A personal injury blog containing useful information for anyone in Charlotte looking for information about personal injury or looking for a Charlotte personal injury attorney.

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.

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.

Personal Injury clients often ask what has to be proven in order to recover successfully in a personal injury lawsuit. While it is worth noting that many cases settle without ever having to prove these four elements, here they are:

Duty

Breach

Causation

Damages

If the plaintiff can’t establish all four of the elements in the typical personal injury lawsuit, and prove negligence, there is a chance they will recover nothing at all. When you look closely at the four elements required to recover on a claim, it makes sense that all four must be met.

The first question is whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. The typical duty of care is that one individual or company act toward others and the public with attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would. So it’s a question of whether the defendant’s behavior was reasonable, given the circumstances.

After establishing a duty existed, then it’s a question of whether that duty has been breached. Did the defendant act reasonably, as it relates to his or her interaction with the plaintiff? There are times where a plaintiff is injured, yet the person they are suing acted reasonably. It makes sense in those cases to bar a recovery from that particular defendant.

If you establish duty and a breach of duty, then you ask whether the defendant’s behavior was the cause of the harm the plaintiff experienced. Even if the defendant breached their duty, if that breach was not the direct cause of the plaintiff’s harm, then the defendant isn’t responsible for it.

Lastly, are there damages? Oddly, this comes up more often than you’d think in a personal injury claim. A plaintiff has to actually show that the behavior of the defendant caused damages. The plaintiff must be able to quantify those damages in order to make a demand of the defendant in the case for reimbursement or compensation.

Call An Attorney

If you have any questions about a personal injury claim, or if you’d like an attorney to analyze your personal injury, please call 704.749.7747. The consultation is free.

In North Carolina, the nature of your auto accident is important. The reason for this is that North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. This means that even if you are found to be 1% at fault, a jury will be instructed to not return any damages in your favor. While this may appear an outdated method for determining fault, it does not prevent individuals injured in an auto accident from recovering from the negligent party.

Contributory Negligence

Insurance companies will often raise contributory negligence as a negotiation tactic to lower the amount being offered to the plaintiff. For obvious reasons, if you have been in a rear-end accident (the other driver rear-ended you), the liability is clear: it’s their fault not yours. Liability is more complicated when two vehicles collide in an intersection or hit each other on the side, etc. Regardless, your personal injury attorney can counter the contributory negligence argument in negotiations and still negotiate successfully in your favor.

Documenting The Scene

Documenting the scene of the accident can be critical for establishing liability in a rear-end accident or any other type of auto accident. If you’re in an accident, be sure to take numerous photos of the vehicle damage and the overall scene of the accident. This will preserve the scene in photos and also assist your personal injury attorney tremendously when it comes time to negotiate with insurance companies.

Call A Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been in an rear-end accident or another type of auto accident in Charlotte, North Carolina, call 704.749.7747 to speak to an attorney. The consultation is free and you deserve to know your rights.

As a Charlotte personal injury attorney, I am attentive to numerous personal injury clients who are Medicare recipients. If you’ve been in an accident or had an injury resulting from an accident, there may be a Medicare lien upon any funds you recover in settlement of that injury.

Medicare Reimbursements

Typically, for a Medicare recipient, Medicare is contributing payments for medical services related to any injury the Medicare recipient has suffered. When the Medicare recipient settles with an insurance company for proceeds related to the injury, the personal injury attorney must take steps to confirm the amount of reimbursement Medicare is entitled to.

There Is No Deadline

While you can wait until you have your case settled to reach out to Medicare, that is not the standard procedure. Medicare takes months to respond and there is no deadline on their response, so personal injury attorneys reach out very early on in the process to try to determine how much of the proceeds are due to Medicare. This also helps the client decide whether the amount being offered by the insurance company is fair in their minds—the Medicare lien affects the net amount of money going to the client.

Medicare Hold Back Option

If you receive proceeds from a personal injury settlement and still have not confirmed Medicare liens, your personal injury attorney may be open to disbursing to you all of the proceeds minus the potential Medicare liens. Then, once the Medicare liens are confirmed, the attorney can repay Medicare and disburse the remainder to you.

If you have questions about a personal injury in Charlotte, North Carolina, or have questions about Medicare liens, please feel free to call 704.749.7747 to speak to an attorney today. We’re here to help.

If you have been in a car accident in North Carolina, one thing your personal injury attorney will ask you for is a copy of your accident report. While an accident report is not generated for every automobile accident in North Carolina, there are a number of places online where you can attempt to obtain the report. Regardless, each incident will have a Driver Exchange form listing the contact info for each driver and their respective insurance companies.

If you have the date of the accident and the names of the drivers, you can typically use the websites below to find the accident report.

Finding Your Accident Report

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department maintains a crash report website here: http://cmpd.policereports.us/ . Your report is typically available 2 to 3 days after your accident. Accidents which were attended to by the NC State Highway Patrol, generate reports which are available at https://www.ncdps.gov/ . If neither of these sites works for you, you may need to make a personal appearance at your local police department to request a report or determine if one was made.

Reading Your Accident Report

The report contains a lot of information about the accident, the drivers, property damage, and the conditions contributing to the accident or existing at the time of the accident. Your Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury lawyer can assist you in reading and understanding your accident report. If you have questions about an accident report, feel free to call us at 704.749.7747. We’re here to help.

Each state has a statute of limitations which limits the time you can bring a lawsuit arising out of an accident or event that led to a personal injury. In most cases, in North Carolina, you have three years to initiate a lawsuit by filing a complaint with the court.

There are exceptions to the three year rule. For instance, in products liability cases, you have six years to file a lawsuit, per the North Carolina statute of limitations. For medical malpractice, the rule is generally two years, or up to a maximum of four years if you could not have immediately discovered your injury or that the injury arose from a medical provider’s negligence.

For minors, there is a tolling of the statute of limitations period if you are under 18 when the injury occurs. Consulting a north Carolina personal injury attorney is the best way to determine if there is still time to file your personal injury lawsuit.

The reason for statute of limitations is multi-layered, but generally speaking the more time between the event and the filing of the lawsuit, the more difficult it is to establish negligence, track down the individuals involved, and accurately recall the events leading to the injury. Additionally, at some point, all individuals need assurance that a lawsuit will not arise from something in the distant past. The North Carolina statute of limitations assists in establishing some concrete rules around this.

If you have a North Carolina statute of limitations question, please call 704.749.7747 and we will be happy to answer it for you.

Car Accidents are at the least a gigantic nuisance, and at worst can change your life dramatically, giving rise to permanent injuries and health complications. Negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company– and even your own insurance company– can bring on an amazing amount of frustration and fear that you’re not going to get a fair result. A Charlotte personal injury attorney can make all the difference. In the meantime, here are some tips:

The Negotiation Process For Car Accidents

Typically, your negotiations won’t really begin until your treatment for your injuries from the car accident has completed. This allows your personal injury attorney to value your claim without the insurance adjuster responding that it’s “too soon to tell what the permanent/final injuries are.” In the meantime, HERE are some tips for gathering support for your claim, while treatment is ongoing.

Once treatment is complete, your attorney will value the claim from a number of different perspectives including lost wages, pain and suffering, outstanding medical bills, future medical expenses, etc. This is all summarized in the demand package your personal injury attorney sends to the adjuster, which will include an amount your personal injury attorney thinks the claim is worth.

Getting a response from the adjuster often takes 45-60 days. Keep in mind this is the insurance company’s first chance to review all the paperwork involved in the case, review doctors’ notes, and examine your personal injury attorney’s breakdown of the demand. Once you get a response from the insurance company, each side is essentially attempting to figure out how much movement there is between the initial demand and response, what each party is willing to settle for, and how much patience each side has to wait the other out.

Key Factors In Successful Car Accident Negotiations

FACTS: It helps to have good facts– a police report that establishes the accident was the other motorist’s fault, or damage to the rear of your vehicle (vs. being side-swiped). In negotiations arising from these car accidents, there is little chance the other side will argue their driver is not responsible.

PERSISTENCE: While patience is a key factor in not accepting too low a number, your personal injury attorney also needs to establish a sense of urgency with the adjuster. Once the adjuster has done his/her initial evaluation of the case, there is no reason for each exchange of new offers to take another 45 days.

UNDERSTANDING AND EMPATHY: Insurance adjusters are corporate employees who are over-worked and under-paid. Your personal injury attorney will develop a relationship with the adjuster which goes beyond trading offers back and forth. It is your personal injury attorney’s job to get the adjuster to see you as a human being with a full life, who has been sidetracked by a car accident that was not your fault.

PATIENCE, AGAIN: If the adjuster’s number and your number aren’t even close, the best advice is to wait it out. Sometimes that’s not possible, as hospital bills are piling up; however, most personal injury attorneys can get medical providers and billing agents to defer payment until the case is settled. This helps buy time to play the waiting game. The longer you wait, the quieter your side is, the less the insurance adjuster thinks they can get away with a low offer because the most important thing to you is getting the case settled.

If you have questions about negotiating a personal injury arising out of a car accident, please call 704.749.7747 to speak with me today. I’m here and answering questions is my job.