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Tourist season is kicking into full gear. If you are in the Carolinas, chances are you may be heading to the beach for your much deserved vacation. No one ever wants to get sick or hurt; especially on a trip.  Knowing how to avoid common vacation injuries and accidents can help ensure that you and your family have a wonderful time from beginning to end. Keep you and your family safe and happy by protecting yourselves from the most common accident and injuries that occur during family vacations.

  1. Allergies

You may know what you are allergic to in your own backyard, but flora and fauna that you aren’t used to can make you a victim of hay fever, hives and plenty of other issues. Nobody wants to deal with allergies while on vacation. Before you take a trip out of your home city, research your destination and check out the allergy reports for where you are heading.  Knowing what you may encounter will help you know what to expect before you get there.

Once you arrive at your destination, pay attention to the weather reports. Chances are high that the forecaster will give you the expected pollen or other allergen count for the day. If the allergen or pollen count is going to be high, stay indoors until late afternoon or evening. Change your clothes when you come in from outdoors, and wipe your skin off with a baby wipe or wet towel. This will help get the pollen off of your body which may prevent your allergies from flairing up.

  1. Car, Golf Cart and Bicycle Crashes

Driving on two or four wheels can be dangerous. Driving becomes even more dangerous when you are cruising along unfamiliar roads. Locals will drive the way they feel comfortable driving, and tourists will often drive in a hurried, rushed or distracted fashion. Often, these two driving styles don’t match up and can lead to car accidents. If you are driving through unfamiliar territory, do not exceed the speed limit and be sure that you understand how to get where you are going before you set off on your journey.

If you are riding a bicycle through a tourist area, make sure you are wearing a helmet. Any bike rental stand or company should have them available for your use. If you are driving an unfamiliar vehicle, get to know the controls before you put it in drive and hit the accelerator.

Similar to bikes, most people consider golf carts to be relatively safe, it’s important to remember that they are still vehicles and that accidents do happen. You can have a lot of fun on a golf cart, but you can also end up seriously injured or injuring someone else if you don’t act responsibly.

Whether you are driving your golf cart on a city street or riding a bicycle down the side of the road, you are considered to be operating a vehicle. Golf carts and bicycles are often subject to the same traffic laws as typical passenger motor vehicles.  Make sure you know and obey the laws at all times! Say no to reckless driving, tailgating, speeding and operating ANY vehicle if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

 

  1. Swimming Accidents

Swimming is a fantastic part of summer. Whether you are in a hotel pool or the calming waves of the ocean, swimming accidents can happen in a split second. If you are a parent, keep an eye on your children at all times. If you are swimming in natural waters, heed any warning signs and obey the lifeguards at all times.

If you aren’t a strong swimmer, wear a life vest. Your children should wear safety items like inner tube rings, arm floats or life vests. These things may inhibit your ability to actually swim in the water, but they can prevent you from drowning which is definitely more important.

  1. Food Poisoning

Some may find it surprising that food poisoning is a main cause of injury and illness during vacation. It’s completely normal to want to try a bit of the local cuisine if you are in a new place, but ask for a few tips before you do. The locals can tell you what restaurants are worth visiting and which are best to avoid. Also, if you decide to cookout, follow food safety rules to ensure that you don’t make yourself or your family ill.

  1. Sports Injuries

Sports related injuries while on vacation are all too common. Who hasn’t enjoyed football or volleyball on the beach before?  If you decide to be active and play a game, ride a jet ski or jump in the hotel pool, make sure you are doing so with safety in mind.  

Before you participate in any kind of physical activity, take a moment to stretch and warm up your muscles, especially if you aren’t quite used to exercise. This can be really important when you are traveling to warmer climates and haven’t been able to get outside at home in the recent weeks before your trip. Also, know the rules of the game you are going to play and, if you are riding on any type of machinery or recreational vehicle, ask the rental agency or owner about safety rules and requirements before you hop on board. It is also the best practice to avoid mixing alcohol and athletic activities

If you or a member of your party gets ill or is injured on vacation, stay as calm as possible. If the issue is a minor one, take care of it and go about enjoying your vacation. If the injury or illness is severe, stay calm and seek emergency medical assistance as soon as possible.

Speak with a Carolina Injury Attorney Today

If you are injured in Charlotte or elsewhere in the Carolinas — whether you are visiting or a resident, know your rights and your options! If your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, call our office and schedule a free case evaluation. We will review the circumstances of your injury and advise you of your options and how we may be able to help.  We wish you a safe and fun time during your travels.

Adults aren’t the only people who want to enjoy New Year’s Eve. Preteens and teenagers may have their own ideas about ringing in 2018. Instead of telling your child no when it comes to their going out, consider laying down some important ground rules for how they can spend New Year’s Eve without having to stay at home or being one of the few kids at a party for grown-ups.

1. Lay Down the Plan

Know exactly what your child will be doing, and with who and where, at least two days prior to the big night. Your child should know how they are going to get to the party, the address where they will be, the time they are leaving home and the time they will return.  Do not accept I don’t know as an answer to any of those questions.

2. Speak with the Parents

If your child will be partying at someone’s home this holiday, insist on speaking with the parents or guardians of the party host. You want to be confident that there will be no alcohol at the party, that the party is actually permitted to take place, and that there will be plenty of supervision present.

3. Make Sure You Can Be Reached

Your teen should know that they can call you if and when they need you. Stay available while your child is out.   If the party gets out of control, your teen should have no doubt that they can call you for a ride home. If that phone call comes, save your questions for the morning and just focus on getting them home safely.

4. Have Kids Check In

As embarrassing as it may be, let your child know that you will be calling at various times throughout their evening to check in on them. Let them know that if they don’t answer the phone, you will come looking for them. They may prefer that you weren’t calling, but you make the rules!

5. Host The Party

If you really want to keep your child safe, you can always host a party for the kids at your own home. You will have peace of mind and your kids and their friends will have a good time. If you are friendly with the parents of the teens, invite them as well. The kids can celebrate in the basement while the parents celebrate upstairs.

You don’t have to nix the New Year’s Eve party for your kids because you are afraid of the dangers lurking out there. Let them go, but make sure you lay down these ground rules. Know who they are going to be with and where they will be.  Know when to expect them to contact you next or arrive back at your home.  Reiterate over and over, no drinking and driving, no riding with someone that has been drinking, and don’t take rides or drinks from people that they do not know.

We understand how stressful accidents can be, especially if they involve a child or another loved one. Reach out to our team to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about your legal rights.  We have been helping injury victims in North Carolina for over 20 years.  Give us a call and let us know how we can help you.

For many people, New Year’s Eve is one of the most anticipated nights of the holiday season. Adults get together to ring in January 1st in style and have a great time. If you are planning on being one of those people who will be out celebrating this year, make sure you are doing it safely in order to avoid injury.

1. Gunfire

In some places, gun fire at midnight is a way that folks choose to ring in the new year. Pointing a gun into the air and firing is not safe. Not only is it illegal, but it’s also dangerous. Keep in mind that what goes up must come down! A bullet has the potential to travel up to two miles into the air before it falls back to the ground traveling up to 700 feet per second. That speed is enough to cause a fatal injury to someone on the ground. Unfortunately people have been injured and killed by gunfire that struck them upon returning to the ground.  Please be mindful of this if you are celebrating the new year outdoors.

2. Fireworks

New Year’s Eve is second only to the Fourth of July when it comes to the amount of fireworks that are set off on an American holidays. It’s always a good idea to leave fireworks to the professionals, but if you plan on setting them off, here are some safety tips to follow. First, only purchase fireworks that are sold legally.  Do not use fireworks in locations where they are prohibited by law. Never allow minor children to use fireworks. If you are going to be setting off fireworks, make sure you have water or a hose nearby. Lastly, do not use fireworks if you are under the influence of alcohol.  It only takes a minor mistake to cause a very serious injury or accident with fireworks.

3. Alcohol Consumption

Drink responsibly. New Year’s Eve is a holiday that is commonly associated with binge drinking. Don’t overdo it.  Pace yourself. Snack while you drink and stay hydrated with plenty of water. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know.  If you don’t regularly drink and are on prescription medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist and make sure it is safe for you to drink alcohol while taking your medications.

4. Drinking and Driving

Do not drink and drive. Drunk driving accidents are 100 PERCENT PREVENTABLE!!!   If find plan to drink, make a plan for getting home safely.  If you are celebrating with others, elect a designated driver or share the cost of a limo, taxi or ride sharing service.  It is also a fun idea to make New Year’s plans where you can stay overnight such as staying with your party hosts or having a hotel room within close proximity to where you will be celebrating. Lastly, there is nothing wrong with ringing in the new year at your own house. Again, there is no excuse for drunk driving.  It is not only dangerous for you, but you are placing other people in danger as well.  Uber, Lyft, taxi, designated driver, stay in, etc… Whatever you choose to do, make sure you are celebrating responsibly.

If you are planning on celebrating in Charlotte or elsewhere in the Carolina’s, do so safely! Auger & Auger represents injured people in North and South Carolina.  We offer free case evaluations and it will not cost any money to see if we are able to assist you.  We have been helping injury and accident victims for 20+ years.  Please give us a call and let us know how we can help you.

young girl holding a burlap wrapped christmas giftEvery year, World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. releases its nominees for the toys no one should be buying as gifts. This year is no exception, and the non-profit group has released its holiday list. If you’ve gone shopping but haven’t handed out gifts yet or if you are still thinking about when you’re going to get your shopping done, use this list in order to make informed decisions. You certainly don’t want to be putting a child at risk with your thoughtful gift.

1. Itty Bittys Stacking Toy

This toy is sold by Hallmark for under $30, making it popular. The toy is comprised of four rattling rings, presumably for small children, though there is no age recommendation on the packaging. The toy was recalled in August due to it being a choking hazard, but can still be found online if you look hard enough.

2. Pull Along Pony

You can find this toy manufactured by Tolo Toys Limited at a variety of online retailers. There are no warnings included with the toy that includes a 19-inch pull string. Industry standard requires that strings on playpens and crib toys measure a foot or less.

3. Wonder Woman Battle Action Sword

With the wild popularity of the Wonder Woman movie, children across the country have been asking for replicas of items used by their favorite female hero. W.A.T.C.H. suggests you don’t purchase this sword made by Mattel that it considers too rigid to be safe.

4. Hand Fidgetz Spinners

These toys can be purchased for about $2 at various big box stores, making them popular as stocking stuffers. The toys are labeled with a sticker claiming that they are not, surprisingly enough, intended to be used as a toy. Small parts can slip from the toys and cause choking hazards.

5. Spiderman Drone

This is an “official movie edition” drone complete with a remote control. It works by spinning several rotor blades and moving upwards into the air. Those blades can cause lacerations and other injuries. The toy comes with numerous warnings that should be heeded.

6. Nerf Zombie Strike Deadbolt Crossbow

Zombies are wildly popular thanks to television shows and movies. This toy crossbow is sure to catch the eye of children. Unfortunately, the force of the “arrow” that is launched from the toy makes that arrow strong enough to cause serious injury.

No one wants the gift they give to cause injury. Shopping for children can be difficult, especially as an adult. You want to make them happy and buy them the popular gift, but sometimes those popular gifts are actually very dangerous ones. Visit the W.A.T.C.H. website for a more comprehensive list before you head out to the stores.

If you should ever become injured, you may have a right to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and more. Reach out to our team of experienced personal injury attorneys for assistance today. We are happy to offer you a free case evaluation and review the details of your accident in order to provide you with the options that are right for you.

man wearing christmas sweater untangling christmas lightsThe holidays are upon us and most of us are prepping. No matter what holiday you are celebrating, there are certain things that need to get done so we can celebrate in style. Unfortunately, the excitement that surrounds the various holidays can have us forgetting our usual commitment to safety and, ultimately, accidents both at home and in the workplace.

When you know the most common accidents that occur during the holiday season, you are better able to avoid them. Here are some of those accidents that happen a few times too many and what you can do to make sure you aren’t visiting a hospital instead of celebrating with friends and family.

1. Falling Decorations

The holidays are a time for decking the halls and outdoing our neighbors. It should come as no surprise that one of the most common injury accidents is the falling decoration. Think very carefully about where and how you are hanging holiday decorations both in and outside of your home.

2. Foreign Objects

You may think that adults are less likely to swallow foreign objects than children. You could be right but, then again, you could be wrong. Whether you are plating your holiday meal in a way that would rival a top chef or simply stringing popcorn for the tree, make sure that anything small enough to be a choking hazard isn’t included or is at least pointed out.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is the number one cause of accidents of many types during the holiday season. From drunk driving to slips and falls, a bit too much indulgence can have disastrous consequences. There’s nothing wrong with having an adult beverage, but do so in moderation.

4. Cooking

You would think that cooking injuries are limited to burns. Maybe lacerations. Interestingly, some of the most serious injuries come from dropped objects. Imagine a frozen turkey being dropped and landing squarely on your stocking feet. If you are pulling something out of the fridge or freezer, stay on guard.

5. Food Illness

It’s not unusual to sample things you may not typically eat during the holiday season. This can lead to food illness or even food poisoning. If you are going to try something new, do so in moderation. If you aren’t sure of how something was cooked, ask. You don’t want to spend the holidays feeling as though you have the worst bought of influenza you’ve ever had.

While nothing can prevent every accident from happening, you are better able to prevent most if you know what to lookout for. If you can’t avoid an injury in Charlotte this year, and your injury was caused by someone’s error or negligence, you could have a personal injury case on your hands. Call our office to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and more.

woman checking her car during a snowstorm, safety triangle in foregroundIf you had your choice, chances are you would ride out a blizzard or severe snowstorm from the comfort of your couch. Few people, if any, want to find themselves trapped in their car during extreme weather scenarios.  If you should ever find yourself in such a situation, don’t panic!  Cooler heads always prevail.

With winter almost upon us, it’s a good idea to brush up on what you know about surviving in your vehicle.  Preparation can save lives! You may think it will never happen to you, and we hope it doesn’t. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, North Carolina may have a snowy winter this year. Here are some ideas to help you get home safely during a snowstorm.

1. Keep Your Car Serviced

Before a storm hits, make sure your vehicle is serviced. Your windshield wiper fluid and antifreeze should be topped off. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, have good tread and that your brakes are in good working order.

2. Keep the Tank Full

If you become stranded, you will want to be sure that you have enough gas to keep the heat running. You may have heard that you should never let your tank get below a quarter in the cold weather. Why take a chance?  If you can, fill up the tank once it gets to the halfway point.

3. Make an Emergency Kit

You stand a better chance of surviving if you have the tools you need. Invest in a hard-sided cooler if you don’t already have one. Fill it with nonperishable food items, phone charger, bottles of water, a change of socks and shoes, a blanket, a hat and gloves, a flashlight, extra batteries, flares and anything else you think you may need in an emergency situation.

4. Stranded!

What you have prepared for actually happens, and now you’re stranded. First, don’t panic. Make a call to emergency services and huddle down and wait. Get those supplies out of your trunk, wrap yourself in a blanket and wait it out. Get out of the car occasionally, after checking to be sure it is safe to do so, and clear off your car so that it is visible. Don’t let snow and ice clog your exhaust pipe. Put flares or emergency triangles around your vehicle and turn your hazard lights on.

5. Stay Put

You may feel as though help is never coming. Your phone’s battery may have died. You could have a myriad of reasons why you believe that you are in it for the long haul. No matter what you do, do not leave your vehicle. You are more likely to be seriously harmed, or even killed, if you wander off.

Being stranded in the snow is not something anyone wants to be forced to deal with, but it can happen. If you are injured in a vehicle collision in Charlotte this winter, be sure to reach out to our office. We have attorneys who are ready to stand up for your rights. Your case evaluation won’t cost you a thing.

person skiing down a mountainWinter is just around the corner, and your mind may be turning to all of the things you can do outside. For some people, winter sports are far more enjoyable than sports played under the hot summer sun. If you count yourself among the people who are fairly sedentary, as far as athletics and exercise, during the warm-weather months, you’ve got to prepare for the slopes before you hit them.

If you toss your snowboard in the backseat or strap your skis to the roof and don’t take the time to prepare your body, you could be asking for an injury that you would rather not deal with. While some accidents can’t be avoided, those caused by poor conditioning certainly can. Here are some tips for getting yourself ready for enjoying the winter snow in the North Carolina mountains or wherever else you may be headed.

1. Get Fit

You don’t want to strap on your skis without at least first getting yourself somewhat in shape. Start walking, running or any activity that will get you moving. You don’t have to knock yourself out, but you may need to get a bit more fit than you are right now. You want to enjoy yourself on the slopes and getting more fit before your trip may help you enjoy it even more.

2. Get the Right Equipment

Don’t rely on last year’s equipment if you haven’t gotten it out, inspected it and tried it on. Make sure that your cold-weather gear still fits and is in good repair. If you don’t want to spend more money on new equipment, you may be able to rent it at your destination.

3. Sun Protection

You may wear sunscreen at all times in the summer and then relax with it a bit in the winter. The truth is that sunscreen is just as important on the slopes as it is on the beach. In fact, with the sun reflecting off the snow, you could be at an even greater risk of getting burned. Look for a sunscreen that is made to be worn during activity so you don’t have to reapply it as often.

4. Dress in Layers

Be prepared for whatever the weather throws at you by dressing in several light layers. If you get too hot, you can take a layer off. If you get cold again, you can put what you’ve taken off back on. Dressing in layers allows you to remain comfortable no matter the temperature outside.

5. Get Eye Protection

Just like sunscreen, good sunglasses aren’t just for summer. The sun bouncing off of the snow can be harmful to your eyes, as can the wind and blowing snow. Buy yourself a good pair of sunglasses or tinted goggles. You’ll want to protect your eyes when you are flying downhill.

Before you head to the slopes this winter, make sure you’re prepared. Don’t plan on getting in shape on the slopes, you will only be setting yourself up for injury.

If you are injured in North Carolina or elsewhere while traveling to the slopes, reach out to our office. We will review the details of your injury and advise you of how we may be able to help. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and more.  Stay warm and safe!

It is never too early to start planning for next year!  With so many people celebrating this past Halloween , we thought we would take a moment to highlight some issues that we usually see after Halloween with hopes of preventing injuries in the future.  Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays for children. With all of the anticipation leading up to the big day, children can easily forget all that you’ve taught them about staying safe. While the day and evening should both be enjoyable, the sad truth is that the potential for injury is ever present.

Here are some tips to consider before you head out in search of the best candy in the neighborhood.

1. Watch for Drivers

One of the largest causes of injury during trick-or-treat is accidents with vehicles. Children are struck by cars for a variety of reasons, but most often it is because one didn’t see the other. Make sure your children are highly visible. This may mean putting reflective tape on their costumes, having them carry a flashlight or both. You can even attach glow sticks to your child’s outfit to make them more visible.

2. Properly Fitting Costumes

There are so many costumes on the market today that it can be hard to choose just one. No matter which one your child finally settles on, make sure the costume fits properly. Bottoms shouldn’t drag on the ground and there shouldn’t be any sharp objects attached to it.

3. Supervise

Children, no matter how old, should not be permitted to trick-or-treat alone. Make sure there is at least one adult with a group of children who can be on the lookout for potential danger.

4. Your Own Home

Make sure your property is well lit, that any sidewalk or driveway damage is repaired or blocked off and your decorations aren’t hazardous.

5. Watch the Candy

Chances are that you take a close look at the loot your child collects before you let them dig in. You should also be watching the candy that you are handing out. Before you pass out a morsel to an unsuspecting ghoul, be sure to check that none of the packaging has been tampered with and that the candy is within the expiration date.

6. Shoes Matter

If clever shoes are a part of your child’s costume, they should still be able to walk in them. Pointy witch shoes and oversized clown shoes may make a costume come together, but they can make it easier for your child to slip and fall. Your child should wear sensible shoes with good traction if they will be walking from house to house.

If you ever have questions about an injury that occurred because someone else was negligent, please call our office for a free consultation and learn more about your options. We are here to assist you – reach out to our office now or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.

It’s almost that time of year. Ghosts and goblins, zombies and clowns will be taking to the street in search of the best treats in the neighborhood. Halloween is quickly taking over as the most popular holiday of the year for both children and adults. If your little one will be taking part in any festivities, either at school, home or in the neighborhood, now is a great time to talk with them about safety.

As you get your little ones ready for the spooky night ahead, here are some things to do and talk about.

1. Plan a Route

Make sure that you know where your kids will be going if you won’t be walking with them. Older kids are sometimes permitted to trick-or-treat on their own, but you want to know where they are. Plan a route ahead of time and make sure your child knows they must stick to it.

2. Costume Choice

There are hundreds of available costumes on the market. When helping your little one pick a costume, make sure it is flame-resistant. Beyond that, make sure that your child is able to see and be seen. Attach glow sticks to the costume or have your child carry a flashlight.

3. Treats

When your child is visiting homes in search of the big haul, let them know that it is okay to accept treats at the door, but to never go inside someone’s house. If a neighbor is hosting a haunted house, be sure to accompany your child.

4. Beware of Dogs

Halloween isn’t only for humans. Many people dress up their pets and take them along for the fun. Teach your child to be respectful of any dogs they see on the sidewalk or street. Expect your child to be more tempted than usual to pet a dog when it is wearing a cute costume. Teach your child to always ask permission before stroking a stranger’s pet.

5. Your Own Home

Before you welcome any little ghouls onto your property, get it ready. Sweep debris from your walk and steps, clear your porch of any trip and fall hazards and install extra lighting to ensure people’s ability to see where they are going. If you are pulling in or out of your driveway, look an extra time or two. Children will be excited and may not be paying attention to moving vehicles.

Halloween is a fun holiday, but it can also prove hazardous. Take the time now to explain the expectations to your little ones and use the coming weeks to remind them of your discussion.

If your child is injured in an accident on Halloween in Charlotte, you may have the legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Reach out to our office and schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of the accident and advise you of your legal rights.

Are you afraid of Halloween? If you’re an adult, the chances are that you are actually looking forward to being scared. Halloween is the perfect holiday for harmless frights. The unfortunate truth is that not all frights are as harmless as you may believe. Some can be downright terrifying.

While many parents believe that the worst they have to fear is candy that has been tampered with, there are risks that are more substantial. Knowing what to look out for this Halloween can help keep you and your little ones safe. Here are some fears that are worth having this holiday and how you can avoid tragedy.

1. Slips and Falls

A slip and fall accident can happen at any time and for any reason. On Halloween night, the most common causes for slips and falls are too-long costumes and masks that inhibit vision. If your little one is dressing up and heading out for some candy, make sure that their costumes are short enough to not be tripped over. Face paint is always a safer option when compared to a mask.

2. Vehicles

You may have given your child lessons on looking both ways before they cross the street, but reiterate those lessons before trick-or-treating commences. Remind your little one that they should stay on the sidewalk at all times and should never cross the street on their own. Teach your child to look both ways before they cross and to never dart out from in between parked cars or other hazards.

3. Pumpkins

If you and your family will enjoy turning pumpkins into works of art, do so without a kitchen knife. When your hands are covered in pumpkin guts, they will be slippery. This can cause a knife to slip dangerously out of your grip and the blade to slice your fingers. There are special tools on the market that allow you to safely carve pumpkins. Alternatively, you can paint them or decorate them with paper and fabric.

4. Pets

Keep an eye on your pets during Halloween. They are often forgotten about during the rush of the holiday evening. If your pet is likely to be frightened by loud noises or by costumes worn by tiny humans, put them in a back room or in their crate. When your kids come in with the big candy haul, put the candy up and out of reach of snooping paws. Your dogs will be the better for it.

Halloween doesn’t have to be risky for you or your little ones. Use the tips above to stay safe. If you are ever involved in an accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, reach out to our experienced team of personal injury attorneys for assistance. We may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries. Call today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and let us tell you more about your legal options.

DISCLAIMER: The listed settlements and client reviews/testimonials do not constitute a promise or guarantee of any particular result in any particular case, as every case is unique. Each case was handled on its own merit, and the outcome of any particular case cannot be predicted by a lawyers or law firms past results. If a recovery by settlement or trial is made, the client will be responsible for cost advanced in addition to attorney fees. Client remains responsible for costs, expenses and disbursements, including medical bills, within the scope of representation. The attorney’s contingency fee percentage will be computed prior to the deduction of expenses from the total recovery.