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5 Things You Should Never Say to an Insurance Adjuster

When you’re involved in a car wreck, are injured, or make a claim for property damage, the insurance company you make a claim against will put you in the capable hands of an insurance adjuster.

Not necessarily “good hands.” But very capable hands. Capable of doing everything the insurance company has trained them to do in their efforts to pay out as little money to you as possible.

Generally within a few days you will get a call from a friendly-sounding voice wanting to “just get a bit of information…” “hear your side of the story.”

They need to make sure your story sounds plausible. And for good reason.

Insurance Fraud Costs You in Higher Premiums

Part of an insurance adjuster’s job is to try to root out fraud. According to the FBI, insurance fraud (excluding health insurance) costs more than $40 billion a year. Why does that concern you? Insurance companies aren’t going to take the hit. You do. By paying premium hikes of between $400 and $700 annually.

So when someone says they hit a deer, you want to make sure the insurance adjuster questions that claimant in an effort to find evidence a deer was indeed the cause of that car’s broken headlight and crunched fender and side panel. And not that the driver rammed into the side of his garage at 2 a.m. coming home from a party. The difference could mean whether your insurance rates may possibly go up. If you hit a deer, your damages are covered under a comprehensive claim, which generally won’t cause your rates to go up. If you swiped the side of your garage, damages are covered under a collision claim – and that may cause your rates to go up.

Why Is the Insurance Adjuster Calling You?

You can have more than one adjuster to deal with. Many insurance companies have specialty adjusters.  Some adjusters only investigate. Some deal with injury. Others specialize in negotiating and speaking with attorneys. You may also deal with property damage adjusters who only handle vehicle damages.  These types of adjusters may be further specialized. One could be the estimating adjuster and another might be the one who pays you for damages.

But all adjusters have one thing in common.

Adjusters work for the insurance company, and their job is to try to pay out as little as they can to keep their employer happy.

Listening Between the Lines

In the interest of full disclosure I rarely, if ever, advise my clients to speak with an insurance adjuster for a recorded statement. I have found that, for the most part, these recorded statements have not been in the best interest of my clients – but have more to do with obtaining information that the insurance company could potentially use later to try to minimize payment or deny a claim altogether. All cases and facts are different, so it is important you talk with an experienced personal injury attorney before giving information to the insurance company.

But if you do happen to speak with an adjuster, you can be assured they are trained in active listening. It is important that what you say to them is true, factual, succinct, and not editorialized as in “He came out of nowhere.”

1. Where is Nowhere?

We have former insurance adjusters on our staff who worked for insurance companies for many years before they came to us. They tell us the inside joke among adjusters is they want to know where Nowhere is. Claiming someone “came out of nowhere” may lead an adjuster to wonder if you were paying attention.

2. “He had to have been speeding.”

Another editorialized comment our former adjusters often heard “almost on a daily basis” was, “They had to have been speeding.” Usually this is in reference to pulling out from a stop sign or a green light. Those active listening skills kick in causing the adjuster to question, if the other guy was speeding and they got so close to you, then why did you pull out? That screams you were not paying attention. The adjuster is taking detailed “notes to self” while you are offering damaging information without realizing it. Later, when negotiation time comes, these off-hand comments could come back to haunt you.

3. “The next thing you know they hit me.”

North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, so if someone is able to show you are even 1% at fault, you may not get compensation. Let’s say the police report showed a clear cut liability issue with the other driver. Don’t inadvertently say something that might give the adjuster an opportunity to twist your words. "Well, I saw him in the intersection and the next thing you know he hit me." You may have had the right of way, but if you saw the other car, you should have had time to stop or react. The police report may say you’re not at fault, but you just gave yourself contributory negligence by admitting to the adjuster that you were partially at fault. The adjuster can then deny liability and not pay your claim based on your statement.

4. “My light turned green so I just pulled off.”

Did you look left? Did you look right? That adjuster can very well deny your case because, without realizing it, you admitted you did not look before entering into the intersection. You may have had the last clear chance to avoid the collision.

5. “I was coming from a friend's house."

Seriously? There are a whole lot of “friends” in North Carolina who seem to enjoy having company until 4 a.m., judging from the number of times adjusters have heard that one. If you were not coming from a friend’s house, don’t say you were.

First of all, when you speak with an adjuster or any insurance representative you want to be credible and honest in all your answers. Not only is it the right thing to do, but your credibility can be a powerful weapon in your defense – especially if you have to go to court.

Adjusters have ways of getting at the truth when they think you are not being truthful. They may follow up with more questions: “How long were at your friend’s house? What were you doing? Had you been drinking? How many drinks did you have?” These are just for starters.

We Can Help You Give Your Statement to the Adjuster

As I said, I almost always advise my clients against giving a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster because I have found it can do more harm to the client.

Yet some come to us after they have already given a statement. There are so many ways we’ve seen innocent North Carolina car wreck victims hurt their case by talking to an insurance adjuster without realizing how some of their statements may be misinterpreted.

We can help you prepare to speak truthfully about your car accident, but in ways that may not necessarily harm your case. If we feel a recorded statement is in your best interest, we can be on the call with you to try to make sure the adjuster does not take advantage or twist your words.  If a written statement about the events of your car wreck is the best option, we can coordinate with you to try to come up with something that would help protect your rights.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From N.C. Car Wreck Attorneys

If you or someone you care about was injured in a car wreck and an adjuster wants to “just get a bit more information,” contact an experienced North Carolina car wreck lawyer before giving any statement. You don’t want to say anything that may inadvertently damage your case before getting a professional evaluation.

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

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*.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

 

Kids Can Suffer Heat Stroke in a Hot Car in 10 Minutes. Here’s What to Know.

All of us know what it’s like to experience a hot car. The leather exterior of the steering can sometimes be too hot to touch and the stifling hot air makes it difficult to breathe. After just a few minutes, your heart rate begins to rise as your body tries to cool itself down.

Most of us wouldn’t sit in a hot car for more than a few minutes before turning the air conditioning on. But what if you were stuck in your car on a 90-degree day and you weren’t able to turn on the air conditioning? What if you were a child strapped into a car seat? Helpless.

Nationwide approximately 37 children die by overheating in cars every year. North Carolina ranks number 6 in the country since 1991 for hot car deaths, according to data from kidsandcars.org, an organization that advocates for stronger car safety measures for children.

I am a mom of a young child, and these statistics break my heart. Children cannot defend themselves against high temperatures like adults – their body temperature climbs three to five times faster. Even cool days can pose a threat. Every 10-20 minutes, the internal temperature of a car can rise 20 degrees.

Children have died in cars when the outside temperature was as low as 60 degrees.

Cracking the Windows Doesn’t Help

Some people believe that opening the windows will keep their child from overheating, but Kidsandcars.org asserts that lowering the windows does not help.

It is extremely important to make sure you always take your child out of the car with you, no matter how quick your errand may be.

As a busy single working mom, I certainly understand how some parents might think, “I’ll just run in and run out of the drugstore and it will only take a few minutes.” We’re busy and in a rush, and taking a child out of a car seat and putting him back in again can take time. Especially if the child is unwilling or sleeping.

Call 911 if a Child is Unattended in a Car

If you see a child left unattended in a car, take action right away by calling 911. If you notice signs of heat stroke, let the 911 operator know you plan to break the window to help the child cool down.

Signs of Heat Stroke

If you notice any of these signs, prompt action is in order.

  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness
  • Seizure
  • Hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Hallucinations

How to Rescue a Child From a Hot Car

Check out this video from the Today Show that shows exactly how to rescue a child (or a pet for that matter) out of a hot car. It’s good info to know.

Half of Child Deaths in Overheated Cars Occur Because Someone Forgot

Most child deaths occur when parents unintentionally leave their infant in the car. Many parents are quick to assume that they would never “forget” their child in the backseat. But parents do forget. Parents of every background have forgotten their child in their car – it has happened to social workers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, soldiers.

52% of heatstroke deaths in cars occur because someone forgot a child was in the car.

As a parent, you’re probably used to a fast-paced and strict schedule. Some days, it may feel like you’re on autopilot – you’re so used to a particular routine that you don’t even consciously think about it. Any sudden new tasks can be difficult to remember to incorporate into your day. For instance, if you’re used to waking up and driving straight to work every morning, it may be easy to forget to drop off your child at daycare. These tragedies often happen during busy times – especially around holidays or schedule changes when parents are stressed and fatigued and forget more easily.

4 Ways to Remember Your Child Is in the Car

While it’s difficult to prevent stress and fatigue, there are several ways to help remember your child in the backseat:

  1. Put something you need (like your purse, employee ID, or cell phone) in the backseat next to your child, so that you’ll have to open the back door in order to grab it.
  2. Use drive thru services when available.
  3. Always keep your vehicles locked – even when they are sitting in your garage – so that your child can’t sneak inside and accidentally lock themselves in.
  4. A free app called Kars4Kids Safety is designed to act as an alert system for parents. A customizable alarm rings on your phone when you exit the car to remind you that your child is still inside!

Let’s spread awareness along with these helpful tips in order to try to ensure our children’s safety.

P.S. Your furry friends are at risk, too. Leaving your pet in a hot car can be extremely dangerous and have deadly consequences – animals may suffer heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes. Dogs are only able to cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paw pads, making them especially vulnerable in hot weather. If you’re running errands, it may be best to leave your pets at home.  

 

Things Aging Drivers Can Do to Keep Going

There is a group of drivers on our roadways whose hazardous habits are projected to worsen as they increase a by whopping 73% by 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

They’re out of control. Driving while distracted. Driving while impaired. Driving in conditions they shouldn’t be. Not obeying speed limits. And many admit to having taken drugs before getting behind the wheel!

These senior citizens today!

Elderly Drivers Cause More Deadly Crashes Than Teens

The reality is that deaths from senior drivers (85 and older) are four times higher than that of teen drivers, according to a Carnegie Mellon University and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.

Based on data obtained from 1999–2004, fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after age 65. From ages 75 to 84, the death rate equals that of teen drivers. After age 85 is where we see fatality rates accelerate. For drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate increases to nearly four times that for teens.

Why Do Seniors Pose Such a Roadway Threat?

As they age, senior drivers may experience many conditions that may cause them to drive at a slow pace. They may suffer from arthritis and stiff joints and weakening muscles, making it harder to turn their heads and reducing the amount of pressure they can apply to the gas pedal. You might think that driving at a slow pace would be safer. That’s not necessarily the case.

According to Essurance.com people who drive slower than normal, in the left lane for example, may cause you to have to pass on the right. This could lead to confusion and disorganization which can potentially cause an accident.

Catching up to a slow driver creates dangers even in residential areas, if you have to suddenly stop. This could start a chain reaction of braking that could lead to accidents or road rage.

Vision Decline

A natural age-related decline in vision may make it harder to see people, objects, and areas in the peripheral vision. For some it can take longer to read street or traffic signs and recognize places, even familiar ones. Decline in night vision is particularly common among the elderly and headlight glare or street lights can pose a challenge. For some, the sun might become especially blinding at certain times of day. Medicines can also cause vision problems as can the onset of glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Hearing Decline

As you get older it can become harder to hear horns and sirens and even noises coming from your car potentially alerting you that something is wrong and you may need to pull over.

Slower Reflexes

As people age reflexes might become slower and you may have a shorter attention span. This might make it harder to multitask. Stiff joints or weak muscles also can make it harder to move quickly.

Eventually all of us age – unless, well the alternative happens. I’ll take aging thank you. Especially as today, there are a number of ways to try to overcome some of the problems many seniors experience on the road.

Here are some things from the National Institute on Aging to keep in mind as we age to try to keep yourself and others safer around you.

Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

  1. Did you know that there are driving rehabilitation specialists available that will check your driving skills? Occupational therapists can do the same. Who knows, you may get an all clear.
  2. Some car insurance companies may lower your bill if you take and pass a driver improvement course. Here are two resources to find driver courses near you through AAA and AARP. You can also check with your car insurance company.
  3. Remember when in doubt, don’t go out. Never try to drive in inclement weather that makes you feel uncomfortable like rain or snow. Wait it out or use public transportation or a driver service, such as Uber, Lyft, or even a taxi.
  4. Avoid highways or other high-speed roadways if you don’t feel confident using them.
  5. If you take medications, ask your health care provider if it is safe to drive while taking them.

How to Stay Mobile and Keep Your Freedom

Rightfully, many seniors worry that once they stop driving, they’re homebound. But communities across the nation are offering more of a variety of ways to get around without having to drive. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Free or inexpensive bus or taxi services for seniors
  • Carpool services for doctor’s visits, grocery shopping, the mall, hair appointments
  • Many religious and community service groups have volunteers on call who can drive you where you need to go
  • Car or driver services. (Remember, when you’re not paying for car insurance, maintenance, gas and other auto incidentals, this could end up being even cheaper than owning a car.)
  • Pay friends or family members to take you places. It could be the beginning of more meaningful relationships.

To find transportation services in your area call 1-800-677-1116, or
visit www.eldercare.gov to find your nearest Area Agency on Aging.

Drowsy Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

Driving drowsy might not seem like a big deal. There are no laws against it in North Carolina, and besides most of us have done it at one time or another.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of Americans say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, have fallen asleep at the wheel. And these aren’t just exhausted working parents or single moms. Truck drivers. Business travelers. People with sleep disorders. Young people under 24.

Drowsy drivers are dangerous drivers. As dangerous as drunk drivers, often causing serious or fatal car accidents, according to AAA.

According to a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study drowsy driving is implicated in 100,000 car crashes per year, which leave 71,000 people injured and 1,500 dead says the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Drowsy Driving Causes 1 In 5 Fatal Car Accidents

A recent AAA Foundation  study found that one in five fatal auto accidents involve drowsy drivers.

The same study noted that missing as little as one to two hours of sleep doubles
the risk of being involved in a car accident.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that being awake for 18 hours is the same as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% – the limit for which you can get a DWI.

That is why many states have legislation on the books that make or will make “driving while drowsy” against the law. Currently North Carolina is not one of them.

How Little Sleep is Too Little Sleep?

Here is how much your risk factors increases the less sleep you get during a 24-hour period:

  • 6 to 7 hours sleep – 1.3 times greater risk of accident
  • 5 to 6 hours sleep – almost twice the risk
  • 4 to 5 hours of sleep – 4.3 times greater risk
  • Less than 4 hours sleep – 11.5 times greater risk

New AAA research shows that a driver who has slept for less than five hours has a
crash risk comparable to a drunk driver.

Warning Signs You are Too Tired to Drive

There are many indications that you might be drowsy or in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. Here, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is how to tell if you are too tired to drive and need to stop in a safe place and rest.

  • Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
  • Daydreaming or having wandering or disconnected thoughts
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles driven or missing exits or traffic signs
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
  • Feeling restless and irritable

Drowsy Driving Risk Factors

  • Sleep-deprivation or fatigue (6 hours of sleep or less triples your risk)
  • Suffering from sleep loss (insomnia), poor quality sleep, or a sleep debt
  • Driving long distances without proper rest breaks
  • Driving through the night, mid-afternoon or when you would normally be asleep
  • Taking sedating medications (antidepressants, cold tablets, antihistamines)
  • Working more than 60 hours a week (increases your risk by 40%)
  • Working more than one job and your main job involves shift work
  • Drinking even small amounts of alcohol
  • Driving alone or on a long, rural, dark or boring road

Warning Signs Another Driver is Too Tired to Drive

  • Vehicle randomly drifting between lanes
  • Car traveling at erratic speeds
  • Vehicle hitting rumble strip on side of road

What to do if You’re Too Tired

If you feel tired while driving, take the following steps to try to avoid causing an asleep at the wheel accident with another vehicle:

  • If possible, stop driving altogether and go to sleep in a safe place
  • Otherwise, take a 15- to 20-minute nap at a lighted, designated rest stop
  • Have a caffeinated drink in combination with a nap (caffine can take up to 30 minutes to kick in)

Adequate Sleep and Planning

Plan ahead before taking a long trip. Here are four simple steps to take to try to ensure you are well rested before you hit the road.

  1. Get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night if you are an adult, and 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours if you are a teenager.
  2. Bring someone along. They can share the driving, help keep you awake, and help you notice when you’re tired.
  3. Every couple of hours or 100 miles or so stop and rest. Get out of the car and stretch.
  4. It goes without saying, don’t drink alcohol in any amount, as it increases the effects of fatigue. And avoid taking medications that may impair your driving.

If You Are Involved in a Drowsy Driving Accident

If you are involved in a car crash caused by a driver who appeared to be asleep at the wheel before the crash, don’t wreck twice. Take the following steps to try to protect yourself:

  • Call the police and ask them to respond to the crash site.
  • Tell the investigating police officer you suspect the other driver was asleep.
  • Take photographs of the accident scene. Make sure to take photos of skid marks (or lack of skid marks) caused by the other vehicle. Lack of skid marks are often telltale signs of drowsy driving.
  • Talk to witnesses. If someone saw the crash, get their full name, address, email address, phone number and ask them to talk to the police at the scene as well.
  • Seek immediate medical attention, even if you feel fine. Sometimes you won’t feel the effects of injuries until the next day – or even longer.

NC Car Crash Lawyers Offer FREE Confidential Evaluation

If you have been injured in a car accident through no fault of you own, contact one of our experienced car wreck lawyers.

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*.

For nearly 20 years, car accident victims in North Carolina have trusted the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to handle their cases. Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

 

* Insurance Research Council 1999

How to Stay Safe on NC’s Roads Memorial Day Weekend

 

 

 

Here at James Scott Farrin we are proud to have among us many U.S. military veterans who have bravely fought for our freedoms. We are honored they chose our firm as a career step after serving in the U.S. armed forces.

—James S. Farrin, Founder and President, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin

 

 

Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer. Pools open. Neighborhood barbecues.  Parades that honor our nation’s military veterans. And it’s a welcomed long weekend.

Last year, spurred largely by cheaper gas prices, AAA estimated that more than 38 million hit the highways Memorial Day weekend – the highest number since 2005.  The downside?

Memorial Day is considered one of the most dangerous weekends to be on the
roads* and marks the beginning of what AAA has coined the “100 deadliest days for teens.

44% of Memorial Day Traffic Fatalities Involve Booze

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 13% more people die during a typical Memorial Day weekend than on a non-holiday weekend. You can probably guess what they report is a contributing factor.

Booze contributes to 44% of Memorial Day traffic fatalities.

That’s a substantial factor you want to keep out of your travel equation. Even if you are driving stone cold sober, obviously many others are not.

Here are some safety tips from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to help you travel NC’s roads more safely over Memorial Day weekend:

  • Leave early to get a head start on your drive. Travel at non-peak hours when possible.
  • Stay alert, especially in construction zones. Even if work is suspended, you may encounter narrowed lanes and traffic shifts in work zones.
  • Be patient and obey the posted speed limit.
  • Use alternative routes when possible to avoid traffic congestion.
  • Stay informed. Real-time travel information is available online and over the phone by dialing 511.
  • Don’t drive if you are drowsy. Travel at times when you are normally awake, and take frequent breaks.
  • Avoid distracted driving. When drivers stop focusing on the road ahead, they react more slowly to traffic conditions and are more likely to be involved in an accident.
  • Give yourself a buffer by not following other cars too closely.

If you do enjoy an adult beverage or two, there are many driving services today
across North Carolina that take you and your car home.
Click here for contact information.

“100 Deadliest Days” Begins Memorial Day

According to AAA, the 100 days between Memorial Day through Labor Day are the “100 deadliest days” for teens. That’s partly because teens are out of school and more of them are behind the wheel. The other reason is that many are driving distracted. Texting, talking, or generally not paying attention. And they’re inexperienced.

Jurek Grabowski, Research Director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety explains, “Every day during the summer driving season, an average of 10 people die as a result of injuries from a crash involving a teen driver.” Research shows that distraction continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers.

You Can Help Curb Distracted Driving

Cars.com reports that half of all teen drivers will be involved in a crash before graduating from high school.

Distracted driving among teens is your problem. It’s my problem. It’s everyone’s problem. Here are some things each of us can do to help try to encourage teens to break this deadly habit.

  • Practice what you preach. Don't drive distracted yourself.
  • Start discussions early on, well before teens reach driving age.
  • Take advantage of some of the latest apps (some are free) and tech gadgets that can help make it easier for teens (and all of us) to avoid using phones while behind the wheel.
  • Visit the org (End Distracted Driving), a non-profit organization started by the father of a 21-year-old daughter who was killed by a distracted driver. And print and display their YES! I WILL family pledge and safe driving agreement.
  • Visit aaa.com/NCfor safety resources for your teen drivers.

Get a FREE Evaluation From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

If you or someone you care about was injured in a car wreck during Memorial Day or any other day, 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.

 

* According to Yahoo, other deadly days to drive are Black Friday, NFL game days, the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, New Year’s Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and St. Patrick’s Day.

** Insurance Research Council 1999

 

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

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