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

Why File a Lawsuit After My Car Wreck? Can’t I Negotiate on My Own?

For the vast majority of our car accident clients, the last thing they dreamed they’d ever do is file a lawsuit because they were injured. But sometimes, when you are injured your world can spiral downward fast.

You may have to take off work for medical appointments. You may have had to go to the hospital and get X-rays or surgery. That’s expensive. You might have to miss work for an extended period of time. You may not even be able to go back to your regular job. But you still need to put food on the table, pay the light bill, and pay your mortgage or rent.

Are You in Good Hands Negotiating on Your Own?

You assume you are in good hands with your insurance company. After all, they’re on your side, so you see no problem trying to negotiate on your own. Unfortunately, you may not be in such good hands. Here are the depths some insurance companies have stooped to with our clients, based on actual accounts.

Sometimes insurance companies try to delay liability decisions.

Our firm represented a client who suffered a significant fracture in an accident and was out of work for a long time. She went through surgery, treatment and physical therapy and had very good coverage of $250,000 liability. Our hope was that once she was done treating and we sent the demand letter to the insurance company, it wouldn’t be any problem getting her full benefits. But as often happens with these companies, weeks went by and we heard nothing. Finally the insurance adjuster said he could not make an offer because her injuries were prior to the accident. The adjuster demanded we prove her injuries were accident-related, even though the doctor indicated in her notes that the injury was caused from the accident. We went into litigation with our client. She was angry with the insurance company because she had to wait so long, but she was not going to settle for just anything.

Sometimes insurance companies have wrongfully denied claims.

We had a client who was hit by a truck while she was riding a bike. Despite overwhelming evidence that their insured was guilty, the insurance company denied liability. It was our belief that one of the reasons the insurance company maintained their denial was because they were counting on a jury to penalize our client because she didn’t speak English. We hired an accident reconstructionist who concluded that the truck driver was at fault in the accident*.

We’ve seen some insurance companies try to trap claimants into a quick low-ball settlement.

When a colleague called to make initial contact with a new client, he said his insurance company sent him a check and that he cashed it that morning – not knowing any better. It was money in the mail and he didn’t think twice about it – so he took it to the bank. What people don’t realize is that once you cash that check, you’ve settled. The insurance company didn’t give him a chance, but what’s worse is the check was only for $500. Unfortunately we’ve seen this happen a lot.

Sadly, the injured person is often caught in the middle with little experience or knowledge of how to try to get the compensation they may deserve.

I can tell you from experience, the insurance company is almost never going to
give you what your case may be worth if you are negotiating on your own.

That is why we urge people who have been injured in a car crash through no fault of their own to call us and tell us about their situation. The case evaluation is free. Should you decide to retain us to represent you, in most cases, you will not go to trial. However, it is best to be prepared to go to court if that is what it takes to try to get the insurance company to compensate you fairly.

Claims Process from Beginning to End

Here is a brief step-by-step overview of what happens after you call our offices and we take your case. Most of the time it is not necessary to go to court. But sometimes, if the insurance companies aren’t willing to pay what we think your claim is worth after good faith negotiations, we will go to court. And they know that.

Negotiating Your Claim

The at-fault insurance company will contact us to offer a settlement amount. As you might imagine, it is rarely what the client really needs, so we negotiate for the payment we believe your case is worth.

If negotiations fail and the parties cannot come to a settlement agreement, the next option may be to file a civil lawsuit in court. Filing a lawsuit and preparing a case for trial is a methodical step-by-step process and must be done in precise order. Just because you file a lawsuit, however, does not necessarily mean you will go to court.

Filing a Lawsuit in North Carolina

The first step is to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You, the injured person filing suit, are the plaintiff and the at-fault driver is the defendant (the person being sued). Once the lawsuit is filed, the suit must be served on the defendant. The defendant then has a certain amount of time to answer the lawsuit and the allegations in it.

Discovery

After the defendant files an answer, both parties exchange what is known as discovery. Discovery occurs before trial, and it is the time for both sides to obtain information from each other. This includes interrogatories (a list of written questions) and requests for documents. There can be many sets of discovery back and forth between both sides, and sometimes this can go on for several months. The purpose is to get all the information needed to support your case and for the defendant to get information to defend himself.

Depositions

Once written discovery is completed depositions come next. The deposition does not happen in a courtroom or in front of a judge. Rather, these are typically taken in an office setting. In an effort to prepare for trial, the defense attorney will ask you questions about the case, about medical treatment, bills, lost wages, and other things related to your claim. Your attorney is with you during the deposition and will have a chance to object to questions they feel are unnecessary. Deposition testimony is given in front of a court reporter, who prepares a transcript of everything said. Depositions work both ways, meaning your attorney will also ask questions and “depose” the defendant. Any witnesses are deposed in the same manner.

Mediation

Your case will be filed in either District or Superior Court. In Superior Court, once discovery is complete, the parties are required to attend mediation. A mediation is a settlement conference which usually takes place in an office setting, not in court.

A neutral third party (who is also an attorney) tries to bring both sides to an agreeable solution. This person is called a mediator. During mediation, both parties begin in the same room and present their side of the case. The mediator then explains his role – to try to bring both parties to a satisfactory resolution. After both sides have been presented, the parties go to separate rooms. The mediator goes back-and-forth from room to room to discuss and negotiate the other party’s position, including offers and counteroffers. Many cases resolve in mediation.

If your case is filed in District Court the pretrial process tends to be a bit less complex. Some counties require that District Court cases go before an arbitrator. The arbitrator conducts a short hearing and then decides the case. The arbitrator’s decision is not binding and either party may appeal the decision and ask for a jury trial.

Jury Trial

When the case does not settle at mediation or is appealed from an arbitration hearing, the last step is a jury trial. The court will set the trial date and both sides must be ready by that time.

We advise clients never to go into litigation under the assumption that their case will settle and bring them more money. Litigation is a rigorous process and we urge clients to assume that the case will go to trial and that they should be committed to the process.

By the same token, we will willingly go to trial to fight for what we believe our clients potentially deserve.

In fact, many of our clients have come to know us as their champions. Our lawyers have more than 450 years of combined legal experience. Many of our attorneys have at least 20 years’ experience, and some were formerly defense attorneys for the insurance industry – so they’ve seen the law from both sides.

Free Case Evaluation from North Carolina Auto Wreck Law Firm

If you have been injured in a car wreck, you will need compensation to help pay for your injuries. Filing a lawsuit does not mean you will necessarily have to go to court. Most cases can be resolved before it gets to that point.

Call us at 1-866-900-7078 for a FREE case review, or click here to contact us right away.

 

* 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 or employer as a whole. These descriptions of events are based upon the recollections of individual staff members. Client identities have been removed or changed to protect their privacy.

 

Cinco de Mayo – 5 Ways to Stay Safe on the Roads

True or false.

Cinco de Mayo is:

  • The date of Mexico’s independence from Spain’s 300-year rule
  • The date of a famous battle fought against the French in the state of Puebla
  • Celebrated widely in Mexico with Coronas, Margaritas, and churros
  • A relatively uncelebrated holiday in Mexico except for one state in Mexico

If you’re like some Americans, you would have assumed that the first choice was true – that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day. You would be wrong. That day is celebrated on September 16th.

Cinco de Mayo is the date a famous battle was fought against the French in the Mexican state of Puebla. It is not widely celebrated in Mexico except for in the state of Puebla in which the battle was fought. So the answers are false, true, false, true.

Before we highlight the trouble you can potentially get into on North Carolina’s roadways during Cinco de Mayo here’s a quick history lesson of why that day is celebrated mostly in the Mexican state of Pueblo rather than throughout the entire country of Mexico and why it seems to be a more wide-spread celebration in the U.S.

Why is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated?

During the Franco-Mexican War in the late 1800s, a ragtag group of fighters in the Mexican state of Puebla successfully stood their ground against a larger force of well-armed French soldiers. Surprisingly, the motley crew of Mexican fighters (many reportedly armed only with machetes) experienced an unexpectedly small number of casualties (1 in 5) and forced the French to retreat. The outcome was unexpected. The day was May 5th and is celebrated today as the Cinco de Mayo holiday. While the schoolchildren have the day off throughout Mexico, the holiday is optional and not widely celebrated except for in the Mexican state of Puebla where the band of soldiers held off the French army.

In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a popular celebration of Mexican (and Hispanic/Latino) culture and heritage, particularly in areas with above average Hispanic populations. In North Carolina the larger cities with above-average Hispanic populations (the average Hispanic population in NC is 8.9%) are Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Durham, and Raleigh. And roughly 60% of those 890,000 Hispanics in North Carolina are of Mexican descent.

Festival Fanta Charlotte Celebrates Hispanic/Latino Culture

Cinco de Mayo traditions throughout the state generally include family-friendly parades, mariachi music performances, and street festivals. The Festival Fanta, for example, is a major celebration of Hispanic/Latino culture held at McAlpine Creek Park in Southeast Charlotte.

Cinco de Mayo and North Carolina Highway Safety

Yet along with all the family-friendly fun involving any celebration where alcohol is present, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into one of the most dangerous times to be on the road across the U.S. and North Carolina.

In the U.S. this holiday has generally been celebrated with margaritas, tequila, and Mexican beer among other types of cocktails. Any time alcohol is involved in a celebration, there’s potential for alcohol-related traffic accidents and deaths.

Alcoholalert.com reports that one-third of all traffic fatalities on North Carolina’s roads involve alcohol.

Drunk Driving Penalties

In North Carolina, the penalties for driving while intoxicated can be steep. If blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.08% for a driver over 21, it can lead to fines, a suspension of your license, an increase in car insurance rates, and even jail time in more serious cases. (Drivers under 21 who have been drinking face an automatic penalty, no matter what their BAC is.)

However these penalties pale in comparison to the lifelong guilt many offenders have shared that they have to endure as a result of their reckless actions toward innocent victims.

Damages from accidents attributed to drunk driving can be devastating for victims and the person at fault. Truth be told, it can be devastating for those of us who legally represent these victims and their loved ones. Injuries can range from broken bones to serious traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and in some cases, death. We see this all too often and sometimes these cases are difficult to put behind you.

5 EASY WAYS to Prevent Alcohol-Related Accidents

Here are some tips to try to help keep yourself and others safe during Cinco de Mayo (and any other party, event, or holiday that involves alcohol. These are very easy and convenient to do.

  1. Designate a driver. Driving sober is driving safer. Have someone sober willing to hold the keys and get you home as safely as possible, or use a ride share service like Uber or Lyft or other sober ride home service like the ones listed here.
  2. Take away the keys of intoxicated friends. Don’t argue with them about this. You cannot reason with a drunk person. Offer to call cabs or utilize public transport for them to get home. Putting drunk drivers on the road can potentially endanger them and others.
  3. Drive defensively. Even if you are driving sober, there are most likely others on the road who may not be. Be observant, observe speed limits, and always report any unsafe driving to the authorities.
  4. If you’re hosting a Cinco de Mayo party make sure you designate a sober driver to take intoxicated guests home safely. Or contact other sober ride services. You could be liable if a guest injures someone after leaving your house impaired.
  5. Download our sober ride page. It offers information on alternative transportation that will take you and your car home after one too many.

NC Car Wreck Lawyers Evaluate Your Claim FREE

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driver who prioritized recklessness over the safety of themselves and others on the roads, contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078, and we’ll evaluate your case free.

Enjoy celebrating Mexican and Hispanic/Latino culture and all it has to offer. Just make sure you try to stay safe out there from those who have enjoyed it a little too much.

 

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.

A Must-Read If You Want to Avoid Insurance Mistakes After an Accident

Who wouldn’t trust khaki-wearing Jake-from-State-Farm to be there for us, even at 3 in the morning? And good ol’ Flo from Progressive. You can trust her too – she’s like your quirky bestie. You can tell her anything.  AllState deep-voice guy? He’s not going to let anyone or anything mess with you. You’re in good hands.

Or are you?

Based on our experience? Not necessarily. There’s a reason why insurance companies spend so much money every year on “trust us” advertising.

Free Book on Avoiding Common Insurance Company Pitfalls

When you’re in an accident and you make a claim, why wouldn’t you think twice about giving one of these or any insurance company a recorded statement over the phone?

Why wouldn’t they believe you when you explain that you swerved into oncoming traffic because of a deer, and the car wreck was unavoidable and not your fault. And why wouldn’t they want to pay for all your medical bills caused by the accident, and time off work, or give you what your totaled car may really be worth?

Why would your insurance company try to low-ball you?

Because most insurance companies operate for profit. Theirs. And based on our years of experience of recovering more than $700 million in total* for over 30,000 clients they can’t be trusted to put your financial interests ahead of theirs.

Why do you think their ads emphasize the trust factor?

While many insurance company ads are admittedly enjoyable, dealing with insurance companies when you’ve been injured in a car crash – not so much.

That is why we developed a FREE 40-page Personal Injury Guide (How to take control of your personal injury claim, before it controls you). It’s a booklet we believe will help you try to avoid common pitfalls the insurance companies don’t want you to know about.

“No one should go through the personal injury process alone. If we can’t help, maybe this booklet will.”— Attorney and Shareholder, Michael Jordan

How to Deal With Your Insurance Company After a Car Wreck

Our book outlines some of the most common traps people fall into when trying to handle claims on their own, such as giving a recorded statement over the phone, not getting proper medical care for injuries, not pursuing all available coverage, even signing the wrong documents, and many other little-known traps the unwary can fall into.

The information highlighting common pitfalls, however, is just the beginning, covering just one chapter in our comprehensive guide. We know that when some people are injured in an accident, they may prefer to deal with the insurance company themselves instead of hiring a lawyer. We get it. Not every situation warrants legal help.

How to Understand Your Rights and Potential Barriers

That is why we created this easy-to-read guide. We wanted to help you try to understand your rights, the legal process, and potential barriers you may face after an injury in North Carolina. In the words of the guide’s author, attorney and shareholder Michael Jordan, “No one should go through the personal injury process alone. If we can’t help, maybe this booklet will.”

From the basics of the first things you should do after an injury, to dealing with specific injury types, to DWI victims’ rights, and even premises liability, we’ve tried to make this guide a key go-to resource for many different types of situations general and specific.

We’re Just As Available As Jake – (And We Won’t Raise Your Rates)

There’s a reason you’re reading this. If you have been injured, and if you find yourself falling into some of these common pitfalls the guide warns you about, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

We’re available at 3 in the morning too, just like Jake-from-State-Farm.

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

 

St. Pat’s Day Parades, Plus Sober Ride Services

If you live near Charlotte or Pinehurst, here are links to the info you need on for St. Patrick's Day Parades in those areas.

North Carolina St. Patrick's Day Parades

Uptown Charlotte
Saturday, March 18 at 10 a.m.

The Village of Pinehurst
Saturday, March 18 at 11 a.m.

St. Patrick's Day Among Deadliest for Alcohol-Related Crashes

While St. Patrick's Day parades have offered fun and entertainment for all ages in year's past, it's a day of binge drinking for many. According to Wallethub, 75% of fatal drunk driving car crashes on St. Patrick's Day involve a driver who has consumed more than 2X the legal alcohol limit. The legal limit in NC is 0.08.

St. Patrick's Day is among the deadliest for alcohol-related crashes.

A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that alcohol-related crashes claimed a life every 51 minutes on St. Patrick's Day in 2010, accounting for 32% of all fatalities that occurred that day.

NC Sober Ride Services Take You and Your Car Home

We don't want to rain on anyone's St. Patrick's Day parade. We just want you to be safe getting to and from them (or any other event).

If you plan to drink, don't drive. If you plan to drive, don't drink. Designate a driver.

There are many services across North Carolina that offer designated rides home, and their rates are comparable to taxis, even cheaper in some cases. Whatever the cost, it's cheaper than a DWI or worse - hospital bills and a lawsuit.

Click here for a list of North Carolina's sober ride services in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, and Fayetteville and their surrounding communities and towns.

These services take you and your car home.

There's also Uber and Lyft in addition to local taxi services. Not only can they take you home, but you could take them to the parade and avoid any parking issues - or having to deal with other drivers who may have had one too many Guinness.

Get FREE Advice From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

Whatever you do and no matter where you are in North Carolina during St. Patrick's Day, we hope this information is helpful in your efforts to safely celebrate it. If you or someone you love was injured in a car wreck, whether or not it involved a drunk driver, contact an experienced car wreck lawyer.

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

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

* Insurance Research Council 1999

NC Social Security Disability Hearing Wait Times Almost 2 Years! We May be Able to Help.

How many times have you heard from your children, "That's not fair!" Too many to count? We can laugh it off when they're young, and older brother gets to play football with the neighborhood kids while the little tykes are told to stay on the sidelines until they're old enough to play.

But the reality is sometimes life is not fair. We see it every day fighting for our Social Security Disability clients. And it's no laughing matter.

Many of our clients have been sidelined for life as they were going about their daily routines. One client was stopped in traffic on his way home from work and got rear-ended by a driver going above the speed limit. His injuries were so devastating he vomits three or four times a week. He has headaches so severe they wake him up several times a night, and he has photosensitivity to the point where he can no longer go outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Another client was injured on the job just by walking up a flight of stairs.

One client simply sat down at church when a bolt came lose on the chair and she fell to the floor causing her permanent and total disability.

Some of our clients have fought for our country and returned home physically or mentally unable to exercise their inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness - a right promised to all U.S. citizens in the Declaration of Independence. Sadly, these veterans are among the more than one million people on the Social Security Disability wait list whose delay in having their cases heard can be more than two years in many parts of the country!

Now that's not fair!

Social Security Disability Wait Times in North Carolina

While Social Security Disability is available to help our citizens who have been sidelined by catastrophe, getting it can be very difficult for a number of reasons. One is the long wait time. According to the Social Security Administration, the wait times in North Carolina are currently:

  • Charlotte - 21 months
  • Fayetteville - 20 months
  • Greensboro - 21 months
  • Raleigh - 19 months

Some are forced to wait so long they have died before their hearing date because some are simply unable to pay for medication they need to live. We have seen this happen.

When they finally get a hearing many are denied benefits. More than two-thirds are denied the first time and 88% the second time. Of those who are accepted, it can take several more months in many cases to begin receiving payments and back benefits.

Sadly, some are denied because they attempted to navigate this overwhelmingly large bureaucratic aircraft carrier by themselves.

James Scott Farrin Social Security Disability Team of "Insiders"

These are the circumstances that motivate our Social Security Disability team to come to work every day. We know what you're up against because most of us have worked on the other side.

All but one of our paralegals has worked for the Social Security Administration as a
Disability Determination Services examiner, where initial applications are
accepted or denied.

This inside experience is helpful in knowing how the system works, including:

  • What they look for to accept a claim
  • The importance of filing the correct forms, filling them out correctly, and meeting demanding and unwavering deadlines
  • What medical records you need to produce - and which ones not to produce

Just the paperwork alone can be overwhelming for one person.

Not only can we help you complete it correctly, process it on time, and in the manner in which Social Security Disability requires, but we can also follow up in a timely manner and try to keep the process moving. We can also help you obtain your medical records so that when your case goes to hearing, we know we've tried to do everything possible to make sure your information will not be sent back because of a technicality, for example.

Of all the attorneys licensed in NC, fewer than 1%* are board certified specialists in Social Security Disability law. I am one of them. I also chair the N.C. State Bar's Social Security Disability Law Specialty Committee and I lead the committee charged with writing and grading examinations for attorneys who wish to specialize in Social Security Disability law.

Capped Fees for Social Security Disability Clients

Some people may mistakenly think they cannot afford us to help them through this daunting process. If you are one of them, you are mistaken! This is one area where the federal government is your friend. Not only do we work on a contingency basis, like all Social Security Disability lawyers, the federal government has capped legal fees in order to help keep costs low for you.

The contingency fee for Social Security Disability clients is limited
to 25% of back-due benefits, or $6,000, whichever is less.

NC Social Security Disability Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

If you need to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, or if you have applied and were denied, click here to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. Our attorneys and team of former "insiders" will fight to try to improve your chances of getting the benefits you may deserve.

(We think that's a fair offer.)

* Percentage from the NC State Bar as of December 2016

Anti-Distracted Driving Apps Your Teen WILL WANT on Their Phone

I'm a dad.

Of teenagers.

I help out in my church with teen youth groups. And despite what my teens believe, I actually was a teenager at one time back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

The teen years represent that magic threshold (some would say precipice) of adulthood. It reminds me of the toddler years when they discover new freedoms like walking (falling) and unearthing new things to put in their mouths like watch batteries and loose change. The difference is you were usually around to try to avert the really bad stuff from happening.

With teenagers?

You can't ride shotgun forever.

So when I read on Cars.com that half of all teen drivers will be involved in a crash before graduating from high school I did what any good parent of a teen driver would do.

I panicked.

Teens are notorious for being accident prone behind the wheel.

Especially younger teen drivers. Esurance.com says 16-year-old drivers are more than 2.5 times more likely to be in a crash than drivers ages 20 to 24. It gets worse when teens are carrying passengers. They report that the likelihood of teen driver death increases with each additional teenage passenger.  And, unfortunately, I get calls with that exact scenario far too often. Those are the cases that truly make me cry.  And then I spend some extra time with my kids.

Distracted Driving Apps Might Help Curb Teen Car Accidents and Deaths

Smartphones have put the world at our fingertips - particularly our social world. And that's hard for teens to ignore. That ping you hear which signals you to reach for your phone? It's addicting. Physiologically addicting. Read this fascinating blog to find out why our brains will not allow us to ignore the ping.

New distracted driving apps can help us ignore the ping.

By incentivizing safe driving, or even directly blocking you from using your phone while driving, these apps can help keep your attention on the road instead of the phone. According to DMV.org, these apps offer safety features that can:

  • Mute text alerts
  • Send calls to voicemail
  • Send auto-replies via text that the person is driving and cannot respond
  • Some will even send alerts to parents

I admit that as a parent, I sometimes get frustrated if my kids don't answer my calls, especially when I don't know they are driving.  But I'd rather them get to their destination safely and then respond rather than try to answer and wreck on the way.

With numerous apps that can help curb distracted driving, we cannot review them all. Here are some which offer more (and more interesting) ways to cut distracted driving than simply a locked phone.

Get FREE Cash and Incentives for Not Texting While Driving

PADD (People Against Distracted Driving) has approved two unique apps that offer positive reinforcement to ignore your phone while driving.

Drive BeeHive is a unique peer-to-peer app. You pair with a sponsor to earn rewards points for not using your phone while driving. It is enabled when the driver opens Drive BeeHive and begins driving. A lock screen appears and will count the driver's "safe miles." All it takes to earn those miles for that trip is to not use the phone behind the wheel. If you do, your miles are reset back to zero. Once the driver reaches their goal, their sponsor will be notified to release their reward. PADD is working with consumer sponsors to offer actual rewards in the form of discounts, coupons, and freebies.

AT&T DriveMode is also piggybacking on the positive incentive wave. This app allows you to set up your own prizes for a private group of drivers or for the public. The device works by blocking any phone calls or texting and driving. DriveMode can be set up to automatically start when you are driving over 15 MPH. You can even have it notify you when your teen driver has the app deactivated or if certain settings are changed.

Distracted Driving Apps That Track Driving Habits

Remember when your driver's ed instructor would ding you for making "jack rabbit starts and stops"? You got dinged a few times and eventually learned how to start and stop smoothly. Some apps can now reinforce this in your teen (or any) driver.

Consumer Reports favorably reviewed the Cellcontrol DriveID. It can record braking, acceleration, speed, cornering, and key driving events showing the scores on the app for the driver - or the driver's parents - to view. This Bluetooth technology device attaches under your rearview mirror and pairs their app with your cell phone to help curb impulses to check, chat, or text. Your phone screen goes into screen-lock mode when the car starts moving, and only 911 or designated phone numbers are accessible. This technology also has the capability to rate driving patterns and phone usage on a scoring system.

Apps That Alert Others When You're Driving

The Wonder app empowers not only the driver, but also people who may try to text or call the driver, to make the decision not to contact them while driving. By viewing a red or green dot, contacts within the app will know that you are driving before texting or calling. One downside, Wonder only works if all parties involved have the app.

There are dozens of other apps you can check out yourself, including Sprint's Drive First, T-Mobile's DriveSmart, and Verizon's Driving Mode, among others. Many of these and other apps are free.

Get FREE Advice From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

Whether you download a distracted driving app or not, don't ignore the risks of distracted driving. We are all in this together and everyone's at risk. If you or someone you love was injured in a car wreck, whether or not it involved a distracted driver, contact an experienced car wreck lawyer.

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

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

* Insurance Research Council 1999

 

Storied Attorney Hoyt Tessener Talks Candidly About Why He Joined James Scott Farrin

Hoyt Tessener joined our firm this year and we are excited to have him on board. Hoyt has an enviable reputation among other attorneys as being tough, meticulously prepared, yet fair and honest. He worked as a defense lawyer for major large corporations before deciding to represent individuals. So he has a broad and unique perspective of both sides of the law. He has won multiple multimillion dollar verdicts* in many high-profile cases, and is currently leading our formidable Charlotte School of Law legal team.

We sat down with Hoyt to learn a bit more about what led him to become a lawyer, and why he chose the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to continue his accomplished legal career.

Your reputation precedes you as a tough-minded, meticulously prepared attorney who has fought tooth and nail for clients on many large high-profile cases. That's pretty flattering. What do you think makes you that way?

Hoyt: That is extremely flattering. Of course James Scott Farrin is already a successful firm and represents people well. I've been told I connect with people well. I think I have a good sense of people and what's important to them and what they need as a result in trial.

I am very competitive and I like fighting for the underdog. I think my background has a lot to do with how I am today. I have represented very big companies - but they never once sent me a Christmas card!

When you represent the little guy who really needs your help, it's more rewarding - and it's necessary. The last trial I was in had 15 lawyers stacked against us. But they only get to speak one at a time.

Tell us about your clients, and how you connect with them. What do they need?

Hoyt: They need someone to guide them through the legal process. They are frightened, they've been hurt or wronged, and whatever resources they need, they may not have during this difficult time. People who have been severely hurt depend on me. They can't do what they normally do like go to work and take care of their family. They didn't get up that morning and realize they could be paralyzed that night. And all of a sudden without any preparation and through no fault of their own, their life is changed and they don't know where to go or what to do. They need someone they can relate to and they know will fight for them and do the very best for them.

You mentioned your background. How did you grow up?

Hoyt: I grew up in Shelby, North Carolina - a textile town. My father died when I was 9. My mom remarried when I was about 14. My stepfather was the father in my life. He was a man's man. He owned an auto body shop with his two brothers. Sports were important to him and to Shelby, so I grew up playing all sports.

During my senior year I applied to two colleges - NC State and UNC. For me, back then I didn't understand the difference between a public college and a private one. Nobody in my family went to college. I had never been on either of the college campuses, but they seemed like the best schools, and tuition was only $300 a month. My mother saved every penny of the Social Security checks when my father died. She gave me that check every month and told me I was going to college. I had about $4,000 back then, and that was plenty of money to go to college. I applied at early admissions to State and Carolina and got accepted to both, and I had to decide within a week!

I thought the reason you went to college was to get a better job when you got out and went to work. There were a lot of textile mills in Shelby, and if you got a degree you could work in management in the textile mills. So I looked at that. And since you could get a Bachelor of Science degree in Textiles at State, I checked the box for State. When I arrived at State for orientation, it was the first time I had ever been there.

When you go to court, what are you to your clients?

Hoyt: I am their champion. I am there to champion their rights.

When you go to court, you are there to try to win that trial for your client and you need to do it with integrity. I will be prepared for everything. I always tell the truth good or bad. The jurors know that. If there is anything bad, they are going to hear it from me. I'm not going to hide anything from them.

Why did you make the switch from representing big companies to representing individual plaintiffs?

Hoyt: I started out representing banks, insurance companies, and corporations. I worked for a great firm with great people, but they did not represent the people I wanted to be a lawyer for.

When I was working at a textile mill in South Carolina, I had to lay someone off who had five kids and his wife had just died. He came to me crying, but I had to make that decision when I was just 22. So I watched how people's lives were affected by big corporate decisions, and how their jobs and the decisions made for them defined them. When the textile business took a turn for the worse, I looked across at my boss who was 12 to 14 years older than me, married, with a mortgage. He was tied to that job. I thought to myself I have to do something else. My background was better suited for medical school because of my college courses, but my wife wasn't interested in being married to a doctor. (She may feel differently now.) My father-in-law had his law degree and was a plant manager in Alabama. He'd gone to law school at night, graduated first in his law school class in Birmingham. And then the best law firm in Birmingham offered him $350 a month, and he was making $1200 as plant manager with a wife and two kids. He said he couldn't afford to be a lawyer. But he told me that a law degree helps you think critically, see things objectively and manage fairly. He was successful, and he is a perfect example of how law school prepares you, so I decided to go to law school.

At the time, Campbell Law School made every student go through the trial advocacy program, and every part of that fit me to a tee. I won a lot of competitions, and litigation just seemed right. It's funny, when I meet my friends from college or high school, every single person seems to think I found my exact calling.

What sort of strategic advantage does having worked for companies and banks give you now that you're on the Farrin team and a plaintiff's attorney?

Hoyt: Going to trial is a war of sorts. I tell my clients, "Look, if we go to mediation, everyone has to agree. It may not be everything we want or they want, but in the end we can't make them do anything and they can't make us do anything. So there is no reason to play mean, get upset, fight, or yell about this and that." I've done it a few times, but I try not to.

But trial is a whole different ball game because a decision is going to be made, so you have to fight. The defense lawyers are serving at least two masters - their client and whoever is paying the bill. They might also be serving the boss too. When you are representing the plaintiff, the only person you answer to is the plaintiff. You make decisions on the case based upon your client and what they are going through, using all your experience. The defendants' attorneys don't get to do that.

I think having a background in both defense and plaintiff representation is really helpful. It can be reassuring to the client who's in this terrible spot. It's reassuring they know you lived on the other side of the curtain for some period of time. They realize, "Wow. This guy sat on that side of the table before and may know what they are thinking and what they are doing." So I think it provides comfort and some security. I tell my clients, "I will always tell you what I think you should do. But what you decide is up to you. You're hiring us to take this to court, and if you want to go to court on a matter of principle then we will go to court on a matter of principle, it is your right. I'll tell you all the options and what I think you should do." But in the end, the client makes the decision. In the end, if our clients are satisfied, then we have done our job.

At this point in your career you are obviously very accomplished. You've chosen to define yourself in part by coming to work at James Scott Farrin, so what is it about the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin that made it attractive for someone like you?

Hoyt: I think it's a good marriage. This firm provides legal representation for people who may not get representation anywhere else. Insurance companies have made it very difficult to get a fair result without speaking with an attorney. In addition and especially in North Carolina, justice is tilted severely away from the injured. Many other law firms just cannot afford to represent many of the clients helped by JSF. JSF is so well organized and reaches so many people, that JSF can help. In my career I have tried cases throughout North Carolina. It is my belief that all cases must be prepared for trial. It is our hope that we can reach a fair settlement but that is not always the case. My skill set is valuing cases, planning strategy, and going to court. JSF gives me that opportunity along with the opportunity to mentor young attorneys. It is the highest calling for an attorney to represent those most in need. JSF recognizes that we are the last warriors for those in need and gives me the opportunity to continue to do what I have done for decades in a firm with integrity and sound management.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment within the courtroom?

Hoyt: The easy answer is winning* at trial when we were offered nothing. The next easiest answer is winning a case or settling a case where we not only made a difference in our client's life, we made a difference by making the world a little safer. What I most remember can be summed up in the movie The Guardian with Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher is this young great swimmer. Kevin Costner is a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. That's a very dangerous job. They bring you out in a helicopter and drop you into the water from 30 feet near a burning boat or whatever. Ashton Kutcher wants to be a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, and he's a great collegiate swimmer. Kevin Costner's character is a trainer. Ashton Kutcher keeps asking how many people he has saved, and Costner never answers. I don't remember the number precisely but toward the end of the movie, Costner looks at Kutcher and says "36." Here Costner has been a rescue swimmer for something like 30 years. Kutcher looks at Costner, and Costner says, "Oh are you not impressed?" And Costner repeats, "36. Those are the ones I lost." He didn't keep track of the ones he saved. Only the ones he lost.

I'm like Costner in that sense. I can tell you in vivid detail all the cases I've lost rather than the ones I've won. I don't lose anything personally from losing a case, but my client could be going to bed hungry, can't take care of their family and get the medical care they need, and possibly losing their self-respect. So the pressure is intense, because where else can they go?

How many times have you been to trial?

Hoyt: As best I can tell around 130 times with a verdict and another 50 or 60 times that settled. I only take a few cases to trial at a time now, because the types of severe injury cases I take now can take weeks to try. Clients need to know that when you go to trial they're your only case, they have to be your focus. And that's a great thing about being at a place like James Scott Farrin. You've got the resources to take your case to trial, try it against anybody, and utilize the firm's vast technological resources to your advantage.

Jim Farrin: You have a tremendous amount of experience and we are happy to have you on board. I believe confidence and nerve also play a part in your success. There are some lawyers who try to take the easy way out and tell the client they're getting a good settlement, just so they can be done with it and have the next weekend or few weeks off, and I've seen some lawyers at some firms do that. But it takes a lot of experience and guts to keep pushing for what you know your client may deserve.

Hoyt: I think you've got it analyzed very well, and I can tell you there have been times when I have gotten offers initially and said that's reasonable. You must value your case based upon your experience including your experiences at trial. You then discuss the value with your client. If the opposing side offers the value, you should encourage your client to accept. However, if you do not get the value that you objectively discussed with your client, it is your professional duty to go to trial.

The one thing insurance companies do not like is uncertainty. And juries are not controlled by insurance companies so by nature a jury is an uncertainty for an insurance company. The one place that an individual still has a level playing field is the courtroom. Our judges are very good, but they don't get to make the laws, they just interpret them. We want our cases in the hands of the jury where the field gets leveled. Jurors bring different life experiences and beliefs, and putting their whole emotional intelligence together to evaluate a case is the best way to get the right result.

At one time I heard you to say that you felt the jury selection process is a key component of your strategy.

Hoyt: Oh I think it's the most important thing in the trial because it is the first time attorneys can talk to the jurors. It's the one time plaintiffs have the advantage because we get to go first. The jurors make the decision about my client's future. I look at it this way. The judge is the umpire but the jury decides the outcome. As a matter of fact, I have taught a course on jury selection at Campbell for the last 15 years.

Are you in touch with other lawyers on a national level?

Hoyt: Yes. I am part of several organizations around the country. These organizations are by invitation only to help each other address the overwhelming advantage large corporations and insurance companies have over the individual. I've worked with lawyers from North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, California, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Utah, Texas, Pennsylvania, and D.C. I'm also licensed in Georgia.

Who would you say has been of influence to you in some way?

Hoyt: Gene Boyce and Carole Gailor. Gene and Carole were my first bosses and the first attorneys I went to trial with. Carole and Gene understood the case, the other side, the judge, the jury and their clients. Gene is the absolute best civil litigator that has ever come close to North Carolina, in my opinion. Carole has the uncanny ability to know exactly what buttons to push. I was very fortunate.

What is one of life's lessons you have learned from being a trial lawyer?

Hoyt: How precious life and health are. No one plans to be hurt, killed, or wronged. Most people gloss over the news reports believing it will never happen to them. That is exactly what the people in the news thought too - until it does. No matter how careful you are something bad can happen to you or yours.

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

 

 

 

The Top 6 Questions About Medical Care after Car Accidents (Answered by a Nurse-Attorney)

Medical care after an accident is important. Important enough for us to find and hire an attorney who's also a Johns Hopkins-trained registered nurse.

Attorney Naa Atsoi Adu-Antoh leads our firm's medical review team. This team, we believe, is fundamentally important in our efforts to try to provide clients added value by offering the unique perspective of a highly trained and experienced medical professional who analyzes clients' medical issues within the context of their legal cases.

Attorney Adu-Antoh is a valued resource on a wide variety of medical issues and often our "go to" professional when we have a hunch there might be that needle in a haystack hidden in a client's medical files.

Q&A With Johns Hopkins Registered Nurse & Attorney Adu-Antoh

We thought it would be worthwhile to sit down with Attorney Adu-Antoh and ask her some of the questions our clients often have about how their medical treatment can affect their case.

Here are 6 of the most common questions she hears.

1. Why do I need to seek immediate medical care after an injury? What if I don't feel much pain?

I believe there are two important reasons.

First, you should have a medical professional evaluate you to see if there are any potential issues you may not be aware of.

Second, you want to make sure a licensed physician documents your injuries immediately after an accident. If your condition worsens and you have to make a medical claim, this initial documentation is largely what insurance companies use to determine the extent of your injuries. It is very important.

When you're in a car accident there's a lot going on in your body, and sometimes you may not feel pain right away - especially with soft tissue injuries, like whiplash. Your body is reacting on adrenaline, and adrenaline helps keep pain away - for a while. Your brain activity tends to focus on other things rather than your pain. You may be thinking, "I have to get to the day care to pick up my daughter before it closes," or "I have to be at that 9:00 presentation at work."

Or maybe you're like many of us and are just too busy to go to the doctor for what you think is just a bruised knee. That bruised knee could turn into something else when you start overcompensating for it.

And sometimes the pain may not seem like much at first. Maybe a 1 on a scale of 10. But the moment you feel pain or discomfort, that's a red flag. It's your body's way of telling you something is off. Something is wrong. You hurt something in your body. You may not feel any pain right away, but it can kick in later. Maybe even one or two days later.

The longer you wait to go to the doctor about your pain, the more you could be hurting your recovery and your legal case.

2. Why is it so important what I tell the treating doctor?

Whatever you tell the doctor is what they will write in your records.

You need to be specific and focus on your present injuries and exactly where you feel pain. Is your knee making a clicking or popping sound? Is there a dull ache or a stabbing burning pain? Does it give out? What is your pain level on a scale of 1 to 10? Don't try to "tough it out" and minimize your pain to the doctor. This information is what the doctor will use to determine your diagnosis and the treatment he thinks will help you recover. It is your responsibility to tell the doctor what you are feeling.

This is also the information the insurance company will pay very careful attention to. I've been doing this long enough to know some insurance companies may look for something from your records that they can use to try to minimize payment. And based on my experience, that initial meeting with your doctor is where they have tended to focus their efforts.

Be honest, but don't volunteer unnecessary information. What you say in your first few evaluations actually can count more than what you say seven months later. The insurance company may go back to the first day when you said "I have a little bit of pain." You know your mind was on something else - picking up your daughter or getting to that meeting, and you didn't even think of what you were saying. Regardless, the insurance company may use it anyway. I've seen this happen.

3. Why do I need to keep up consistent medical care?

Whether you were injured in a car wreck, hurt on the job, or have a Social Security Disability claim, one of the most important things you can do to help your case is keep up your medical care. Doing this will not only put you on the path to recovery, but you will have legitimate and accepted documentation that you are injured and undergoing treatment for your injuries.

Medical treatment is what helps bring value to your case. We rely on your treatments, medical records, and medical bills to help give value to your claim. If you don't have medical bills because you have not been to your treatments, that makes your claim all the more difficult.

The things we try to collect for are medical expenses, lost wages, and sometimes pain and suffering. But the majority comes from medical treatments. That is one of the reasons people come to us for help. They can't pay their medical bills after a car wreck or work injury. Your medical records show the issues you suffered and how much you paid for treatment.

If a doctor prescribes treatment for any length of time and you don't abide by your doctor's orders, the insurance company may view this as negligence on your part and possibly claim you are impeding the healing process. And they may not want to pay you as much or at all.

4. Why can't I see my chiropractor first if I only have a soft tissue injury, like whiplash?

If you are severely injured you should go directly to the ER. Otherwise, go to your primary care doctor immediately. Urgent care would be a last resort just because they don't know your history and they generally don't treat patients long term.

For a variety of reasons you want to make sure you initially see a licensed medical provider, such as your primary care doctor, a physician's assistant, a nurse practitioner, or other licensed medical providers of this nature.

First, a primary care provider can prescribe you medicine for pain and inflammation, etc.

Second, as I mentioned earlier, your primary care provider will evaluate you, determine what they think is wrong, and develop a treatment plan to help you recover. That may or may not involve going to a chiropractor for adjustments. The doctor may feel your recovery plan should involve physical therapy instead of chiropractic treatment. But it is your treating doctor who should be the one managing and monitoring you and your treatment plan with any other medical professionals.

Finally, records from a primary care provider who has prescribed a sound treatment plan tend to hold more weight with the insurance companies than injured patients who self diagnose or come up with their own recovery plan. In the insurance company's eyes, having a medical doctor advising you carries more weight and can potentially help your case.

5. Why can't I be in charge of my own medical treatment plan?

From the insurance company's perspective, having a licensed physician at the helm of your overall treatment plan is the best course of action for your recovery. It is the most credible evidence we can present to try to get them to pay your medical bills. Plus, a doctor should know what is best to help you try to get back to the state you were in before your injury.

Because we have dealt with insurance companies for so long, we know what they need to possibly pay your claims.

6. Why is my lawyer and paralegal so concerned with my medical care?

We act as our clients' advocate in so many ways. Without someone advocating for your medical treatments with the goal of helping you get better and trying to get compensation from the insurance company for you, we have seen some unfortunate situations.

Let me tell you a story.

We had a client come to us complaining of back, hip, and pelvic pain after a car accident. Our client had already been seeing a doctor who previously ordered an MRI of his back and hip.

For some reason, our client went back to the doctor's office just prior to the MRI and saw the physician's assistant (PA). (It is generally ordinary procedure to see the PA after the doctor has evaluated you first.) We don't know what transpired during that visit, but whatever it was led the PA to cancel the MRI. Our client went back and forth in pain, seeing the PA for months.

When he hired us, we looked hard through all his medical records back to day one. We finally uncovered that the doctor had never given him an official diagnosis! That is very likely why he ordered the MRI - it would have potentially given the doctor an image of where the injury had occurred and what the client's treatment plan might have been going forward. He had been treating for back pain all this time, yet he was having hip and pelvic pain. That test could have been the lynchpin our client needed to show the insurance company why he kept going back and forth to the doctor for all those months, and the documentation he needed to get them to pay for his medical bills.

Our first concern was, how are we going to try to help our client get better? If we try to get the doctor to order an MRI months later, insurance is not going to pay for it because there was no initial diagnosis! And this poor man had no health insurance. Without an MRI, how can we say his pain was from an injury he had sustained in the car accident that happened so long ago?

At the end of the day he did not get treatment he needed because he did not have someone like us, to advocate on his behalf from the beginning. By the time we stepped in to put all the puzzle pieces together, it was too late for him to get the MRI that could have helped show what was wrong. While we were able to collect from insurance*, sadly, he is still in pain.

It all goes back to initial communication, evaluation, and documentation from the doctor and having someone like a good lawyer advocate on your behalf sooner rather than later.

We do a lot of advocating here. A lot. Most people just don't realize how important these things are to their recovery efforts.

In my opinion, this is an area where I think our people have really added value above and beyond. As advocates, we are essentially helping to encourage you to communicate what is necessary, follow up, and try to keep all your appointments. And we collect all that documentation to show the insurance company the evidence and proof they may need to calculate a potential compensation amount.

At the end of the day it's hard to argue with well documented facts.

NC Personal Injury Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

If you've been injured in an accident and need an advocate in your corner, click here to ask someone if our firm may be able to help. Or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

 

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

How to Drive in the Snow in North Carolina (And Other Safety Tips for Wintry Road Conditions)

Nick says there could be up to six inches of snow the first weekend in January 2017. When the weatherman utters the S word, area neighbors look to Nick. He hasn't been wrong in years.

By the way, Nick is 12. And he's gotten it right every time since the ripe old age of 9. (We don't know how he does it!)

One thing Nick cannot tell us though is how to manage a two-ton vehicle as it is sliding sideways into another two-ton vehicle. Nick thinks that's cool. We don't.

There's a reason North Carolina's schools and businesses close at even the tiniest hint of snow in the forecast! With NC's topsy-turvy weather, snow often melts and refreezes, turning roads into ice-skating ponds that even our northern transplant drivers have trouble navigating.

And even if you're as experienced in winter-weather driving as Santa, keep in mind that may not be true for everyone else on the road. Here are some guidelines to go by when driving in winter weather.

Don't Underestimate Freezing Temperatures and Roads

Think...

  • Is my trip so urgent that I need to put myself and others in potential jeopardy?
  • Is my car prepared to handle the conditions I may face on the roads?
  • Is there another way for me to handle the task, or can I wait until conditions improve?

Preparing for Driving in the Snow

If you decide to travel out into the winter weather, the best way to keep yourself out of harm's way is to prepare yourself and your vehicle as best as possible.

  • Check weather conditions in advance.
  • Have communication Charge your cell phone in case you need to communicate with authorities or others (but don't communicate while driving). Let your friends and family know you will be going out and let them know when to expect you. Fill up your gas tank.
  • Test your heating and defrost Have your battery and antifreeze levels checked and don't forget to fill your windshield wiper levels. All that roadway salt and sand can obscure your vision quickly and often.
  • Check your brakes and make sure your tire pressure is inflated according to what the owner's manual suggests for driving in snow.
  • Check tire tread depth. Tires.com suggests you should have at least 5/32 of an inch tread to maintain good mobility on snowy roads. To easily check to see how much tread you have, place a quarter into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Washington's head is covered by the tread, you have more than 4/32" of tread depth remaining.
  • Keep a winter emergency supply kit in your car. This can include a variety of things, from a blanket and gloves to a flashlight and batteries, or a candle to keep warm in case you get stranded, and cat litter, sand, or salt in case you get stuck. Click here for a list of other potential items.

Driving Safely in Snow and Ice

  • Excessive speed is the main cause of crashes during winter weather. Maintain a safe distance and drive slower than usual.
  • Clear as much snow and ice from your car as you can. And don't forget your headlights and tail lights and the roof of your car - you don't want snow blowing in your windshield or someone else's.
  • Drive smoothly and avoid sudden accelerating, braking, and turning.
  • Do not use your cruise control.
  • When driving over bridges and overpasses, be particularly careful. They ice up first since they're not connected to the soil and the ice may be hard to see. Don't apply brakes while on a bridge. The recent icy rain in Raleigh just a few weeks ago saw most of the accidents on bridges and overpasses.
  • When intersection traffic lights are not working, proceed as a four-way stop.

What to Do if Your Car Skids in Snow

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Don't brake unless you have to. Then brake gently.
  • Anti-lock brakes: apply steady gentle pressure
  • Standard non-ABS brakes: pump your brake pedal gently
  • Don't accelerate until your vehicle slows down enough to regain some traction with the road. Then gently accelerate.
  • In general, if you begin to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Braking will cause you to further lose control of your vehicle.
  • Rear-wheel skids. Turn the steering wheel in the direction your rear wheels are headed.
  • Front-wheel skids. Shift into neutral and don't try to steer immediately. When your vehicle begins to slow down, steer in the direction that you want your vehicle to go. Then, put the vehicle into gear and gently accelerate.

What to Do If Your Car Gets Stuck in the Snow

  • Pushing the gas pedal and spinning your tires will only dig you in deeper. Turn them from side to side to help clear snow, and then turn the steering wheel so the tires are as straight as possible.
  • Use a shovel to clear the snow in front of and behind your tires.
  • Spread cat litter, sand, or salt in the cleared areas around your drive wheels.
  • NCDOT suggests that you might try rocking the vehicle back and forth, but cautions you to check your owner's manual first; as some vehicle transmissions might be damaged by this. Shift from forward to reverse and back again, using a light touch on the gas pedal. Again, don't spin your wheels.

AAA offers very thorough tips which build on this information and so does the NCDOT. Click here to access the AAA page and here for NCDOT's website.

North Carolina Car Wreck Lawyers

If, despite Nick's prediction, you decide to venture out and you are injured by someone else in a car wreck, contact us.

  • Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer received 3.5 times1more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own.
  • We are one of the largest personal injury law firms in North Carolina and have vast resources to draw from.
  • We have recovered over $600 million2 total for more than 30,000 clients since 1997.
  • We have more than 150 staff members, including over 35 attorneys.
  • Several of our lawyers have achieved peer- and client-reviewed designations including Best Lawyers Best Lawyers in America 20173 and Lawyer of the Year 20174; Super Lawyers Rising Star 20165 and Super Lawyer 20166.

  See for yourself some of the things clients have to say about us.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From North Carolina Lawyers

Contact us  or call 1-866-900-7078. We will evaluate your situation for FREE and let you know if we think we can help.

 

P.S. Click here if you want your teen driver to learn hands-on defensive driving techniques under simulated hazardous conditions. There's a non-profit organization in NC that offers instruction around NC and the U.S. It's free (donations) and taught by former race car drivers, police, professional stunt drivers, and other professional drivers.

 

 

1  Insurance Research Council 1999.

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

3  Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey. Over 52,000 leading attorneys cast more than 5.5 million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular

4 Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the Lawyer of the Year, making this accolade particularly significant. Lawyers being honored as "Lawyer of the Year" are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the exhaustive peer-review assessments conducted with thousands of leading lawyers each year. Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity. For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.bestlawyers.com.

5 To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. Rising Stars undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state-by-state basis. While up to 5% of the lawyers in any state are named "Super Lawyers," by Super Lawyers magazine, no more than 2.5% are named to the Rising Stars list. For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.superlawyers.com.

6 Super Lawyers undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state-by-state basis. For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.superlawyers.com.

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

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

Durham Law Office

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

Fayetteville Law Office

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

Charlotte Law Office

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

New Bern Law Office

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

Greenville Law Office

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

Greensboro Law Office

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

Goldsboro Law Office

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

Henderson Law Office

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

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

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

Rocky Mount Law Office

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

Sanford Law Office

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

Wilson Law Office

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

Winston-Salem Law Office

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