Charlotte Personal Injury Blog

Blog posts containing useful information for anyone in Charlotte looking for information about personal injury or looking for a North Carolina personal injury lawyer.

This video helps passengers in a car accident determine who to sue for their injuries. The Layton Law Firm PLLC routinely represents passengers and helps them wade through the insurance policies involved in the possible settlement or lawsuit for their injuries.

Auto Accident Settlement Timeline

First, if you would like to speak with someone about an auto accident settlement timeline, we are here to help. Simply call 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call from us today. A Charlotte personal injury lawyer will reach out to you immediately.

If you have been in an auto accident and you are wondering about the timeline for reaching a settlement, this article helps to explain the steps required to do so. While every accident and every settlement is unique, we hope this helps your understanding of what the road ahead looks like.

Setting The Stage For A Successful Auto Accident Settlement

Reaching a personal injury settlement is the last thing on your mind when you are in a car accident. However, the steps you take early on after your accident will either serve to help you or hurt you down the road. The two most important elements to consider at the outset are:

  • Obtaining a police report
  • Getting medical treatment as quickly as possible

The police report serves as evidence of the accident, captures witness information, and is the first record of the accident itself. Second, the police report contains witness information which can be extremely valuable for proving your case. Lastly, the police report will include the impressions of the attending officer. This will include the officer’s interpretation of what happened, and an assessment of facts including but not limited to: weather, speed of the vehicles, condition of each driver, etc.

Continuing Treatment As Necessary

One mistake so many auto accident victims make is failing to continue their treatment. In the world of personal injury, ‘gaps’ in treatment serve to hurt your case. While you may believe you have a perfectly good reason for the gap in treatment, the insurance adjuster on the other side will use it against you. First, it may be used to establish you were no longer in pain. Second, the adjuster may infer that you suffered a new and different injury during the gap in treatment and therefore, the later treatment should not be included for consideration in your auto accident settlement.

Obtaining Legal Representation Early

Once you begin making statements to insurance adjusters, you create a record of your testimony. Even if you slightly vary your story or your memory of the events, it will be used to establish you are not a credible witness. Insurance adjusters record every phone call you have with them. Additionally, North Carolina is a One Party state, meaning the insurance adjuster does not need your permission to record a call, nor do they need to inform you that a call is being recorded.

By obtaining legal counsel early on in the process, you will receive the guidance you need in order to avoid the common pitfalls of interacting with insurance adjusters as your case proceeds toward settlement.

Wrapping Up Medical Treatment

Once your treatment is completed, the law firm can begin to collect medical records and medical billing. Medical providers are notoriously slow in delivering records. You can expect it to take roughly 45-60 days for a provider to deliver records and bills to the attorney’s office.

Our office requests all records in electronic format. This saves you costs and ultimately means the records and bills arrive in our office more quickly. After the bills and records arrive in our office, we can begin building your demand package, which will be submitted to the adjuster for consideration. As part of this process, you will review the package with us, and we will agree on a demand amount for settlement.

Negotiating Toward Settlement

The insurance company will take some time to review the demand package. Our office sets calendar reminders to push this process forward. Once we have an initial offer from the insurance company, we can begin negotiating in earnest. If we reach a settlement offer that you are interested in accepting—do not worry, we help you make this decision—then we can take steps toward finalizing your settlement. The negotiation portion of the auto accident settlement timeline has been completed.

Medical Billing Concerns

Many auto accident settlements result in medical providers being paid in full. However, you will be given a few options regarding your medical bills outstanding from the accident. Our firm can help negotiate some of your medical bills if necessary, in order to make the settlement work for you.

Receiving A Check

Once the settlement offer is accepted and medical bills are negotiated, we will provide you with a settlement statement showing you every incoming dollar (the settlement funds) and every outgoing dollar. This of course includes and shows you the amount you will be receiving. All personal injury settlements are tax-free, as they represent payment for injuries, not income.

What If I Do Not Agree With The Settlement?

We can always discuss the filing of a lawsuit if the settlement amount is not a fair settlement amount. Your best interests are most important. We will discuss with you the likelihood of success at trial, the anticipated cost of the trial, and what we believe a jury might award you at trial.

If you choose to file a lawsuit, the timeline admittedly begins anew and is governed by the trial calendar which we will explain to you in the event we are moving forward with litigation.

Speak With A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Today

We encourage you to seek legal representation for your auto accident. This is true whether you choose our firm or another law firm. We are happy to discuss your auto accident settlement timeline, whether you have a case and what your case may be worth. You can call 704.749.7747 or Request a call from a lawyer today. to We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

 

Can You See Your Own Doctor For Workers’ Comp?

According to the North Carolina Industrial Commission, your employer or its insurance company chooses the doctor for your workers’ comp claim. This includes all medical treatment related to your work injury. You or your lawyer can request that you be treated by a different doctor or medical facility. Keep in mind that payment by workers’ comp is not guaranteed unless the change of medical provider is approved.

What If I Saw My Doctor Before I Knew The Rules?

Often, the workers’ comp insurance company will pay for your treatment, provided they deem the treatment was reasonable. Your workers’ comp attorney may need to put some pressure on the adjuster in order to receive a reimbursement, but it is not unusual to receive one.

If the treatment for which you seek reimbursement falls outside of normal accepted treatment, you may find the adjuster pushes back on reimbursement requests for acupuncture and chiropractic treatment that was not conducted at their direction.

Will My Workers’ Comp Lawyer Direct Me To A Doctor?

You may find that the doctor hired by the workers’ comp insurance company favors the employer. This may manifest itself in a few ways. First, the doctor may choose conservative treatment and forego additional testing to discover injuries. Second, the doctor may not write you out of work for as many days, weeks, or months as another doctor might. Lastly, if you are seeking a physical impairment rating, you may find that one doctor gives you a more favorable impairment rating than another doctor. The impairment rating affects the value of your workers’ comp claim.

Who Pays For My Workers’ Comp Treatment?

If the insurance company chooses the doctor, they will pay for the treatment. If you choose your own doctor, you can either seek reimbursement from the workers’ comp insurance company or you can pay the doctor out of your workers’ comp proceeds. As mentioned above, there are times it makes sense to seek your own treatment from a doctor of your choosing. Your attorney can assist with this choice.

Speak With A Workers’ Comp Attorney Today

If you have questions about workers’ comp, call us. We’re here to help. We can be reached at 704.749.7747 or you can click HERE to request a consultation. All consultations are free, and it is our job to help you understand your options. We know you have choices. We hope you Call Layton Law.

Physical Therapy After A Car Accident

If you have been in a car accident, you may be referred by your doctor for physical therapy. Often, injuries from a car accident don’t manifest until several days or even weeks after the accident. While you may not have broken bones or need surgery, often the injuries require ongoing treatment to heal.

Whiplash From Your Car Accident

The most common injury from a car accident is whiplash. If you need additional treatment beyond your emergency room visit, quite often it will be physical therapy sessions. Rebuilding strength and increasing mobility is the general goal and your therapist will work with you to achieve this.

Other Injuries Requiring Physical Therapy

If you do need surgery after your car accident, it is not uncommon to have a course of physical therapy in order to regain strength and use of the injured area. While neck and back injuries are more common with car accidents, slip and fall victims often need therapy for knee, hip, and shoulder injuries.

Types Of Physical Therapy

There are numerous strategies your therapist may employ when treating you. Everything from manual therapy—including massage—to electric stimulation, may be employed in the healing process. Exercise in the form of both hydrotherapy and unassisted exercise under the care of a therapist helps re-train muscles and build endurance.

It is also not uncommon to employ heat/ice therapy for inflammation, swelling, and pain. The most common advice for a soft tissue injury is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. While this is true, heat and ice are often overlooked as an important part of the therapy process.

The Value Of Physical Therapy In A Car Accident Settlement

If your physical therapy was received at the direction or referral of your doctor, the value assigned to it will be greater than if you were treated without a referral. This is due to the belief that the injury (and required treatment) is better substantiated when documented by a doctor.

Insurance adjusters are trained to minimize the value of your claim. Our office will fight to make sure you are treated fairly when considering any settlement amount, and when negotiating the value of your claim as it relates to each aspect of treatment you received as a result of the accident.

Paying For Physical Therapy

If you have health insurance it may cover some or all of your physical therapy costs. If you have been in a car accident, many physical therapy offices will work with our office to allow you to receive the treatment you need, while waiting for your claim to settle in order to be paid for their services. If you have questions about paying for physical therapy we can help.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you’ve been in an accident, we recommend speaking with a personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. Phone consultations are free and you deserve to understand your rights. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a phone call. We know you have options. We hope you Call Layton Law.

How Do I Pay For A Personal Injury Lawyer?

First, if we don’t recover compensation for you, you don’t owe us anything. Second, you don’t pay anything to us until we do recover compensation for you. Lastly, our fee is based on a percentage of your settlement. In summary, if we are able to settle your case you will pay for your personal injury lawyer fees directly from your settlement.

What Is A Contingency Fee?

A contingency fee is an arrangement between you and your lawyer, where your fee to your lawyer is not owed until and unless the lawyer achieves a settlement or jury verdict for you. The contingency fee is a method of payment that allows you to obtain legal representation without having the funds on hand to pay an attorney. Additionally, when an attorney takes your case based on a contingency fee, they are telling you that they have faith in your case. The lawyer knows that if they don’t recover anything for you, they won’t get paid.

When Will I Know How Much I Owe My Personal Injury Lawyer?

Once we negotiate the highest settlement offer we can for you, we will prepare a draft of a personal injury settlement statement for you to review. The settlement statement shows the offer amount from the insurance company and then shows you where every penny of that settlement will go. Typically, the settlement statement will show your attorney fee, any medical bills (and Medical Liens) that are being paid from settlement, and finally the amount going back to you.

Because you get to review your settlement statement prior to agreeing to the settlement, you can rest assured you will know exactly how much you will pay your lawyer and how much you will receive, all before agreeing to the settlement amount.

Would It Be Better If I Paid My Injury Lawyer An Hourly Rate Instead?

Not in our opinion. What we like about the contingency fee is that you can trust that your lawyer is taking the case because they believe in it. If you were paying by the hour, you may have an attorney who is more than happy to continue working on your case—and billing you—even though they know your chance of winning is very slim. The contingency fee protects you against this. You will find that your personal injury attorney is very honest with you about the value of your case. The reason for this is in part because the attorney’s office is investing its time in your case with no promise of payment.

Speak With A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Today

We would be happy to answer any questions you have about personal injury lawyer fees. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call from us. Phone consultations are a great way for you to understand your options and we’re here to help.

Will My Personal Injury Case Go To Trial?

Most personal injury cases do not go to trial. Every case is unique, and we will discuss your case with you in detail. Part of that discussion will include whether we believe it will go to trial. If you were recently injured and your case or claim has just started, it may be too early to know whether your case will go to trial. To make things worse, due to Covid-19, the Mecklenburg County court system is overloaded with cases.

Do not Lose Sleep Worrying About The Trial

If you are like us, you are obsessed with your case. Because of that, it is tempting to lay in bed imagining being cross-examined by the other lawyer. You may wonder whether the jury will believe your version of the facts about a car accident. Lastly, you may wonder whether the other driver will lie on the stand. The reason it is not worth worrying about these things is that most cases even if they are filed as lawsuits, do not get in front of a jury. Keep in mind, this is good news.

Trials Are Risky

No matter how strong you think your case is, anything can happen at a trial. We only represent plaintiffs, and the plaintiff has the burden of proof in a personal injury trial. All it takes is one jury member to decide they do not like your case, or that you somehow contributed to the accident, and the entire trial can be in jeopardy. The same is true of the defense, however. There’s a tremendous risk for both sides—this is the primary reason most cases settle before going to trial. Both sides recognize it would be better to reach an agreement than to put all the power in the hands of a third party (The jury).

Settlements Can Be Fair

Our clients often find that a well-negotiated settlement offer ends up being fair for them. The choice to accept a settlement offer is always the client’s choice, but we will help you weigh out the pros and cons of accepting a settlement offer or filing a lawsuit against the other party. The settlement process is lengthy and both sides work hard to prove their case while arguing over the value of the case and the legal merits. If a fair offer is on the table, it is worth considering accepting the offer.

New Information Comes To Light

Another reason many claims or cases settle is that new information is discovered by one or both parties. It could be that both drivers claim they had a green light. This argument may go on for several months, with both sides unable to reach an agreement due to the dispute. However, a witness may surface who is willing to sign an affidavit that our client had the green light. As soon as this new evidence surfaces, the other side will often reverse their denial of the claim and offer a fair settlement amount. The same is true if video evidence is reviewed by either side. Evidence, as it comes in, usually strengthens the case for one side and leads to a different outcome.

We May Discover We Have A Bad Case

The truth is, sometimes we discover we have a bad case. Our firm is in the business of taking risks for our clients, but there are times where evidence surfaces that indisputably establishes that the other side was not at fault. In that unlikely scenario, usually, both our firm and the client agree together that we will not win a lawsuit. In that event, getting a settlement would be a great outcome; however, the other side usually has access to the same information, which may lead to a denial of the claim.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you have questions about your personal injury case, call us. We can be reached at 704.749.7747 and we are happy to discuss the merits of your case, and whether it may go to trial. You can also click HERE to request a consultation. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

Whiplash After A Car Accident

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries from a car accident. It can be severe and long-lasting in its nature, and if you have whiplash after a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the other driver.

Identifying Whiplash From A Car Accident

According to The Mayo Clinic, whiplash is caused by forceful rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. At the scene of the accident, you most likely will not feel the signs of whiplash. When adrenaline is high it masks pain. Most of our clients report that they did not feel the full effect of the car accident until a few days after the accident. Anywhere from 12-48 hours after the accident, if you experience any of the following, you have most likely suffered whiplash:

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Neck and back pain

  • Numbness

  • Fatigue

Getting Treatment Is Critical

There are numerous reasons to get treatment ASAP after you’ve been in a car accident. First, your health is of utmost importance. Injuries from a car accident can mask themselves, and a trained physician can help you identify an array of injuries you may not be aware of yourself. Second, if you plan to pursue a personal injury claim, you want to minimize the time between the accident the beginning of treatment for injuries stemming from the accident.

When Things Get Complicated

Personal injury victims often find themselves in a difficult situation. Namely, they are seeking medical treatment (and paying for medical treatment) for injuries that are not their fault. Fortunately, many medical providers recognize the complex intersection between medical billing and personal injury settlements. Our office routinely works with chiropractors and physical therapy facilities which will allow you to treat, while they wait until you reach a personal injury settlement in order to receive payment.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Is Crucial

In situations where you are obligating yourself to pay for medical treatment in reliance on being reimbursed by a personal injury settlement, it’s crucial to have a personal injury attorney representing your interests.

Too often, individuals settle a personal injury claim for less than the full value of the claim. Sometimes it’s due to an aggressive insurance adjuster looking to ‘wrap up’ the claim. Other times, a claim is settled before the injured party knows the full extent of their injuries. In any case, your personal injury lawyer is aware of these pitfalls and works to make sure you are treated fairly when negotiating any settlement.

Speak With A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you believe you have whiplash after a car accident, call us. We are happy to discuss the accident with you, and we can also assist you in choosing your next steps. Phone consultations are free and it’s part of our job to make sure you understand your options. You can speak to a lawyer today by calling 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call.

What Do Personal Injury Law Firms Charge?

There is no set rate for personal injury law firms.  However, you will find that most personal injury law firms charge a contingency fee.  Most personal injury law firms also charge roughly the same percentage.

What Does Contingency Fee Mean?

When a lawyer or law firm works on a contingency fee, it means the payment to the lawyer is ‘contingent upon the law firm successfully recovering for you financially. If the law firm is unable to recover for you, there are no charges.

A contingency fee is a good solution to attorney fees for a few reasons. First, most clients cannot afford to hire a lawyer to pursue a personal injury. If lawyers charged by the hour for this work, most legitimate personal injuries would never be pursued. If this were the case, a lot of bad behavior by drivers (car accidents) and corporations (slip and falls) would go unchecked. The contingency fee allows injured individuals instant access to the protections of the legal system.

The second reason a contingency fee is a good solution is it keeps lawyers and law firms objective and honest about the cases they take. If the law firm analyzes your case and does not think they will be able to recover anything for you, you can trust their opinion. If the law firm were charging you hourly, it may be difficult to decide whether your lawyer actually believed in your case—in that instance they would be getting paid, win or lose.

The typical contingency percentage is one-third or 33%. This fee is only paid to the law firm if the firm recovers for you. If you’re a history buff, you can read about the History of The Contingency Fee.

How Are Out Of Pocket Expenses Paid?

If there are out-of-pocket expenses related to your case, our firm will not bill you for those expenses unless we successfully reach a settlement or jury verdict in your favor. In other words, if we are not able to get you a result, there is no fee even for out-of-pocket expenses. In any case, we do our best to minimize out-of-pocket expenses throughout the duration of the representation.

Speak To A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you would like to speak with a personal injury lawyer today, we are here to help. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a phone consultation. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

 

Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are considering hiring a personal injury lawyer, this article will help you understand a few factors to consider, together with the typical lawyer-client relationship involved between the personal injury lawyer and the injured client. If you would like to speak to an injury lawyer, call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call today.

The Contingency Fee

You will find that most personal injury law firms—including ours—work on what is known as a contingency basis. This means that the law firm only gets paid if they successfully reach a settlement or court award for you. If the firm does reach a successful outcome for you, the payment is typically based on a percentage of that settlement or court award.

The contingency fee is unique in that it allows individuals access to legal representation at no up-front cost. Without the contingency fee, individuals deserving of legal representation would not be able to afford that protection. It is our opinion that personal injury lawyers who work on a contingency basis are playing an important role in keeping auto insurance companies and premises liability carriers (Think: Grocery Store Slip And Falls) in check. Individuals injured by the negligence of others not only deserve representation, but they need it, to be sure they are treated fairly.

Why We Like The Contingency Fee

There are many cases or claims that personal injury lawyers take on, which do not pan out. This means the firm works tirelessly in hopes of achieving a good result for the client, and in the end, loses the case. The downside of course is that neither the injured client nor the law firm receives any compensation.

That being said, we actually like the contingency fee for a few additional reasons. Often, during the course of the representation, the client will need to rely on the advice of the lawyer. It could be that the lawyer is advising the client that the offer received it the best offer we are going to receive. It could also be that the lawyer feels the offer is low and a lawsuit should be filed. In any case, the client finds themselves at a crossroads—whether to accept the offer or not. Because the law firm is getting paid a percentage of whatever they recover for the injured client, we believe the client can trust their lawyer during these critical conversations. The decision is always the client’s in the end, but the lawyer is the trusted advisor.

The Personal Injury Process

We have written about the process of a personal injury claim in the past (How Long Will My Personal Injury Settlement Take?). It is important to establish expectations at the outset with clients. Often, the process is long and drawn out. First, the client must finish treatment. This could mean surgery and recovery time for physical rehab. Second, the law firm must gather medical records and medical billing. Providers are slow to respond and process these requests and it requires diligence on behalf of the law firm—and the delay often frustrates clients. Third, the law firm must put together a demand package for submission to the insurance company in hopes of negotiating a settlement. Many times, after all of these efforts, the lawyer and client do not receive a settlement offer and must consider filing a lawsuit. If so, the timeline starts over again. Finally, once an agreement is reached, medical billing and medical liens can often be negotiated by the law firm to benefit the client’s bottom line from the settlement.

Choose Your Personal Injury Lawyer Carefully

Care should of course be taken when hiring a personal injury lawyer. You will work hand in hand with your lawyer for quite a long time. Frustrations can grow if phone calls are not returned, or if progress is not being made on the file. We are sensitive to this, of course. While you should not expect to be able to speak with your lawyer every day, it is important to establish that there will be regular updates to keep the client informed.

Most personal injury law firms operate as a “team” in the office. Each attorney has one or two paralegals assisting with processing the file, gathering information, and keeping the client informed. Our firm is no different. This means you have numerous individuals you can contact for an update at any time.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you have been in a car accident, a slip and fall, or have been injured in some other way, we would lHiringove to hear from you. The call is free, and the consultation is designed to help you understand your options. Plus, you get a chance to speak with the lawyer who you may be working with if you decide to move forward with our firm. Call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a call. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

Your Right To Your Medical Records

In a personal injury claim, providing accurate medical records and billing is one of the key elements to successfully negotiating and settling your claim. Insurance adjusters need to assess your claim from both a liability perspective (Negligence) and a damages perspective. The police report or incident report serves as the primary source of evidence regarding liability. Your medical records and billing begin to tell the story of the physical damages you suffered as a result of the incident or car accident.

HIPAA Protects You

Your right to your medical records is statutory. Not only does HIPAA protect you from having your records disclosed to the general public, it also protects you when a medical provider refuses to provide records or billing if requested. Generally speaking, a medical provider has thirty days to provide you a copy of records. If there is a delay, a reason should be given by the provider, and another thirty days is generally allowed to deliver the medical records.

Charges For Records

It is not unusual for providers to charge “reasonable, cost-based fees” for providing copies of records. There is current litigation surrounding the charges for medical records, and the latest development in those legal battles is found in a CIOX case, and relate specifically to law offices attempting to claim the patient rates for copies of medical records.

Unfortunately, you should expect to pay “reasonable, cost-based fees” for the retrieval of medical records. Further, it is unfortunate that those fees are sometimes upwards of $100.00 depending upon the source and the number of pages.

Charges For Medical Records In Your Injury Case

If we represent you in a personal injury case, our firm pays for obtaining medical records and medical billing. If we are successful in reaching a settlement or jury verdict for you, we are reimbursed for those records. If we are unsuccessful in reaching a personal injury settlement or verdict for you, you will not be billed for the cost of obtaining the records.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you are having trouble obtaining medical records, or if you wish to speak with a lawyer about your personal injury case, we’re here to help. You can reach us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request a consultation. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.