Pedestrian right of way is something most of us feel comfortable with. We all grew up with the understanding that “The pedestrian always has the right of way.” In most people’s minds, this maxim applies whether you’re walking, running, or riding a bike. If you’ve handled pedestrian personal injury cases in North Carolina, you know that insurance companies often disagree. This article is intended to help clarify some issues involved with pedestrian accidents in North Carolina.

Charlotte Pedestrian Accidents

A pedestrian accident in Charlotte, NC can be a unique personal injury case. It’s not that Charlotte has its own set of laws, but being a larger more densely populated city in North Carolina, Charlotte has more crosswalks, more pedestrians crossing outside of crosswalks, and more complicated roadways in general.

The Pedestrian Right of Way

The state of North Carolina has codified (made into law) some of the rights of pedestrians. Chapter 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes addresses pedestrian concerns. NC General Statutes Section 20-155(c) states specifically:

“The driver of any vehicle upon a highway within a business or residence district shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing such highway within any clearly marked crosswalk, or any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block, except at intersections where the movement of traffic is being regulated by traffic officers or traffic direction”

The first aspect of this is extremely helpful when building a pedestrian personal injury claim. If the pedestrian is crossing within the crosswalk, they are protected. While the latter part of the paragraph carves out an exception where traffic is being directed by an officer, that rarely comes up in my personal injury practice.

The Gray Area Involving Right of Way

North Carolina follows a rule called Contributory Negligence. Essentially, it means that if the plaintiff (The pedestrian in this instance) contributed in any way to the accident, then they can not recover from the defendant. This is typically the first claim of insurance companies defending a claim for a pedestrian personal injury case. The typical reasons given are:

  • Not in a crosswalk
  • Wearing dark clothing (Not visible to the driver)
  • Impaired (Drugs or alcohol)
  • Last Clear Chance
  • Crossing at Night

If you’ve been in a pedestrian accident, your personal injury lawyer will discuss some or all of the items on the above list, in anticipation of the insurance company claiming you did not have the right of way. If the insurance company can establish the pedestrian did not have the right of way, then the driver did not have to yield to the pedestrian. Next, the insurance company will attempt to establish at least some part of the accident was the pedestrian’s fault. While our firm has successfully made claims regarding pedestrian personal injury accidents, it is almost never without a fight from the insurance company in this manner.

The Pedestrian Crosswalk Dilemma

As a driver, I am always on the look out for pedestrians, because I know that pedestrians quite often cross a street outside of a crosswalk. I do it myself, and I see others do it every day. As a result, I believe it’s reasonable to expect a pedestrian to cross the road in these circumstances. There are several circumstances where a driver should anticipate or even expect this behavior:

  • No other crosswalk opportunity within sight
  • A break in the median
  • Handicap ‘cut-outs’ on either side of the street suggesting a ‘crosswalk’

While every pedestrian right of way claim is a challenge, pedestrians are also quite sympathetic to juries. Even where a pedestrian has been crossing in the evening, or wearing dark clothing, if the jury decides the driver had the last clear chance to avoid the accident, there is a good chance the pedestrian will win the personal injury lawsuit.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been struck by a vehicle, please call us to find out your rights. We are more than happy to hear your story and give you a complimentary assessment of your case or claim. If we can not take your case for some reason, we will help you find another lawyer that we trust, who can assist you. If you’d like to speak with an attorney today, call 704.749.7747 or click HERE to send us a request for a phone consultation. We hope you’ll choose to Recover With Us.

charlotte car accident

Working with personal injury clients in Wilmington, NC for car accidents is a critical part of our practice. We are a North Carolina based personal injury and car accident law firm and we focus our representation between Wilmington, NC and Charlotte, NC.

If you’ve been in a car accident in Wilmington, NC or in New Hanover county, we would love to speak with you. With a free phone consultation you can determine whether you have any rights against the driver who hit you. Our job is to help you determine that. If you’d like to have a lawyer call you, just click HERE and make the request. You’ll receive a call today.

Working With A Wilmington, NC Car Accident Lawyer

Every law firm is different, but at The Layton Law Firm, we have built our reputation upon achieving good results for clients while keeping them informed along the way. A car accident is disruptive to your life, and we are sensitive to that. Whether you’ve been in a Truck Accident, a Pedestrian Accident, or even if you’ve been rear-ended in a fender bender, it’s never something you planned or invited into your life.

Dealing with insurance companies on your own is not only frustrating but it’s dangerous—you can easily sign away your rights against the insured driver who caused your injuries. When you work with a Wilmington, NC car accident lawyer, not only do you preserve your rights, but you turn all of that stress over to the lawyer and the paralegals.

Recover With Us

If you read the articles on this website, you’ll find over and over again the phrase Recover With Us. This is the hallmark of The Layton Law Firm. It is our belief that we can play a critical role in recovering financially for our clients, and that we also express care in such a way that we help clients to recover emotionally from a car accident, workers compensation injury, slip and fall, or any other injury.

We hope you’ll choose to Recover With Us. Call 704.749.7747 or click HERE to speak with an attorney now. We’re here to help.

Our experience is that a large majority of car accidents are the result of a rear end accident. While many of these are minor “fender benders”, they can still lead to meaningful injuries for one or both drivers or passengers in the car accident.

Treating Injuries From A Rear End Car Accident

If your injuries are soft tissue injuries—no broken bones—then you may seek immediate emergency treatment from the scene of the car accident. Most likely, you’ll be referred to a chiropractor or physical therapist for a course of therapy designed to help you recover from the accident. If you are working with a personal injury lawyer, typically your medical provider will defer their bill until you reach a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. Your personal injury lawyer can facilitate this relationship by communicating with the medial provider.

Your may also have Medical Payments coverage under your own insurance policy. This is an option when taking out your insurance policy. Your personal injury lawyer will reach out to your insurance company to determine if you have the coverage, and help facilitate a payment. There is no harm in you using this aspect of your own auto policy if you have already paid for the coverage.

Establishing Liability In A Rear End Accident

Liability in a rear end accident is typically clear. While there are some exceptions for sudden stopping done by the driver in front, in North Carolina it is almost always the responsibility of each driver to leave enough stopping distance between your vehicle and the next vehicle, to accommodate sudden stopping.

Because each personal injury claim has two key components (Liability and Damages), a rear end accident claim tends not to involve an argument over liability as much as a negotiation over your damages.

Damages In A Rear End Accident

First, you must establish that damages exist. This is one key component to a successful Negligence claim. At the scene of the car accident, you can do this by taking photos of the position of the vehicles, as well as the physical damage to your own car. It is not a bad idea to take photos of the other vehicle damage as well—it can establish the severity of the accident, and also help to establish how the vehicles made contact with one another.

Obtaining a police report is a key element in overcoming liability and also goes toward establishing damages. The police report may list witnesses, insurance companies, and also a narrative written by the officer, regarding the car accident. If you know a police report was generated for your car accident but you don’t have one, we can obtain one for you for FREE.

Using A Personal Injury Lawyer For Your Rear End Accident

While your claim may seem uncomplicated by the nature of being rear ended, if you proceed without a personal injury lawyer you’ll quickly find that there are hurdles to maximizing your damages recovery. Not only will insurance adjusters hurry you through the process of settling the claim, but they may pick up value at each turn by offering you less money for your property damage, minimizing your medical damages, and settling your claim prior to making sure you’ve received all the medical treatment you need.

Your personal injury lawyer will also negotiate your medical bills as part of your settlement. While you’ll get a full explanation of how this aspect of settling the claim works, essentially it means more money from the settlement goes into your pocket.

If you have been in a rear end accident and would like to speak with a personal injury lawyer, we’re here to help. Call us at 704.749.7747 or email us HERE to tell us when you’d like to speak. The consultation is free and it’s part of our job. We hope you’ll choose to Recover With Us.

broken bones in car accidents

If you’re in a car accident in Charlotte, NC, chances are it’s on a busy road with numerous concerns. Stay calm and take the following immediate steps to both insure your health and protect your rights.

  1. Pull Over—You’re required by law to stop your vehicle if you’ve been in an accident. Additionally, there is no harm in moving vehicles to the side of the road. Snap a picture of the scene first, if you’re afraid you won’t be able to establish the position of the vehicles later. But do it quickly, and remove the cars from the flow of traffic.
  2. Decide Whether 911 Needs To Be Called—While you may not be a doctor or emergency medical technician, you will probably know based on the impact of the collision whether an ambulance is needed immediately. If so, call 911 and request medical help for yourself or others.
  3. Get a Police Report—Once you’ve looked after the health of those involved, calling the police is your next step. It will be extremely important after the accident, to have a documented report created by the police department. If your car accident is in Mecklenburg County, you can request a free copy of your police report. We’ll obtain a copy of the report for you and help you analyze it over the phone.
  4. Exchange information—Be sure to get contact information and insurance information from the other driver. If there are witnesses on the scene, quickly get contact information for them. Witnesses tend to disperse as soon as they think they are not needed, or if they decide nobody is in need of serious medical attention. But, you may need their statement as to what happened, when you are later attempting to establish that the accident was not your fault.
  5. Take More Photos And Videos—If you haven’t taken any photos yet, take them now. This is important and will help establish the scene at a later date. Be sure to take some ‘establishing’ photos from further away. They help to show all parties the road conditions and establish a point of reference for what happened. You can also shoot a video, panning the scene of the accident, and calmly speak into your recorder any thoughts you have as to what happened. This is an easy way to document what you remember while documenting the actual scene.

What To Do After A Car Accident

After the car accident, we recommend all clients keep a notebook or notes about the accident. You’ll be surprised what comes to mind when you’re in the grocery store—perhaps you remember something the other party said, or remember another fact about the accident. These are fleeting thoughts and need to be captured in a notebook.

You’ll also want to report the accident as quickly as possible to the other side’s insurance company. They will assign you a claim number. If you later choose to work with a personal injury lawyer, the lawyer can reference the claim number when reaching out to the insurance company.

Should I Give A Statement To The Insurance Company?

Generally, you shouldn’t speak at length about the facts of the car accident with the other side’s insurance adjuster until you’ve spoken with an attorney. If you’re proceeding without an attorney and you decide to give the adjuster a statement, be concise and stick to the facts. Don’t be afraid to say that you do not remember something, if in fact you do not remember it. You’re not responsible for remembering every fact about the car accident—it’s quite common to forget details during such an event.

Call A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury lawyers answer questions as part of our job. Each day, I expect to take phone calls from individuals who may or may not ever become a client. The goal during those calls is to be of help to you, whether you choose to hire our firm or not. If you’d like to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your car accident, call 704.749.7747 today or click HERE to ask us to call you at a preferred time. We hope you’ll choose to Recover With Us.

how does bankruptcy affect you

If you’ve been in a car accident, can you negotiate with an insurance company on your own?The short answer is yes, you can negotiate your car accident insurance claim and settle it, without an attorney. But read on to find out a few reasons why you might want to consider hiring a Charlotte personal injury lawyer to assist you with the personal injury claim.

When Should I Consider Representing Myself?

As a personal injury lawyer, my temptation of course is to scream “Never!” but the fact is that’s just not true. I think one of the first things to consider in representing yourself is how badly you were hurt. If you slip and fall in a grocery store and suffer only a bruise or twisted ankle, you may be able to quickly negotiate what you believe to be a fair settlement with the insurance company. The same could be said of a very minor car accident.

Insurance companies do want claims to ‘go away’ and for a small claim like the ones referenced above, you may be able to successfully negotiate the injury claim to get your medical bills paid and put a small amount of money in your pocket for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced as a result of someone else’s negligence.

When Should I Consider Getting A Personal Injury Lawyer?

In most other instances outside of those listed above, you’re typically going to come out better with a personal injury lawyer, even after they take their fee from the settlement. The reason is that, much like anything involving insurance and liability, what appears to be cut and dry in the beginning quickly becomes complicated. Below, are just a few issues which can necessitate you making a phone call to a personal injury lawyer:

  • The insurance company denies the claim based on Contributory Negligence. This is a common response and essentially in NC it means that the insurance company believes you were at least 1% at fault, and as such, believes a jury would not find in your favor.
  • The other party doesn’t cooperate. It’s amazing how often the other side simply won’t give you their insurance information, which allows you to get a claim started. In an instance like this, your personal injury lawyer will either threaten the other side with legal action, or take legal action to force them to disclose the existence of applicable insurance policies related to the incident or accident.
  • Fault isn’t clear. Quite often, once the facts are on the table, an argument can actually be made that you contributed in some small manner to your injury. In a slip and fall case, maybe it is that you were wearing shoes which were not appropriate for the activity. In a pedestrian case, perhaps you were not walking inside the cross walk, or were wearing dark clothing at night. In auto accidents, if you weren’t rear-ended, the insurance company will likely raise one of many defenses and use that as their reason for denying or lowering the value of your claim.

Why Does A Personal Injury Lawyer Make A Difference?

When you represent yourself, the insurance company knows that generally you are not going to file a lawsuit. With that in mind, the negotiation or claims process is where things begin and end. Because of this, despite their apparent willingness to communicate and negotiate with you, while you negotiate with an insurance company on your own, their number will remain low relative to the value of the claim or case. When you involve a personal injury lawyer, the insurance company knows that if the matter isn’t resolved the claims level, the lawyer will file a lawsuit.

Insurance companies are businesses and they are run like businesses. When a lawyer threatens a lawsuit, the insurance company starts examining the claim differently. They turn to their in-house counsel or outside counsel and ask how much it will cost to litigate this particular claim. If the answer is $10,000 in legal fees alone, all the sudden the negotiation numbers change for the insurance company, which changes the settlement negotiations.

Personal injury lawyers also work routinely with the same insurance companies. As a result, your personal injury lawyer will have an opinion about that particular insurance company. His or her experience in the past with that company will also allow for the development of a strategy designed to maximize the settlement offer received by that particular insurance company.

The Main Reason To Call A Personal Injury Lawyer – It’s Free

The call is free. Take advantage of the free consultation and have your case evaluated. Call 704.749.7747 today or click HERE and we’ll call you at a time you specify. We hope you’ll choose to Recover With Us.

Need a copy of your Mecklenburg County police report from a car accident? Call us and we will obtain it for you for free. Within a few minutes, and with a few details from your accident, we will be able to locate your police report online and order it for you at no expense. You’ll be provided with a PDF of the free police report via email.

If you have any questions about your free police report, you will have access to a Mecklenburg county personal injury lawyer to answer those questions—whether it is for the purpose of helping you understand the free police report or answering questions about a personal injury claim arising from the accident.

If you would like to order the police report yourself, you can do so by clicking HERE to be taken to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department website. You’ll be asked to enter the date of the accident, location, and police report number if you have it.

How To Request Your Free Mecklenburg County Police Report

  • Call 704.749.7747 to tell us a few details about your accident so we can locate the report for you;
  • Click HERE and let us know you’d like a free Mecklenburg county police report—we will reach out to you for some more details.

Do I Have A Personal Injury Case?

Whether you have a personal injury case or not will not be 100% determined by your police report, but it’s a good place to start. Generally, the attending officer makes notes on the report indicating what he or she observed, and what the two drivers indicated happened.

If you would like a claim or case evaluation, we would be happy to evaluate your police report, answer any questions, and give you our opinion as to whether you have a personal injury claim worth pursuing. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to ask us to reach out to you. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.

What Are The NC Car Accident Laws?

In North Carolina, there is not a specific set of car accident laws. Instead, attorneys use the existing set of case law to guide them. What this means is that rather than look to a NC car accident law, your Charlotte, NC personal injury lawyer assesses the body of cases that have been tried, to date.

How Will NC Case Law Affect Negotiations For My Car Accident?

Depending upon what judges and juries have decided in the past, regarding specific fact patterns in a NC car accident, your personal injury lawyer can better predict what a judge or jury will decide about your case. While there are instances where case law becomes “codified” or is passed as a statute in the state, most case law accumulates over the years in a way which helps lawyer assess whether they can win your case based on the facts you have.

Is Contributory Negligence Case Law?

If you’ve been reading about NC car accident laws, no doubt you’ve read about Contributory Negligence. Contributory Negligence is a doctrine that is followed by our state. As was decided in  Sorrells v. M.Y.B. Hospitality Ventures, 332 N.C. 645, 648 (1992), “[A] plaintiff’s contributory negligence is a bar to recovery from a defendant who commits an act of ordinary negligence.” In that case, a patron became intoxicated at a restaurant and drove his car, which resulted in his death. His estate attempted to make a claim against the establishment that served him but his estate’s claim was barred by his contributory negligence.

Determining whether someone is contributorily negligent is also based on case law, as was decided in   Newton v. New Hanover County Bd. of Educ., 342 N.C. 554, 564 (1996), where it was determined that “A plaintiff is contributorily negligent when he fails to exercise such care as an ordinarily prudent person would exercise under the circumstances in order to avoid injury.”  These are the very elements of your case that your personal injury lawyer will argue for you, both at the claims level and at trial.

But How Will NC Car Accident Laws Apply To MY Case?

If you would like  personal injury lawyer to assess your case for you, simply reach out to us. The assessment is free and there’s no obligation to move forward with our firm. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or give us an email address HERE and we’ll reach out to you. We hope you’ll choose to Recover With Us.

 

If you’re taking on the role of Social Host this summer, a little planning can go a long way. Summer’s here, and with it comes barbecue, Saturday invites, and, social host liability. North Carolina is typically a tough state in which to recover against an individual or business under a social host liability theory or “Dram shop law”. However, if you are a social host or an establishment providing alcohol, there are a few items of which you should be aware.

Dram Shop Laws

Dram Shop Laws typically refer to business establishments serving alcohol. North Carolina generally limits the liability of business owners to situations where the intoxicated individual is a minor. In order to recover damages against a business in north Carolina for serving alcohol to a minor, you will need to prove the following:

  • The vendor negligently sold or served alcohol to the minor;
  • The minor caused an accident while under the influence of the alcohol sold to him/her by the vendor;
  • The accident and injuries were “proximately caused” by the minor’s negligent driving while intoxicated.

The relevant North Carolina law is N.C.G.S. sec. 18B-121, and can be read HERE .

Social Host Liability

For social host liability, which generally refers to individuals throwing a party, the case law in North Carolina indicates that the injured person may be able to successfully seek damages from the social host if:

  • The host is the one who provided or served the alcohol;
  • The host knew or should have known that the person being served the alcohol was intoxicated, AND;
  • The host knew the person who was being served the alcohol would later be driving a vehicle;

This social host liability in North Carolina applies to all guests, whether they are minors or of the legal age to drink alcohol. A common example of this situation is where an individual attends a party as an invitee. Under the requirements above, if the host provided alcohol at the party they would potentially be taking on liability. Whether the situation gives rise to social host liability depends on how the rest of the evening plays out. As the three prong test above points out, the host has to have some knowledge or imputed knowledge that the person was intoxicated. The common side effects of alcohol would be your obvious indicators, such as slurred speech, impaired motor skills, etc.

The host also has to know that the individual would be driving later that evening.  This could be proven simply by the fact that they drove themselves to the party (and so one would assume, they would drive home). It could also be proven through testimony related to conversations between the host and the invitee about whether the invitee was going to drive home later in the evening.

Limiting Your Liability As A Social Host

If you want to throw a party but also be a responsible social host in North Carolina, you might consider a few things to not only help insure the safety of your guests, but also to limit your own liability:

  • Arrange transportation for intoxicated guests;
  • Stop serving alcohol after a certain time;
  • Make food and other non-alcoholic beverages readily available to all guests;
  • Make arrangements for intoxicated guests to stay at your home if they can’t drive;

If you have a question about a personal injury or if you feel social host liability may play a role in your personal injury claim, please call us at 704.749.7747. You can also request a call from us, HERE. We hope you’ll choose to Recover With Us.

If you have ambulance bills resulting from a North Carolina personal injury claim, that bill will typically constitute a lien against settlement proceeds. This means that if you settle your personal injury claim, your ambulance bill will need to be paid before you receive any money from the settlement.

Generally, N.C.G.S. sec. 44-49, allows a person, corporation, state entity, county, or municipal corporation to claim a lien to the extent that entity provided medical services, drugs, medical supplies, or ambulatory services in connection with the injury for which the settlement has been reached. An ambulance bill qualifies as “Medical services”.

Is My Ambulance Bill Negotiable?

Most all bills are negotiable, and your personal injury lawyer should negotiate your bills on your behalf. Keep in mind though, that ambulance bills in personal injury are typically Mecklenburg County medical services bills. As such, your personal injury lawyer will be dealing with the City of Charlotte when attempting to negotiate the bill. In extreme circumstances, where the settlement does not exceed the total medical bills, the chance of negotiating the ambulance bill increases. Otherwise, the bill will most likely need to be paid in full.

What Other Types Of Bills Can I Expect?

If you’ve been injured, in an auto accident or on the had a slip and fall on premises of a business, you can expect some or all of the following types of bills:

Ambulance Bills

Emergency Room Bills

Hospital Bills

Physical Therapy Bills

Chiropractic Bills

Therapy Bills

If you would like to speak with an attorney about the bills you are receiving related to your personal injury, and get advice about how to proceed in negotiating a settlement with an insurance company, please call us at 704.749.7747, or contact us HERE and request a call. Phone consultations are free, and we hope you choose to Recover With Us.

credit cards in bankruptcy

Doctors bills are a common concern for our personal injury clients, and the concern especially arises when doctors bills exceed the settlement amount. If the doctors bills are paid, then essentially the client ends up with nothing or close to nothing. However, in an alternative arrangement, the attorney could disburse the settlement proceeds to the client, and the client’s doctors bills would follow the client after the settlement. While this may not be ideal, it does allow the client to make payments on the bills while keeping some money for themselves.

Aren’t Doctors Bills Liens Against Settlement Proceeds?

Some medical bills constitute liens against settlement proceeds. According to N.C.G.S. sec. 44-49, allows a person, corporation, state entity, county, or municipal corporation to claim a lien to the extent that entity provided medical services, drugs, medical supplies, or ambulatory services in connection with the injury for which the settlement has been reached.

While chiropractors are not specifically mentioned in the statute, it is generally understood that a chiropractor’s bill associated with treatment for the injury that gave rise to the settlement, constitutes a lien.

Does The Law Firm Negotiate Doctors Bills?

Yes. We will negotiate your medical bills for you. One way to maximize the benefit of your settlement is to have your personal injury lawyer negotiate your bills (medical bills, doctors bills, etc) as part of the settlement. Generally, we reach out to the medical providers, let them know the amount we are considering settling for, and encourage them to reduce their bill in order to make the settlement figure work for all parties.

Typically, as part of the reduction, the medical providers collectively will reduce their bills so that one third of the settlement proceeds goes to the attorney, one third to all the medical providers, and the remaining third goes to the client. So, by way of example, if you had a settlement of $90,000 but bills of $70,000, the personal injury lawyer would negotiate the bills down to $30,000. In the end, the client would end up with one third of the total settlement, and the negotiated bills would be deemed PAID IN FULL—the client wouldn’t owe anything to the medical providers after settlement.

If you have a question about a personal injury, a doctors bill, or would like to speak with an attorney about a personal injury, please call 704.749.7747. You can also request a consultation HERE. We hope you choose to Recover With Us.