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#1 Killer of Teens is Car Accidents -- Could Defensive Driving Courses Help?

You never forget your first one.

Your first driver's license, that is.

Remember when you first got your driver's license and you couldn't wait to get behind the wheel of your mother's station wagon? Funny how many things we'd eagerly volunteer to "go get" for our moms. Windows down, radio blaring, checking ourselves out in the rearview mirror, looking to see who sees us. (Never mind that you're driving a mom mobile.)

The carefree days of teenage driving. It's a rite of passage.

For today's teens, it's a rite that is fraught with responsibilities, distractions, and hazards many times over what we faced. Are your teen drivers prepared? Really prepared?

Car Accidents #1 Killer of Teens

Nationally, car accidents are the #1 killer among teens - and texting while driving is the #1 reason for those highway deaths, WRAL reported. Just in the first three months of 2016, nearly half as many teens have died in car accidents on North Carolina's roads than in all of 2015, according to WRAL.

Put that on your Twitter page and tweet it (but not while driving).

To the Rescue! Defensive Driving Schools for Teen Drivers

To help teens become better prepared for today's increasingly perilous driving environment a number of defensive driving schools and courses have been popping up nationwide, many here in North Carolina. This is not your father's Driver's Ed 101. It's Driver's Ed on steroids. Teens get up close and personal with roadway hazards by getting behind the wheel with a professional instructor to learn how to maneuver in an effort to avoid hazardous situations.

carHere is a statistic from one such school - Charlotte-based B.R.A.K.E.S (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe). This statistic is so alarming, even your over-confident teen driver may stop Snapchatting long enough to pay attention.

There's an 89.2% chance a teen driver will be in a car accident during the first three years of driving.

The laws of rounding indicate that's nearly a 100% chance. But don't take away the keys just yet.

According to B.R.A.K.E.S, teens who have completed the free* four-hour B.R.A.K.E.S. training are 64% less likely to be in a car crash in the first three years of driving.

B.R.A.K.E.S is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering behind-the-wheel training in advanced safety maneuvers for teens. All of the instructors have backgrounds in various professional driving instruction, including racing, law enforcement, or stunt driving in movies. The school is AAA-approved, endorsed by the National Coalition for Safer Roads, and Consumer Reports listed the organization among its preferred list of defensive driving schools. KIA sponsors them by supplying the cars that the teens drive in the program.

The good news for North Carolina teens (and parents!) is that, although B.R.A.K.E.S offers training throughout the U.S., it is headquartered in Charlotte and offers monthly training courses at the Zmax Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as well as periodically in the Raleigh area. Here are some of the defensive skills they teach new teen drivers, according to their website.

Accident Avoidance/Slalom Exercise

The accident avoidance and slalom course is a two part course that forces students to make a split- second reaction to negotiate a quick, evasive lane change without losing control. This part of the course is designed to simulate an animal or object jumping out in front of a car. The second part of the course is a coned slalom course where students must negotiate their vehicle around cones while focusing on weight transfer, hand positioning, and eye scanning.

Drop Wheel/Off Road Recovery Exercise

The drop wheel recovery course teaches students how to effectively recover from a drop wheel situation by regaining control of the car and safely returning to the roadway. Drop wheel accidents are among the highest causes of injuries and deaths across the U.S.

Distraction Exercise

The distraction course forces a driver to negotiate a tightly coned course while being distracted by the instructor. The course is designed to demonstrate just how dangerous cell phones, text messaging, music, traffic, and friends in the car can be.

Panic Stop Exercise

The panic stop course is designed to teach students the proper technique to stop a vehicle in the shortest distance while maintaining control. Students experience first-hand the effects of an A.B.S. (Anti-Lock Braking System) and its ability to keep the wheels from locking while pulsating brake pressure.

Car Control and Recovery Exercise

The skid pad course is designed to prepare students how to drive in bad weather situations and not to lose grip (control). The students are taught how to properly recover from both over-steer (rear wheel) and under-steer (front wheel) skids.

A dad's testimonial about putontheBRAKES.org

"My son and I attended BRAKES at the LA County Fairgrounds on April 26th. Yesterday, he was alone driving home from a high school baseball game approaching an intersection, on a green light about 45 mph. At the very last second, a car turned left in front of him. My son hit the brakes hard, engaging the abs, and steered away from the car as he stayed hard in the brakes, narrowly avoiding a collision. He attributed his reaction and collision avoidance to everything he learned at BRAKES. He described how, during the incident, he had anticipated the other driver turning in front of him and he knew the ABS engaged because of the feel and knew to stay on them as he steered away. The scenario was virtually identical to what he experienced at the school. Your school paid for itself 1000 times over last night. Thank you so much."

 

North Carolina Defensive Driving Training

Here is a list of some of the defensive driving courses in NC as of May 2016.

Charlotte

B.R.A.K.E.S once a month

Offers courses once a month at the ZMax Dragway in Charlotte. Four 4-hour classes are offered each weekend - two on Saturday and two on Sunday.

Raleigh

NCSHP Training Center, 380 East Tryon Road, Raleigh, NC 27529

Franklin

Street Survival School Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Sutton Public Safety Training Center, 225 Industrial Park Loop, Franklin, NC 28734

NC Attorneys Evaluate Car Accidents FREE

The last thing we want is your teen in an accident. Many of us are parents and we understand how much is at stake. If you're in that unfortunate situation, let us help with the legal issues. Click here to contact us 24/7, or call 1-866-900-7078. We will evaluate your situation for FREE over the phone or online.

 

*B.R.A.K.E.S training asks for a $99 refundable deposit to hold your reservation. If you choose to leave your deposit, it will turn into a donation, which is tax deductible.

Isn’t My Insurance Company Looking Out for My Best Interests?

In an effort to illustrate why you probably shouldn't deal with insurance companies without a lawyer on your side, let's play make-believe.

Let's pretend you are the head of a large profitable company. An insurance company. The competition on the insurance company playground is tough. Some don't always play fair and they'll do anything to take business (translation: money) away from your insurance company. Even if it means trying not to pay out money to accident victims.

Experience has taught us that the insurance company playground can have its share of bullies. Bullies who have been known to try to take money away from accident victims, just like schoolyard bullies try to take candy from little kids! And just as appalling, some clients may not even know they're being bullied into giving away their candy!

Here's a perfect example* as recalled by one of our negotiators:

"We often hear about some insurance adjusters who will put $500 checks and releases on the cars of people who have been in wrecks to encourage them to take the settlement money. If the people sign the checks, sometimes there's nothing we can do. They don't realize they're signing away their rights. This happens a lot in the Latino community because the releases and checks are in English."

Dealing with Insurance Companies up Close and Personal

If this isn't shocking enough, check out some of the stories in Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly. It highlights even more actual situations as told by our own employees - wonderful people who stand up for what's right day after day. These good folks - lawyers, paralegals, negotiators, and hard-working administrators - fight tooth and nail to try and achieve results. We believe our firm stands out precisely because of who these people are and how much they care.

The anecdotes and insights in these stories are real (although unfortunate) accounts. They serve as a microscopic view into what the real world of dealing with some insurance companies can look like up close and personal. And it shows how we have made a difference for thousands of clients*.

N.C. Personal Injury Law Firm Offers FREE Case Analysis

Years of experience has taught us a painful lesson. Sometimes, some insurance companies (and others) don't play nice. We won't stand for that kind of abuse of the system, the laws, and especially our clients - 30,000 for whom we've recovered over $600 million total since 1997!*

If you've been injured and you feel like you're getting the run-around from the insurance company, click here to contact us right now or call 1-866-900-7078. We're here 24/7, and we will evaluate your situation for FREE over the phone or online.

PS: If you feel like you need a bath after reading through Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly, click here for a collection of soul cleansing stories that reveal just how far we have been known to go on our clients' behalf*.

*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 as a whole. These descriptions of events are based on upon the recollections of individual staff members.

How Much Can I Recover After My Car Accident?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Policy Limits in North Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help Collect

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

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

* Insurance Research Council 1999

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

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

Should I Wait for Final Insurance Offers to Decide If I Need a Lawyer?

The short answer to this question is a resounding no!

Rarely, is it advisable to wait until the insurance company makes an offer before deciding to consult a lawyer. In fact, it's rarely a good idea to wait until the insurance company is ready to settle your claim before consulting one.

Why You Shouldn't Wait to Contact a Lawyer

Why don't we advise waiting? Because the clock begins to run out on your claim the moment you're injured.

You only have 30 days to file

  • Notify your employer of the injury in writing as soon as possible within that 30-day window.
  • Notify your employer orally if you can. (Oral notification is not required, but it's in your best interest.)
  • File a claim with the NC Industrial Commission within 30 days of your injury.

Many crucial decisions will need to be made and necessary paperwork properly filed early on. If not done promptly and properly, it could hinder your chance to receive all the benefits you may be entitled to under the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act - including medical care and wages. The process can be highly bureaucratic and can trip up even the most diligent filers.

Because our attorneys work on a contingency basis (you don't pay us an attorney's fee unless we recover money for you), the cost is the same whether you hire an attorney from the get go or later in the process. An attorney can potentially get more done on your behalf in less time because we navigate this process daily, we have the paperwork at our disposal, we have relationships with most insurance companies, and with the Industrial Commission, if there's an issue needing immediate attention.

Mistakes Often Made Without an Attorney

Injured workers may mistakenly believe that the insurance company and their employer will take all necessary steps to ensure their claim for benefits is properly managed in a timely fashion. We've seen otherwise.

Be forewarned: Delay by the injured worker, the employer, or the insurance company, can quickly sabotage a workers' compensation claim. This could potentially result in even greater compensation losses, and possibly a longer road to recovery.

Once an injury is reported, the insurance company may rush you to give them a recorded statement. What you say may be turned around, misconstrued, taken out of context, and could potentially be used against you. Your own words may even cause your claim to be denied. When you're talking to an insurance adjuster you are talking to someone who has a better understanding than you of the ins and outs of the workers' compensation process.

The insurance company may offer you money to settle your case at any point during the process. What we've found is that some insurance companies may offer as little money as possible as soon as possible so they can close your case. They know that your wage-earning capacity has been affected and that you need to pay your mortgage, rent, utilities, car payment, etc., so you may be more inclined to take their offer. Once your case is closed - they're off the hook for further reimbursement. That's just good business in their world.

4 Ways a Worker's Compensation Lawyer Can Help You

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, more than half our workers' compensation attorneys are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in workers' compensation law. Fewer than 1%*of the 28,000 attorneys in North Carolina are NC board certified workers' compensation attorneys. We can help:

  1. Even the playing field. Our experienced workers' compensation team deals with insurance companies, employers, the Industrial Commission, medical personnel, and all the players in between, day in and day out.
  1. Prepare to give a recorded statement to the insurance company. How you state your answers to their questions - although truthful - can potentially help or hurt your claim. Depending on the type of injury, some may not even manifest until days or weeks later. If you give a statement too soon, that injury may not get recorded.
  1. Try to make sure you have received all necessary treatment. Trying to get you all the treatment necessary helps ensure we've left no stone unturned toward your recovery. After all, if your case has settled, and you find out two months later that those headaches were the result of a mild concussion from your injury, you will not be reimbursed for additional treatment.
  1. Evaluate the insurance company's offer to make sure it is reasonable and fair. Experience has taught us that when the insurance companies make offers, they are not always reasonable - or fair. We've negotiated enough claims for our clients to know what is best in each unique situation.

2016 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms"

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin received the 2016 U.S. News - Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" Tier 1 ranking (the highest ranking) for Workers' Compensation in the greater Raleigh area**. This achievement came from nearly 700,000 law firm assessments and more than 47,000 client evaluations.

Give us a call at 1-866-900-7078 and let one of our workers' comp attorneys - evaluate your situation for free.

* Statistics from North Carolina State Bar, through December 31, 2015

** Visit www.bestlawfirms.usnews.com for more information about criteria for inclusion

How Does Mediation Work?

When injured in an accident that isn't your fault, it's probably safe to assume that you, like most people, simply want to be paid what's fair. While obtaining fair payment may seem like a simple and straightforward process, it can quickly become complicated and confusing.

When negotiations with the insurance adjuster fail, then options exist to try to ensure that your compensation is fair and just. From offer to counteroffer, court filings, mediations, to trial, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has experienced professionals on staff to counsel you at all levels of civil litigation - including mediation.

Will My Case Require Me to Go to Mediation?

Mediation is not the same thing as settlement negotiations, which occur at the beginning of your case, and mediation is only undertaken after settlement negotiations fail and you file a lawsuit. After settlement negotiations fail, you would begin your lawsuit by filing your case in civil court.

Whether or not you proceed to mediation depends on whether you file in superior court or district court. For the purposes of this blog, the primary difference between superior court and district court is the amount of money you seek in your lawsuit.

If your case involves more than $25,000, you must file it in superior court, and mediation is required. Superior court rarely allows you to skip mediation and go straight to trial.

If your damages are $25,000 or less, then you must file in district court where mediation is not required.

What Happens in Mediation?

Let's say you are headed to mediation. Here's what it might look like.

Mediation takes place outside the court, typically at an office. There is no judge. No facts will be decided. The point of mediation is to reach a settlement. The people who attend mediation are:

  • The plaintiff (that's you - the person filing a claim for damages). You must attend mediation, because you have final settlement authority. In other words, you are the only one who can determine if the terms the other party is offering are acceptable, and thereby end the mediation.
  • Your attorney, who will negotiate on your behalf
  • The attorney from the defendant's insurance company
  • The mediator, who is a neutral third party

The defendant doesn't necessarily need to attend. Your lawyer has the option of excusing him or her.

Mediation vs. Trial

Mediation may potentially benefit you by eliminating the costs of going to court. For example, you will likely not have to pay an expert witness (such as an accident reconstructionist) to testify on your behalf. Moreover, going to court involves additional costs that can chip away at the final dollar amount you may receive.

Headed to Mediation?

The best advice when headed to mediation is to arm yourself with an experienced legal team who has researched your case, talked with you about the value of your case, and knows what your case may really be worth.

Combined, our attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin have handled countless mediations. We can prepare you for mediation, attend mediation with you, counsel you on the reasonableness of the defendant's offers and counteroffers, and advise whether to accept your settlement or proceed to trial.

If you've been injured in an accident that wasn't your fault, call us 24/7 at 1-866-900-7078 or click here for a free case evaluation.

The Money the Insurance Company Offered Seems Fair. Should I Settle?

You might be surprised - even relieved - when an adjuster offers you a settlement for your injuries within a few days of your accident. But be forewarned.  If you're still hurting or injured, you should not accept a settlement from the adjuster - even if it sounds like a good offer.

Even if you feel like you've recovered from your injuries, it's still prudent to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to help gain a better understanding of your legal options.

Why Shouldn't I Settle as Soon as Possible?

Once you accept a settlement from the insurance company, your case is closed. Period. That means you release the insurance company from all future claims pertaining to that accident. Their responsibility for your medical treatment or anything else related to the accident is finished.

Moreover, the beginning of your case is usually too early to assign a value to your injury claims. Most people don't know the full extent of their injuries and treatment plan until time has passed. Severe bruising, for example, could turn into a blood clot, which could travel to your lungs. A slight head injury might seem benign at first, but could lead to swelling on the brain or a concussion. You just don't know, and only time and medical treatment can tell.

Why Shouldn't I Sign a Scheduled Release?

You might encounter what we refer to as a "scheduled release." This is when the adjuster offers to keep your claim "open" for a certain number of days to cover medical bills up to a specified amount within that time period. The problem with a scheduled release is that - again - you can't predict how your medical condition will progress or regress. What happens if you don't get better during that time period and you need further treatment? What happens if you get worse - when that headache slowly turns into double vision? If you sign a scheduled release - you're out of luck.

Insurance Company Tactics to Try to Pay You Less

I've found that these and other quick offers can be a common practice among some insurance companies. Experience in dealing with personal injury matters has taught me that most injured people do not know their rights and how the law works. Unfortunately, some insurance companies can use this to their advantage. Remember, their objective is often to pay you the least amount possible on your claim, and the adjuster's objective may be to get you to accept the least amount sooner rather than later.

Why Do I Need to Get Medical Care Immediately?

The importance of obtaining medical treatment cannot be stressed enough. If you aren't getting treatment, there's no documentation or proof that you were injured. There are any number of issues related to treatment that you might be unaware of that could have a detrimental effect on your case. Poor treatment, overtreatment, and gaps in treatment, for example, can effect compensation and create difficulties when trying to negotiate maximum compensation.

Our job as attorneys is not to direct medical treatment. However, we can let you know the effects and various outcomes that different treatment situations may potentially have on your compensation at the end of your case. In general, you should receive the necessary treatment for recovery, follow your doctor's recommendations, avoid large gaps of time with no treatment, and meet all your scheduled appointments.

Once treatment is complete and you are no longer considered injured, we are in a much better position to properly evaluate the value of your claim.

Will an Attorney be Able to Get Me More Money?

Compensation varies case by case. The overall goal of representation is to increase the amount of your recovery and put you in a better financial position - even after fees. That is why, if you are injured, it's important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.

If you have questions, or want to see if we can help, contact us or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078.  After your free evaluation, we can let you know whether or not representation might possibly add value to your claim.

Why Do I Need Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance?

No one wants to be involved in a car wreck. Believe me, as a personal injury attorney I've seen my share of injured clients. And while the physical injuries are difficult enough for my clients to deal with, I've witnessed financial hardships accident victims have gone through who received little or no financial compensation. Why? Because they didn't carry uninsured motorist insurance (UM) or underinsured motorist insurance (UIM).

What Can Happen if I Don't Carry UM or UIM?

First of all, if your car is insured in North Carolina under a personal policy, you automatically have UM. That's because in 2009, it became mandatory for all insured drivers in the state to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is just what its name implies - it covers you if you are injured by an uninsured driver.

When you or your passengers are involved in a car wreck - whether you're a driver, a pedestrian, riding a bike, etc., - the "at fault" driver (or their insurance company) is typically responsible for paying your medical bills and other related expenses. Even though medical bills can potentially reach tens of thousands of dollars, North Carolina only requires a minimum of $30,000/$60,000 in auto insurance:

  • $30,000 is the maximum insurance will pay to one individual
  • $60,000 is the maximum amount it will pay to all injured victims. In other words, no matter how many people are hurt, the insurance company will pay out no more than $60,000 divided among them, whether that amount covers their bills or not.

Roughly One of Every 11 NC-Licensed Drivers is Not Insured

Although car insurance is mandatory in North Carolina, the latest statistics (2012) from the Insurance Information Institute show that 9.1% of North Carolina drivers do not have car insurance. That means roughly one of every 11 NC drivers you might encounter along I-40 have no insurance to help pay medical and other bills if they sideswipe you - maybe while texting!

Here are three primary situations to be aware of where underinsured or uninsured drivers can make your life miserable if you don't have UM or UIM:

  1. Driver is not insured at all (the 9.1%)
  2. Driver flees the scene in a hit and run
  3. Driver does not have enough auto insurance

Let's look at a couple of scenarios to see how the three situations above would play out with and without UM or UIM.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

Driver 1 is not paying attention and rear-ends your car. Driver 1 is cooperative, but has no insurance. You could take her to court, but there is a decent chance she is judgment proof. Being judgment proof in North Carolina means you may not be able to go after a bank account or other property to collect. Depending on the circumstances, this means you could sue her and even win, but you may never see any of the money you "won" from the lawsuit. If you have UM, you can file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. And since you were not at fault, you have an opportunity to be compensated fairly without your rates going up.

Now let's assume Driver 2 runs into you as you're walking on the sidewalk. He flees the scene, and the police are not able to catch him. If there's no driver, there's no one to go after for your medical bills. UM coverage may also help you in this scenario, by potentially allowing you to recover money - without your rates going up.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

Unlike uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage is optional in North Carolina. That being said, UIM is fairly cheap and can save you a lot of money and headache if you're seriously injured. As the name implies, underinsured motorist coverage applies when a driver is underinsured, meaning they do not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills or damages.

Here's how it might play out. When you are injured by a negligent driver, you first collect from their insurance company. If the driver does not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills and other expenses, then you could potentially be stuck paying those bills yourself - unless you have underinsured motorist coverage. As discussed earlier, the person who hit you may be judgment proof, and you may never collect the full amount due, even if you get a successful verdict in the lawsuit. So to get the money you need for bills, you may be able to file an underinsured motorist claim. This may potentially cover the difference from what the other guy's insurance pays and the bills you owe.

As an example, let's assume Driver 3 injures you and your claim is worth $80,000. Driver 3 admits fault, but only has the $30,000 minimum insurance required in North Carolina. This means his insurance company would only be required to pay you $30,000. After collecting the full $30,000 from his insurance company, you still have $50,000 in bills. If you have underinsured motorist coverage, and depending on the amount of your policy, your insurance company may cover the difference.

These scenarios - which our law firm deals with far too often - represent why I emphasize the need for UM and UIM. Each can be a financial life saver. And filing a claim with your UM or UIM shouldn't make your rates go up.

Do I Need an Attorney for UM or UIM Claims?

Based on my experience, typically the answer is YES. Even though you are dealing with your own insurance company, experience has taught me that they may try to pay you the least amount of money possible. That's why it can be important to have someone fighting for you who knows the system. You may have had nothing but good experiences with your agent or a customer service rep in the past, but all that love can potentially change when money is on the table. If you find yourself in one of these or other unfortunate scenarios, contact one of our personal injury attorneys by clicking here or call 1-866-900-7078.

 

How Can I Negotiate With the Insurance Company for a Better Offer for My Car?

Car Accident_06082014_smIn a car accident, the at-fault insurance company may accept responsibility for the damage to your vehicle and make an offer to settle the property damage claim. You will almost always deal with the at-fault driver's insurance company through its adjuster. An adjuster is the person the insurance company hired to review and negotiate your claim. Typically, part of the adjuster's job is to try to minimize your claim in order to control costs for the company. When the insurance company accepts fault, and makes an offer, this will either result in repair of your vehicle, or they will decide the vehicle was a total loss and pay you for the vehicle's value.

If you are satisfied with the insurance company's first offer, then it is fine to accept it. However, what should you do if you do not believe the offer is fair? If you are not satisfied with the insurance company's offer, then you should arm yourself with information to negotiate with the insurance adjuster.

Offers to Repair

An insurance company will often offer to repair a vehicle if the cost of repairs plus supplemental claims equal less than 75% of the vehicle's pre-accident cash value. "Supplemental claims" include things like the projected rental vehicle costs during the repair period.

The pre-accident cash value is sometimes called the "fair market value." Fair market value is the price a willing buyer would pay a willing seller, when neither is being compelled to buy and/or sell, and both have reasonable knowledge about the relevant facts. When calculating repair costs versus value, insurance adjusters may use the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) publication, the "Official Used Car Guide," to determine the fair market value. The NADA is published monthly. It is available online at www.nadaguides.com.

While the insurance company may use the NADA book value to determine fair market value, the book is only a guide. There is more room to negotiate based on the actual condition of your vehicle.

You should get estimates for the amount of repairs your vehicle will need. After you get the estimates, and provide them to the insurance company, the insurance adjuster may make an offer over the telephone. If you do not agree with the telephone offer and the adjuster has never seen the damaged vehicle, then you can require the adjuster or the insurance company's appraiser to personally inspect your damaged vehicle.

If you do not agree with the settlement offered by the adjuster, you have the right to request that the adjuster send to you in writing the amount of the offer along with the specific policy provisions or legal basis the adjuster is relying on in support of the offer.

An adjuster may tell you they want you to take your car to a particular garage - typically, a garage with which they get a volume discount. However, you have the right to take your vehicle to any repair shop of your choosing.

Offers to Pay Cash Value for a Total Loss

Car Accident_07312014_SMA vehicle is legally considered a total loss if the cost of repairs and supplemental claims equal or exceed 75% of the fair market value. If this is the case, the liability insurance carrier is required to pay fair market value for the vehicle.

Fair market value is often determined via a local market survey. Local fair market value must be determined by using either the local market price of comparable vehicles or, if no comparable vehicles can be found, quotes from at least two qualified dealers within the local market area. If your vehicle was in better-than-average condition prior to the collision, the adjuster is required to give due consideration to this fact when determining value.

It is also important to note that the insurance company is not necessarily obligated to pay the full balance of an existing lien on the vehicle. If you owe more on the car than it is worth at the time of loss, all the insurance company has to pay is still fair market value, not the payoff amount.

You should require the adjuster to give you a written statement, along with the total loss payment. This statement should include estimates, evaluations and deductions used in calculating the payment, as well as stating the source of these values.


Complaints About the Insurance Company

Claims Adjustor_06132014_SMIf you have a complaint about an insurance company and the way they are handling your claim, you may call or write the Consumer Insurance Information Division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance. The toll-free telephone number is 855-408-1212. The mailing address is: North Carolina Department of Insurance, Consumers Services Division, 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699.

The Consumer Services Division will take information from you and then an analyst from the Division will request information from the insurance company, agent or adjuster. If the analyst finds that there is just cause for the complaint then a recommendation will be made to both sides as to how to settle the situation. If this does not resolve the problem, a deputy commissioner may arrange a conference with the insurance company involved to resolve the problem. If the conference does not resolve the disputed issue, then the deputy commissioner may recommend to the commissioner that appropriate legal action be taken including a public hearing (filing a lawsuit).

Our Recommendation:  No Need For an Attorney Unless You Were Hurt

At our firm, we recommend you handle most property damage claims yourself. This can save you both time and money-you do not want to unnecessarily delay the property damage aspect of your claim, and it is often not cost effective to hire an attorney to pursue property damage.

However, if we represent you on a bodily injury claim related to the accident,

Whatever the size of your case, we believe you deserve the best representation and service we can provide. If you have questions, or want to see if we can help, give us a call at 1-866-900-7078.

How Hit & Runs Affect Your Ins. Rate (And 4 Steps to Minimize the Damage)

Being in a hit and run accident is frustrating, and to make matters worse, victims often are confused about how to proceed. After all, the accident wasn't your fault, so you shouldn't have to pay for the damages, right?

Right.

Police_06132014The best case scenario is that the driver who hit you is found and  has insurance, but that is often not the case. And even if the driver is found, they may not have liability insurance coverage anyway.

If the driver is not found (or doesn't have liability insurance), your damages will typically be paid under your policy's "uninsured / underinsured motorist" coverage, which all policy holders in North Carolina are required to have.

If you've been injured in a hit and run accident and want to speak with someone right now, click here to contact a NC hit and run lawyer.

Will Filing for Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage Affect my Insurance Rates?

The short answer is: it shouldn't. In most instances, if you're not deemed responsible for the accident, your rates should not go up in the state of North Carolina.

However, in our experience your insurance company is likely to try to minimize the amount you receive for damages, such as your medical bills, time out of work, and other losses. In some cases, they may even deny payment entirely!

The best defense against this is to:

1) Get Medical Care Immediately (and Consistently!)

Insurance companies view medical care as evidence. First, be sure to report everything, right away. There's no such thing as "too minor."

Something small like nose pain, could be an indication of a larger problem that could get worse and require surgery or other major work later on. If you didn't report it right away, your insurance company might say that it wasn't related to your accident and refuse to cover the costs.

On a related note, if you say you injured your lower back, but keep skipping your physical therapy appointments or don't seek medical help right away, your insurance company may use this against you to say that your claims aren't real or serious.

2)      Collect Evidence

Even if you report everything and get consistent medical care, an insurance company might still try to deny or lessen your compensation. If this happens, you may have to prove your claims and this can be a tall order.

Keep any damaged personal items, the clothing you were wearing the day of the accident (DO NOT wash it!) and all paperwork related to your insurance claims or medical treatments.

Collect any pictures that were taken of your injuries, vehicle damage, property damage, skid marks, street signs, and even the weather on the day of the accident, as these could be useful later on.

3)      Contact Your Local Police Department

Since a hit and run is a criminal offense, the police should be investigating your case. Let them know that you are willing to cooperate in whatever capacity and tell them everything you can about the accident - even if you're not sure that it's relevant.

Below are a few non-emergency numbers for police departments in North Carolina.

 

Don't see yours listed? Click here for a complete list of police departments in NC.

4)      Let a Professional Review (for free)

No matter how much evidence you collect, it's still very possible that your insurance company may offer you less than what you may deserve.

They may try to steer you otherwise, but before you settle, give a recorded statement, or sign anything, it's generally a good idea to have an attorney review your case to make sure you aren't signing away any rights or losing potential benefits.

Many accident attorneys will do this for free.

Afterwards, if you decide to hire a lawyer, he or she may be able to help investigate your case.

Want to know if you're being treated unfairly for your insurance claim? Click here to get a professional opinion or call us 24/7 at 1-866-900-7078.

We'll try to answer any questions you have and there's no obligation to hire us afterwards.

What to Do After a Car Accident – These 10 Resources May Help

Even "minor" car accidents are rarely simple.

And if you were injured in the accident, it may be even more important to get all the facts about how to proceed.

We've put together some of the basic resources to help you understand some of the issues you may face, but each case is unique, and we strongly recommend that you contact a North Carolina car accident lawyer.

Here are 10 resources you may want to look at:

  1. Our website - There you'll find an immediate way to contact one of our staff LIVE and arrange for a free case evaluation. Links to what we do, information about car accidents and what to expect, and what steps to take and when. Includes helpful videos answering frequently asked questions.
  2. The Property Damage Booklet: a quick, helpful guide with answers to frequently asked questions about property damage to your vehicle and what you should do about it.
  3. Self-help booklets:
    Inside Information: Insurance Companies May Not Want You To Know

    After a Crash: Don't Make These Two Mistakes
  4. Our YouTube page, with videos you really should see.
  5. Case results that have made a big difference in clients' lives.
  6. Video:  What is the first thing I should do if I've been in an auto accident?
  7. Video: Do you really need an attorney after an accident?
  8. Video: What you should look for in a personal injury attorney.
  9. Video: I was in an auto accident. Will I have to go to court to settle my case?
  10. Video: Are laws different for a personal injury claim when a child is injured?

When you get hurt in an accident - get help.

Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 or at click here to send us a message.

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