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man and woman on a road trip with the top downAre you preparing for holiday travel? If so, you aren’t alone. Thousands of people will be hitting the nation’s roadways at the end of this month as they head to the homes of friends and relatives. Here’s a surprising fact for you: Christmas is not the holiday during which you are most likely to be involved in a car accident.

While any holiday is more risky than other days of the year due to the sheer number of cars on the road, it’s not the most hazardous. That distinction goes to the Fourth of July. With that in mind, here are the six most dangerous holidays for road travel by the numbers.

1. Fourth of July

For some reason, drinking and driving seems to go hand-in-hand with Independence Day, making it the most dangerous holiday to be on the road. On average, there are over 500 fatalities on the road and almost 60,000 serious injuries reported every Fourth of July.

2. Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has come and gone and hopefully you made it to your destination safely. In recent years, traffic-related deaths have been on the declined, but it is still considered dangerous. The number of accidents is thought to be due to fatigue and distracted driving.

3. New Year’s Day

Alcohol-fueled parties could be a reason that New Year’s Day is so dangerous. Consider that the day begins just after the clock strikes midnight and many people are heading home. On January 1st, more than half of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol.

4. Christmas

Christmas is a top holiday in America, but it is number four on the list of most dangerous holidays to be on the road. The majority of collisions occur between the afternoon of December 24th and Christmas evening. Those accidents decline when Christmas falls on a day during the week.

5. Labor Day

Labor Day is the official end to summer and that means parties and road trips. There is plenty of traffic on the road during what many spend as a three-day weekend. If you travel on Labor Day, even a short distance from home, keep your eyes focused on the road.

6. Memorial Day

Just as Labor Day is the end to summer, Memorial Day is its official kick off. According to some statistics, there are 32 percent more roadway fatalities on Memorial Day than on the three days prior combined. Many people are out welcoming summer, but just as many are on their way home from a weekend break.

No matter which time of year you are traveling, if you are injured in an auto accident in Charlotte, you have legal rights. Reach out to our team of experienced personal injury lawyers for a free case evaluation. We understand what you and your family are going through and we are here for you. Call our office today and schedule your appointment. Let us advise you of your options and help you take the next steps.

You’ve been involved in a car accident. You are understandably stressed out and maybe even anxious. In the days that follow, you have a lot to deal with. The last thing you need is a phone call from the other party’s insurance adjuster, but it could very well happen.

One of the first questions people have when they get this phone call is whether or not they have to provide information. The short answer is “no.” There is nothing legally binding you to give the other person’s insurance company any information at all. So why do they call?

The Investigation

Most insurance companies will attempt to sort out liability when the police report has become available. To do this, they will speak with their own insured and often reach out to the other party involved (YOU). This is especially true when those involved in the accident and the witnesses who saw the whole thing happen give conflicting accounts. If a police report is unclear, the insurance company will certainly try to speak to additional witnesses or parties that may have additional information.  One of the ways that insurance companies are profitable is by being very good at investigating claims and looking for information that may help them pay little or nothing on a claim.

Let’s say that you were rear-ended by a vehicle. The police arrive and you give your side of the story. You were stopped in the turn lane with your signal on when the driver behind you crashed into your bumper. The other party tells the police that you were in the lane of travel and didn’t have your turn signal on. They also say that you stopped abruptly and they had no time to stop. No one else saw the accident. In this case, you can almost assuredly expect a phone call from an adjuster that is looking for information that they may try to use against you to deny your claim.

Your Insurance Company Versus The “Other” Company

When you are involved in an accident, you will want to cooperate as much as possible with your own insurance company. In fact, your cooperation may be required as outlined in your policy. You do not, on the other hand, have any obligation to speak with the other driver’s insurance adjuster. In most cases, it is in your best interest not to.

If you are called by an insurance adjuster that insures the other driver, politely decline to give them any information. Your next step would be to call an experienced car accident attorney. Keep in mind that anything you say to the adjuster could be used against you in their decision to pay out the claim or, worse, in court should you file a personal injury lawsuit.

If you have been involved in an accident in Charlotte, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys is here for you. We understand what you are going through, and we will use our knowledge and experience to fight for your rights. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation. Let us review the details of your accident and help you make the best decisions moving forward. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and more.

In most North Carolina Car Accidents, law enforcement is contacted and they make a report of your traffic incident. When police respond to the scene of an accident, they will begin to gather information from drivers and witnesses at the crash scene. The information will then be added to an accident report.

If you have never seen one of these reports, they can be a bit hard to understand. If you can get your hands on an accident report “key,” you will better understand the information that the reporting officer has included.

Understanding the Report

The first thing you should look for is the names of all drivers involved in the accident. You may not be able to ascertain if others’ names were spelled correctly, but you can certainly check the accuracy of your own. The next thing you will want to look for is whether or not the police officer was accurate in his or her description of who was driving which vehicle. Also, if you look at the bottom of the second page of the report, you will see a box where the reporting officer will list if any citations were issued.

Was Anyone Ticketed?

Check closely to see if any parties received a ticket or citation. Also, look at boxes 14, 15 and 16 on the right hand side of page 1 to see if they are filled with numbers. Even if you don’t know what the numbers mean, anything filled out in these boxes will let you know if the driver listed in the first position (Driver 1) was found to have done anything that contributed to the accident. If boxes 17, 18 and 19 are filled, that means that the officer found the second driver contributed to the accident. If there are more than 2 vehicles involved, the same format for reading the contributing factors will also apply to drivers listed on additional pages.  You will need to use the accident key to determine what the numbers in the box(s) mean.

Look for Insurance Company Information

Take a look at the bottom of page one. There will be information about the people that own the vehicles, the names of their insurance company(s) and their policy number(s). Most of the times you can assume that the information is accurate, however please note that in some cases the insurance information may not be up to date and you may need additional research to find the accurate insurance information.

Keep in mind when reading the report that the opinions and findings of the police officer do not determine “fault”. It is the reporting officer’s job to gather information about the accident.  Fault is a matter that may be determined by the insurance companies and in some cases, the Court. Additionally sometimes it may be possible to correct or amend an accident report depending on the information that needs to be corrected or added.

If you have been involved in such an injury accident in Charlotte or elsewhere, reach out to our experienced team of personal injury attorneys.   If you do not have your accident report, we will help you obtain it free of charge.  We will also help you decipher your report if you are having trouble understanding it.  Accident reports and injuries are confusing.  Please give us a call for a free consultation. We will review the details of your case and advise you of your potential options.

car accident conceptThere are many myths surrounding car accident injury claims that you should be aware of. Many deal with the amount of settlement or compensation you can expect to receive. Please be weary of anyone that tells you how much your case is worth and what is definitely going to happen in your case – especially if they tell you these things when you first meet with them. Additionally it is important to realize that every case is different so what happened in your cousin’s case may not be relevant to your case at all. EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT!

Here are a few myths surrounding personal injury claims.

1. All States Have the Same Injury Laws

It’s never safe to assume that the way a personal injury case turned out for your friend or family member in another state is how it will turn out for you. Laws related to injury cases vary from state to state. For example, some states have no-fault legislation while others operate on a fault basis.  Before making an assumptions about your case, consider speaking to an attorney familiar with the personal injury laws in your state.

2. Pain and Suffering 

This term has been used in commercials, TV shows and in movies to the point where it is a commonly uttered phrase.  Unfortunately most people do not understand what it really means.  If some person or company caused you to be injured, you can make a claim for pain and suffering damages. The purpose of these damages is to provide compensation for physical discomfort endured due to injuries resulting from an accident.  There is no one formula or single way to calculate the exact compensation that someone may be entitled to in their personal injury or accident case.  There are many factors that your attorney will analyze to make their determination.  This is not something that should be guessed or assumed.  Please speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to determine what you may be entitled to.

3. Large Settlements and Verdicts

You may have heard about large settlements reported in the news or in your local newspaper.  Often times the media will focus more on the amount of the settlement or verdict than the substance of the case that lead to such a result.  Large settlements and verdicts are typically going to be associated with cases relating to very severe and serious injury cases.  Examples of those cases may include wrongful death, paralysis or many other injuries. A large settlement or jury verdict should not be viewed as a commonplace windfall.  Many times these large settlements and verdicts are awarded in situations where people have been catastrophically injured or in a situation where a large amount of money may be necessary to compensate someone with extremely large medical bills or a necessity for future care that could last for decades.

4. The Waiting Game as a Negotiation Strategy

There is a common misconception that we often hear about insurance companies offering favorable settlements to people that just a sit and wait for them. Anything is possible and there is probably someone out there that received a settlement purely because of good timing.  However this is not a reasonable or sound negotiation strategy because you risk recovering nothing if you wait too long. An insurance company can play the waiting game too and they don’t mind if you wait, or wait so long that your time has run out.  There are strict time periods that govern someone’s ability to file a personal injury action.  It is a good idea to speak to an experienced car accident or personal injury lawyer so you can best understand the time periods that govern your case.  Hiring a personal injury attorney experienced in negotiation is one consideration to make.  They are experienced at working with the insurance companies and they know how to navigate settlement negotiations.

5. “Specializing”

Often times we hear from people that failed to research their attorney prior to hiring them.  In some cases they may call for a 2nd opinion or to discuss the possibility of hiring another firm for one reason or another.  In North Carolina there is no such thing as an attorney that specializes in personal injury.  There are some practice areas where a lawyer with certain credentials may ethically refer to themselves as specialists.  Board Certified Specialists in Workers Compensation is such an example. Just because you cannot call yourself a personal injury specialist in NC doesn’t mean that you cannot limit your practice areas to personal injury or car accidents.  Consider doing some research on the attorney or firm that you are considering hiring. What kind of cases do they handle?  Do they only handle matters related to injury cases? Do they do criminal law, family law and personal injury all at the same time?  There are plenty of great lawyers that handle different types of caseloads in different practice areas.  We recommend that a potential consumer of professional legal services inquire about the qualifications of the attorney or firm that they are considering hiring before they actually hire them.

Reach out to our office today if you have been involved in an auto accident in Charlotte. We have over 26 years of experience defending victims and protecting their rights. We are happy to offer you a no-cost case evaluation and discuss your incident further. Call today to schedule your appointment.

car with impacted side after a car crashIf you live in North Carolina, you may know that it has one of the largest system of highways in the country. If you don’t live in the state, you may not have been aware of that fact. It stands to reason that having such an extensive amount of roadway can be dangerous for drivers. With more people on the road, the chances of being involved in a collision are heightened.

There are important legal aspects to consider if you’ve been in an accident in Charlotte or anywhere else in the state. Here are the basics that you need to be aware of. Your personal injury attorney can give you advice that is more specific to your incident.

Auto Insurance Requirements

In the state of North Carolina, you must have minimum liability insurance in order to drive legally. The state minimums are $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage. You, of course, can carry more coverage should you choose to do so, but you cannot legally carry less.

A driver is also required to have uninsured motorist coverage. This is to protect you in the event that the person responsible for your accident doesn’t have insurance.

Filing an Insurance Claim

Following up with the insurance companies can be a confusing task.  Most people involved in car accidents have claims related to property damage and bodily injury.  These are two different claims.  It is most common to file a claim against the “at-fault” driver’s insurance company but there are times when your own company may also be involved in the claims process.  Those types of claims are common when attempting to resolve property damage issues or cases involving an unknown or uninsured driver.  Additionally there may be benefits such as medical payment insurance “med-pay” available to you and your passengers from your own insurance company.  An experienced personal injury law firm that handles motor vehicle accidents will be able to assist with making sure that all of the different insurance companies are involved to the extent that they need to be.

Understanding Contributory Negligence

It’s important that you understand contributory negligence if you live in North Carolina as it is one of the few states that still utilizes this type of liability. In general, if you are found to have had any part in the accident, even if it wasn’t totally your fault, you are barred from recovering damages for your property or personal injury.  It is common for insurance companies in contributory negligence states to use the defense of contributory negligence to deny auto accident claims. Cases involving this issue can be very difficult and it is a good idea to speak to an attorney about whether or not this issue is relevant to your case.  Additionally insurance companies may use recorded statements as a tool to come to the conclusion that another driver contributed to the accident. Consider speaking to an attorney before making any statements to any insurance companies.

Filing a Lawsuit

It is your option, in most cases, to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person(s) you believe to be responsible for your accident. Many times a resolution to someone’s personal injury case can be reached without having to file a lawsuit.  Your attorney will be able to best advise you on your options and whether or not a lawsuit may be filed in your case.  Every case is different and every case has a different resolution.  Do not make any assumptions or guesses about your potential case.  Speak to a lawyer to be sure about your options.

If you have been involved in a crash in Charlotte and would like to speak to one of our attorneys about filing a personal injury claim, please call our office. We will help you schedule a free case evaluation at which time we will advise you of your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and more. Reach out to our team for assistance.

damaged front end of a car after an accidentAfter an accident, you will be dealing with many things and multiple people. One of those people will probably be an insurance adjuster, and you could very well come away from the meeting feeling as though you have been taken. You wouldn’t be the first.

Insurance companies don’t stay in business by paying out the maximum settlement for every claim they receive. While you may come across a friendly, helpful adjuster, chances are more likely that you will deal with an adjuster who has their company’s interests foremost in their mind. Here are a few tricks to watch out for.

1. Loaded Questions

An insurance adjuster may ask you loaded questions. Be wary of this. They may try to discuss the accident with you and shift blame onto you rather than their insured. Refrain from discussing the accident with an adjuster!

2. Delaying the Case

The adjuster you deal with may try several tactics to delay your claim. The reasons are twofold: you may become so frustrated with the process that you accept their low settlement offer and they could delay you for so long you miss deadlines. If you feel as though an adjuster is delaying your case purposely, seek out an attorney.

3. Spying

Have you ever felt as if someone was watching you? If you’ve been in a car accident, you might be right. Insurance adjusters have been known to try and catch car accident victims performing physical activities in order to deny their claim.

4. Asking for Medical Records

An adjuster may ask you to provide medical records for any treatment you sought after the accident. While this may seem innocent and reasonable, there may be a clause in the paperwork you sign that allows the adjuster access to all of your medical records. Again, you are under no obligation to provide this information.

5. Telling You a Lawyer Isn’t Necessary

If an adjuster tells you that you can settle your claim without the assistance of an attorney, be careful. Keep in mind that they are looking out for their company. If they start telling you that you don’t need an attorney, you almost assuredly do.

If you have to deal with an insurance adjuster following a car accident, always be wary. While some are truly good people, others will do anything they can to delay or deny your claim. If at any point you begin to feel as though you are being taken for a ride, consult with an experienced attorney.

After a car accident in Charlotte, you have legal rights. Reach out to our personal injury attorneys to discover more about what those rights are. Unlike an insurance adjuster, we work for you. We will defend your rights in court if necessary and help you achieve the best settlement possible. Call our office today to schedule your free case evaluation and let us help you make the best decisions for your situation.

young man asleep behind the wheel. drowsy driving conceptIf you decide to drive while you are drowsy, you are asking for trouble. Not only does operating a vehicle while fatigued put the driver at risk, but it is also dangerous for everyone else on the road. Other drivers, pedestrians and even property owners can be affected by someone’s choice to drive when they shouldn’t.

If you are injured in an accident caused by a fatigued driver, you may have a valid personal injury case against the at-fault driver. Here is more of what you need to know about drowsy driving and why it is such a dangerous mistake that is completely avoidable.

Being Tired Negatively Impacts Your Ability to Drive Safely

When you are tired and get behind the wheel, you will operate your vehicle in a way similar to that if you had consumed alcohol. It surprises many people that being drowsy behind the wheel can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Both of these actions can:

  • Impair judgment
  • Dull reaction time
  • Reduce awareness
  • Impair short-term memory
  • Negatively impact vision

When you drive while you are sleepy, you do not have the focus and concentration necessary to operate your vehicle safely. It really is that simple.

Statistics Surrounding Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving accidents are more common than people may think. People get behind the wheel when they are too tired to drive too often. Here are some statistics on drowsy driving.

  • More than 800 people die each year due to drowsy drivers, according to the NHTSA.
  • A person who sleeps only 5 to 6 hours a night is twice as likely to get in an accident.
  • A person who sleeps only 4 to 5 hours a night is four times as likely to get in an accident.
  • In the last month, one in 25 drivers, on average, has fallen asleep behind the wheel.

Preventing Drowsy Driving

The only way to prevent drowsy driving is to not drive while you are tired. There are ways you can prevent being too tired to get behind the wheel.

Don’t drive when you would typically be asleep and, if necessary, take a nap before you drive. If you begin to feel tired as you drive, pull over and stretch or find a safe place to take a nap. If you will be taking a road trip, make a plan to stop every two hours or so and give yourself a break. Any time you believe that you may be putting yourself in danger by driving while tired, ask someone to accompany you. Better yet, get some sleep before you hit the road.

If you happen to be involved in an accident in North Carolina, we are here to try and help you. Reach out to our experienced team of legal professionals for the legal assistance you need. We will review the details of your accident for free. Call today to schedule a case evaluation.

The weather can change in a moment’s notice any time of year, but especially in the fall. A sunny morning can turn into a rainy and freezing afternoon. Now that we are nearing winter, our days are getting shorter which means dark is upon us sooner. You may very well find yourself going to work before the sun comes up and coming home after it goes down.

Because the weather in the fall can be unpredictable, it brings with it driving challenges that may not occur in other seasons. When you know what these challenges are, you are better prepared to deal with them.

1. Rain

Most of the country had a fairly dry summer, save for the hurricanes that hit hard. When a fall rain shower hits after weeks of dry weather, the roads can be particularly treacherous because the rain tends to pool and stand rather than run off. Know that when you are driving during or after a rain storm in the fall, the roads may be especially slippery.

2. Fallen Leaves

The changing colors of the leaves are beautiful, but they don’t make for pretty driving. As leaves fall and coat the roads, they can obscure pavement markings, hide potholes, and make the roadway slippery. Be extra cautious on roads that are covered with fall foliage.

On that same token, stay aware of people driving around you who may be moving slowly. Thousands of people head out on the roads, especially on weekends, to look at the leaves and trees. These people may be paying more attention to the scenery than their driving. Stay aware when you come upon a driver who seems to be taking it all in rather than keeping their eyes on the road ahead.

3. Fog

We’ve all driven through fog at least once in our lives, but cold fall mornings can lead to more fog than we are used to. If you encounter fog, don’t make the common mistake of turning on your high beams. It actually makes your visibility worse. When driving through fog, the best thing to do is to slow down and stay far behind any cars that are in front of you.

4. Frosty Roads

We expect the roads to be covered with ice in the winter, but we don’t always assume the same in the fall. The truth of the matter is that fall weather brings with it cold nights. This can lead to frost covering the roads in the early morning hours, making them as slippery as an ice rink. Pay attention to local weather reports and be prepared to give yourself extra time on the roads if there is a frost advisory.

If you are involved in an accident in Charlotte during the fall or any other time of year, our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is here for you. Reach out to our office today to schedule your appointment for a free case evaluation. Let us advise you of your legal rights and assist you in making the best decisions for your situation.

couple looking at paperwork with attorney or insurance representativeWhen you are in a car accident, you are understandably upset. You may achieve some level of comfort when you realize that an insurance company may be able to compensate you for your damages. In some instances, insurance companies aren’t willing to do that. Some companies will use every trick in the book to reduce the amount that they compensate you and some may try to avoid giving you any compensation at all. Here are 10 things to look out for.

1. Not Covered?

In some instances, an insurance company may try to claim that your accident is not covered.  In some cases, they may be correct.  However before giving up it is best to be on the safe side and speak to an attorney about the facts of your accident.  Attorneys are trained to navigate insurance coverage issues.

2. They’re Watching?

Have you ever felt like someone was watching you? In some cases insurance companies will do a thorough investigation of your claim which may include them spying on your activities.  Additionally insurance companies are notorious for looking at social media to see if you have talked about your accident or injuries.  They may try to use this information to fight liability or the amount of damages you are claiming.

3. Downplaying Injuries

Insurance adjusters aren’t your doctors, but they may act as though they are specifically familiar with your injuries. If an insurance adjuster tries to downplay your injuries, don’t let them. They are only trying to lessen the amount of your claim.  Please consider hiring a lawyer to communicate with the insurance company on your behalf before speaking to anyone from any insurance company.

4. Delays

An insurance company may try to delay making a decision regarding your claim. If you feel as though you are getting the run around from an insurance company, you may be. Contact an attorney to see if they can advise you as to what the insurance company may be doing.

5. Blame Game

Fault or liability are issues for Courts to decide. Don’t discuss the facts of the accident with anyone from any insurance company. They may try to use your own words against you.

6. Forcing You to Talk

Again, it’s in your best interest not to give a statement to any insurance company or their representatives. If for some reason you are required to give a recorded statement, do so with a lawyer by your side.

7. Making You Feel Like You Don’t Need a Lawyer

Successful insurance adjusters are those that can move claims fast and for as little as possible.  Why would they want you to hire an attorney? Insurance companies are very good at communicating to claimants in ways that may make them feel trust for the insurance company or the lack of a need for an attorney. Hiring a lawyer is your decision and your right.  Don’t let them make that decision for you.

8. Asking for Info 

Giving information to an insurance company can be harmful to your potential claim(s).  If you are asked for information, speak to an experienced accident attorney before giving any information to an insurance adjuster.

9. Requesting Your Medical Records

Do not provide an insurance company with signed releases that allow them the ability to get your medical records.  Your attorney will provide the insurance company with the necessary medical records that they will need to assess your claim.

10. Being Themselves

An insurance company makes money selling policies, collecting premiums and by paying claimants as little as possible for their claims.  They have the resources and know-how to limit the amount of money that they will pay on a claim.  Speak to an experienced injury attorney about the process and let them deal with the insurance company.

If you have been injured in an accident in North Carolina, we may be able to help you with your potential injury case. Call our office today for a free case evaluation.

People say that home is where the heart is. Unfortunately, it is also where most vehicle collisions occur.  According to a survey conducted by Progressive Insurance, 52 percent of all traffic accidents happen within 5 miles of home or less. 77 percent of accidents occur within 15 miles or less. The study also unveiled some other interesting facts:

  • You are twice as likely to be involved in an accident one mile from your home as you are 20 miles from your home.
  • Just one percent of all accidents reported occurred 50 miles from home.
  • The region with the highest number oreported the most accidents occurring within 21 miles or more from home.
  • The greatest percentage of accidents, 29 percent, occur between two and five miles from home.

Why is this? Experts agree that the reason is simple: Most people don’t leave a certain radius with regularity. Many people who commute do so within 20 miles of their home. People shop near their homes, dine out close to home and entertain themselves in venues that aren’t far away. Because most people drive near home more often than away, accidents occur at greater numbers within a certain distance from a person’s home.

The good news is that when you are armed with this information, you can prevent many accidents from occurring.

Change Your Route

One possible reason for car accidents that occur close to home is that sense of autopilot we all feel. This comes when driving to and from work or school becomes more an act of muscle memory than actual decision making. Change your route occasionally to keep yourself sharp.

Don’t Get Comfortable

We know our neighborhood’s streets well. We know the stop signs people tend to run and we know where police officers like to sit. Don’t get too comfortable around your home base. Stay aware of what is happening around your vehicle at all times.

Obey Traffic Laws

It’s easy to feel a sense of entitlement or ownership near your home. This can cause you to speed or drive in ways that you may not in other areas further from your home. Don’t be tempted to change the way you drive just because you are close to home and very familiar with the streets. Being close to home doesn’t negate your responsibility to drive safely and obey traffic laws.

Look Twice

Look around your vehicle before you back out of the driveway and always come to a full stop before entering the street. Many accidents occur because drivers will automatically pull out of their driveway without stopping or looking.  Again, don’t let your senses of autopilot and comfort get the best of you.

If you are involved in an accident, whether close to home or far away, you may have the legal right to compensation. If someone else is at fault in your accident, you may be entitled to damages for medical bills, lost wages and more. Reach out to our team of accident attorneys today for the help you deserve.

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