A sidewalk injury or parking lot injury may give rise to a premises liability claim under the umbrella policy for the business owner. Your personal injury attorney will need to know the conditions that existed at the time, as well as how the injury occurred. North Carolina has unique rules regarding a plaintiff’s contribution to the injury. This concept is known as Contributory Negligence. In order to rule out contributory negligence, your attorney may ask you about the following:

Your shoes or footwear;
Your alcohol consumption;
The weather;
The nature of your visit to the sidewalk or parking lot;
The condition of the sidewalk or parking lot

Documenting Your Injury

If you slip and fall or trip and fall on a sidewalk or in a parking lot, you’ll want to preserve as much factual evidence as possible from the scene. This can be done by taking photographs, gathering the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the fall, and writing down information about the incident so that you don’t forget in the future.

Prior to leaving the site, take steps to document the injury with any on-site management or employees. If your accident was at a gas station, restaurant, or retail store, those facilities should have a process for submitting an accident report. This will help create a record of your fall. If no one is on site, look for a phone number posted for contacting the property owner. You’ll often find these in public places like parking garages and shopping malls.

Seeking Medical Attention

Quite often, it’s hard to tell if you have a serious injury just after falling or tripping. While the safest choice is always to call an ambulance or medic and get medical attention immediately, that is not always practical. Regardless, if at any time after the fall you believe you have an injury, that is the time to seek medical attention.

Talk To A Personal Injury Attorney

Personal injury attorneys want your call. They will gladly answer questions you may have about your injury, dealing with insurance adjusters, and paying medical bills. Answering questions is part of the job, whether the individual decides to hire the law firm or not. If you’ve slipped or fallen and believe you are injured, let us help you decide your next steps. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or request a phone consultation HERE.

 

A truck accident may not seem different from a car accident, but from a legal perspective there are unique considerations. Commercial trucks and trucking companies can be a challenge to work with. If you’ve been in an accident with a commercial truck. If you’ve been in a truck accident, you should consult with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible so you don’t compromise your rights.

Injuries and property damage resulting from a truck accident tend to be more severe due to the velocity and size of a commercial truck. Quite often, commercial truck drivers have limited visibility due to the specific construction of these vehicles. Lastly, items related to liability are often different in a truck accident, as it takes a longer distance to stop a commercial vehicle as compared to a car or motorcycle.

While the trucking company may have a commercial policy through a company like State Farm or AllState, they may also “self insure” through their corporate policy. Negotiating with a self-insured defendant often requires a different approach employed by the personal injury attorney. Additionally, the corporation typically views the claim as an expense which is detracting from profits.

The Numbers Are Growing

According to recent truck accident statistics, there are more than half a million commercial truck accidents in the United States every year. These numbers of commercial and non-commercial vehicles on the road each year are increasing, and as a result, the number of accidents increase each year as well.

Getting Fair Compensation

In some truck accident claims, determining fault can present a specific challenge. The weather perhaps played a significant role, or contributory negligence might bar recovery if both parties are at fault. If your personal injury attorney can successfully make the case for liability based on the negligence of the driver or the company’s failure to properly care for the vehicle, you can typically reach a fair settlement with the truck company.

By engaging an injury attorney, not only will you have someone protecting your interests regarding your injuries, but you’ll also be able to move forward with your life while someone else works on the case for you.

Types of Injuries

Every personal injury case is different, but if you’ve been in an accident with a commercial truck, you may have a claim for compensation related to loss of future earning capability, income lost via missed work missed, emotional stress and other injuries known as “Special Damages.” A personal injury attorney who has experience in this area can help insure you reach a fair settlement.

A truck accident lawyer who understands the aspects of trucking accidents will examine your case from the unique perspectives presented by these types of accidents. This includes jackknifing, equipment failure, stopping distance and driver blind spots.

If you’ve been in a truck accident, call us to get your questions answered. We can be reached at 704.749.7747 or you can fill out a request for a phone consultation HERE.

Blue old Car broken front light closeup

A car accident can be one of the most shocking and terrifying events in people’s lives. This is especially true in cases when individuals are injured. In the event you’ve been injured during a car accident that came as a result of someone else’s carelessness and/or recklessness, you deserve fair financial compensation from that person. Quite often, getting a fair result from an insurance company without using a personal injury attorney can be an uphill battle. I know, because I get calls every day from individuals who are having this same difficulty.

 

 

Fair Compensation

If the other driver’s insurance company agrees to fairly compensate your losses and cover medical bills, you probably won’t need the help of a personal injury attorney. But, if the individual who caused the car accident is not cooperative or their insurance companies is not prepared to pay, then hiring a personal injury attorney is a your next step.

Insurance companies are a for-profit endeavor. In most cases they are trying to settle such disputes for as little as possible, which is why clients find that even when the insurance company is offering a settlement, the client can do better with an attorney. Not only is your attorney in a position to argue value with the insurance company, but in addition the insurance company is attempting to avoid having the attorney file a lawsuit. Defending a lawsuit is an expense most insurance companies would like to avoid, especially in instances where liability is clear.

Uncovering Insurance Policies

In some cases, there is more than one insurance policy available from which to collect. Each personal injury claim is unique whether you are a driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian. Your personal injury lawyer will maximize the value of your claim by uncovering all available insurance policies in your claim.

Personal injury attorneys have the knowledge, experience and skill to help you negotiate your way through a personal injury claim. A good personal injury attorney will be able to predict the actions of insurance companies and will strategize with you regarding actions which guarantee you’ll get the compensation you truly deserve. The attorney will also more than likely be familiar with your type of case and your injuries, which puts them in a unique position to assess the value of your claim. They’ve already worked similar cases like yours.

Preparing For Trial

If you’re unable to settle your insurance claim and face litigation against the insurance company, you’ll be much better positioned to win at trial with the help of an attorney who was brought on early. Whether from the perspective of preserving evidence, examining medical records, or creating a history with the insurance company, the pre-trial work done by the personal injury attorney during settlement negotiations will pay off in the courtroom.

Generally, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that people injured in a car accident won’t have to pay anything if the attorney does not recover something for them. If you have been in a car accident and would like to find out more about working with a personal injury attorney, call 704.749.7747 today. Or, click HERE to request a consultation.

CarAccidentWhether you’re traveling on Interstate 77 or 85, or taking a more local route through uptown Charlotte on South Blvd. or Providence Rd., you’re bound to see a Charlotte car accident. Our sincere hope is you can avoid being part of one. But if you are in a car accident in Charlotte, here’s what you need to know:

Report The Accident

So often, victims of accidents don’t feel injured at the scene. They exchange information with the other driver, clear the road, and try to move on with their day. Quite often, that’s a big mistake. By reporting the car accident and generating an accident report, you create the first official record of the event. Additionally, the officer will ask each driver questions about what caused the accident. That information is often relied upon by insurance companies and personal injury attorneys to establish fault in the future.

When a police officer attends to an accident, he or she is more likely to get valid information from both drivers. This can be crucial for the victim of the car accident, when attempting to reach out to the other driver’s insurance company to make a claim for property damage or bodily injury.

Seek Medical Treatment

Whether you take an ambulance from the accident to the hospital is your choice. It’s understandable in a minor accident or ‘fender bender’ not to do so. However, if you’re in a serious car accident, not only do you need to seek medical attention immediately to establish your health condition, you’ll also want to do so to create a health record related to the car accident.

If you wait until after the car accident to seek medical treatment, you need to seek it within a reasonable time. Primarily, because the longer you wait the more damage you can be doing to your health. Additionally, insurance companies deny claims every day based on their assertion that the plaintiff waited too long to seek treatment. They conclude that the delay between the accident date and the treatment date means either you weren’t injured in the car accident, or perhaps you were injured after the car accident and are now trying to blame your injury on the car accident. Either way, your claim is denied and you receive nothing for your injury.

Keep Notes

Write down your thoughts about the car accident. What conditions were present? Who had a green or red light? What chain of events do you remember which led to the collision or car accident? In the days after the car accident, continue to keep notes, including how you feel. Judge your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, and indicate what is hurting you.

When you see a doctor or chiropractor, bring your notebook with you and be sure to clearly communicate to your medical provider what pain you’ve been experiencing since your last visit. These clear indicators then become part of the medical record and can play a critical role in financial recovery when it comes time for your personal injury attorney to make a demand of the insurance company.

Call A Personal Injury Attorney

If you’re in a car accident, a phone call to a personal injury attorney is free. Take advantage of that free call to ask for advice, even if you don’t think you’ve been injured. You’ll find almost any charlotte personal injury attorney will devote time over the phone or in person to answer your questions and give you the confidence to feel you’ve done all you need to do with regard to the car accident.

If you’ve been in a car accident and would like to speak to an attorney, call us today at 704.749.7747. If you’d like to request a call from us, you can do so HERE. We’re here to help.

rear end collision demand letter

rearendcollisionGetting into an accident is never a good thing, and nothing is more surprising than a rear end collision. You don’t see it coming, and the unexpected force from the impact can play a major toll on your health. If you’re in a rear end collision in Charlotte, North Carolina, it’s important to understand North Carolina law before moving forward with your claim.

Contributory Negligence

You can’t get very far in a personal injury conversation without hearing about contributory negligence. In North Carolina, this can hamper a plaintiff’s claim or lawsuit. Generally speaking it means that if you are even 1% responsible for the accident, a jury will be instructed not to award you anything. If you’re in a rear end collision–and you’re not at fault, there is good news. Typically, you will not come up against the contributory negligence defense during the processing of your insurance claim.

Liability

I always tell clients there are two challenges to each personal injury claim: liability and damages. Establishing liability means the defendant’s insurance company is willing to acknowledge responsibility for the accident and the accompanying injuries. In a rear end collision, overcoming this hurdle is substantially easier than in other accidents such as: slip and falls, head-on collisions, etc.

Damages

Once you’ve overcome the liability issue, the next question is whether there are damages. In establishing damages for a rear end collision or any other type of injury, the key is to seek medical treatment quickly. Treatment eliminates a claim that you either did not have injuries, or your injuries were not caused by the accident.

Working With A Personal Injury Law Firm

Even when it’s not your fault, it is amazing how often an insurance company will find a way to deny your claim or de-value your claim. Working with a personal injury lawyer will insure that you are treated fairly by the defendant’s insurance company, get the medical treatment you need, and maximize your results.

If you’ve been in a rear end collision or any other type of auto accident, we are here to help. Consultations are free and our goal is to provide you with the guidance you need. You can conduct them by phone or in person. Please call us at 704.749.7747 for a consultation. Or, you can click HERE and we will schedule one today via email.

IMG_1478Certain companies get a reputation regarding insurance claims and lawsuits. These dictate whether they will settle those claims or force the claimant to file a lawsuit and become a plaintiff. A Wal-Mart slip and fall is a good example.

While there are exceptions, Wal-Mart trends toward a company policy of denying all claims related to personal injury. Fortunately, if your personal injury attorney is aware of this policy, he or she will know how to maximize your recovery in a Wal-Mart Slip and Fall claim.

Step 1: Complete Your Medical Treatment

There is nothing that de-values a personal injury claim like failing to follow Doctor’s orders, or failing to get treated in a timely manner. Insurance adjusters jump at the chance to deny a claim because the client waited too long to seek medical treatment or didn’t follow through with the treatment. As a result, the adjuster claims that the extent of the injuries being claimed are due in part to the client’s failure to treat them.

Step 2: Request Video

Most every square foot of a Wal-Mart is under video surveillance at all times. Your personal injury attorney should immediately request video of your Wal-Mart slip and fall from the store where you fell. A failure to make this request in a timely manner could result in the video being destroyed or disposed of over time, as company policy allows for this if there is no reason presented to preserve the video.

Step 3: Make a Claim

Your attorney will compile your medical records and medical billing associated with the Wal-Mart slip and fall, and submit it to the insurance claims adjuster with the video of your slip and fall. This package, which requests Wal-Mart pay you damages for your injury, is called a Demand Package.

Step 4: Prepare for Denial         

As stated above, be prepared for Wal-Mart to reject your Wal-Mart slip and fall claim out of hand. This means the personal injury law firm will receive a response back from the Wal-Mart insurance claims adjuster about 45 days after submitting the demand. The response will claim either that Wal-Mart is not responsible for your slip and fall, or that there are no damages related to your slip and fall.

Some personal injury attorneys may give up the fight at this point. Depending upon the circumstances, there is one more additional step that should be taken, with the client’s permission, in response to the denial.

Step 5: Send a Draft Complaint

When an insurance claim is denied, your next step is to file a Complaint or a lawsuit. It is common knowledge that not all claims are worth spending thousands of dollars on in court, or worth the time required to invest in them in the courtroom. When a claim is denied, an alternative to giving up is to draft the Complaint or lawsuit and send it over to the company’s legal department. This Complaint should be sent together with a letter proposing that Wal-Mart either offer compensation or else the Complaint will be filed as a lawsuit.

Step 6: Prepare to Settle

While every case and every circumstance is different, typically Wal-Mart will reply to the draft of a Complaint with what is referred to as a”Drop Dead Offer.” They will give the law firm a few days time to respond to the offer, after which point the offer is no longer valid. At this time, you and your personal injury attorney will examine the offer from Wal-Mart and decide whether to accept it, or to file a lawsuit in your Wal-Mart slip and fall claim.

If you have a Wal-Mart slip and fall claim and you would like help examining it and navigating the legal and insurance process, please call us today. An attorney would like to discuss the claim with you. We can be reached at 704.749.7747.

Debt Settlement in CharlotteDebt settlement and bankruptcy go hand in hand. As a result, I routinely speak with clients about pursuing both options, depending upon the specific circumstances.  Depending upon the client’s needs, we may choose to pursue debt settlement over bankruptcy. My goal in each of those conversations with a client is to understand what’s at stake for the client, what their objectives are, and how likely we are to be successful in debt settlement or bankruptcy.

Is Debt Settlement An Option?

Debt settlement is always an option. The question is whether the creditor agrees with your valuation of the debt. You’re obviously asking them to settle the debt for less than “full value.” Depending upon the creditor, the amount, and their tendency to settle, you’ll get different answers from different creditors.

One impediment to settling a debt is your ability to send the creditor a lump sum payment. We are able to generate a best offer from the creditor when we can guarantee them they will have their funds quickly after settlement. While some creditors will agree to a reduced amount to be paid over time, most creditors involved in a debt settlement negotiation require a lump sum payment in full. One exception to this is where a creditor will accept a portion of the reduced amount quickly on the heels of the settlement, with the remainder to be paid over  time in installments.

Do I Need To Qualify For a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

No. While a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a complete liquidation of debt, even a Chapter 13 bankruptcy—which is available to almost everyone—gives the creditor a result where they are only getting paid a small percentage of the debt over time. As compared to having their debt put into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, most creditors will offer a reasonable reduction in the amount of the debt.

What If We Can’t Settle The Debt?

The firm typically simultaneously negotiates with creditors while preparing bankruptcy documentation for you. If we are unable to successfully negotiate a debt settlement, we can proceed with a bankruptcy filing provided it meets your objectives.

Are There Tax Consequences To Debt Settlement?

While the standard answer is “You should talk to your CPA,” generally speaking, when a lender cancels or forgives debt, there is a possibility that forgiveness of debt will generate taxable income due to the IRS. Generally, clients find that the benefit of the reduction in the principal amount of the debt, combined with settling the debt once and for all with the creditor outweighs any potential for taxable income resulting from the debt settlement.

If you have a question about debt settlement, give us a call at 704.749.7747. We’re here to help.

Passengers In An Auto AccidentPassengers in a car accident are in a unique position: they generally have two parties they can potentially recover from, the driver of the car they were traveling in, and the driver of the other vehicle. While fault is an important part of determining which driver to pursue, there are times where a passenger in an auto accident can attempt to collect under both drivers’ insurance policies.

If you’ve been a passenger in a car accident and were a victim of a hit and run, you may have a hard time successfully filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. The reason is that you do not know who owned the car that hit you.

Additionally, assuming you got the license plate of the hit and run vehicle, the accident report will not establish that the other vehicle’s owner was the driver at the time of the accident. That vehicle’s owner may deny the claim on that basis.

In either case, you can typically file an uninsured driver’s claim with the insurance company who your driver has his insurance with. This works as a safeguard in situations where you don’t know the identity of the driver who hit you (and ran).

Often, passengers and drivers are related to one another, or are family. If you are in a car accident where you witness your family members being injured, you may have special damages which will increase the value of your claim. Quite often, multiple passengers are represented by the same attorney in a claim against an insurance company, which due to the cumulative effect of the representation, increases the value of the overall claim or case against the insurance company.

Liability As A Passenger

North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, meaning if you’re found to be even one percent at fault, a jury is instructed to give you nothing. Passengers are very rarely at fault in a car accident. This makes the liability hurdle in a negotiation an easy one to overcome. Whereas in other claims the insurance company will offer a lower amount knowing that if they can prove you to be one percent at fault you’ll get nothing, they do not have that luxury when you’re a passenger.

If you were a passenger in a car accident and you would like to know your rights, call us at 704.749.7747. We’re here to help.

Your auto accident or motorcycle accident is important to us, no matter how minor. Even in cases or claims where most of the damage is property damage (vs. personal injury or bodily injury), we can and want to help.

Clients quite often don’t know what their rights are in an auto accident, and it’s not always as easy as making a claim with the at-fault party’s auto insurance company. Quite often, those claims are denied or individuals are ignored by the insurance company, in hopes they will give up or go away. Additionally, there are times when an insurance company will offer a dramatically low value for your damaged property based on a quote provided by a third party they have a strong relationship with. Having a personal injury lawyer represent you, even if your claim is only for property damage, helps prevent this type of behavior.

Call our office for a consultation today. We’ll discuss what happened, and help you determine your options, which may range from pursuing a large claim against the at-fault party’s insured, to simply determining what insurance is available for you to pay your existing medical bills or compensate you for your damaged property.

If you have questions about an auto accident or motorcycle accident, take the next step toward recovery and call 704.749.7747 today. We’re here to help.

Chapter 7 — Qualifying For Bankruptcy in CharlotteOne of the myths around qualifying for bankruptcy is that if you make more than a certain amount of income you cannot file. The truth is whether you qualify for bankruptcy is typically determined by examining both your income and your debts and expenses, as a whole.

If you make less than the median income in your state, you will automatically qualify for bankruptcy. The median income is determined by state, and one relevant factor is the size of your household—a word which has a unique definition in bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy attorney can tell you what the median income is in your state, specifically for your household size.

Even if your income exceeds the median income for your household size, you may still pass the Means Test. The Means Test recognizes that just because you have income doesn’t mean you can afford to pay your bills. It essentially compares your income to your expenses and allows deductions for some standard expenses like the operation of a vehicle, or health insurance. Additionally, it allows you to deduct some expenses specific to your situation. Those may be expenses related to caring for an elderly relative, or for your own special needs or circumstances. In this sense, qualifying for bankruptcy becomes an analysis of your own unique situation.

Even if you make more than the median income and fail the Means Test, you may still choose to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy in this instance recognizes you may have some ability to pay back your bills but not the ability to pay what creditors are asking. It operates to force creditors to accept a reasonable schedule for repayment of your debt and in most cases you pay less than 10% of your total unsecured (credit cards, medical, etc) debt, in exchange for a discharge of the remainder of that debt.

If you have questions about qualifying for Chapter 7, the Means Test, or any other bankruptcy related questions, please call 704.749.7747 to get your questions answered. We’re here to help.