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.

A major consideration in reaching a personal injury settlement is the existence of liens on the settlement funds. A lien is simply a rightful claim against property—in this case, your settlement check.

A variety of companies or entities may hold a lien against your settlement funds, including Medicare, doctors’ offices, chiropractors, and even your own insurance company (if they paid some of your medical bills related to the case). All of these liens and debts must be addressed and taken into account when reaching your final settlement.

Medical Providers

Your personal injury attorney will have a discussion with you about your bills, leading up to the settlement negotiation. Typically, your attorney will be negotiating on your behalf with the insurance company while simultaneously negotiating with individuals who are owed out of your settlement. To the extent the attorney convinces those providers to take less than they are owed, it puts more money in your pocket. Due to the ongoing nature of the relationship between a personal injury attorney and a medical provider like a doctor or chiropractor, the attorney is usually successful at getting your bill reduced significantly.

Tax Obligations

Lastly, while not technically a ‘lien’ at settlement stage, your settlement may give rise to a tax obligation. To the extent that your settlement represents lost wages, you’ll need to speak with an accountant about how to declare those funds come tax time. Additionally, if you previously took a tax deduction for medical expenses on a prior year return, and then were later reimbursed for those medical expenses when you settled, you may have a duty to disclose that to the IRS on your next return.

Call Today

Prior to reaching a final settlement agreement, your personal injury attorney should be able to show you your total bills, the negotiated amounts, and the net amount that will end up in your pocket. If you have questions about a personal injury settlement please call 704.749.7747 and we will be happy to help you understand the process. We’re here to help.

If you slip and fall in Charlotte, North Carolina—or anywhere in North Carolina—you’re going to hear a lot about contributory negligence. Contributory negligence is a legal term and in North Carolina, it means that if the injured party was 1% or more at fault, the entire case can get ‘thrown out’ and there is no recovery for damages. Don’t let it scare you.

Every insurance adjuster and insurance company attorney is trained to raise contributory negligence as a defense. While it is still in effect in North Carolina, it should not keep you from making a claim against the insured’s policy, or even litigating a slip and fall case.

Addressing Contributory Negligence In Negotiations

Your Charlotte, North Carolina personal injury attorney will navigate the discussion around contributory negligence with the insurance adjuster. Insurance companies know they would have to prove that the injured party contributed somehow to the slip and fall, and that represents risk on their side. Truthfully, the insurance company wants to avoid the courtroom, so the mention of contributory negligence is typically meant to defend a lower settlement offer from the insurance adjuster.

Your personal injury attorney will remind the insurance adjuster that even in courtroom settings where a jury is presented with instructions to deny recovery if the injured party is 1% or more at fault, what juries typically do instead is lower the recovery amount given to the injured party. The “all or nothing” nature of contributory negligence is negated in those cases.

Establishing Liability in Slip and Fall Claims

Once you get beyond the contributory negligence discussion, the insurance adjuster will defend their low settlement offer with the claim that their client has no liability—they are not responsible for the injury. It’s difficult to prove liability in a slip and fall case because whether it’s due to spilled yogurt on a grocery store floor, or an inventory pallet left in the middle of an aisle, by the time the attorney and insurance adjuster are discussing it, the physical surroundings in the store have of course changed.

Key Factors In Establishing Conditions

If you slip and fall in an establishment in North Carolina, take care to do the following:

— Take photos. We are all walking around with cameras on our phones. Take close-up photos and a few far away shots of where the accident happened, to establish the conditions.

— Report the slip and fall. By reporting the slip and fall to the store manager, you are creating a written record that you were actually there on that day, and fell, on that day.

— Take down employees names. If at all possible, write down the names of employees on the floor at that time. Months later when an attorney is trying to research the claim for you, this information will be priceless.

–Take down name and phone numbers for witnesses. Witnesses who are not related to you can do a lot to bolster your claim. Even if your claim never sees the inside of a courtroom, if the insurance company knows you have a credible witness, they will value the claim more because the chance of establishing liability of their insured is increased.

If you slip and fall in North Carolina, call us at 704.749.7747 for guidance. We’re here to help and the call is free.

This is a reasonable question to ask and I get it all the time. Quite often, I tell potential clients who have called my firm that they will be just fine without a personal injury lawyer. Those instances are typically when a lawyer’s fees would not be outweighed by the difference the lawyer could make in negotiating with an insurance company, or when the claim is cut and dry as in the case of a property damages only claim for a vehicle.

There are times when hiring a personal injury lawyer makes more sense and can make a significant difference for individuals. Here are some factors to consider if you’re trying to decide whether to hire a personal injury lawyer.

Claims Get Complicated

Personal injury claims may start off simple, or at least seem that way. Once you start going back and forth with an insurance adjuster, you realize they are not hired to look out for your best interests. They may request years worth of medical records in an attempt to establish your injury existed prior to the incident giving rise to the claim.

You may also get overwhelmed by the valuation of the claim. How much is future pain and suffering worth? What is the likelihood you’ll need a future surgery, and what is that worth today? These and other questions start to add up to money left on the table, and the feeling that you may be about to settle your claim for far less than you deserve. A lawyer helps issue-spot your claim and can defend the amount being demanded.

Your Comfort Level

While some injuries leave you quite capable of dealing with an insurance company, others leave you in pain. You’ll spend considerable time just managing your doctors’ visits, let alone pushing a claim along through a reluctant insurance company adjuster. Your lawyer of course devotes their practice to staying in good communication with adjusters, developing a working relationship with them, and knowing what they are willing to be flexible on, when it comes to your demand.

Coverage Is Denied

There are times where insurance companies deny coverage. You present all the information requested, it’s obvious from your perspective that there are damages and that there is liability on their end, yet you get a letter saying they deny all liability and refuse to even negotiate the claim. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate, a lawsuit is the next step, and having professional legal help is all but necessary at that point, to insure a good result.

You Feel Your Being Treated Unfairly

The bottom line is, it’s hard to know if you’re being treated fairly. While some of that decision is personal to you, it is always helpful to have an experienced personal injury lawyer involved in helping you determine whether the offer from the insurance company is reasonable. If you’ve reached a stopping point in negotiation, your lawyer will also discuss the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit with you, vs. taking the amount being offered. These can be stressful decisions and having a professional assist you can be priceless.