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The Hard Truth About Getting Reimbursed for Hurricane Damages

By Christopher Bagley

With Hurricanes Florence and Michael sweeping through North Carolina less than a month apart in 2018, many Tar Heels have been devastated, with home, business, farm, and auto damages totaling billions of dollars.

ABC11 reports that 185,000 claims related to Hurricane Florence were filed with the North Carolina Department of Insurance, and FEMA received 80,000 claims.

If you are among those filing hurricane damage claims, you may discover that your insurance company is not as willing to help as you assumed.

While insurance companies may want you to think they have your best interests at heart, history shows that’s not always true.

Real People. Real Stories

Insurance Delays and Denials

Two years after Hurricane Matthew damaged one Goldsboro homeowner’s home in 2016, the homeowner is ready to give up. The insurance covered “just enough for a contractor to gut the home and replace a tiny portion of her ruined contents,” according to a WRAL news report.

Meanwhile, the flooring, walls, and the remainder of her belongings were damaged to an unlivable condition, forcing her to live in an apartment while continuing to pay her mortgage. As eastern North Carolina residents were still trying to pick up the pieces from Matthew, Hurricane Florence slammed into the NC coast two years later, damaging her property further. While FEMA rejected her initial buyout application, she hopes this second round of damage will qualify her for relief.

An Ugly Trend in Hurricane Damage Claims

Undervaluing hurricane damage claims is not new to some insurance companies. In fact, this trend seems to have become the new normal.

Hurricane Katrina

After Hurricane Katrina all but wiped out much of New Orleans in 2005, policyholders who believed they were treated unfairly by their insurance companies complained to the Louisiana Department of Insurance at the rate of twenty thousand complaints a month during the first six months after the storm. Thousands of policyholders sued their insurance companies, with more than 6,600 suits filed in federal court in New Orleans alone.

The New York Times reported on one victim that was offered just $41,000 of the expected $100,000 in damages. Another was offered only $16,000 to cover damage that he anticipated totaling $300,000 – less than 5% of what he needed.

The New York Times described the behavior of insurance companies two years after Katrina:

“Insurance companies may have paid out $11 billion to Louisianians in the two years since Hurricane Katrina, but they have also become a new villain in the tales people tell about the slow recovery here. Every neighborhood is full of horror stories about insurance companies that reneged on their promises, offered only pennies on the dollar in settlements, dribbled out payments, low-balled the costs of repairs, dropped long-time customers and sharply increased the price of coverage.”

Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy

Nine insurance companies were accused of wrongfully denying claims and misinterpreting terms following Hurricane Irene in 2011 and superstorm Sandy in 2012. In their attempts to underpay claims, some insurance companies interpreted the policies’ definitions of ground floors and basements in ways that surprised their policyholders.

Hurricane Irma

After Hurricane Irma left a swath of devastation in the Caribbean and Florida in 2017, some insurance companies left homeowners far short financially of what they needed to repair holes in their roofs and water damage in walls, reports Florida’s WINK News. One homeowner was particularly upset to see her “high accomplishment” investment of a home crumble with little support from her insurance company.

Why Do Some Insurance Companies Try to Delay and Deny Claims?

Time after time, some insurance companies have denied claims and underestimated hurricane property damages.

With roughly half a trillion dollars in cash reserves, why do some insurers force hurricane victims to put up such a fight to get what they need to repair their homes, businesses, and cars?

The stark reality is that most insurance companies are for-profit businesses. That is not wrong, it is just business. At the end of the day, like most for-profit businesses, they are looking out for their bottom line – even at the expense of unwitting policyholders.

Click here for shocking examples of some insurers that have tried to take advantage of policyholders in an effort to pad their own bottom lines.

Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin

If you have suffered hurricane damage to your home, business, or farm, you don’t have to go through the fight alone to try to recover damages.

Our law firm has fought insurance companies for our clients since 1997. Moreover, we have many employees who previously worked for insurance companies, and they are uniquely familiar with insurance company tactics. We have seen, firsthand, so many ways they can try to delay or deny claims, we wrote a book of actual client stories called Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly. You can download it free and read these stories, yourself.

If you have or a loved one has been affected by the hurricane or other natural disaster, you deserve a team that will fight for you in an effort to try to get you the maximum amount you are entitled to. Call us at 1-866-900-7078 or click here to contact us for a free case evaluation.

How to Drive Smart When School’s In Session

As auto accident lawyers we are often asked questions about “the rules” of the road. What is legal, what isn’t. One question I have found myself answering more than a few times is when to stop for a stopped school bus. (Click here for our easy-to-follow infographic.)

The better question to answer in my opinion is how to drive safely near schools and when school children are nearby.

When Do I Stop for a School Bus?

If you are unsure of exactly which situations require you to stop for a stopped school bus, you are not alone. During a one-day study conducted by the North Carolina School Bus Safety Web in 2013, more than 3,300 vehicles illegally passed stopped school buses.

The penalty for not stopping carries a minimum fine of $500, as stated in House Bill 428 (Hasani N. Wesley Students’ School Bus Safety Act). Passing a stopped school bus is not only illegal but also dangerous for children who may be entering or exiting the bus.

As a rule of thumb, drivers behind the school bus should always stop, regardless of whether they are in the same lane as the bus or not.

With a couple of exceptions, drivers on the opposite side of the road must also stop for a stopped school bus. Traffic traveling in the opposite direction is not required to stop, ONLY if driving on a four-lane road with a median separation, divided highway, or center turning lane. However, four-lane roads without median separation or turning lanes, and all two-lane roads – with or without center turning lanes – require that all traffic on either side of the road come to a complete stop until the school bus resumes motion.

Driving Near School Busses

In addition to knowing when to stop for a stopped school bus, drivers should take additional precautions when sharing the road with school buses. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends leaving a greater following distance behind buses than you would behind other cars, allowing you adequate time to stop when necessary.

The NSC also warns that “the area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children.” The organization recommends that drivers stop with a generous space between the bus and their vehicles to allow school children to enter and exit the bus as needed.

Keep in mind that because school buses are so large, drivers have limited visibility of surrounding cars and may not be able to see you. You should take this into consideration and yield to school buses when changing lanes and turning.

Look Out for Pedestrians

More than one-third of the children killed in school-transportation related crashes between 2006 and 2015 were pedestrians, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In North Carolina drivers must yield to pedestrians at all intersections and driveways.

School-aged children may be unpredictable or may not know the specific rules of when to cross a street. Therefore, drivers should use extreme caution and be prepared to stop at any given time when traveling through school zones and surrounding areas and neighborhoods.

The only thing children should have to worry about on their journey to school is whether or not they will pass their algebra test!

NC Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

Getting hurt on the way to school is something no one should have to go through alone. There can be extensive medical bills and issues with the insurance company. You want someone to fight for you to try to recover everything you are potentially due in damages.

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*.

If you or someone you know was involved in a school-transportation related accident, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

*Insurance Research Council, 1999.

Consequences of Not Hiring a Workers’ Comp Attorney

If you have been injured on the job, it can be very important to hire an attorney to try to protect your long-term financial well-being and that of your family.

The workers’ compensation system is meant to provide wage replacement benefits and medical treatment for injured workers. Those wage replacement benefits are crucial for a person’s financial health and the financial health of their family. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can try to make sure an injured worker receives the wage replacement benefits they are potentially entitled to.

In my 15 years of handling workers’ compensation claims, I have assisted numerous clients who have faced dire financial consequences – often because they waited too long to hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney to help them. In some of these cases, the workers’ compensation insurance company had inevitably not paid them the benefits to which they were entitled before my involvement.

Often that has to do with paying weekly benefits on a timely basis. In North Carolina, workers’ compensation law requires an employer to pay two-thirds of an injured person’s average wages on a weekly basis.

But that doesn’t always happen.

Withholding Your Benefits Checks

Workers’ compensation clients typically receive checks every week. But what some adjusters will do is try to keep our clients from getting on “repetitive pay,” which is when the checks are delivered on the same day each week. Instead, they’ll issue a check on one day one week and then another day on the next week, so our clients are, at times, forced to go almost two weeks without a check. Our hands are tied, though, because technically they’re getting a check every week. It’s not until there’s a 14-day lapse between checks that we’re able to do anything. In one case, we filed a motion to get the checks on repetitive pay because even though our client was only receiving around $100 per week, he was a single dad and needed the money. What’s the point of all this? It’s only going to make us more determined to make sure the client is treated right.*

An attorney can help try to ensure those payments are made in a timely manner and in conjunction with the law. Bringing in weekly payments, just as you had been doing with your weekly paycheck while you were working, is extremely important.

“Miscalculation” of Your Benefits Amount

In other situations, I have seen insurance companies fail to correctly calculate the weekly amount that is due to an injured worker. These miscalculations led to injured workers receiving substantially less benefits for several weeks or months while they were receiving medical care.

An experienced attorney can investigate what they think is the correct weekly amount and fight, if necessary, with the insurance company to try to get those benefits corrected and promptly paid to you.

Workers’ compensation cases with severe injuries, such as those involving the brain, spinal cord, or nervous system can be very complex and expensive to treat. The financial strain and stress as a result of your injury and your inability to work can compound rapidly. Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help to potentially minimize those financial consequences within the bounds of the law.

Your Biggest Risk – the Insurance Company

In our estimation, the biggest risk you face in attempting to recover benefits is to trust the insurance company to pay you the full amount of everything you may potentially be owed – and pay you in a timely manner.

Most insurance companies are for-profit businesses – their profit. That is not wrong – it’s just business. Insurance companies are so profitable, in fact, that in 2016, the insurance industry’s assets ($5.8 trillion) totaled more than the GDPs of all but two countries in the world – the United States and China.

The less they pay you, the more they keep. But what some people may not realize is the tactics some insurance companies may use to try to “spin” the facts in their favor so they can keep more of the compensation you may be owed.

Truth be known, insurance claims reps, investigators, adjusters, and many others in that business are expertly trained and highly skilled at finding ways to keep money that may be rightfully yours. We know firsthand. Several of our employees are former insurance company employees.

North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law

I and several James Scott Farrin workers’ comp attorneys are also Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. There are only 148 of us out of the more than 28,000 attorneys licensed in North Carolina, – that’s less than 1%.**

Becoming board certified is a rigorous and lengthy endeavor. 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.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from NC Workers’ Comp Attorneys

If workers’ compensation is delaying or refusing to pay for work benefits, or if they are denying approval of medical treatment or compensation, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 to learn how a workers’ compensation lawyer from the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin could potentially benefit you. The sooner the better.

Our confidential case evaluations are free, and you may learn that you’re entitled to more than the insurance company claims.

* 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. This is a specific example of an experience we had with an insurance company. This story does 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.

 ** Figures provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December 31, 2017.

I was injured on the job as a result of Hurricane Florence. Now what?

Hurricane Florence recently dealt a severe blow to the state of North Carolina. This storm interrupted many people’s livelihoods and presented severe health hazards in many areas. In the process, there were increased risks of job-related injuries. If you were injured on the job as a result of the unusual hazards presented by Hurricane Florence, or as the result of other forms of work accidents, there are two important benefits provided under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act for job-related injuries:

  • Medical treatments to help you recover from your injuries
  • Payments if you are not able to work because of your injury

3 Steps to Hurricane Florence Workers’ Comp Benefits

Medical treatments and workers’ comp payments can help injured workers try to avoid financial ruin and more severe health consequences. If you are not careful, the requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Act could result in you losing eligibility for these benefits.

If you are hurt on the job, there are three important steps to remember to protect your workers’ compensation rights:

1.      Report your injury to your employer

After even very serious injuries, many workers attempt to “tough it out” and avoid immediately reporting their job injury to their employer. This can be the result of many factors, such as job dedication or concern that the employer may retaliate after the report of a job injury. However, it is very important that prompt documentation be completed, such as by an incident report, in a timely manner after a job injury.

The Workers’ Compensation Act has certain forms that need to be completed in a timely manner. The Form 18 is the injured employee’s report of injury to the employer and should be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission as soon as possible, including within 30 days of your injury. This form lets the North Carolina Industrial Commission and your employer know that you are requesting to receive workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. If you do not file the claim within 30 days after the work injury, then your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company may create additional obstacles as you attempt to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

There is also another form, called a Form 19, which should be promptly filed by the employer after their knowledge that an employee was injured. However, an injured employee should not assume that the employer will file their claim.

We have seen many instances where an employer may be aware of an employee’s job injury for a long while, but never report the claim to the workers’ compensation insurance company or even to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

We have also seen instances when an employer may then deny, after the claim is filed, that they even had knowledge of the job accident in the first place. These are all issues that an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, like those with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, is prepared to handle.

2.      Get medical treatment

If you are injured on the job, obtaining prompt medical care is the best way to try to avoid your injury becoming even worse. We have seen many situations where an injured employee may believe that a condition, such as a sore back, is hopefully not that serious, but then becomes much more severe than the employee originally thought. We have seen many instances where clients initially hoped they could “tough it out” and continue to work, only to realize that they only made their health condition worse by delaying treatment. We have also seen situations where the workers’ compensation insurance company then pointed to delay in obtaining treatment as a reason to attempt to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits. Timely reporting of job-related injuries and obtaining prompt medical treatment are important factors in preserving your health as well as your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.

3.      Consult an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Of the more than 28,000 attorneys who are licensed to practice law in North Carolina, only a small fraction are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law. At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we have six attorneys who are Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law.

Some of our workers’ compensation attorneys include former Deputy Commissioners from the North Carolina Industrial Commission and a former state senator who helped write some of the workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys are compensated on a contingency fee basis, which means that there is no attorney fee unless a recovery is obtained for the client.

For that reason, there is no increased attorney fee if someone obtains legal representation at an early stage, middle stage, or late stage of their case. In light of the complexity of these issues and the important timeframes that apply after job-related injuries, over 20 years of experience has taught us that it is in the best interest of an injured worker to obtain experienced legal representation as soon as possible after a work accident.

Get a Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

Don’t become another Hurricane Florence statistic if you were injured as a result of the hurricane. When it comes to trying to get the benefits you may deserve from the workers’ comp insurance company, there is a lot at stake. That is why we urge anyone who has been injured on the job to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

We will fight hard for you to try to ensure that all the necessary measures are taken to try to prove your right to benefits.

How Safe Are You at the NC State Fair?

If you are thinking of going to the 2018 North Carolina State Fair you will, quite literally, be one in a million. Over one million guests are expected to line up at the fairgrounds during those 10 days. Many will get their fix of deep fried Oreos before getting tossed and turned upside down by one of the thrilling attractions the NC State Fair offers.

While this may be a family tradition for many, one mishap could quickly turn tragic.

How Safe Are You at the NC State Fair?

Though rare, injuries on carnival rides do occur, and the North Carolina State Fair has not been immune to mishaps.

  • In 2017, a 2-year-old boy was injured after falling off a ride due to user error, as reported by ABC11.
  • In 2013, five fairgoers were hospitalized after falling approximately 30 feet from “The Vortex” due to ride malfunctioning.
  • In 1998, three riders suffered injuries after a roller coaster’s cars collided.

NC State Fair employees, too, must deal with the uncertainty of the carnival rides they operate.

  • In 2013, a worker was taken to the ICU after a ride he was disassembling fell on top of him, WRAL
  • In 2009, a similar incident occurred with an employee attempting to break down the “Flying Bobs” ride, according to ABC11.
  • In 2004, a worker was struck and injured by a steel beam.
  • In 2002, a ride attendant was killed after being struck by the ride and thrown from his platform.

How to Have Fun & Try to Be Safe

A 2010 ABC report attributes the 7,000 annual emergency room visits due to carnival ride injuries in America primarily to three reasons: equipment malfunctions, varying inspection regulations, and user error.

The federal government oversees only the manufacturing of these rides – set-up and maintenance is left to state regulation. North Carolina requires semi-annual unannounced inspections of stationary rides, as well as inspections of mobile rides at the time of set-up.

As a preventative measure, fairgoers should strictly obey the safety guidelines provided by fair attendants. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) provides further recommendations when riding carnival rides:

  • Don’t try to cheat the system: follow the rider age, height, weight and health restrictions.
  • Keep all body parts inside the ride’s vehicle at all times.
  • Secure any loose items (wallets, change, sunglasses, cell phones, hats, etc.) before getting on the ride.
  • Use the safety equipment as it is intended to be used – don’t try to loosen or remove restraints even if they’re uncomfortable.
  • Never force anyone to ride attractions they’re hesitant or weary of.
  • Report any behavior or conditions you believe to be unsafe to authorities immediately.
  • Talk to your children to make sure they understand the importance of following these rules.

These attractions are meant to create an amusing, thrilling, and overall positive experience. The safety measures are incredibly important in order to maintain this light-hearted atmosphere, rather than turning it into a scene of fear and tragedy.

Thank Your NC State Fair Ride Attendants

Behind the scenes of the fun and games are employees who strive to ensure your NC State Fair experience is as safe and enjoyable as possible. When you think of jobs that put their employees’ lives on the line, a carnival ride attendant may not come to mind. However, if they lose control of their rides, they are potentially placed in a very dangerous situation.

Just as passengers cannot predict a ride malfunction, operators may not necessarily know if or when their machine will malfunction. Because of the close contact employees maintain with their rides, they face the same uncertain dangers riders do. They have a lot of responsibility to try to keep you safe. Thank them for helping to keep you safe and for an enjoyable experience.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from NC Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or someone you know was injured at the NC State Fair (or any NC carnival, water park, or similar attraction) contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

Shocking Facts About Hit-And-Run Crashes

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one hit-and-run crash happens every minute on America's roads. As a matter of fact they have hit an all-time high – and they’re increasing, says a new AAA study.

It’s a trend going the wrong way and showing no signs of stopping or turning around any time soon.

Hit-and-runs occur when at least one person involved in the crash flees the scene before offering help or information to others involved. While hit-and-runs typically occur between two moving cars, they may also involve pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, parked cars, and other property.

Hit-and-runs are serious business and can increase the cost of medical care, including the severity of outcomes, given delays or total absence of medical attention for victims and for families who are looking for remediation and insurance support. Experts say staying to help the injured victim could save a life.

Not only have hit-and-runs become more common, they are increasing. Let’s see why.

Putting Hit & Runs in Perspective

Here’s what AAA’s study shows about the severity and frequency of hit-and-runs.

  • The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) says that there were 56 recorded hit-and-run crashes in 2017.
  • Nationally, hit-and-runs account for over 5% of traffic fatalities.
  • Nationally, there’s an average increase of 7.2% every year.
  • Fleeing drivers accounted for 20% of pedestrian crash fatalities.
  • Nearly 65% of people killed due to hit-and-runs are pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • In 2016, 2,049 people were killed in hit-and-runs, a 60% increase since 2009 and the highest number ever.

To put it in perspective, that’s almost six deaths per day and more than one hit-and-run every minute on US roadways.

What’s with the Trend?

No one knows exactly why there is an increase in hit-and-run collisions, but there are many theories, ranging from population increase to distracted drivers, including drivers who are on their cell phones while driving.

Population Growth

With a population of 292 million, the US is the third most populous country in the world. And the US Census anticipates the population to double during this century.

North Carolina’s population is 10.3 million. And with a birth every eight seconds, our state is ranked as the fifth fastest growing state in the nation.

So what does this mean for hit-and-runs? It means there are far more people on the road which increases the number of collisions, including the likelihood of hit-and-runs.

Strengthening Economy

When the economy is doing well, more people have money to buy gas and travel. Many can also afford their own cars, cell phones, Bluetooths, and other technological devices that may take their mind off driving and contribute to the spike of collisions.

Distracted Driving

Another theory for the increase of hit-and-runs centers on distracted driving, namely cell phone usage.

In many states, including North Carolina, texting and driving is illegal, meaning that a collision due to phone usage turns an accident into a criminal offense. This is something scary enough to send a driver fleeing the scene and creating a hit-and-run.

A new Zendrive study has revealed what many of us intuitively suspected. Americans use their phones nearly every single time they get behind the wheel. The study also found that drivers spend 3.5 minutes every hour on their phones while driving, even though a two-second distraction increases the chances of a crash by 20 times.

Drunk Driving

Driving a vehicle drunk or impaired is a crime. Like texting and driving, fear of that criminal charge on top of causing a collision could lead someone to flee the scene, effectively creating a whole new criminal charge.

Every day, nearly 30 people in the US die because of alcohol-related vehicle crashes – or, one person every 50 minutes in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In North Carolina, alone, there was a 50% increase in driving while impaired cases from 2014 to 2015.

While these represent only a few theories on the hit-and-run increase, there is no definitive answer as to why hit-and-runs have continued to increase.

The Motivation to Run: Hit-and-Run Characteristics

Leaving the scene of a collision is illegal in every state and can lead to serious criminal charges. In North Carolina, even a misdemeanor hit-and-run (which would involve property damage or minor injury) carries a potential sentence of up to one year in jail as well as fines.

According to Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations at AAA, “While no one likes being involved in a crash, leaving the scene will significantly increase the penalties for drivers – whether they caused the crash or not.”

Yet, it happens over a thousand times a day.

Who Are Hit-and-Run Victims?

  • Fatally injured pedestrians under age six or over age 80 were half as likely to be victims of hit-and-runs as in any other age groups.
  • In crashes involving children, the driver is identified more than 60% of the time versus 39% for older victims.
  • Males make up around 70% of hit-and-run victims in crashes.

Who Are Hit-and-Run Drivers?

  • Drivers are likely to be young males with a history of prior DWI and license suspension.
  • Drivers tend to drive older model cars, suggesting a lower socioeconomic status.
  • Drivers frequently have positive blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest, and drivers who leave the scene are between two and nine times more likely to have been intoxicated at the time of the crash.
  • Drivers who flee crashes involving children ages 15 and younger or women are more likely to be identified later on.
  • Drivers are about twice as likely to be identified in hit-and-runs when they happen in locations other than the road or crosswalks.

What Factors Contribute to Hit-and-Runs?

  • Environmental factors tend to be associated with the likelihood of a hit-and-run crash. These factors may include lighting, roadway design, and location.
  • In general, the greater the visibility of a crash, the less likely it will turn into a hit-and-run. Visibility may include lighting conditions, but it can also involve the number of potential witnesses, such as on heavily trafficked roads.
  • Contrastingly, higher pedestrian traffic increases the chance of a hit-and-run, though these are half as likely to occur in the daylight as opposed to nighttime when lower visibility improves a driver’s chance to flee.
  • Hit-and-runs are almost 4.5 times more likely to occur between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m., compared to crashes between 8 a.m. and noon. Nighttime, in addition to increasing the chance to escape because of low visibility, typically involves more risky behaviors like driving without a license or driving while intoxicated (DWI) – crimes that could motivate someone to flee the scene.
  • Types of roadways may also affect the likelihood of a hit-and-run. For example, undivided roadways or roads with lower speed limits increase the chance of hit-and-runs mostly because they are the roads pedestrians are more likely to cross versus high-speed interstates with minimal exposure to pedestrians.
  • And, not surprisingly, urban areas have more hit-and-runs than low-population areas.

Countermeasures: What You Can Do

These statistics are alarming. What can you do to avoid being another victim of the increasing number of hit-and-runs?

When a Collision Happens

If you are in a vehicle and are the victim of a hit-and-run, follow these steps as you are able:

  1. Pull over to get out of traffic. Write down or take a picture of the license plate number of the other vehicle. Police say that many victims are tricked when the driver of the other vehicle appears to pull over but then takes off, leaving behind a very confused victim.
  2. Try to get a description of the vehicle and where it is heading as it speeds away.
  3. Contact law enforcement immediately and tell them everything you know about the driver and what happened.
  4. Photograph the damage.
  5. Stay This can be very difficult to do if you are the victim of a hit-and-run, but panicking largely decreases your chance of getting that viable information that can be used to find the person responsible.

Avoid a Hit-and-Run as a Pedestrian

A pedestrian hit-and-run can be a little more challenging. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind as a pedestrian to try to reduce the risk of being hit by a car.

  1. Wear bright colors or reflectors so you can be more visible to drivers. Colors that easily reflect light, like white or yellow, are good choices. Reflectors can make you visible in a car’s headlights up to 500 feet.
  2. Stay on the sidewalks and crosswalks, especially at night.
  3. Stay off roads without sidewalks, or walk against traffic if there are no sidewalks. Walking against traffic allows you to see oncoming cars that might not see you.
  4. Look where you are going. When crossing a street, look left, right, and then left again.
  5. Be alert. You can’t control what other people are doing, but by being alert, you can control what you’re doing and how you might need to react to a potential situation.

Of course, none of these things can guarantee safety, but by doing your best to stay safe, you are potentially reducing your risk.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from Experienced North Carolina Lawyers

If you or someone you know was the victim of a hit-and-run injury or fatality, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. Our North Carolina car accident lawyers offer a free case evaluation.

Would You Know if Your NC Workers’ Comp Injury Was Incorrectly Denied?

In North Carolina, there are three basic types of workers’ compensation claims. Each has its own nuances and special circumstances to try to prove to the workers’ comp insurance company that they owe you benefits.

  1. Injury by Accident describes an external factor that caused your injury. Perhaps you tripped and fell or coworker dropped a computer on your foot. Were you injured while driving a company truck? North Carolina law says that you likely must be compensated for injuries that are caused by an accident. Without the help of an attorney we have seen instances where injured workers were denied compensation.
  2. Specific Traumatic Incident occurs when you are able to determine exactly when and where your injury occurred, yet it did not result from an accident. You may have lifted something and your back locked up. Or did you reach for a tool and pull your shoulder? From a workers’ compensation standpoint, specific traumatic incidents typically only apply to spine injuries. Some things that may at first look like a specific traumatic incident can fall under the definition of injury by accident. And many times, a carrier will wrongfully deny a claim (when the injury is to a body part other than your back) based on their argument that no accident occurred. This is one of the many reasons we urge folks to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. There are so many nuances as to whether an injury is or is not the result of a specific traumatic injury. How would you know these nuances? You can bet the insurance company knows them. And they know how to try to deny your claim based on what they suspect you don’t know!
  3. Occupational Disease typically refers to a condition that develops over time as a result of your job duties and/or your work environment. Most people are familiar with carpel tunnel syndrome or exposure to mold, asbestos, or hazardous chemicals. Some workers’ compensation insurance companies will sometimes try to deny these claims and refuse to cover treatment. It is up to you to show that your job elevated your risk of injury. For someone who is not an experienced workers’ comp lawyer, this can be a tough claim to prove. We try to do this every day for our clients. That is another reason we urge injured workers to contact us. These claims can be a very tricky to prove.

Exceptions to Injury by Accident

Different rules apply for injuries to the neck and back, hernias, and repetitious motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

In North Carolina, it is generally understood that for an injury to be deemed compensable (in other words, it was an injury by accident), it must occur by accident, and in the course and scope of employment. This definition applies to injuries that result from accidents that are unexpected or unanticipated. You can also think of an accident as an event or interruption that’s not part of the normal, everyday, performance of your job. Were you performing your normal work routine, or did you, for example, have to apply an excessive or unanticipated amount of force to open a stubborn crate?

Unfortunately, this means that not every injury that occurred at work will be considered the result of an accident. In other words, it may not be compensable. Here are some exceptions.

In order to be deemed compensable, spinal injuries must occur as the result of a “specific traumatic incident,” which is a more flexible standard and does not necessarily require an unexpected event. For example, if you sustain a herniated disc while lifting a box at work, even though you may have been performing a routine part of your job in the normal manner, you may very well have a compensable workers’ compensation claim.

Like back injuries, hernia injuries may also be compensable if they are the direct result of a specific traumatic incident of the work assigned. However, a stricter application of the rule applies to hernia injuries compared to back injuries. For a hernia injury to possibly be compensable it must appear suddenly following the injury and it must be a new hernia, and not one that had developed prior to the accident.

Finally, repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome may be (or may not be) a compensable occupational disease. Unlike an injury by accident or specific traumatic incident, an occupational disease typically develops more slowly, through prolonged workplace exposure to a particular agent or action. While certain medical conditions are expressly identified as an occupational disease in North Carolina, many are not. I have seen some insurance companies try to deny those that NC workers’ compensation laws state are compensable. These types of injuries represent a very grey area and can be difficult to prove for the uninitiated. One insurance carrier tried to blame an employee’s tendonitis on her pregnancy, claiming that tendonitis is common during pregnancy. For that reason they tried to deny her claim.

While not every work-related injury will be compensable under North Carolina workers’ compensation laws, many injuries are, and may likely entitle you to benefits. But how would you know your injury is compensable? We know. And we know how to try and prove it.

What Makes James Scott Farrin Workers’ Comp Lawyers Different?

We will often use a team approach when handling workers’ compensation cases. Any number of attorneys and paralegals may work on your case in addition to firm resources. (You, incidentally, are part of that team.)

We may consult with any one of our attorneys and paralegals that previously worked for insurance companies. They know first-hand how some insurance companies may try to delay, deny, and defend your claim because they have seen this happen from the inside.

Nearly half our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation law. We think this is a pretty big deal as it is the highest level of specialization available in North Carolina, and only a small percentage of NC attorneys can make that claim. Very small.

We may consult with one or both of our two former North Carolina Industrial Commissioners on your case. (The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) is the impartial agency that administers and enforces workers' compensation laws.)

We may seek the counsel of our former North Carolina state senator who helped write some of North Carolina’s worker’s compensation laws.

Several of our attorneys have more than 10 years of experience. Some speak at seminars for other workers’ compensation attorneys. Others have written books about various areas of law, and three have received coveted awards for workers’ compensation, including:

  • Best Lawyers in America “Best Lawyer1” and “Lawyer of the Year2” for Raleigh (twice)
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine “Rising Star3 ” and “Super Lawyer4” (three times)

Get a Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

When it comes to trying to get the benefits you may deserve from the workers’ comp insurance company, there is a lot at stake. That is why we urge anyone who has been injured on the job to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. We will try to ensure that all the necessary measures are taken to try to prove your right to benefits.

 

1 “Best Lawyer” Matt Healey from 2013–2018; Barry Jennings from 2015–2018
Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey. For the 24th edition of The Best Lawyers in America (2018) more than 58,000 leading attorneys cast more than 7.4 million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel Magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit 
www.bestlawyers.com.

2 “Lawyer of the Year”: Matt Healey in 2015 and 2017.
Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the “Lawyer of the Year,” making this accolade particularly significant. Lawyers being honored as “Lawyer of the Year” are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the exhaustive peer-review assessments conducted with thousands of leading lawyers each year. Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity. For more information on the rules of inclusion visit 
www.bestlawyers.com.

3 “Rising Star”: Ryan Bliss in 2018; Matt Healey from 2010–2013; Barry Jennings from 2011–2013.
Published by Super Lawyers. To be eligible for inclusion in “Rising Stars,” a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. “Rising Stars” undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state by state basis. While up to 5% of the lawyers in any state are named “Super Lawyers,” by Super Lawyers magazine, no more than 2.5% are named to the “Rising Stars” list. For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit 
www.superlawyers.com.

4 “Super Lawyers”: Matt Healey from 2014–2016.
Published by Super Lawyers. “Super Lawyers” undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state-by-state basis. For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit 
www.superlawyers.com.

Will I Lose Benefits if I Don’t See a Doctor Right After My Work Injury?

A question I am sometimes asked by perspective clients is whether their workers’ compensation benefits can be denied if they did not see a doctor immediately after their work accident.

Seeing a doctor immediately after a work injury can help your work injury claim.

While there is no strict requirement that you must see a doctor immediately after a work accident, it is generally a good idea to see one as soon as possible. Having a medical doctor evaluate your injuries after an accident offers documented proof to the insurance company and your employer that you sustained an injury. The insurance company isn’t simply going to take your word for it. Without documentation, the insurance company or your employer may not believe that you were injured and they could try to deny your claim. We’ve seen this happen.

Notify Employer of Injury Within 30 Days (In Writing)

The very first step you should take after you are injured on the job is to notify your employer of the injury and accident. The law requires you to provide this notice within 30 days of the accident. The notice can be either in writing or by simply telling your employer of the injury and accident. While you can certainly verbally tell your employer that you were injured, experience tells us it is always safer to put the notification in writing. Again – you need documentation that you informed your employer. And your employer needs documentation. You can send an email, write a letter, or send a text message telling your employer when, where, and how you were injured on the job.

Get Medical Treatment as Soon as Possible

After informing your employer of your injury, they may direct you to a specific doctor for medical care. What we’ve seen happen is that often the employer will send you to a medical facility, such as an urgent care-type facility. Make sure you attend that medical appointment and explain to the doctor exactly how you were injured and tell them all of the medical problems you are having related to the injury. It is important to be clear and direct when communicating with the doctor so hopefully they can document the circumstance surrounding your injury and accident so that your employer and insurance company can understand exactly what happened.

If your employer or their insurance company do not direct you to medical care after your report of an accident, then you should let them know that you are going to seek care on your own. If they are unwilling to provide you medical care you can use health insurance if you are covered to obtain this medical care. If you do not have health insurance and your injury is causing major problems, then seeking treatment at an emergency room can be an option. Or, an urgent care-type facility is also a good option if you do not have health insurance and are able to afford the cost of the initial visit.

If the employer or their insurance company directs you to medical care, they will be able to access the medical records from the initial visit. The law allows this access so they can further direct your medical care. If they choose to direct your medical care, it is generally a good idea to allow them to do so and to cooperate with the medical treatment they provide. If you choose not to go to the doctors they send you to, that can sometimes be a basis for denying your claim.

Overall, it is important that you notify your employer immediately after an accident at work where you sustained an injury. It is also important to seek medical care as soon as reasonably possible. If you do not notify your employer or if you delay your medical care, you could be creating a situation where the insurance company and your employer may eventually try to deny your workers’ compensation claim.

Why Is Immediate Medical Care So Important?

When you go to the doctor they will document your injuries, how and when you said you received them, and they will outline a plan of care. Without this documentation, it can often be difficult for an attorney to effectively help you if there is not enough information documented that proves you were injured around the time the injury and accident occurred.

In sum, not seeking immediate medical treatment is not an absolute bar to obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, but it certainly can make obtaining those benefits much harder if you sustained a significant injury at work.

These are just some of the reasons that we always urge injured workers to contact us as soon as possible. There are so many traps and pitfalls injured workers can potentially fall into simply because they are not experienced in workers’ comp law.

We are experienced. Our North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin have the knowledge and experience to fight for you if the insurance company tries to deny you the medical treatment you need to get better. Based on our team’s 150 years of combined experience, it is almost always a good idea to speak with us about your circumstances. Our confidential case evaluations are free, and you may learn that you’re entitled to more than the insurance company claims.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

If you are injured at work and your claim is denied for reasons relating to medical treatment, or the insurance company and employer are failing to provide you medical treatment, contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078 so we can discuss working together to try to protect your rights.

P.S. Want more good reasons to contact us about your work injury? Click here.

Is Lane Splitting Dangerous?

A new California bill that defines and regulates lane splitting in the state has prompted other states, including North Carolina, to consider renewing attention to this debate.

Lane splitting – aka lane sharing or white-lining – is when a motorcyclist or scooter cuts between lanes of slower-moving traffic, or pulls in front of stopped traffic at a red light.

It is currently illegal to split lanes in North Carolina and in every other state except California. If you have ever driven on the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles or the Oakland Bridge in San Francisco, you can at least understand why California allows lane splitting. Nothing moves because these and many other California roadways are often idling bumper to bumper. Sitting on a hot bike in bumper-to-bumper traffic can be a miserable experience.

Lane splitting is deemed by some to be safe, if done by experienced and safety-minded motorcyclists. Others disagree, insisting that there is too much potential for catastrophe.

When Andy W. was in a motorcycle wreck he learned the hard way that the insurance company was not on his side. Click here to read what led Andy to us, and to a settlement* he was very happy with.

Pros and Cons of Lane Splitting

A 2015 study by the University of California Berkeley found that the risks of lane splitting can be somewhat mitigated under certain circumstances. For example, the study found that splitting is safest at 50 mph and under and also if motorcyclists traveled at a speed difference no greater than 15 mph than surrounding traffic.

Advocates point out that lane-splitting can help prevent motorcycles from becoming a stationary target in the event of an accident, particularly rear end accidents. California does have slightly fewer fatalities from rear-end collisions per registered motorcycle than other states, although there is no research to support why.

Some say lane splitting can be good for drivers, too, because it can help to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions from idling in traffic.

Opponents, on the other hand, make some worthwhile points about the potential dangers inherent in this practice – most of these dangers originating from other drivers.

  • Unexpected doors opening
  • Sudden lane changes from other vehicles
  • Vision impairment around large trucks
  • Collisions with turning vehicles
  • Too high of speed differentials when splitting lanes.

There’s one caveat to the Berkeley study that opponents emphasize. It found that of the motorcyclists involved in nearly 6,000 collisions in California, 17% had been lane splitting.

Consequences of Lane Splitting in North Carolina

The motorcycle accident rate nationally is significant when compared to cars — motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to be killed in a wreck, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Still, the California bill, in combination with the potential benefits of easing traffic congestion, has made lawmakers in other states, including ours, open to considering this practice.

One of the primary challenges of legalizing lane splitting in North Carolina is that drivers may not be prepared for the change. This could lead to an upsurge of motorcycle accidents, which could result in even more injuries and fatalities – at least initially.

There are legitimate arguments for and against this practice. On a personal note, about the only time I could see myself even considering lane splitting would be if traffic were at a complete standstill. Regardless of where you fall in this discussion, I hope you have safe and enjoyable ride!

What are your thoughts about lane splitting? Tell us on Facebook.

Get a Free Consultation From North Carolina Motorcycle Injury Lawyers

If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident of any kind, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free and confidential case evaluation.

 

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

One Key Question Can Make or Break Your Worker’s Comp Claim

While no two workers’ compensation cases are alike, all of them have one thing in common. When you make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster will likely ask you to give a recorded statement, whereby the adjuster will ask questions and you will answer them.

This blog addresses a critical question you will probably be asked:

“Were you doing your usual work routine when this happened?”

How to Answer Adjuster’s Questions

When you sustain a work-related injury, it is important that you provide a detailed explanation as to how your injury occurred. Leaving out relevant factors could result in denial of your claim even if your employer or the workers’ compensation carrier authorizes you to receive medical treatment and compensation payments.

The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act allows your employer and the workers’ compensation carrier to make these payments from up to 90 days after receiving notice of your injury.

The more serious your injury is or becomes, the greater the likelihood the employer, and/or the workers’ compensation carrier, may potentially deny your claim if you have left out relevant factual information in a written accident report and/or a recorded statement.

What Is Considered “Usual” or “Unusual”?

If you have sustained an injury to a body part other than your back as a result of a specific incident at work, the injury must be the result of an unusual set of circumstances for you to obtain coverage. If the injury is the result of a routine activity that you usually do at work, it may not be covered. For example, an auto repairman may routinely get down on one knee to change a tire. If, on a particular occasion, he kneels in the same manner as he routinely does and sustains a meniscus tear to his knee, the injury will probably not be covered.

Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. And some may look for any reason to try to deny some claims. Leaving out factors that show that the circumstances resulting in your injury were unusual at the time of the injury may result in an initial denial of your claim or a denial within 90 days of the notice of your claim.

Typically, even after an injured employee may have been authorized to receive medical treatment for a work related injury and/or received compensation payments, the workers’ compensation adjuster will request that you participate in a recorded statement. The adjuster knows that if they are able to get the injured employee to agree that the injury was the result of how the employee usually performed the activity, then the adjuster can legally deny the claim.

Adjusters sometimes ask fair open ended questions such as, “What, if anything, unusual occurred that resulted in your injury?” It is important when asked this question that you describe all possible unusual factors that may have resulted in your injury.

On the other hand, we have seen some adjusters set out to trap the injured employee. For example they might ask a leading question such as, “Isn’t it true that you were doing your usual job routine when you were injured?” Be truthful, but careful in how you answer this question. They may ask it several times and in several different forms during the recoded statement. Again, it is important when asked this question that you describe all possible unusual factors that may have resulted in your injury.

We believe it is safer that an injured employee secure counsel for advice before going on record with an adjuster. A lot is at stake. Every word you use or do not use to describe a work related injury can determine the outcome of whether your claim is ultimately accepted or denied.

If your claim is denied because you left out relevant facts in a written accident report or in a recorded statement, we urge you to seek legal counsel. Here at James Scott Farrin, we have successfully* helped thousands of injured employees.

Get a FREE Evaluation From an NC Workers' Compensation Lawyer

Sadly, your workers’ comp insurance company may have their own financial interests in mind instead of helping you heal and get back on your feet.

With experienced workers’ comp attorneys who deal with these issues every day, including six North Carolina Board Certified specialists in workers’ compensation law, we do have your best interests in mind. Before you proceed with a recorded statement, contact us or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

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

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

4325 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27607
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

2915 Raeford Road, Suite 204
Fayetteville, NC 28303
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