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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.

 

Teen Distractions Behind the Wheel Kill -- 5 Simple Steps That Can Help Save a Life

Summertime means more teens will be driving on our roadways - and many will not be paying attention. Inattention behind the wheel among teens is so widespread that AAA refers to summertime when teens are out of school as the '100 deadliest days for teens.'

Crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths, and distracted driving is thought to contribute to more than half of teen crashes. Worse, teen fatality rates are three times higher than other age groups.

As a father of two teenagers who will be driving on their own soon, these statistics alarm me. As a lawyer, I have seen an exponential growth in distracted driving crashes in recent years.

We're Taking the Distracted Driving Message to High Schools

For these reasons and more my firm has partnered with EnDD.org (End Distracted Driving) and the American Association for Justice (AAJ) to offer a distracted driving educational program to area high schools.

This program was developed by Joel Feldman, an attorney whose 21-year-old daughter was tragically killed by a distracted driver. It is truly unlike any other we know of, and has been extremely well received by more than 300,000 students in 44 states and Canada. And it is recognized by traffic safety experts, including the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Governors Highway Safety Association, as one of the most effective programs for teens.

Joel worked with psychologists and teen safe-driving experts to integrate behavioral science, behavior change theory, and teen-targeted persuasion principles specifically designed to avoid any potential teen backlash of feeling as though someone is trying to restrict their freedom and rights.

We are excited about this effort. And based on feedback, we hope it will help make a positive impact in our communities.

5 Ways You Can Help Curb Distracted Driving

Because distracted driving affects all of us, it's everyone's problem. And this growing and deadly epidemic needs attention from all fronts. Here is what each of us, including you, can do to help try to render distracted driving unacceptable - period.

  • Model appropriate behavior behind the wheel. Don't drive distracted
  • Download, print, and display the YES! I WILL family pledge and safe driving agreement from EndDD.org
  • Visit teendriving.aaa.com/NC for safety resources for your teen drivers
  • Start discussions early on, well before teens reach driving age
  • Take advantage of some of the latest apps (some free) and tech gadgets that can help make it easier for teens (and all of us) to avoid using phones while behind the wheel. Here's an article by a USA Today affiliate which highlights some of them

I urge you to join me in modeling this behavior for our young drivers, so that eventually this dangerous practice will no longer be considered acceptable.

How Much Can I Recover After My Car Accident?

After you're injured in a car wreck, it's bad enough you have to suffer as a result of your injuries. But the suffering gets even worse once the bills start pouring in - the ER visit, car repairs, X-rays, physical therapy, you name it.

Little wonder a common question we often hear is: "How much will I receive from the insurance company for my accident?"

While each case is specific to its own particulars, understanding a bit about how insurance policy limits work in North Carolina can offer valuable information in your financial recovery efforts.

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


How North Carolina's "Fault" System Affects Your Bottom Line
After a car accident in North Carolina, authorities will assign fault to one or more drivers.

These drivers (and their insurance companies) bear liability for damages or injuries their actions caused. In other words, they may be responsible for paying medical bills, car repairs, time out of work, pain and suffering, and physical damages of those who were not at fault.

Some states assign percentages of blame, such as, say, 80% to one driver and 20% to the other. Everyone pays according to their percentage of fault.

Not so under North Carolina's contributory negligence rule. This rule says that if you're found to be even 1% at fault, you could be barred from recovering anything, even if the other driver was 99% at fault! (North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that still has this rule on the books.)

Tip! If you think you may have contributed to your accident even the slightest bit (speeding, jaywalking, texting, etc.), it would be prudent to talk with a personal injury representative right away.


Policy Limits in North Carolina

Who pays and how much gets paid can depend on what the at-fault driver's policy limits are. All North Carolina drivers are required to carry a certain amount of auto insurance coverage. This coverage has maximum and minimum policy limits, which are used to cover damages.

So, for example, if you're passing through an intersection and someone runs a red light and hits you ("their fault" scenario), their insurance company is responsible for paying your damages within the policy limits - but not one cent over.

What If My Damages are Greater Than the Policy Limits?
If your damages are greater than the limits on the policy of the at-fault driver, you do have options - options we highly recommend utilizing an experienced auto accident lawyer for. Some of those options include:

  • Collect Through Uninsured and Underinsured (UM/UIM) Motorist Coverage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is required in North Carolina. This coverage protects you if another driver is at fault but does not have insurance, or have enough insurance to pay for your damages. Simply stated, UM/UIM coverage provides you with an additional means to collect damages for your injuries and other expenses incurred.
  • Sue the defendant.
  • Recover under an umbrella policy (an additional liability coverage many people have).

What if the other driver's insurer claims that you contributed to the auto accident, even if you believe you didn't? Or what if you suffered serious injuries, but the insurer is contesting the extent or costs of your medical treatment? What if you actually did contribute to the accident? No matter the scenario, it is prudent to let an experienced personal injury lawyer evaluate your situation.

North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help Collect

  • In 2015, alone, we recovered over $75 million (gross) for over 2,700 clients1
  • We have recovered over $600 million (gross) for over 30,000 clients since 19971
  • These numbers don't include the $1.25 billion we helped recover against the U.S. government for 18,400 claimants in a historic class action case1
  • We've done this because we have quality professionals - many who've worked on the "other side" (insurance companies). Over 30 attorneys. Over 100 staff. Seven attorneys board certified in North Carolina in their fields - a differentiator that fewer than 4%2 of North Carolina attorneys can claim

Don't leave your settlement to chance - or to the insurance companies. Click here to contact us right now or call 1-866-900-7078. We will evaluate your situation for FREE over the phone or online  - 24/7.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

1 Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin led a team of firms to recover $1.25 billion for African-American farmers from the U. S. government for discrimination.

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

What to Do After an Accident (4 Easy Steps)

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

What should you do next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to include in your accident journal:

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

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

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

Many personal injury attorneys will review your claim for free.

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

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

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

Truck Accidents Are on the Rise – Do You Know What to Do if a Trucker Hits You?

Head on Collision Tractor Trailer_07182014It is everyone's worst accident scenario: colliding with a massive tractor-trailer. The unequal match in weight and power causes these accidents to frequently result in very serious injuries or fatalities.

And they are happening more often. If you have been injured, please click here to contact a Truck Accident Attorney in NC.

The fortunate

Earlier this year, a North Carolina deputy released a statement of gratefulness to a police officer from Virginia who saved his life. The deputy accidentally drove his cruiser underneath a tractor-trailer loaded with plywood while responding to an emergency call.  The Virginia officer was off duty but nevertheless used the deputy's radio to call for help and, with the help of another man, pulled the deputy from his patrol car just as it began to catch fire.

The deputy escaped with a broken left hip and right knee from an accident that could have been much, much worse.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The DOT recently reported an increase in the number of deaths after tractor-trailers collisions.

The unfortunate

In a recent tragic example of what can happen in a tractor-trailer accident, a chartered school bus and FedEx truck burst into flames after colliding, killing 10 people. The FedEx truck also jumped an interstate divider, injuring 30 more people. Both the bus and truck driver were killed, along with five students and three chaperones, Reuters reported.

According to the LA Times, three lawsuits have been filed against FedEx -  two wrongful death suits by parents of students who died, and one personal injury lawsuit.

Truck and Bus Accident

The FedEx truck and school charter bus from the tragic accident in California. Source: LA Times

While this example is tragic, it also shows the devastating potential of large trucks.

In even more alarming news, according to recently released DOT statistics (2012) there has been a 4% increase in fatalities from accidents involving large trucks over the prior year. In 2012 alone, 3,921 people were killed and 104,000 injured in collisions with large trucks.

There is no clear explanation for the increase in tractor-trailer accidents, but the possibility for tragic injuries and fatalities is more likely when these large vehicles are involved.

It is hard to protect yourself on the road from tractor-trailers, but finding representation after an accident with a tractor trailer can help ensure that your rights are protected.

Why Hire a Truck Accident Attorney in North Carolina?

Due to the grave nature of trucking accidents and their complexity regarding insurance coverage, it is important to take action quickly and proceed with caution. Seeking representation immediately can be beneficial in many ways.

  1. Multiple insurance policies - First, you can learn how to speak with the insurance company in such a way that you will not run the risk of losing rights to any compensation. Trucks are often covered under multiple insurance policies, but if you say or do the wrong thing, you could lose out on some potential compensation.
  2. Out-of-state - Because tractor-trailers often operate across state lines, it's possible their insurance policy was not issued in the same state in which the accident occurred.
     
    Since different states have different laws regarding accidents and insurance coverage, it is important to know which laws will apply to your situation.  A lawyer can help to make sure you are properly protected.
  3. Violations - Since trucks are so dangerous, there are many state and federal rules truckers and trucking companies must follow -- such as a limit on consecutive hours of driving, intended to prevent fatigue.
     
    A personal injury attorney with experience in tractor-trailer accidents is trained to look for potential violations of these rules by the driver or trucking company. The rules have been designed to keep you and your families safe. Disregarding them may be the cause of the accident or have contributed to its severity.
  4. Evidence - Ideally, an experienced law firm should review the facts and circumstances of a collision as soon as possible after the incident, including an examination of physical evidence. Thorough review can uncover many factors that may have contributed to the collision or resulting injuries.
     
    For example, take the recent North Carolina trucking accident referenced above involving the trooper and the plywood truck. While it might seem like an open and shut case to the untrained eye, the fact that the deputy's cruiser was somehow able to get underneath the trailer could be indicative of missing or faulty under-ride guards, which are put in place to prevent an incident, such as the one resulting in serious injuries to the deputy.However, if an investigation is not conducted early enough, the wreckage might be discarded and evidence of missing or faulty guards might be lost.

If you've been injured in a truck accident, call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 or visit www.farrin.comright now for a free case evaluation.

Categories: Truck Accidents

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