Personal Injury Lawyer
Office Locations
Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin
1-866-900-7078
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.

 

5 Things Your Insurance Adjuster Doesn’t Want You to Know (But We Do!)

People who have been injured will often come to us after they have tried to deal with the insurance companies themselves.

They may be frustrated with the lack of timely response from insurance adjusters. Some tell us the insurance company will not offer them enough to cover their medical expenses and other damages. Sometimes people are simply overwhelmed by the amount of phone calls, paperwork, follow-up, and excessive bureaucracy just to try to get the insurance company to cover damages. We know how they feel. We have dozens of people here who play paper chase with the insurance companies all day every day.

Here are some statements we often hear from people who call us for help. These are people who have never dealt with insurance adjusters and claims-filing entities. We work with these types every day. (Some of us used to work on the other side!) Here is what you need to know about your “friendly” insurance adjuster. And your “good neighbor” insurance company.

  1. The insurance adjuster handling my case seems very nice and is even willing to settle as soon as possible. But the settlement amount is so low. 

    The adjuster is not your friend and neither is the insurance company. Most insurance companies are in business to make money. The less money the adjuster offers you to pay your damages, the more money insurance companies keep for themselves. Fact is, it is part of an insurance adjuster’s job description to offer you as little as possible. Adjusters may seem pleasant and sympathetic to your circumstances. Perhaps they are. But the bottom line is you are not signing their paychecks.Adjusters go through intensive training programs to learn the art of negotiation. They can get very detailed, even covering the psychological aspects of negotiating in many instances.Insurance companies have auditing systems that show how much their adjusters paid out to claimants, based on the medical reports and what they can mitigate in their claimants’ files. Sometimes the adjuster’s pay can be tied to whether or not they meet the criteria the company has devised as “best practices” for payouts.

  2. My adjuster said a lawyer won’t do anything more for me other than drag my case on and on. 

    Insurance companies do not want you to hire a lawyer. If you hire a lawyer, they know they may potentially have to pay you more money. They know we know what you need to know. They will call us ambulance chasers, sharks, greedy, and all kinds of names to try to prevent you from getting legal advice. And they certainly don’t want to go to court to try your case in front of a jury. The one thing insurance companies do not like is uncertainty. And juries are by their very nature an uncertainty. We will go to court in a heartbeat if we think it will help you get the compensation you may deserve. That is something the insurance companies don’t want to hear.

  3. My pre-existing shoulder condition prohibits them from paying me the full extent of my shoulder, neck, and back injuries. 

    Ah! The pre-existing condition. That’s an oldie goldie. We know better than to fall for that one. Some of our employees used to be insurance adjusters. Here’s what one of them had to say about this tactic:“As a former insurance adjuster, our job was to gather the evidence and point out all the potential negatives to try to reduce the payout. If a claimant had a prior neck problem, and the wreck caused an injury to their neck, we would argue that they may have caused aggravation to the neck so we would not offer 100%. Same with degenerative issues. We would focus on that to reduce payout.”The reality is many times pre-existing conditions are not an issue. But if the pre-existing condition becomes a real issue, we simply consult with our Johns Hopkins-trained registered nurse Attorney Naa Atsoi Adu-Antoh. She leads our firm’s medical review team – a team we believe is fundamentally important in our efforts to analyze clients’ medical issues as they relate to their legal cases.

  4. My adjuster told me that after I pay an attorney’s fee, I would probably get less than their offer. 

    An insurance adjuster might try to get you to buy into all kinds of assumptions. They are highly trained professional negotiators. They might challenge you to take them to court. “You just wait and see,” they might say, pretending like they welcome the chance. They might play the “take it or leave it” or “that’s my final offer” card. They might try to confuse you with all kinds of data and analyses and algorithms their statisticians have determined are “reasonable and fair” based on your medical bills and circumstances. They are banking on the fact that you won’t understand any of this. The list of deny and delay tactics is long. Yet it is effective in many instances! Not with us. We don’t scare. (And we understand their algorithms.) If it’s in your best interest, we don’t back down.

  5. 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 own1.

  6. The insurance company said to go ahead and take them to court. Facts are facts, and in my case, the facts are against me. 

    Court is expensive. That is among the main reasons insurance companies typically want to settle your case quickly. Yet they may not let on that they would rather settle than go to court in most cases. Even so, they may still discount the amount they potentially owe you for damages. They are assuming that you probably have no idea what you are potentially owed. They may try to make you believe they can only compensate you for medical expenses. Not other damages like mileage to and from your medical appointments, lost time from work, prescriptions, and loss of the use of your vehicle. And sometimes pain and suffering. You won’t hear those options voluntarily from the adjuster. But you will from us. And then some.

Insurance Companies Keep Millions by Limiting Payouts

The bottom line is this. Many insurance companies are all about their bottom line. They hold millions, and in some cases billions of dollars in reserves and earn interest and dividends on these assets. Many also have shareholders to answer to – large major shareholders like investment banks and mutual fund firms. Shareholders like to keep investing in profitable companies.

Sadly, it boils down to this. The insurance company is taking care of the shareholder and investor. The adjuster is taking care of the insurance company who gives them a consistent paycheck. Who is taking care of you?

You need to take care of you. We can help. Make sure you take care of your interests by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to deal with these issues.

Why Choose James Scott Farrin for NC Personal Injury, Workers’ Comp or Social Security Disability Claims?

It starts with great people. We have nearly 40 accomplished attorneys, many of whom have won awards for their service and advocacy inside and outside the courtroom, including Best Lawyers “Best Lawyers in America” 20172 and “Lawyer of the Year” 20173; “Super Lawyer” 20164 by North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine, and Business North Carolina’s “Legal Elite 2015”5.

They’ve authored books, spoken at seminars for other attorneys, and some are sought by the media for their legal expertise. One is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. All are advocates dedicated to fighting tooth and nail for each and every client.

We’ve gone to great lengths to help make sure we know how the “other side” operates by hiring attorneys who’ve represented insurance companies and large major corporations.

We also think it’s important that we have attorneys who are bilingual (as are many of our paralegals and staff).

Experienced NC Accident Attorneys Evaluate Your Case FREE

If you’re getting the run-around from your insurance adjuster or feel your best interests are not being considered, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

 

1  Insurance Research Council 1999

2, 3 For more information about rules for inclusion visit www.bestlawyers.com

4 For more information about rules for inclusion visit www.superlawyers.com

5 For more information about rules for inclusion visit www.businessnc.com

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.

 

Should I Talk to the Insurance Company After My Work Injury?

When you sustain an injury on the job it’s crucial to report your injury to a manager or supervisor right away. You should also file a Form 18 with the Industrial Commission, which can be submitted electronically. Click here for Form 18.

In order for your case to be accepted, the insurance company must follow an investigative process to determine if your case will be accepted or denied. They will review medical records regarding the injury and talk to your employer. They will also talk to you by phone to obtain what is known in the workers’ comp industry as a “recorded statement.”

The recorded statement is a key phone call for them – and for you. What you say can lead to acceptance of your claim or denial.

Be careful how you explain what happened to cause your injury. And be careful how you answer seemingly harmless questions. You want to tell the truth, of course, but we have seen instances where the insurance adjuster spun the truth out of context in their efforts to deny claims.

What is a recorded statement?

The first contact you have with the workers’ comp insurance adjuster will likely be in the form of a recorded statement. The adjuster will call you and ask your permission to ask you questions over the phone while they record the conversation.

The recorded statement should be approached with great caution, and it is prudent to consult with an attorney prior to providing one. Here’s why.

The insurance adjuster is NOT on your side.

The primary purpose of the questions the adjuster asks during the recorded statement is to gather facts and information about your workplace accident. The adjuster might try and use this information to deny your claim.

That is why it is so important to be careful what you say and how you say it – and why we urge people to contact a workers’ comp lawyer before anything is said in that recorded statement.

“Anything unusual happen?”

Let’s say, for example, after you describe your work accident the adjuster asks you if anything unusual happened. Were you doing a task that is part of your regular job and were you doing it the way you normally would? The purpose of this question is not to judge whether or not you are a conscientious and careful employee. The answer you give might be directly related to the compensability of your case. In order for an injury to be considered compensable, there must be an “injury by accident,” which means that something out of the ordinary or unusual must have happened.

“Unusual” to the insurance company might mean that one particular shelf you were stocking had been moved higher than usual and you lost your balance and fell while reaching. To you, reaching for a high shelf is all in a hard day’s work. So you might reply that nothing unusual happened. Unusual to you might mean the electricity went out and you were stocking shelves in the dark.

If you tell them you were doing your job as usual at the time of injury and omit to report any unusual circumstances, such as the shelf having been moved a bit higher than normal, your case may potentially be denied.

To the insurance company, this critical piece of information could be a key factor in accepting or denying your claim. Adjusters know you are not aware of this. But they know we are!

There are a few exceptions to the “injury by accident” requirement. Different rules apply for injuries to the neck and back, hernias, and repetitious motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The most important thing that you have at the beginning of a recorded statement is your good word, and you need to make sure the adjuster is not distorting your word. Be honest, brief, stick to the facts, and don’t editorialize, i.e., “I didn’t get much sleep last night, and was feeling more tired than usual.” Be aware, we’ve seen some adjusters try to veer off-track and make judgments about the incident, i.e. “Were you taking anything like cold medicine?”

Why consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney?

This is just one example of the hundreds of nuances of workers’ compensation law. That is why we urge anyone who is faced with giving a statement to an insurance representative to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney first. We can try to help you understand the types of questions you may be asked and possible pitfalls and nuances in language to heed. We can also be part of the conversation during your recorded statement. If inappropriate questions are asked we can object.

Get a FREE Evaluation From a NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Not only do we have many experienced workers’ comp attorneys who deal with these issues every day, we have seven North Carolina Board Certified specialists in workers’ comp law. Many of our staff used to work for the insurance companies – and two worked at the NC Industrial Commission. There’s something to be said for that kind of inside experience.

Before you talk to any insurance representative, especially on a recorded statement, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. We’re available to take your call 24/7.

 

PS: For the record, you have the right to decline a recorded statement and provide a written statement instead.

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.

Why We Believe Open, Regular Communication is Key to Fighting for Your Compensation

Handling someone’s legal case is very intense and there are many moving parts. A person’s future is on the line. Possibly an entire family’s future. It’s not uncommon that when someone is involved in a car wreck, they might lose time from work, and as a consequence could fall behind on their bills, including car and mortgage payments. We’ve had clients lose their homes just because they were in a car accident and had to take a lot of time off work – through no fault of their own. We’ve had clients who were fired from their jobs as a result of the same thing.

Why We Insist on Regular Two-Way Communication

Communication from day one is critical. We don’t want lack of communication to potentially thrust our clients into a destitute situation. There is so much detail that must be cross communicated starting from that very first phone call. Medical correspondence, photos, doctors’ appointments, follow-ups, progress reports.

We are sticklers about keeping regular and open communication with our clients. So much so that we make sure to emphasize the importance of two-way communication to each and every client as soon as we accept their case. And we try to reinforce that fact throughout the case.

We had one client1 come to us not too long ago for this very reason. He was a communicator and wanted a law firm who would try to do the same.

He came to the right firm.

When we accept a case, one of the first things we do is discuss with the client the importance of keeping the lines of communication open. If we can’t get in touch with you to ask you important, often time-sensitive questions about your accident or your medical progress, it can delay progress on your case. On the other hand, if you cannot get in touch with your lawyer or paralegal when you have important updates or information to share, it can delay your case. We pledge that from our end, we will dedicate a lawyer and a paralegal to you.

Once we accepted this client’s case, we immediately set about finding out about his medical treatment plan in our efforts to fight for him to obtain recovery2 (which ended up being very significant despite his extenuating circumstances).

One of the keys to achieving a good result for him was simply having regular two-way communications. We would communicate with him about the progress of his case and he would communicate with us about his treatment and health progress. Another key is establishing trust. That too, we believe, can come from good communication. Here is this client’s story.

How Open Communication Helped Our Client

A caller contacted us a few weeks after his car wreck. He explained on the call that he needed open and regular communication about the case if we decided to accept it and he decided to hire us. After talking with us and learning that our standard operating procedure is to openly and regularly communicate with our clients, he hired us to try to help him obtain compensation for his injuries.

The case was a bit of a challenge from the start. First, the client was rear-ended by a government official’s vehicle. These claims can often take longer than private claims, and can be wrought with minimal cooperation from the other side and often mired in bureaucracy.

Secondly, there were large gaps in time where the client was unable to seek treatment due to extenuating circumstances. And treatment can often be the star player in determining what compensation our clients may obtain. We knew we had our work cut out for us. But we also knew this man was injured through no fault of his own and he needed someone to help him try to prove it.

When he initially called us we were unsure about taking his case, primarily because he had not sought treatment. Yet he had not done so because he did not have health insurance. We explained the various options he could pursue for someone without health insurance.

Upon exploring some of these options on his own he began to treat conservatively before seeing a specialist and then briefly going through pain management.

As can sometimes happen, we had to address another hurdle when all of his diagnostic testing came back negative and showed other pre-existing issues, which we knew the insurance company would use against him.

As expected with this type of claim, negotiations took a few months. The client became somewhat impatient and was anxious for a settlement. That can happen sometimes with clients. We get it! They need money to pay bills while they are healing. Yet through regular communication and having already forged a bridge of trust we had established in the beginning, we were able to keep him updated about the progress of his case.

We ended up resolving his case for significantly more2 than we and the client had initially anticipated, based on the client’s lack of treatment and his pre-existing conditions.

It’s Our Mission to Make Good Things Happen for Clients

While no lawyer is a miracle worker, we really like it when we are able to make good things happen – even when the odds seem stacked against a case, as it was in this client’s situation. Truth be told, our clients can often be a key factor to their own results. And while it’s always rewarding when a case is completed and another client walks out the door with their settlement check, it can sometimes be bittersweet to close the case.

North Carolina Car Wreck Lawyers

Even though we are one of the largest personal injury law firms in North Carolina, each case is personal to us. And we communicate that to our clients. We think they like it that way, and so do we. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we have grown to roughly 200 staff members, including nearly 40 attorneys and have recovered over $700 million2 total for more than 30,000 clients since 1997.

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 Lawyer” 20165 by North Carolina Super Lawyers, and Business North Carolina’s “Legal Elite 2015”6.

See for yourself what our clients have to say about us.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From North Carolina Injury Lawyers

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, and you want a law firm who will communicate with you regularly throughout your case, 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.

 

 

1 Client identity has been removed or changed to protect privacy.

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.

3, 4  For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.bestlawyers.com.

For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.superlawyers.com.

6 For more information regarding the standards for inclusion for Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite, visit www.businessnc.com.

 

Striving to Become a Better Attorney – Q&A With Our Newest N.C. Board Certified Specialist in Worker’s Comp Law

Recently workers’ compensation attorney Ryan Bliss became a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law. Becoming North Carolina Board Certified is quite an achievement. Out of the more than 28,000 attorneys licensed in North Carolina, only 140 are board certified in workers’ compensation law – that’s less than 1%*. While not all practice areas in North Carolina offer board certification, workers’ comp does.

Not every attorney who has the opportunity to become board certified chooses that path. It’s a tough one to forge. The time commitment alone can deter many capable attorneys.

We sat down with Mr. Bliss to get his thoughts about why he chose to become North Carolina board certified in worker’s compensation law.

What prompted you to become a North Carolina board certified specialist in workers’ compensation law?

For me, it was a no-brainer. The board certification process gives lawyers a unique opportunity to demonstrate specialized knowledge, skill, and proficiency in a designated area of practice. Specialization is a distinguishing accomplishment in the legal profession, and very few lawyers licensed in North Carolina can claim this designation.

I’m proud to say we now have eight attorneys at our firm who are board certified. I chose to apply for board certification because I want my clients to know I strive to be the best lawyer I can be for them. Becoming board certified is one more step toward that effort.

What was involved in becoming board certified in workers’ compensation law?

Candidates for board certification must devote a significant portion of their legal practice to workers’ compensation for at least five years. Additionally, they must meet Continuing Legal Education requirements and be favorably evaluated and recommended for certification by other lawyers and/or judges. There’s also a lengthy written exam, which lasts six hours and covers many aspects of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law, including nuanced details from decades of court decisions.

What was this experience like for you?

Rigorous. Interesting. Enlightening. Often stressful. I knew that finding time to study while working full time and having a family wasn’t going to be easy, but I looked forward to the challenge.

Before allowing applicants to sit for the exam, the specialization board requires attorneys to demonstrate their experience and skill via a written application. We are asked to list our qualifications and summarize years of active legal practice in just a few pages. Applicants must also provide several personal references from upstanding peers in the legal community.

The exam covers a lot of ground so I began studying in advance. It was a major time commitment, but what I learned has already begun to pay dividends in the cases I am handling. My firm is all about doing what is best for the client, and board specialization certainly runs in that vein.

What did you learn that might potentially enhance and fortify your practice?

In many ways, I believe I’m a better attorney because of this experience. After immersing myself in the intricacies of our workers’ compensation system, I’m now able to be more creative when crafting legal arguments. As a specialist, I can offer my clients a much broader perspective when discussing complex issues that arise in their cases.

I’ve looked forward to this experience for a long time. In my role as a workers’ compensation attorney, I make important decisions every day that directly affect my clients’ livelihoods and families. As a board certified specialist, I know I’m giving them the very best I have to offer.

 

* Figures provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December 2016.

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

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