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Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin 1-866-900-7078

Have You Relaxed Car Seat Rules Now That Your Baby is Older? Don’t! Here’s Why.

While driving in to the Durham office, I saw something that irritates me even more than texting while driving. A woman (I assumed she was a mom) had her little girl, who could not have been more than 5 or 6, in the front seat of her Beamer traveling down a very busy four-lane road.  Without a car seat. Seriously? I wanted to shout out:

“HEY MOM! DID YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD IS 24X MORE LIKELY TO DIE IN A CAR ACCIDENT IF NOT PROPERLY RESTRAINED?

(Sorry for shouting in all caps. But I get worked up every time I think about it.)

If she had my job as a personal injury lawyer she’d think twice about her irresponsible, reckless, and potentially life-threatening decision.

We have represented far too many forever broken families whose children have died or been paralyzed or brain damaged as the result of car accidents. It can happen in a split second. And often it can be preventable.

“Just going down the street…”

Too often, parents might tend to loosen the rules a bit if they’re just going down the street. What some may not realize is that more kids get hurt when parents are running routine errands like going to daycare or the grocery store – or carpooling to school – than are injured on longer road trips. Safekids.org reports that 75% of car crashes affecting children happen within 25 miles of home. And 60% of crashes occur on roads with posted speed limits of 40 mph or less.

Many accidents and some child deaths happen at speeds of less than 25 MPH.

Children are not fully developed physically and are less able to withstand the impact of a car crash, compared with an adult. According to research conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, because air bags (and seat belts) were designed to protect average-sized adult males and NOT children, they can be extremely dangerous to infants or young children seated in front of them. Moreover, they report that children exposed to air bags during a crash are twice as likely to suffer a serious injury. Many people may be surprised to learn that a crash of less than 30 MPH can cause severe harm or death to a child as a result of airbag deployment. Why?

The technology used to deploy airbags is similar to the technology in some rocket boosters!

Keeping North Carolina’s Young Children Safer in the Car

Because of the position of airbags, children under 13 are safest when placed in the back seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Never place an infant in a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat with an air bag. In a crash, the air bag comes out of the dashboard with its force directed at the back of the infant's head if riding in the front passenger seat.

Kids need to be in a rear-facing car seat until they’re 2 years old. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing in the back seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.

Keep most kids in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old, says the AAP. Only 20% of parents put children ages four to eight in booster seats, even though safety experts recommend it. The result of this is that kids between the ages of four and eight actually face a bigger risk of dying in a car accident than a child under the age of three, according to an article in parents.com.

If you don’t have enough room in the back of your car to safely transport the number of children who need to travel safely, visit a car seat check station in your area (typically the local police or fire station) where a trained expert will help evaluate your situation. Click here for Safekids.org safety check stations in North Carolina from Dare County in the Outer Banks to Cherokee County to the west.

5 Car Safety Tips for Kids 13 and Up

(That includes your college-aged “kids” and even you.)

  1. Move the front seat as far back as possible from the dashboard.
  2. Passengers 13 and up need to wear a lap and shoulder belt when riding in the front seat. Air bags are designed to work with the lap and shoulder belt to protect the occupant.
  3. Teach your child not to lean forward to change the radio station, insert CDs, or plug in their phones.
  4. Insist your child sit upright against the seatback, with the seat belt snug at all times.
  5. Find out what you need to know about air bags when buying a used car. Some, such as Takata have been recalled on thousands of vehicles.

We’re lawyers, but we’re parents too. It is beyond heartbreaking when we have to represent a mom and dad who has lost a child in a car crash, no matter what age or circumstances. I am adamant about safety rules in the car (especially teens texting and driving). Maybe it’s because of the brokenness I have seen as a lawyer – brokenness that didn’t have to happen. And it can happen just like that.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from NC Car Crash Lawyers

We have represented far too many clients with children injured in car crashes. Their stories are heartbreaking. If your child or anyone in your family was injured in a car wreck, please have them contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. We are available 24/7 and will evaluate the situation for FREE.

Who’s Behind the Business of “We Mean Business”?

gI_125976_AAL_Cover_PhotoAt the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we often get questions about the man whose name emblazons our building. What's he like? Does he still take cases? Is James Scott Farrin one person or three?

Spoiler alert - he's one person. One person - three personas.

Lawyer.

Businessman.

Family man.

(Not necessarily in that order.)

James, or "Jim" as we know him, had a rogue notion back in 1997 that running a law firm like a business - focusing on customer service, marketing, and improving the non-lawyering parts of legal service, while still striving to provide excellent representation - just might make good business sense.

This audacious notion turned a one-shingle operation into one of the largest personal injury law firms in North Carolina, with more than 30 lawyers and 125 employees operating from 14 offices state-wide.

To showcase this success,  Attorney at Law Magazine Triangle edition, featured Jim in February as attorney of the month.

The cover story "The Audacity of Ambition" offers a glance inside the mind of our president and namesake. And a better understanding of his journey - one that has been wrought with interesting (sometimes harrowing) twists and turns, bumps in the road, a bit of Irish luck of being in the right places at the right times, and a whole lot of old fashioned rollupyoursleeves hard work.

And perseverance. Lots of perseverance.

But what do foreign lands and cartoons and the gleam in the eyes of an early client have in common with this interesting journey? Click here to find out

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.

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.

What to Do After a Car Accident – These 10 Resources May Help

Even "minor" car accidents are rarely simple.

And if you were injured in the accident, it may be even more important to get all the facts about how to proceed.

We've put together some of the basic resources to help you understand some of the issues you may face, but each case is unique, and we strongly recommend that you contact a North Carolina car accident lawyer.

Here are 10 resources you may want to look at:

  1. Our website - There you'll find an immediate way to contact one of our staff LIVE and arrange for a free case evaluation. Links to what we do, information about car accidents and what to expect, and what steps to take and when. Includes helpful videos answering frequently asked questions.
  2. The Property Damage Booklet: a quick, helpful guide with answers to frequently asked questions about property damage to your vehicle and what you should do about it.
  3. Self-help booklets:
    Inside Information: Insurance Companies May Not Want You To Know

    After a Crash: Don't Make These Two Mistakes
  4. Our YouTube page, with videos you really should see.
  5. Case results that have made a big difference in clients' lives.
  6. Video:  What is the first thing I should do if I've been in an auto accident?
  7. Video: Do you really need an attorney after an accident?
  8. Video: What you should look for in a personal injury attorney.
  9. Video: I was in an auto accident. Will I have to go to court to settle my case?
  10. Video: Are laws different for a personal injury claim when a child is injured?

When you get hurt in an accident - get help.

Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 or at click here to send us a message.

Think You Know the Truth About the McDonald's Coffee Case?

We've all heard the story - a woman ordered a McDonald's coffee and tried to hold it between her legs while driving. It spilled. She sued; and then won millions of dollars in the "lottery" of personal injury cases.

As personal injury lawyers in North Carolina, we cringe every time we hear this story.

Partially because it has become a symbol of a justice system gone awry.

Medical25_06082014And partially because it's: Just. Not. True. At least not in the way many people understand it. Many facts have been altered or omitted along the way.

"This story is the most widely-misunderstood story in America."

That's a quote from the New York Times' recent video about what really happened.

The video tells the story a little differently. It talks about:

  • An emergency room visit
  • 3rd degree burns
  • Skin grafts
  • A week's stay at the hospital
  • $10k of medical bills
  • Multiple warnings from others to McDonald's
  • Coffee temperatures that can scald upon contact (30 degrees higher than home brewers!)
  • And a much, much lower settlement amount.

 
"If people would have seen the severity of the burns, they would have understood that this was no laughing matter," said her lawyer.

For those pictures (at the 5 minute mark - brace yourself), and the entire story, just click on the video below.

4 Insurance Claim Tips From a Former Adjuster

Paperwork1_07182014You've heard all the hype - one wrong step on your insurance claim after a car accident could leave you footing the bill for injuries that may not have even been your fault.

Unfortunately, there's some truth to that (in our experience).

We talked with a former insurance adjuster and asked him for his top recommendations to anyone who's been injured in a car accident, here's what he said:

1) Don't Rush - A Speedy Settlement Can be a Shoddy Settlement

Adjusters may want you to process your claim based on their timelines, which will usually be as quickly as possible. Don't feel pressure to do this. This is a common strategy among adjusters because it can limit the amount of money they pay out for a claim.

You are in control and shouldn't feel the need to rush into something that may not be the best decision. A good rule of thumb is if you're still getting any type of medical treatment, are on medications, or still in pain, you probably shouldn't talk about settling anything.

2) Get a Professional to Review Your Paperwork - for Free

Signing a release or medical authorization can substantially limit your options for seeking compensation. If you're not careful, you could give up benefits that you might have been entitled to otherwise. And often the damage from signing certain documents cannot be undone. It's generally a good practice to consult with an attorney before signing any paperwork.

Send your documents to an experienced attorney you trust (who focuses on your type of case) and ask them to review. Many personal injury attorneys will do this for free.

3) Keep in Mind - the Adjuster Is Not Looking Out for You

Although most adjusters present themselves as friendly and helpful, remember that their job is to resolve potential legal actions and claims as quickly and as cheaply as possible - that's it. They are not there to look after your best interests.

Even if your adjuster means well, they are just not trained to think of all the ways an injury can impact your life and what help you might need. What they are trained to do is spot any potential problems with your claim and bring to light anything that could free their company of responsibility.

Their goal is to keep more money in house than they pay out on claims (like yours).

4) Don't Risk Your Future Needs - Get Concessions Upfront

Be careful resolving claims early on before you know the full extent of your injuries and medical care to come. You are bound by the agreement you enter into. If you settle too early and find that you still need ongoing treatment, you will likely have to pay for those treatments on your own.

If you believe your injuries will result in permanent damage or may need ongoing care, make sure these concessions are calculated into your settlement upfront. An attorney may be able to help.

Hurt in a car accident that wasn't your fault?

We've dedicated our practice to people like you. If you've been injured in a car accident, don't wonder if you're being treated fairly by the insurance company - get a professional opinion.

Call us for your free case evaluation at 1-866-900-7078.  We'll try to answer any questions you have and there's no obligation to hire us afterwards.

Categories: General

What benefits can I receive under workers’ compensation in NC?

If you're asking this question, it sounds like maybe you were hurt at work, but you're not sure if workers' compensation benefits are worth the risk - or if you even qualify. Maybe...

  • You're afraid of losing your job.
  • You're just not sure it's all worth the headache.
  • You need more benefits to get by after your injury because what you're currently getting just isn't paying all the bills.

 
Please don't let concerns like these get in the way of you trying to get benefits that may significantly improve your financial situation!

NC workers' compensation laws were written to help alleviate some of the financial burden for injured workers (like yourself).

And a NC workers' compensation lawyer may be able to help you protect your job and take much of that "headache" away - they will also help to try to make sure you receive all the benefits you may need.

Bills_07082014Workers' Compensation in NC

North Carolina workers' compensation law, known as the "Workers' Compensation Act" allows for benefits in two major categories: medical benefits and lost wages.

We'll explore each of those briefly:

Workers' comp for medical benefits

If you're injured at work and you're awarded a workers' compensation claim, your employer's workers' compensation insurance should:

  • Take care of all of your necessary medical bills for doctor's visits, diagnostics, prescriptions, surgeries and other needed treatments.
  • Pay for an attendant if you need at-home care (or reimburse a family member if they are caring for you).
  • Reimburse you for traveling to medical appointments if you had to travel more than 20 miles roundtrip.

 
In the event that your injuries result in permanent damage, you may be eligible for medical equipment that will make your disabilities more manageable (which could include vehicle and home modifications) and disfigurement for any scarring that's not covered under your Permanent Partial Disability benefits.

Which leads us into the next category....

Workers' comp for lost wages

Lost wages claims are what they sound like - reimbursement for wages that you've lost (or will lose) as a result of your injury. Typically wage-replacement benefits are two-thirds of what you would have earned if you had been working.

This can include reimbursing you for:

  • Time you had to take off work to heal (on a full or part-time basis).
  • Time you had to take off work to go to the doctor or other medical appointments.

But it can also include what's often known as "earning potential," which is your injuries' effect on your ability to work in the future.

Earning potential claims in NC

For example, if you work in manufacturing and your arm gets caught in a machine and is permanently damaged, depending on the severity of your injury, you could receive:

 
Earning potential claims are almost always calculated after you have reached "Maximum Medical Improvement" or "MMI" - meaning you have recovered as much as medically possible.

Waiting for MMI makes your claim easier to calculate, but it could leave you waiting a long time to be compensated for your claim.

A NC workers' compensation lawyer can't help you heal faster, but he/she may be able to push adjusters to resolve your claim quicker once you have reached MMI and help you set up medical liens in the meantime to try to help lessen your financial burdens.

Other workers' comp benefits

Although medical and wages lost benefits are the two major categories of workers' compensation benefits, depending on your circumstances you may also be eligible for:

  • Vocational rehabilitation, such as resume help, job placement services and educational assistance, if switching careers is necessary.
  • Death benefits - although there's no substitute for a loved one that's lost. If your spouse or parent (if you're a minor) died while working, you may be eligible for wages-lost benefits as well as funeral expenses. 

 
You will typically receive most workers compensation benefits in the form of weekly checks or a lump settlement.

Need to apply for Workers' Compensation in NC?

We would be honored to help. We've dedicated ourselves to helping injured workers fight for the benefits they need.

If you want to know which benefits you might be eligible for, or if you are getting all the benefits to which you may be entitled, call us for a free case evaluation on our North Carolina workers' comp 24/7 hotline - 1-877-393-4980.

Categories: General

How Insurance Coverages Can Work: The Front Street Church Bus Accident Examined

BusAccident_06082014A recent church bus accident in Tennessee left 8 families without loved ones - all because one tire blew out.

Many more members of Front Street Baptist Church in Salisbury, NC, were left in critical condition and many suffered devastating injuries.

Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy.

No amount of money can ever replace what they've lost, but the fact is that we pay hundreds (maybe even thousands) of dollars in insurance costs every year so that when accidents do happen, we aren't financially ruined as well.

In this post, we'll attempt to illustrate how insurance coverage can work in NC by examining the accident.

Summary of the Front Street Baptist Church Bus Accident

According to news reports, members of Front Street's "Young at Heart" senior group were traveling on I-40 East in the church's bus from a jubilee in Gatlinburg, TN, when one of the bus's tires blew out - causing the bus to veer across the median and into oncoming traffic.

The church-owned bus then hit an SUV with two passengers in it and a tractor-trailer, carrying paper towels, which immediately caught fire.

5 passengers on the bus and the driver were killed, as well as the driver of the tractor-trailer and one passenger in the SUV. 14 others were injured.

The accident is still being investigated, but according to Tennessee Highway Patrol in an interview with WBTV, it appears the bus driver lost control after the tire malfunctioned. They further added that it would be extremely hard to maintain control in those circumstances.

Our Analysis

We've looked at how insurance coverages could play out in this scenario, but before we begin, please note that:

DISCLAIMER 1) - This accident will require a great deal of additional investigating and these are just our assumptions and generalizations, based on the information made available through news reports. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified attorney.

DISCLAIMER 2) - Although victims listed could receive the same "coverages" that does not necessarily mean they will. Each victim's case is unique and will likely be evaluated and handled based on their individual circumstances.

DISCLAIMER 3) - In our experience, in a complex accident, insurance companies may be apt to deny coverage, but that does not mean they're not responsible. A NC personal injury attorney may be able to help.

Let's begin:

  1. The bus passengersSince the passengers were likely not at fault for the accident, they should receive payment for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and possibly other losses.For the passengers that died, their families may be awarded a wrongful death claim to cover funeral costs and other losses.The liability insurance company the church used to insure the bus (assuming the church had a policy in place - most do) could pay many of these bills. However, the investigation is unclear over whether or not the driver was properly licensed to operate the vehicle. If that's found to be the case, the liability insurance company covering the bus could try to refuse to pay for the damages.

    The driver, someone in charge of maintaining the vehicle and overseeing its use or even the tire manufacturer/seller may all be investigated and their insurance companies may also be held responsible, depending on the facts.

    Bills after an accident can add up quickly and the passengers may be able to use Medical Payments Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage on their own policies as well.

    If any of the passengers live with a blood relative that also has insurance, those policies may be additional coverage also.

  2. The SUV passengers
    The SUV passengers will likely have all the same coverages available to them as the bus passengers - since they were also victims.However, the SUV passengers may also be able to draw coverage from the SUV driver's liability insurance policy, since his/her policy is designed to protect the passengers in his/her vehicle.
  3. The SUV driver
    Although it may seem strange, the SUV driver's coverages will likely be very similar to that of the bus passengers - with all the liability insurance relating to the bus possibly covering his losses and his own insurance company possibly supplementing where needed with MedPay and Underinsured Motorist Coverage.Also, assuming the SUV driver was the owner of the vehicle he/she was driving, he/she may also be paid for the property damage to the SUV.
  4. The tractor-trailer driver
    Since the tractor-trailer driver was likely working, his family may receive death benefits from his company's workers' compensation insurance.Workers' Compensation in North Carolina allows for the families of workers who have died on the job to receive up to 500 weeks of benefits (typically two-thirds of the deceased's average weekly earnings), up to $10,000 in funeral expenses, and reimbursement for medical expenses incurred prior to death. A minor child or disabled spouse may be entitled to receive benefits beyond the 500 weeks.However, news reports say that the truck driver was from New Orleans and, assuming his company is located there, his workers' compensation benefits will likely be different from those in North Carolina.Workers' compensation is a "no fault" type of coverage - meaning it typically doesn't matter who is at fault for the accident. But since this accident does not appear to be the trucker's fault, his family may also be able to file what is known as a "third-party claim" for liability insurances that cover the actions of the bus.
  5. The  bus driver
    Many times, in situations like these, the bus driver is a volunteer and therefore workers' compensation insurance, would not apply.Since his injuries were fatal, as were his wife's, his next-of-kin would likely receive whatever coverage is determined for him.There are many factors involved in this particular case and a NC bus accident attorney would have to thoroughly investigate this case.As a whole, this accident is extremely complex, in terms of legal fault. Troopers have told the media that, although they're investigating now, the official report may take up to six months to be released.

    In our experience, that means victims could be waiting a long time for money they may need to cover necessary medical costs, etc. An experienced attorney may be able to help.

NC Car Accident and Workers' Comp Lawyers

Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific accident. We see the devastating results of car accidents every day, but it never gets easier to hear about the loved ones our clients lose.

If you need a car accident or workers compensation lawyer in NC, or you just have questions about legal process and insurance, please give us a call at 1-866-900-7078.

We're happy to help - even if you decide to seek legal representation somewhere else.

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

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

Durham Law Office

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

Fayetteville Law Office

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

Charlotte Law Office

201 McCullough Drive, Suite 220
Charlotte, NC 28262
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

New Bern Law Office

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

Greenville Law Office

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

Greensboro Law Office

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

Goldsboro Law Office

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

Henderson Law Office

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

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

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

Rocky Mount Law Office

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

Sanford Law Office

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

Wilson Law Office

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

Winston-Salem Law Office

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