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.

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

The Negotiation Process For Car Accidents

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

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

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

Key Factors In Successful Car Accident Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medical Providers

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

Tax Obligations

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

Call Today

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

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

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

Addressing Contributory Negligence In Negotiations

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

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

Establishing Liability in Slip and Fall Claims

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

Key Factors In Establishing Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claims Get Complicated

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

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

Your Comfort Level

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

Coverage Is Denied

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

You Feel Your Being Treated Unfairly

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

Protecting your rights after a North Carolina car accident can mean the difference between a nominal settlement with an insurance company, and fair reimbursement. While you generally have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit within the statute of limitations, there is some ongoing action you should take directly on the heels of the car accident or other personal injury you’ve sustained.

Keep Notes About A North Carolina Car Accident

I encourage clients to keep a small notebook with them at all times for the purpose of writing down anything associated with the accident. This means details from the actual event that led to the personal injury, to the pain they are experiencing after the injury. This is important for a few reasons. First, memory fades and the details of the accident are important to recall accurately and completely when making a demand on insurance. Second, unless a client communicates pain to their medical provider it will not make it into the medical record and the insurance company will deny a claim for it. Having notes to bring with you to the doctor’s or to your lawyer’s office makes all the difference.

Take Notes About Your Financial Losses

Your claim may include a demand for reimbursement for financial losses. In fact, I’ve represented numerous clients who filed Bankruptcy directly because of a severe personal injury they sustained which left them unable to work. While the pain of those losses is immediate and can be felt in the moment, down the road we often forget exact figures. By writing down financial losses specifically and keeping them in one place, you’ll build a strong record to rely on when making a claim.

Take Notes About Other Things Your Missing Out On

Birthdays, special family events, and other meaningful social events are often missed due to the timing of a personal injury, or the recovery period thereafter. While it is difficult to put a dollar figure on these events (which helps determine what your personal injury is worth) they are part of your overall claim and lend creditability to a higher damages calculation your Charlotte personal injury attorney may choose to utilize.

Justify Your Claim

Every insurance adjuster has limits as to what they can agree to in terms of settlement. It’s important to recognize that by providing greater detail and specific factual information which supports your claim, you’re enabling the insurance adjuster to either say yes to your demand, or justify your demand when requesting authority from their superior to settle with you for more than they have been authorized to do.

Call A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer

Call a Charlotte personal injury lawyer today. The call is free and you deserve answers to your questions. Additionally, answering questions is part of my job and I’d be glad to help in any way possible—whether you decide to move forward with my law firm or not. Call 704.749.7747 to speak with me today.

It can be frustrating for personal injury clients to not know what their claim is worth. An insurance adjuster won’t disclose the formula being used to determine value, and a Charlotte personal injury lawyer is hesitant to commit to a figure—for good reasons. Here are some factors that will play a role in determining how much your claim is worth.

Type of Injury

There are generally two types of injury categories: soft tissue and “hard” injuries. For soft tissue injuries, the damage is typically confined to the surface areas of the skin and the extent of the pain or discomfort is determined by what is communicated by the patient. Examples are:

— Sprained back;

— Sprained knee;

— Twisted ankle;

In “hard” injuries, a medical examination will detect the injury (MRI, x-ray), and physicians as well as insurance adjusters have a stronger hold on the pain associated with these types of injuries. Hard injuries of course, are worth more in a personal injury claim. Examples are:

— Separated joint;

— Broken bones;

— Pinched nerve;

Medical Bills

Your medical bills in a personal injury claim are a factor in the value of your case. Not only because you’ll be requesting to be reimbursed for out of pocket medical expenses, but because generally speaking the higher the medical bills the more serious the injury.

Duration of Treatment

If the recovery time from your personal injury is lengthy, you’ve obviously suffered more than someone who had the type of injury that left them bed-ridden for only a week. Your Charlotte personal injury lawyer will make sure to document the length of your treatment and the effect it had on your day to day life while you were treating the injury.

While chiropractic treatment is generally acceptable for reimbursement of medical bills, it does not carry as much weight for case valuation as treatment by a physician or through a physical therapy plan prescribed by a client’s doctor (physicians, hospitals, medical clinics).

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering is a common phrase thrown around in personal injury. The more painful your injury was, the higher the formula used for computing your damages. The more invasive and long-lasting your treatment for the injury was, the higher the formula for computing the damages. This may not sound scientific, and that’s because it’s not. It’s a negotiation between you (your Charlotte personal injury lawyer) and an insurance adjuster.

Call An Attorney

If you have any questions about an accident or a personal injury claim, please call me at 704.749.7747. I’m here to help and the call is free.

The burden of supporting the damages claim for your personal injury claim is on you and your personal injury attorney. Essentially, your attorney will lead you on an information gathering journey from the time you hire them. Your personal injury attorney will also take steps to insure you complete all recommended medical treatment, in order to further support the damages claim. Here are a few categories of information you’ll need to be concerned with.

Police Reports

Provided that the police came to the scene of the accident, the report will be requested by your attorney. While the report may or may not speak to fault, there are often notes in the report which can add value to your claim, or which may weaken your claim. Either way, your attorney will want to be made aware of them. For example, if the report states that the driver of the vehicle had alcohol on her breath, this will play in your favor, even if there was not any ‘hard’ evidence that the driver was drunk.


If you have photographs of your auto accident or the scene where had a slip and fall, this will potentially help to establish the extent of your physical injury, or lend itself toward establishing premises liability in a claim.


While witnesses can be unreliable in court, it typically strengthens a case if there is a witness who did not know you prior to the accident and who is willing to sign an affidavit or to testify as to what they saw. The sooner your personal injury attorney gets a written statement the better—memory fades as time goes by.

Documenting Injuries

Of course, one of the most important categories of evidence is going to be your medical records. From the date of the accident forward, you’ll need to make sure all of your treating physicians know the name and contact info for your personal injury attorney. Periodically, the physician will submit reports to the attorney’s office. Ultimately, once treatment is completed, the physician will provide a complete summary to the attorney’s office. This summary will pertain to your health and injuries, what the physician has done, what the physician recommends, and what the physician expects you will experience in the future. The attorney will examine this information and use it to assign value to your case.

If you have any questions about a personal injury claim in Charlotte, NC or would like to speak to an attorney about whether you might have a claim, please call 704.749.7747. The call is free and we’re here to help.

One of the challenges for clients in a personal injury case is waiting for the settlement agreement to be reached. This is the cause for a lot of frustration for individuals who are still experiencing pain and accumulating doctor’s bills. Fortunately, most bills can be deferred until settlement is reached.

Getting Treatment During Your Claim

While your personal injury claim is active, you will most likely still be receiving treatment. It isn’t until all treatment has been completed, that your personal injury attorney can make the most accurate demand on your behalf. My office communicates with any physician or chiropractor you are working with, to come to an agreement about your current bill.

While every office is different, most doctors and chiropractors will defer some if not all of their bill until your case is settled. They understand that is the first time you will have the funds available to afford the doctors’ bills.

Negotiating Medical Bills In Personal Injury

In addition to deferring bills during the settlement or litigation process, once a settlement is reached, my office will negotiate your doctors’ bills. This helps tremendously in putting more money into your pocket. While some doctor’s offices will want to know the total amount of settlement prior to agreeing to lower their bill, it is generally predictable the percentage by which they will lower the bill.

The Big Picture

Not having to pay for medical treatment prior to settlement means more clients continue with the treatment necessary to maximize the value of their claim. They also avoid the added stress of medical bills in personal injury, until the case is settled.

Negotiating down the medical bills in personal injury works for all parties—the physicians settle for an amount acceptable to their office knowing they will be paid in full, and the client experiences savings as well.

If you have any questions about a personal injury claim, or how personal injury claims work, please call me at 704.749.7747. You can also fill out a short personal injury consultation form here and I’ll call you.

When I speak with a potential or existing personal injury client, I’m always sure to ask about their mental state since the accident or event giving rise to their physical injuries. Quite often, clients either overlook anxiety or dismiss it as a natural byproduct of life. Physical injuries are tangible and more ‘real’ to us, while anxiety can seem like our own inability to deal with life—clients often feel guilty discussing this, but it’s important.

Emotional Distress Affects Your Pain and Suffering Demand

Anxiety, loss of sleep, depression—these can all be very real conditions directly related to the physical injury a personal injury client has sustained. Absent a compelling reason for not including it, the client’s personal injury claim should have a demand for pain and suffering incorporated into it.

Proving Anxiety or Emotional Suffering

While it is much easier to prove that a car accident led to a head injury or another injury diagnosed by a physician, it can be more challenging to establish the existence of anxiety or emotional suffering. If your personal injury attorney is negotiating a claim on your behalf with an insurance adjuster, the adjuster is going to need to be presented with some evidence of the claim for emotional suffering.

Every Demand Tells A Story

Your personal injury attorney knows that every demand presented to an insurance adjuster needs to tell a story—the client’s story. Mainly, the story is meant to illustrate how the client’s life has changed since the accident. It’s important that the personal injury attorney demonstrate vividly the loss of quality of life due to emotional distress or emotional suffering the client has experienced.

Consider a child who loved dogs and animals prior to a dog bite. The child had a household pet, numerous dog stuffed animals, and made friends with the pets of other households. Now, the child is petrified to pet any dog that is not her family dog, and is moved to tears when she’s in the same room with a dog. She also recently missed a class trip to the zoo because she was afraid the animals might bite her. There’s a story developing here.

Other Evidence Your Personal Injury Attorney Can Present

Anxiety in personal injury claims absolutely exists. Establishing hard evidence of it is something that needs to be considered early on. This is why I encourage clients to keep a journal of their physical and emotional experience from the day we begin working together. When this journal is combined with a list of prescriptions the client has been placed on to manage emotional suffering, or the narrative of a psychologist or other mental health professional, the demand for recovery for anxiety in personal injury cases starts to make sense.

How Much Is Anxiety Worth?

Your personal injury lawyer will use a formula which includes some generally accepted terms, combined with the severity of your physical injury, to determine the value of your emotional suffering. This will provide a good starting point for a discussion with the client and with the insurance adjuster, and will give meaning to the demand being made.

If you have any questions about anxiety in personal injury, or personal injury claims in general, please call me at 704.749.7747. I’m here to help.