an accident – there could be dozens more items to get done.

For a free review of your case, call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin 24/7 at 1-866-900-7078. Or click here to speak with a live representative.

GM Ignition Switch Case Leads to Alarming Questions, Concerns for Car Owners

Traffic1_060820142.6 million GM cars have been recalled due to risks caused by potentially defective parts.

Media reports say that GM’s own statements point to deaths – possibly as many as 13 – apparently associated with these defects in the ignition switch.

Some surviving family members of people who have died in crashes involving some of the recalled models have already filed legal cases against GM for damages and losses. The number of those lawsuits has been growing in recent weeks.

Your Questions, Our Answers:

Why was there a recall of 2.6 Million GM cars, which included all years of the following models?

  • Chevrolet Cobalt
  • Saturn Ion
  • Pontiac G5
  • Chevrolet HHR
  • Pontiac Solstice
  • Saturn Sky

 

After what was reportedly years of knowledge about problems with ignition switches that could move from “run” to “accessory mode” and force a car to stall, deactivate airbags and sometimes lose its ability to be controlled, GM decided to issue a recall for 2.6 million vehicles. In a recall, the car manufacturer pays for the cost of replacing or repairing a potentially defective part when a car owner brings the vehicle to a dealer’s service center.

One study of federal safety records commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety and reported on in the New York Times showed more than 300 people have died in accidents involving airbag failures in the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Saturn Ion that may be tied to the ignition switch defect.

What if someone in your family died or was injured in a crash you think may involve these defective ignition switches? What can you do now?

The best advice is to contact an experienced product liability attorney right away. Among many other things, an experienced lawyer can try to help determine if there are records on you or your loved one’s accident that you did not know existed – those records could point to the cause.

If you or your loved one were wronged, you have a right to seek justice.

Automakers are required to keep certain records of serious crashes, complaints, calls and lawsuits. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains extensive records on serious accidents, as well, and is responsible for determining when the public may be at undue risk because of a dangerous or deadly pattern of accidents in a given car model or models.

This is also another reminder why you should consult an attorney after any accident, especially a serious one, in part so you may have a better chance of a thorough investigation into the cause of the crash.

The more you know at the time of a terrible car accident, the better your chances of a full and fair recovery of your losses.

News stories seem to indicate GM knew years ago of these problems. Why didn’t the company do more to let the public know? How could this affect you?

This a hard question to answer, and it may never be answered. However, in any series of consumer safety events like these, news reporting and new outside investigations can potentially demonstrate acts on the part of a manufacturer to downplay safety issues. If true, that kind of information could be vital in a legal case.

The GM defective ignition switch stories are rushing to the forefront. It is time now to seek legal guidance about how best to handle a possible lawsuit against GM and possibly some of its suppliers.

Timing is always important. More delay could hurt a potential case.

Are lawsuits being filed against GM already?

Yes. In fact, GM has reportedly already settled a number of cases involving deaths in accidents involving some of the car models under recall.

If you feel you may have a wrongful death or serious injury claim against GM involving accidents in the recalled Cobalt, Ion, HHR, Solstice, Sky, & G5 vehicles, the time to look into a potential case is right now.

Seek out experienced legal help so that, if the facts support a claim, you can try to make your case the strongest it can be. If a tragic accident didn’t have to happen, and a defect caused it, the truth must come out.

If you or a loved one has had one of these recalled vehicles and been seriously injured or killed in a crash, contact us today. At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we will evaluate your case for free and with no obligation. Just call us at 1-866-900-7078 today.