After an Accident, Beware of Delayed Symptoms
In 2015, North Carolina reported approximately 251,638 traffic crashes were reported, of which almost 124,000 people were injured. This was an increase of 11.1% from the previous year, according to the North Carolina 2015 Traffic Crash Facts, put out by the NCDOT.
Delayed Onset of Symptoms
Drivers and passengers often display obvious signs of injury after severe automobile accidents, but sometimes individuals involved in traffic crashes do not exhibit these symptoms until hours or days later. If you have been involved in a major or minor traffic crash, you should be aware that an injury could have occurred for which you are not yet symptomatic. It is common that an accident victim thinks they are uninjured at the time of the crash, only to find out later that they have suffered significant injuries with a delayed onset of symptoms. It is important that you let EMS evaluate you after a crash and go to the ER if you’re having any symptoms within the first couple days, because if you do not, an insurance adjuster can use your lack of treatment to attempt to prove that you were not actually injured, and are faking your injuries to get money. Having a record of medical treatments dating back to the crash is the best way to prove your injuries are real and legitimate.
How to Get Your Lost Wages Covered After an Accident.
After a severe accident and disabling injury, you will likely have medical bills that need to be paid, as well as damage to your vehicle for which you’ll be seeking compensation for. If you were employed at the time of the accident, you can also make a lost wage claim to get compensated for the work you missed, due to your inability to perform your normal job. It is not uncommon for someone to miss a day or even a week of work following an accident, but what if its several weeks, or more? Some individuals will have sick pay or vacation days to draw from, but an experienced personal injury lawyer can help make sure that those responsible for your crash are held accountable.
Necessary Lost Wage Documentation
In order for you to get paid for lost wages as part of your insurance claim, you will need to provide several pieces of documentation to the insurance company. First, you will need a note from your treating physician that outlines your inability to work for a set date range. It is important that the note lists specific dates or durations of time, so that the insurance company knows exactly how much time was missed, and that the absences were substantiated by the physician who treated you. In addition to your doctor’s note, you’ll need a note from your employer stating how much time you missed as a result of the accident, and your rate of pay. This is important because the insurance company will need to verify your wages so that they can correctly calculate how much money you are owed. Thirdly, in many cases, a client is required to provide recent pay stubs or tax records, as another way of verifying that you earn what you say you earn. Typically, the 4 most recent pay stubs are sufficient, but check with your attorney, or the insurance adjuster you’re dealing with to make sure you’re submitting the proper supporting documents.
The Nature of Your Injuries
In order to claim lost wages for your injuries, you must have sustained injuries that your medical provider agrees limits your ability to perform your job. This means that there must be medical documentation that you were unable to perform the daily tasks associated with your job. Jobs that requires manual labor can be a little more straightforward when it comes to proving a loss of earning. If you work in a warehouse, or on a production line for example, and your doctor says you are unable to lift more than 10 lbs., stand for more than 1 hour, or walk more than 30 yards, this clearly demonstrates your inability to perform your job. If, however you have a desk job, and suffered a concussion with traumatic brain injury symptoms, it can be more difficult to prove that your injuries prohibit you from working. At the end of the day, it is your physician’s notes that will make the case.
Loss of Earning Potential
This refers to your ability to earn wages in the future. If you were injured in a severe accident and experience a decrease in your ability to earn wages as a result, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you obtain compensation for your diminished capacity to earn in the future. For example, if you are a 40-year-old construction worker, your lawyer (with the assistance of an economic expert witness) can help build a case for the future financial effects of your injuries that take into account your salary, raises or salary increases applicable to your industry, your work life expectancy (to help calculate retirement age for your job) and other relevant factors to get the insurance company to compensate you partially or fully for lost earning potential.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident, it is vitally important that you speak to a personal injury lawyer, so that you can get a clear sense of how strong your case is, and what it is worth. Only then will you have the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interest. We offer free, no pressure consultations and would be happy to sit down with you and see how we can help. Call or Email today
More From Our Blog:
Slip and fall injuries in a commercial space
Slip and Fall injuries are some of the most common accidental injuries in the United States. These types of injuries can be severe in nature and require extensive medical care, rehabilitation, physical therapy and even surgery. Being injured in a slip and fall accident at a store or other commercial property can be frightening, disorienting, and confusing. What happened? Whose fault was it? Who is responsible for paying for medical bills incurred because of the accident? We have helped many clients who were injured on commercial property and had a premises liability claim against the owner. If you have questions about an injury you sustained at a store or other commercial property, call our office today to speak with our team and find out how we can help.
Delayed Injury Symptoms After an Accident
In 2015, the NCDOT reported that 251,638 traffic accidents occurred in North Carolina, of which 123,589 people were injured. This is an 11% increase from the previous year.
In some accidents, injuries sustained by drivers and passengers are obvious, and their symptoms are evident right away. However, in some cases, notably sprains and strains of the neck and back (classified as soft tissue injuries), symptoms and issues can arise over hours or even days, and may not be evident at the accident scene.
How Do I Get a Rental Car After My Car Accident?
After a car accident, it is likely that your vehicle is damaged or totaled and that you find yourself in need of a rental car, so that you can manage your daily obligations. If your vehicle is unable to be driven, you’re probably wondering who is responsible for paying for your rental car? When is the insurance company is going to pay for your repairs? If your car is totaled, when are they going to send you a check so you can buy a new car?
What Documents Do I Need to Build a Case for My Insurance Claim?
They key to making sure you’re properly compensated for an accident claim with an auto insurance is being organized, and having all of the necessary documentation in its place. In order to demonstrate to an insurance adjuster that your accident happened, and that your injuries are legitimate, you will need to provide certain pieces of information and documentation. Without some of this information, and insurance company can and will poke holes in your claim and find ways to diminish the value of, or deny your claim altogether. The following are some of the documents you will want to have on hand to submit along with your claim:
Make sure you get a copy of your North Carolina Accident report that was generated either by local police or state highway patrol. The Asheville Police Dept. offers an online crash report request form that you can use to get a copy digitally, or you can request a copy by mail from the NCDMV. That route is quite a bit slower, so plan ahead accordingly. Don’t have an accident report because the police were not contacted about the accident? Click here for information on how to proceed in that case.
You’ll need to request copied from all of your medical providers who treated you after the crash, including the ambulance service, emergency room/hospital network, physical therapist, chiropractor, any specialists you saw, and family physicians. It is also helpful to get records from before the crash from your primary care doctor to prove that none of these symptoms or injuries existed before the crash. If you had chronic back pain (for example) before the accident in which you had acute back injuries, it’s not the end of the world. This will be seen as an exacerbation of a previous injury or ailment, which still is valued by an insurance company. Having these documents ready and organized shows the insurer: that you actually received the treatments you say you did, that you’re actively trying to get well, and that you mean business when it comes to making your case. Most health providers will supply you with a record request form, but you’re welcome to download and use our Sample Letter to Request Medical Records.
Lost wages require some specific documentation to get properly compensated. Beyond your employer saying that you missed work, you need a note from a treating physician stating that you are “unable to work” due to injuries sustained in the accident for a specific date range or amount of time from when the letter was written. Once you have this note from your doctor, you can request from your employer a letter that states: your job title, your pay rate, how many hours a week you work, how much time you missed from your job (including sick and vacation days used), and the total amount of income lost as a result of your accident. Download our Sample Wage Verification Form if your employer cannot provide one.
You will want to know the coverage limits of your auto insurance policy, so that you’re prepared to negotiate within the boundaries of the coverage you’ve contracted for. The minimum coverage requirements in North Carolina are $30,000 Bodily Injury for each person, $60,000 total Bodily Injury for all persons in an accident and $25,000 for Property Damage. We recommend significantly better coverage to make sure you’re protected, click here for more info
Record Written and Verbal Communication
We always recommend communicating in writing, either by mail or email, so there is incontrovertible proof of what was said by whom, and when. Save every email and letter you receive in the event that there is a dispute about communications. If you do communicate by phone, we highly recommend recording those calls for the same reasons. There are a variety of apps designed for this purpose for your smartphone as well as hardware devices you can use for your land line. However, email communication ensures a transparent and accurate record of what was said by whom.
Obtain Witness Statements
Witness statements are invaluable in the effort to prove your case, in the event of a discrepancy about the event you’re claiming occurred, and occurred in the manner you’re saying it did. Make sure to get written statements from anyone who witnessed your accident. Get them as soon as possible, to ensure that its fresh in their memory, and before they move/change their phone number or email. They can be as simple as a first person account of what they saw. Be sure to get their contact info so you can get in touch with them later, just in case.
Photos of the Accident, Injuries and Property Damage
Photographing the accident scene, your injuries and your vehicle damage is tremendously helpful in demonstrating the severity of your case. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and photos are a whole lot more compelling than a list of injuries and damage. In addition to photos of your damaged vehicle, take pictures of the roadway or intersection, to help show what happened. If your accident happened near or in front of a gas station or convenience store, there might be security camera footage that shows the accident, which will be very helpful to obtain, as well. You will want to request this ASAP, as security camera footage is frequently purged to maximize hard drive storage, so if you go back 3 weeks later (or even 1 week in some cases), footage of your accident may be gone.
When to Hire an Attorney
While in some cases, it may be in your best interest to settle your accident claim without a lawyer, like for example, if you have less than $1000 in medical bills, minor injuries and when fault is undisputed. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer has the knowledge and resources to handle your claim, communicate and negotiate with an adjuster, and help you get the compensation you deserve. In addition to being your strong advocate, they also handle all of the records requests, investigation, and organization tasks associated with a successful claim outcome. Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and will speak with you about your accident.
If you need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to help decide how best to proceed with your car accident claim, call or email today. We’d be happy to help you figure out your options so you can make a plan going forward that is in your best interest.
What Should I Expect From My First Meeting With a Personal Injury Lawyer?
In the aftermath of a serious accident, one of the choices you will have to make is whether or not to contact a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation. Often, clients will meet with several different attorneys to decide which attorney is the best fit for them, and discuss their case. Here is what you should expect from those initial meetings.
Meeting Your Attorney
Who Is Responsible for Paying for Damage to my Vehicle from an Accident
If you’ve been in an accident and your vehicle has been damaged or totaled, you’re probably wondering who will pay for the repairs to, or replacement of your vehicle. The answer is almost always automobile liability insurance. Property damage and injuries are covered by your car insurance, in the case of an auto accident that is your fault. The same is true in the case of an accident that was not your fault. If the accident was another drivers fault, you will likely be dealing with the at fault drivers insurance, unless they have no coverage or insufficient coverage. In that case, you may have to deal with your own insurance to get money from your uninsured/underinsured coverage on your own policy. If you’re unsure how to pursue these sources, it is wise to contact an experienced personal injury attorney, who can assist you by evaluating your case and helping you formulate a plan of action. Most personal injury lawyers don’t charge to talk to you, so it’s almost always a good idea to at least talk to one, before agreeing to, or signing anything from an insurance company.
Think You Can’t Afford to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
In the aftermath of an accident, it can be difficult to know how best to proceed . You may be recovering from serious injuries, but you’re also likely facing potentially large financial obligations like medical bills, car repair costs, and lost wages. Due to the overwhelm and mounting financial burdens, many people think that they will be unable to afford to hire a personal injury lawyer.
What Does it Cost to Hire an Attorney to Help with your Injury Claim?
When people consider hiring a personal injury attorney, they often believe that they can’t afford an attorney, due to the common stereotype that attorneys charge expensive hourly rates. In some practice areas this is true, but almost all personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and handle cases on a contingency basis. This means, for example, that your car accident lawyer will not be paid anything unless your case reaches a settlement or positive outcome/judgment. To put it bluntly, they only get paid if you do. Most North Carolina injury lawyers charge a contingency fee that will be roughly 1/3 of the final settlement or judgment. Consulting with a personal injury attorney is not only extremely affordable, but also is likely to be in your best interest.
5 steps to ensure that your claim is secure
If you’ve ever been involved in a car crash, you’ll know that it’s hard to think clearly immediately afterwards, particularly if you’ve been injured in any way. The trauma and surprise of being in an accident can be overwhelming and disorienting. As a result, many people fail to document important things that can come back to bite them later when they try to recover money from an insurance company for their medical bills or car damage.
Here are the 5 most important things to do to properly investigate the accident so you won’t get screwed by the insurance company later on down the road.
Asheville Dog Bite Medical Care and Treatment
Asheville residents who have been bitten by dogs often don’t know what kind of medical treatment they will need for their injuries. Some dog bite victims aren’t even sure they need treatment. However, even seemingly minor dog bite injuries can be a big problem if left untreated. Here are a few things you can expect when seeking treatment for a dog bite:
Medical tests after dog bites
My claim was denied based on “Contributory Negligence”. What does that mean?
In North Carolina, when you are injured because someone else was negligent, the negligent person is liable for all of the consequences of your injuries. A typical example is when you are hit by another vehicle on the road. The person who crashes into you is responsible for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. The car insurance company for the at fault driver will contact you and evaluate your claim. Sometimes the insurance adjuster will deny your claim because of “contributory negligence”. What does that mean?
Commonly Used Personal Injury Terms To Know
Many Asheville residents find it difficult to keep up with the lawyerspeak involved in their personal injury claim or lawsuit. Learning a few of the most common legal terms you’re likely to see in the legal process can help you to navigate your claim, because knowledge is the best tool you bring to the table when it comes time to negotiate and settle your claim. Here are some terms you’re likely to see in the beginning stages of a lawsuit:
The complaint is a document that an injured person (the plaintiff) or their personal injury lawyer writes and files with the court. The complaint initiates a lawsuit. It lays out each of the injured person’s grievances, describes how the negligent person (the defendant) caused those grievances, and asks the court to make a decision that compensates them for these grievances. Plaintiffs usually ask the court for money.
What Can You Expect When You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer? (VIDEO)
When you hire a personal injury lawyer to help you with your case, you should have a reasonable expectation of what that lawyer is going to do. After all, you’ve just agreed to give them a sizable percentage of whatever money they can obtain for you, not to mention entrusting them with handling your case with care and attention, so that you can be made whole again after being injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault.
In this video, Asheville Personal Injury Lawyer Lakota Denton lays out what you can expect from a reputable lawyer, and some of the processes and considerations that will be evaluated as your case is investigated, negotiated and settled (or if a lawsuit needs to be filed if a reasonable agreement can’t be made).
Personal Injury Pain and Suffering Calculator
If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled by law to certain money damages. These usually include payment for your medical bills, lost wages, and something called “Pain and Suffering“. Calculations for Medical bills and lost wages are usually very easy – if you have a $5,000 medical bill, the at fault party owes you $5,000 to pay for that bill. But money damages for physical pain and mental suffering is much more difficult and subjective to calculate.
Here are some of the factors that help determine the value of physical pain and mental suffering. Keep in mind that a jury usually makes this valuation, and settlements are usually based on how a jury might value the case.
I’ve Just Been in a Car Accident, What Should I Do Now? (VIDEO)
Asheville Car Accident Lawyer Lakota R. Denton explains what you should do in the immediate aftermath of a car accident, to help ensure that you don’t get taken advantage of by an insurance company. This video contains some of Lakota’s tips, based on having dealt with hundreds of car accident victims in Western North Carolina.
If you have questions about your car accident or would like some assistance with your insurance claim, don’t hesitate to contact our office today. Our consultations are always free and we’re here to help.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me with my Personal Injury Claim? (VIDEO)
As an Asheville personal injury lawyer, it is common that someone comes into my office asking if I can represent them in a minor car accident claim. When a car accident is minor and the details are simple, I often advise the potential client that they handle the claim on their own, armed with some basic knowledge and know-how. Occasionally, these clients return to my office down the road looking for help resolving the claim, if they are unable to reach an agreement with the insurance company or adjuster.
When can you handle a claim by yourself?
You can attempt to settle a claim by yourself, and avoid paying your personal injury attorney the 33% fee (that most all injury lawyers charge), potentially saving you thousands of dollars. For example, if you are able to settle your case for $10,000, you will not have to pay your attorney the $3,333 that they charge for representing you.
Asheville’s Most Dangerous Roads, Part 3: South Tunnel Road (VIDEO)
In part 3 of our “Asheville’s most dangerous roads” series, Attorney Lakota R. Denton examines Asheville’s most dangerous roads and intersections, as outlined by data from the NC DOT. Attorney Denton urges drivers in Asheville to Slow Down, to help us keep Asheville safe and walkable for our citizens, children and pets.
Why should you let paramedics treat you after a car accident?
Many people involved in car accidents are in shock immediately after the crash. As a result, people often feel like they are fine, don’t feel any pain, or assume that what little pain they have will go away soon. These people usually refuse to allow EMS to treat them or to go to a hospital. This can have serious consequences when trying to recover from injuries that manifest hours or days afterward.
How to Maximize you NC Car Insurance Policy
our law firm deals with auto insurers on a daily basis. A large part of what we do involves helping clients recover compensation from other peoples insurance, or their own insurance. We often have to delve into a client’s policy to determine their coverage for: liability, underinsurance, uninsurance, medical payments, excess coverage, property coverage, and other forms of coverage, in order to help our clients obtain the fair compensation they are owed as a result of their accident. Here are some tips from our office to help you make sure that you’re getting the most out of your North Carolina auto insurance policy, based on my experience as an Asheville personal injury lawyer.
Asheville’s Growing Pedestrian Safety Issues
Asheville residents who have ever walked in our city know the dangers of being a pedestrian in a growing region. Some of the most pedestrian-heavy areas in Asheville are also the most dangerous for people walking or bicycling. This phenomenon is not specific to Asheville; dozens of growing cities across the country are experiencing similar growing pains that are hazardous or even deadly to pedestrians. The need for more pedestrian-friendly city planning is evident here and in other cities with rising populations.
Asheville’s Street Design
A recent study by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association noted a dramatic rise in the number of pedestrian deaths from 2015 to 2016. Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016. Last year’s increase reflects a trend of rising numbers of pedestrian deaths overall; pedestrian fatalities also rose from 2014 to 2015.
How to Handle your Asheville Slip and Fall Injury
Slip and fall accidents injure countless people every year. Broken bones or injuries to the neck, back, and joints can leave fall victims in chronic pain for years. The confusion and shock of a fall that causes injury often leaves victims at a loss for what to do after they’ve fallen in a store or other public place.
Is Your Loved One a Victim Of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect?
Like many Asheville families, you may have struggled with the decision of whether to place your aging loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. These facilities are often the safest place for seniors with aging-related medical conditions. However, many nursing homes fall short of fulfilling their obligations to patients, often leading to negligent or intentional harm by the employees of these facilities.
Negligence in nursing homes
Accidents do happen even in the best care facilities. Residents’ physical and mental conditions often cause them to fall, wander, or put themselves into other dangerous situations. However, if your loved one seems to have frequent accidents, nursing home negligence may be the real culprit.
Asheville Pet Safety with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue (VIDEO)
As part of our Slow Down Asheville program which aims to ensure the safety of Asheville’s children, pedestrians and pets, we sat down with Brother Wolf Animal Rescue’s Mike Stiles, to discuss what he sees as the biggest threats and challenges to pet safety in Asheville. Lakota R. Denton is a proud business sponsor of Brother Wolf and No-Kill Asheville. Thanks Mike Stiles for your time and insight, and thanks to Brother Wolf for their support of Slow Down Asheville!
Asheville’s Most Dangerous Roads, Part 2: Patton Avenue (VIDEO)
In this series, Asheville Car Accident Lawyer Lakota R. Denton examines Asheville’s most dangerous roads and intersections, as outlined by data from the NC DOT. Attorney Denton urges drivers in Asheville to Slow Down, to help us keep Asheville safe and walkable for our citizens, children and pets.
Asheville’s Most Dangerous Roads, Part 1: Merrimon Avenue (VIDEO)
In this series, Asheville Personal Injury Lawyer Lakota R. Denton examines some of Asheville’s most dangerous intersections, as outlined by data from the NC DOT. Attorney Denton urges drivers in Asheville to Slow Down, to help us keep Asheville safe and walkable for our citizens, children and pets.
What Happens to my Personal Injury Claim if the At-Fault Driver is Cited for DWI?
Thousands of drunk driving accidents occur in North Carolina each year, many of which are fatal. If you were injured by a drunk driver, you may deal with the injuries from your accident for the rest of your life. Victims and their families often feel uncertainty about their futures after a car accident, and one involving a drunk driver can bring with it a lot more questions and uncertainty. Here are some common questions injured people have after a drunk driving collision.
What happens to my claim if a drunk driver is underinsured?
Drunk drivers often cause damages that far exceed what their insurance policies will pay for. The minimum coverage limits for insurance policies in North Carolina is:
- $30,000 of bodily injury coverage per person
- $60,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 of property damage coverage per accident
Because of the high speeds, erratic behavior, and delayed response time involved in drunk driving accidents, injuries tend to be more severe than accidents that do not involve alcohol. Severe injuries may require life-saving treatment, emergency surgery, intensive care, and weeks or months of physical therapy – all of which can quickly exceed the drunk driver’s insurance policy limits. This leaves many injured people asking how they can pay their remaining medical bills after an accident.
Slow Down Asheville Welcomes Brother Wolf Animal Rescue As Newest Partner
Individuals visiting Brother Wolf’s adoption center in Asheville can pick up their free Slow Down Asheville yard sign in their retail store, to help keep their neighborhood safe for children and pets.
How to Handle an Asheville Car Accident
As an attorney who handles Asheville car accident claims every day, I want to help people stay informed and know their rights. Its important to understand the legal landscape of an auto accident claim, but also how certain factors specific to Asheville and Western NC in general can affect your claim.
Follow your physicians medical advice
If you’ve been in an accident and have been injured, it is imperative that you allow medical personnel such as Buncombe EMS to treat you at the accident scene, and transport you to the hospital if they deem it necessary. If the doctor in the ER says to follow up with your primary care doctor in 5-7 days, I recommend you follow this. If their office cannot see you in that timeframe for any reason, go back to the ER or an Urgent Care facility within that window. Why? Because “Gaps in Treatment” are viewed as proof of a minor or no injury at all. As far as an insurance adjuster is concerned, people who have serious injuries follow the medical advice of their doctor. Period.
When Is a Bar Liable for Its Drunk Customers?
Drunk driving kills 30 people every single day in the United States.
Law enforcement, education, and punishment are all helpful ways to reduce drunk driving and save lives. However, bars and restaurants also have a responsibility to help prevent drunk driving. How? It is against the law for a bar or restaurant to serve alcohol to someone that they know, or should know is drunk. Bars and restaurants that follow the law help protect us all from drunk drivers on our roads.
Every State in the country has a law that says if you sell alcohol, you cannot sell alcohol to someone that you know or should know is intoxicated. The purpose of these laws is to protect everyone from drunk drivers.
What to know about Whiplash and Car Accident Injuries
Car accident victims often jeopardize their personal injury claims by not seeking medical attention. Soft tissue injuries like whiplash frequently present no symptoms immediately after an accident. Days or even weeks could pass before the severity of your injuries becomes obvious. Knowing the symptoms of whiplash could help you determine whether you should visit a doctor after your Asheville car accident.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when the head and neck move rapidly backward and forward. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash, typically in the form of rear-end collisions. The force of these collisions results in severe strain to the muscles and tendons in the neck and spine, causing pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion in the neck and back.
What Happens If the At-Fault Driver Wasn’t Ticketed Following Your Car Crash?
How do I handle an accident with a commercial truck or 18-Wheeler?
Have you been injured in a semi truck accident?
Hundreds of thousands of truck accidents occur each year. Many of these result in death or injuries to the people involved. Motorists in passenger vehicles are especially vulnerable to catastrophic semi truck accident injuries when they are in accidents with commercial trucks. Truck accident medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses often leave families with no idea what to do or where to turn for help.
What to Do After an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
What are my options if I’m in an accident with an uninsured driver?
North Carolina state law requires all drivers to carry auto liability insurance. Despite this, thousands of people in our state drive without auto insurance coverage. You may not know what to do if you’ve been involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver. Even if you’ve been hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver, you still have some options for seeking an insurance settlement.
What is contributory negligence and how does it affect my case?
Contributory Negligence in North Carolina
Many car accident victims become confused when they learn about the concept of contributory negligence in North Carolina. They usually discover that their car accident claim is barred when the at-fault insurance company denies their claim on the basis of contributory negligence.
In North Carolina, people who allege negligence cannot file suit if they were even partially responsible for their damages. Many common-sense beliefs about car accidents and liability do not apply in North Carolina because of the state’s contributory negligence doctrine. One common situation is when a victim is injured when they are rear-ended at a stoplight. The victim was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Common sense suggests that the driver who rear-ended the victim should “automatically” be held liable for the accident. However, the driver who was rear-ended will likely be barred from suing the other driver because their injuries partially resulted from their own negligence.
What are punitive damages and how do they affect my car accident case?
Can I receive punitive damages for my car accident case?
Punitive damages get a lot of media attention, especially when a jury awards a plaintiff a multimillion dollar verdict. The headlines that these verdicts create lead many auto accident victims to wonder if they could receive punitive damages for car accident cases.
Punitive Damages Definition
There are two types of damages that a plaintiff might receive from a jury: compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are based on the actual damage the injured person experienced, like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. Punitive damages are awarded specifically to punish a defendant for egregious actions. Punitive damages go above and beyond the plaintiff’s actual damages.
Why Lawyers Turn Down Personal Injury Cases
5 Reasons Lawyers Might Not Want Your Case
Many injured people find themselves asking, “Why won’t a lawyer take my case?” You may have spoken to several different attorneys, none of whom was willing to take your case. What’s worse, they may have given you only a vague answer when you asked why they wouldn’t represent you. There are many different factors that could make a “good” car accident case; however, most “bad” car accident cases have the same few factors in common. Here are a few circumstances that could lead to lawyers turning down your personal injury case.
Car Accident Insurance Coverage
What Insurance Coverage You’ll Need After an Accident
Many people don’t start asking questions about their car accident insurance coverage until they’ve been in an accident. This is when it’s most important that you have the coverage you need – but if you don’t have good coverage, then it’s too late to change it. Here are some coverage options you’ll probably need if you’ve been in an accident. Some types of coverage are required by North Carolina state law, while others are merely a very good idea.
The First Steps to Take After a Car Accident
What to Do and Why After a Car Accident
The stressful nature of collisions makes it difficult for many people to think clearly about the next steps to take after a car accident. However, the unfortunate reality of these situations is that everything you do can complicate your car accident claim later. Here’s what to do in the first moments, hours, and days after a car accident.
Small Claims Auto Accident 101: Writing a Demand Letter
This is part one of a two-part series on what to expect when you’re handling a small claims auto accident case. The first post covers the first steps in dealing with your small claims case, from collecting evidence at the scene of the accident to documenting your injuries and treatment. This post will cover writing your demand letter and negotiating with the insurance adjuster.
How to Negotiate a Small Claims Auto Accident Without an Attorney
After your doctors have determined you have fully recovered from your accident, you will have to write a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You should have all of your medical bills and records from the dates of treatment related to your injury. This will allow you to make a demand for the full amount you are responsible for. You should attach copies of all your medical bills and medical records to the demand letter when you send it to the insurance company.
Small Claims Auto Accident 101: First Steps
This is part one of a two-part series on what to expect when you’re handling a small claims auto accident case. The first post covers the first steps in dealing with your case, from collecting evidence at the scene of the accident to documenting your injuries and treatment. The second post will cover writing your demand letter and negotiating with the insurance adjuster.
How to Handle a Small Claims Car Accident
Occasionally, potential clients come in to my Asheville personal injury law firm asking for advice on a car accident claim that they could easily handle on their own. It often surprises people when I recommend dealing with small claims auto accident cases without an attorney. This is usually a complex process, but it can be done.
The truth is that going it alone is often the best thing for people with small claims, who can recover compensation for car accident bills without having to hand over a major part of it to a lawyer for legal fees. The typical attorney’s fee for personal injury case settlements is 33% of whatever is recovered, so a settlement of $5,000 would result in $1,650 in legal fees. That leaves only $3,350 for you to cover your bills, lost wages and other expenses.
Settling your own auto injury claim is not always a good idea. In very few cases do I recommend a person handle a personal injury case without an attorney. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Has the other driver admitted fault?
- Did your medical bills and property damage bills come to less than $5,000 altogether?
- Did you visit an emergency room, urgent care or primary care doctor immediately after your accident?
- Do your doctors believe that your injuries were caused by your auto accident instead of being pre-existing injuries?
Why Your Personal Injury Suit is Taking So Long to Settle
When Will My Personal Injury Case Settle?
One of the most pressing issues Asheville car accident victims face is how long it takes to settle a claim. If you’ve been injured in an accident, you probably have a lot of expenses and debt already, especially if your injuries were severe. There is no specific answer to how long a case will take to resolve, but there are a variety of factors that could extend the amount of time you’ll have to spend on your claim. Here are a few of these factors.
You’re still healing from your injuries
Long recovery periods might be one reason your personal injury suit is taking so long to settle. Some accident victims take years to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), a term that means that their doctors expect that they’ve recovered from their injury as much as they possibly can. Attorneys generally advise clients to wait until they’ve reached MMI to settle to make sure they’ve received all their bills. Settling before you have a complete picture of all of your bills could leave you high and dry later on if you aren’t finished with your treatment and you owe thousands more to a provider.
How to Pay Medical Bills After a Car Accident
What to Do About North Carolina Car Accident Medical Bills
Asheville residents who have been involved in car accidents are faced with many problems once they’ve been discharged from the hospital. The question that plagues everyone is about how to pay medical bills after a car accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will not pay for any of your treatment costs until there is a settlement agreement, which could leave you on the hook for your bills – for now.
Ideally, you will obtain a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company to compensate for all your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses you had to pay because of your accident. However, you generally won’t be able to reach a settlement until you have completed all your treatment. This makes sense because you can’t specify what all your monetary damages were until you know the total of all your bills. However, it’s frustrating because someone’s going to get stuck with the bill, and for a while that someone is you.
The good news is that there are several different methods of paying medical bills after a car accident. The bad news is that, even though there may be several resources available to you, it can still be confusing. Here are the most common ways people pay their medical bills after an accident.
8 Ways to Maximize Your Personal Injury Settlement
If you’ve been in a car accident, you’ll eventually start thinking about how to maximize your personal injury settlement in order to cover your bills. There are a few tried-and-true tactics that lawyers recommend when settling or litigating car accident claims. Here are 8 tips on getting the most money from your car accident claim.
1. Follow Up with Medical Treatment Immediately
In order to have a high-value car accident case, you must lay the foundation for your claim. Even though you might feel fine at the scene of the accident, it’s crucial to get care as soon as possible. If you do not seek treatment within 72 hours of your accident, the insurance adjuster will most likely deny your claim outright.
Are Personal Injury Settlements Taxable Income
What Makes Personal Injury Settlements Taxable?
The vague feelings of dread that accompany tax season might be especially intense if you’re wondering if your personal injury settlement is taxable. Federal tax laws specifically address what circumstances make personal injury settlements taxable.
The good news is that you may not have to pay taxes on a personal injury settlement. However, the bad news is that there are a few circumstances where the IRS may be entitled to some of what you receive from the insurance company. The IRS website has more information on personal injury settlements and federal taxes.
5 Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Attorney
What are the right questions to ask a personal injury attorney?
Finding the right personal injury lawyer for your case involves asking the right questions. You probably want answers to your big questions like “How much is my case worth?” Such questions usually don’t have specific answers, only estimates. Other questions, like “Will my personal injury case go to trial?” might have concrete answers. Discussing these issues with your attorney at your initial consultation can give you an idea of how your case might go and what results you can reasonably expect. Here’s a list of 5 questions to ask a personal injury attorney.
Have you handled cases like mine before? What was the result?
This is one of the most important questions to ask a personal injury attorney. You want to make sure that your lawyer has the experience needed to handle your case, especially if you have a unique or uncommon case. If they have been successful in the past with cases that are similar to yours, it’s a good indicator that they are competent and diligent, although it does not guarantee that your results will be the same.
6 Ways You Can Use Your Smartphone To Collect Car Accident Evidence – INFOGRAPHIC
Getting in a car accident is an overwhelming experience, to say the least. Even if you’re not injured, the chances are good that you can be shaken up and disoriented in the moments immediately following, and in that state it’s easy to forget information that you need to remember at a later date. Luckily for you, you likely have one of the most powerful tools available for collecting the evidence that you may need down the road: your smartphone. With your phone, you can take pictures, write notes with names and contact info, record statements, and possibly even contact your insurance carrier, if they offer a smartphone app (which many now do). Its important to collect information at the time of the crash for several reasons:
What Should I Do If I Witness A Car Accident?
Most people want to do the right thing and be of assistance when they witness an accident. However, it’s easy to get confused in the chaos of a crash scene, and doing the wrong thing can even result in someone getting hurt. If you’re unsure of how to help, here’s what you should do if you witness an accident.
Get to safety
It’s important to get yourself out of the way of any potential hazards first. Make sure your car is out of the wat by stopping on the shoulder at least 100 feet away from where the accident took place. This will keep you away from any flames, broken glass, fuel leaks, or other dangers. It will also leave room for emergency vehicles so they don’t have to maneuver around your car to get to the injured victims.
Many accidents occur when people park their cars and get out to respond to another accident. Make sure other drivers can see you in the minutes before first responders arrive. Keep your hazard lights on. Wear reflective gear if you have any in your car emergency preparedness kit. Stay out of the roadway if you possibly can.
What Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
One of the first questions most people have about filing a personal injury claim is how much their car accident case is worth. After all, no one wants to talk to an insurance adjuster or go to court unless they know they have a case worth pursuing. Unfortunately, attorneys don’t have a magic equation to determine what your case is worth. The value of a claim depends on many variables. All of these variables determine how much a jury would award you, if your case went to court.
The insurance company’s goal is to keep your case out of court, and to minimize the amount they have to pay you. Because of this, they constantly consider what a jury’s opinion of you and your injuries might be. The adjuster will make an offer based on how they think a jury would react to your case based on the evidence. Keep these variables in mind if you’re trying to settle a car accident case without a lawyer.
Dealing With an Insurance Adjuster
If you’ve been in an accident, one of the first phone calls you get will probably be from an insurance adjuster. They have a reputation for calling car accident victims immediately after a crash, in many cases when the victim is still being treated in the ER. While they may frame their call as though they are concerned and just want to check on you and see if you’re OK, they are generally looking for info they can use to minimize the severity of your claim. It is their job to do all they can, to make sure they pay out as little as possible for insurance claims.
This may be a (slight) exaggeration, but the truth is that insurance adjusters are difficult to deal with by design. They are overworked, underpaid, and given one mission: to save the insurance company money, not to compensate you fairly for your injuries, and your pain and suffering.
As an Asheville personal injury attorney, I’ve dealt with many insurance adjusters from a variety of different companies, big and small. Not everyone needs a lawyer to handle their accident claim. However, even if you don’t, keeping a few tips in mind may help you recover as much as you can from the insurance adjuster in charge of your case.
Can I settle a car accident without a lawyer?
When You Can Handle Your Car Accident Case Alone?
Mention a personal injury lawyer to the average person and you’ll get a reaction that is, to put it mildly, negative. (Don’t worry, we don’t take it too personally.) However, if you’ve been injured in a crash, you may have considered calling an attorney for advice about whether or not you should settle a car accident with the insurance company.
In many cases, accident victims can work directly with insurance adjusters to reach settlements on their own. It’s usually more cost-effective to negotiate simple claims yourself. Here are a few circumstances where you probably don’t need to call a lawyer about your accident.
Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?
5 Things to Know Before Filing a Negligence Claim
Asheville car accident victims frequently contact me asking, “Do I have a car accident claim?” People are often surprised to learn that just because they were involved in a crash does not mean they have a claim for damages. Here is a checklist of requirements you must satisfy to have a personal injury case.
You Must Have Suffered Damages
Whether it’s physical or mental injuries or property damage, you must be able to prove that your accident damaged you in some way. Out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills, psychiatric treatment bills, car repair bills, lost wages and other documents are the only way of demonstrating that you really were affected by your accident. Without them, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to collect money.
Investigate a Car Accident Using Your Smartphone
5 Ways to Use Your Phone to Collect Car Accident Evidence
Although the police will respond to the scene of your car accident, you can also gather some details yourself. Smartphones make it much easier to investigate a car accident at the scene. Your phone probably has all of the tools you need to collect important accident information just after it happens. Here are some accident investigation techniques you can perform with your phone.
Can I get a settlement in my Asheville concussion case?
Do North Carolina insurance companies offer post-concussion syndrome settlements?
NFL concussions are on everybody’s mind with the convergence of the Super Bowl and an Oscar-bait film about the topic. But football players aren’t the only people susceptible to concussions. Car accident victims suffer concussions at an alarming rate. According to a recent CDC study on traumatic brain injury, more than 230,000 people visited emergency rooms over a four-year period for concussions caused by car accidents.
Concussions are called “hidden” injuries because it’s not always obvious when a person has experienced one. The effects of these traumatic brain injuries can last the rest of a person’s life.
What is Concussion?
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries. They occur when the brain shifts inside the skull and collides with the bone.
Who is Responsible For Paying My Medical Bills After a Car Crash?
If you’ve been in a car accident, and sustained injuries that have required medical treatment, one question you probably have is: who is responsible for handling the payments for my medical bills, health insurance (medicare/medicaid) and car insurance? Is the other driver responsible for paying? Medical bills can become very confusing following a car accident because there are multiple ways that providers get paid and reimbursed for treatment rendered. This is a basic overview to help explain who should pay for outstanding bills after a car crash that was not your fault.
The other driver’s auto insurance:
The at fault driver is the one who is responsible for your medical bills and treatments related to the accident at the end of the day. Typically, this means that their auto insurance is on the hook for these expenses. However, the other party’s insurance will not render payment for any medical bills and treatments until both sides agree on a settlement amount, once (ideally) all related treatment has been completed. Medical providers deal with this all the time, and they often will simply send a bill for all their treatment and wait for the settlement to be paid. This is called third party billing.
Things can get tricky when a medical provider does NOT do third party billing and requires some sort of payment at the time services are rendered. If you have been injured, you will have to either pay for the services up front, find another provider that will do third party billing, or pay for the treatments in one of the following ways:
Why Should I Let EMS Evaluate Me After A Car Crash?
Following a car accident, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) often arrive in an ambulance to assess if anyone is seriously injured, and needs to be transported to a hospital for evaluation or treatment. I often hear clients report that they ‘felt fine’ at the time of the accident and declined to be evaluated by EMS at the scene, since they weren’t experiencing any pain or symptoms, or their minor aches and pains were not concerning. While this seems like a reasonable and logical course of action at the time, declining medical evaluation can cause problems down the line, if your injuries progress or develop, which they often do in car crashes. Immediately following a crash, our adrenaline is spiking, our fight-or-flight response kicks in, not to mention the tendency for sprain/strain symptoms to ramp up over the first 24-72 hours. I’m not saying that you should go to the hospital for every minor fender bender, but it is wise to take the time to be evaluated at the accident scene by medical personnel. Here’s why:
How to settle your personal injury claim without getting taken advantage of.
As a personal injury lawyer in Asheville, N.C., I deal with insurance companies all day, every day. I know which companies are reasonable and easy to deal with, and which ones are a nightmare and should be avoided at all costs (cough.. cough.. State Farm). Insurance companies will assign an adjuster to your claim if you have been injured as a result of another person’s negligence. Insurance adjusters are not inherently bad people, but the fact remains that their employers are concerned about one thing: profit. So no, Nationwide is not “on your side”, and you are not “in good hands” with Allstate. As a result, your insurance adjuster cannot be trusted to look out for you, if you’ve been injured as a result of a car crash or accident. Here some ways to avoid getting taken advantage of by an adjuster.
Why Do Car Accident Insurance Claims Fail To Settle?
Car accident victims who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence are often entitled to compensation from an insurance company. The fact is that most cases settle outside of the courtroom, due to the time and expense involved for both sides in bringing a court to trial. It is often in the best interest of both parties to settle on a reasonable amount of compensation to settle the claim without being dragged into court. This being said, there are particular situations and circumstances that prohibit some cases from settling, and require the court to resolve. So, what are the reasons that some cases fail to settle?
How NOT to handle your car accident claim
I’m often contacted by potential clients a few days after they’ve been involved in a car crash. Once I get involved in a case, I talk with the insurance companies and advise my client on how best to proceed. I always urge my clients not to discuss their case with anyone, especially insurance adjusters. I explain what it means to have a “gap in treatment” and how that can affect your case and damage your claim. Clients are always advised to follow up on prescribed medical treatments, follow doctors advice, and be clear and upfront with medical providers about their symptoms and issues, as these notes will end up in their medical records, and can be used to bolster a claim.
How to Investigate a Car Accident for Your Personal Injury Claim
If you’ve been involved in a car crash, it is important to perform your own investigation of what happened, regardless of whether or not the police perform their own investigation. If you do not, you can be at the mercy of an insurance company’s investigation that may find you at fault, even if you were not. If you’ve been injured, you have even more reason to investigate the accident, so you can recover personal injury damages from the at fault driver. Here’s how to perform a proper investigation:
1. Take photographs
Immediately after the crash, take photographs of all the vehicles involved (not just yours) and the area where the crash occurred. If you are too injured to take photos, have a friend or a witness take them. Your camera phone is perfectly high enough quality to get good photographs. Take close up pictures of any vehicle damage, as well as further away pictures of the entire crash scene. You can use these later on in your personal injury claim to prove exactly what happened, and exactly what your injuries are.
How to Find a Good Personal Injury Lawyer
Searching for a good lawyer to handle your personal injury claim? Like any other profession, there are good lawyers, bad lawyers, and a few horrible and great lawyers. Personal injury lawyers come in all forms – from the stereotypical lawyer who wants to get some money quick – to the true personal injury lawyer who will fight hard for your right to be compensated from an injury that was not your fault. Here’s how to tell the difference:
Hire a local lawyer.
Many, many lawyers will advertise that they can handle your personal injury claim and that they have offices all over the state, including your town. Do not accept this at face value. Check and see if that firm has an attorney in your town, or if its just an office space and an empty desk so that they can claim they have an office. Hiring a lawyer in your town or in the closest city to you is very important because that attorney will know the juries, judges, and insurance adjusters who will determine your case. If you live in Asheville, and hire a Charlotte lawyer, you will not receive the kind of representation you deserve.