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.

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.

In A Car Accident? Call Layton Law

If you are in a car accident, the great news is your lawyer is only a phone call away. Our firm works on a contingency basis when representing personal injury clients. This means you don’t owe us anything unless we are able to recover something for you.

Call Us From The Scene Of The Accident

We know even minor accidents are stressful. If you’re in a car accident, It’s never too early to hire a personal injury lawyer. After you’ve made any necessary calls to Medic and the police, you can call us from the accident scene if you need guidance as to what to do next. We’re here to help. Our office can answer questions on the spot, help you understand your options in any given situation, and assist with any other concerns you have before leaving the accident scene.

Early Mistakes Can Cost You Your Case

Statements that clients make to police officers on the scene end up in police reports. Clients who speak with insurance adjusters prior to obtaining counsel, rarely know those statements are recorded. Often, those recorded statements serve to compromise their case.

Turn It Over To Layton Law

When you sign with us as a personal injury client, we handle all communications with insurance adjusters going forward. We also obtain copies of any recorded statements so we can analyze them and get ahead of any weaknesses in your claim or case.

You receive regular updates from our office as we obtain medical records and medical billing once your treatment is complete. These records serve as the basis for the value of your case and are submitted as part of a Demand Package to the insurance company.

Put Our Experienced Attorney and Staff To Work For You

Our office is equipped to stand up to aggressive insurance adjusters and opposing counsel when necessary. When you hire us, you put our experience to work for you. We are familiar with insurance strategies for claim denials, and we stay the course throughout the life of your case. It is not uncommon for our office to turn a denial into a fair settlement for a client.

Five Star Reviews Tell Our Clients’ Stories

We are most proud of our client interaction, and the care we show our clients. We know you have been through a lot, and that there is no amount of money that can undo the long-term physical and mental anguish of a life-altering car accident. Our clients have been generous enough to leave us reviews across the internet which confirm for us that our message of care and compassion for them is received. When combined with a result the client is happy with, we consider our mission accomplished.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

In a car accident and need help? Call us at 704.749.7747. Or you can click HERE to request a free phone consultation. You will get your questions answered and the call is free. When it comes to choosing a personal injury lawyer, we know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

In A Car Accident Without Insurance

If you are in a car accident without insurance, don’t panic. Regardless of whether you have insurance, you have a duty to exchange information with the other driver. If you are the driver without insurance, and the accident is not your fault, you can still pursue the other driver for economic recovery.

Your Property Damage

You will be assigned a property damage adjuster if you pursue a property damage claim with the other driver’s insurance company. If it is determined that the other driver is at fault, their insurance company should pay for your property damages. You may need a lawyer to assist in negotiating a property damage agreement, or you may be able to successfully negotiate it yourself. Often, the other driver’s insurance company will want time to investigate the claim. This is reasonable, as they will attempt to determine whether their driver was at fault, and assess the property damage.

Your Personal Injury Claim

If the accident is not your fault, you will be able to pursue a personal injury claim against the other driver regardless of whether you had active insurance at the time of the car accident. The lack of insurance is a non-material or irrelevant fact as it relates to which driver was at fault. This information should also be excluded from evidence if the case goes to trial, under NC Rule of Evidence 402.

Your personal injury lawyer will work with the adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company to assure that the full value of the claim is achieved, despite not having insurance. While you can count on the at-fault driver’s insurance company offering push-back regarding lack of insurance, ultimately it should not be an issue for recovery.

Medical Payments Coverage

If you had an auto insurance policy with Medical Payments coverage and it was canceled or lapsed just prior to the accident, unfortunately, you will not receive the benefit of medical payments coverage. However, if you live with an immediate family member who has medical payments coverage on a separate auto policy, we may be able to access that coverage to assist with paying your medical bills.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you are in an accident and have questions about car insurance, fault, or any other aspect of settling your claim, please call us at 704.749.7747. Or you can click HERE to request a consultation. All consultations are free and can be done over the telephone. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

Should I Get A Police Report?

Yes, you should. If you’ve been in a car accident, obtaining a police report is your primary method for documenting the accident. If you get a police report after an accident, you create a record of the accident in a manner which may be acceptable as evidence in a court of law if introduced by the officer at trial. In any case, your personal injury lawyer will utilize the information on the report to build your case and discovery additional details about your claim.

If you were JUST NOW in an accident and need to speak with a lawyer, call us at 704.749.7747. You you will be connected to a lawyer immediately. If you were in an accident in North Carolina and you have not received a copy of your report yet, we can help. If you would like assistance obtaining a copy of your report, you can request our help with that HERE.

The remainder of this article will help you understand the numerous reasons why you should get a police report if you’re in an accident.

What Is On The Police Report?

The officer will take an official record of the accident. This will include the location, contact info for all parties, names and contact info for witnesses, and details about the accident itself. The officer also takes notes about the condition of the roadway and drivers, and makes estimates regarding damage to vehicles.

While the officer has not observed the accident itself, they can certainly assess each driver’s condition, and issue citations based on the facts surrounding the accident. It is not uncommon for a police report to note that a driver was issued a citation for reckless driving or making a dangerous maneuver.

You can also look at the guide to NC police report codes (PDF) if you’re interested in understanding the many variables which can be disclosed on the report.

How Does Your Personal Injury Lawyer Use The Police Report?

While the police report may not ultimately be admissible as evidence at trial, your personal injury lawyer will examine the report when trying to decide whether they believe they can win your case. Both sides will have a copy of the police report of course. Long before a lawsuit is filed, your lawyer will attempt to negotiate with the insurance adjuster for the other driver—outside of any independent witness testimony, the officer’s report serves as a governing document for those discussions. Generally, your lawyer is trying to prove negligence in order to recover an award for you.

Speak With A Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you are in an accident and need guidance, we are here to help. Consultations are free and can be done by telephone. We can help assess liability for your car accident, and help you understand your options. You can call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to quickly request a consultation. There’s no obligation. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

 

 

 

Proving Fault In A NC Car Accident

In a North Carolina auto accident claim, the burden of proving fault is on the plaintiff. The defendant has no burden; however, the defendant will present evidence in order to rebut your attempts to prove they were at fault. As the plaintiff in the car accident, you must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence, as discussed in this article.

Burden Of Proof

The burden of proof in a civil case is lower than the burden in a criminal case. In a civil case (car accident, slip and fall, pedestrian injury, etc.) you must prove that based on a preponderance of the evidence, the defendant is liable. The “preponderance of the evidence” is the greater weight of the evidence. Therefore, the standard amounts to more likely than not, the defendant was at fault.

The Four Components Of Negligence

Generally, in an NC car accident case, you are attempting to prove the defendant was negligent. Negligence has four components: Duty, Breach, Causation, and Damages. The plaintiff must prove all four of these components in order to prevail when proving fault in an NC car accident. First, you must show the defendant owed you a duty of care. Automobile drivers owe one another the duty to show reasonable care for one another when operating a vehicle or sharing the road. Second, you must show that the defendant breached that duty, or failed to uphold that duty. Third, you must show that this failure was the direct cause of the accident. In other words, if not for the defendant’s failure to uphold the duty, the accident would not have happened. Lastly, you must show that the breach of this duty caused damages or injury. After all, it is the injury that brings you to court seeking to be compensated or made whole.

Keep in mind that in North Carolina, if the defendant can prove contributory negligence, this serves as an affirmative defense to your claim of negligence. Contributory negligence is a standard by which if the defendant can prove the plaintiff contributed even 1 percent to the accident, the jury is instructed to give the plaintiff nothing.

The Challenge Of Proving Fault

Every day in our office, we examine police reports in which our driver claims she had a green light. The other driver—per the police report—also claims to have had a green light. (If you need a free copy of your police report, click HERE and we can help.) While we know that both drivers did not have the right of way, the challenge becomes proving this. These cases are often known as “He Said, She Said” cases. Essentially, you have to individuals telling two different stories. From a jury’s perspective, how are they to decide which driver is telling the truth? What evidence can a lawyer put forth to establish that their client is telling the truth, and had the right of way?

Without an independent eyewitness to testify as to what they saw—including of course who had the green light or right of way—quite often these cases represent an extreme risk for a lawyer or law firm to take to court. The risk is not in losing. Any attorney knows they are not going to win every case. However, the risk is in the hours and financial investment the law firm is putting into the case, without any independent evidence to prove fault in the car accident case.

Presenting Evidence To Prove Fault In A NC Car Accident

Your personal injury lawyer will present evidence in hopes of establishing that the defendant was at fault. Below are a few examples of evidence that may be presented in court:

Client Testimony – The plaintiff will take the stand to tell their version of what happened in the car accident. Presumably, the plaintiff will state that she had the right of way and that the defendant did not. Keep in mind, per the example above, the defendant may also take the stand and claim the exact opposite.

Photographs – If there are photographs that were taken at the scene, those may be authenticated and entered into evidence in the case. The plaintiff’s attorney will use the photographs to tell the story of the accident. Perhaps the position of the vehicles on the road helps to establish which vehicle was at fault. Often, the location of the damages on each vehicle helps to establish how the vehicles collided, which vehicle was in front or behind, etc. General photographs of the accident location, even after the vehicles have been moved, also help the jury to understand the nature of the intersection or piece of roadway involved in the accident. This may help corroborate the plaintiff’s testimony regarding what happened.

Witness Testimony – As mentioned above, an independent eyewitness may testify as to what they saw. Unless they are a friend or relative of one of the parties in the accident, there is no reason not to believe their testimony. In fact, their testimony may serve as a “tie-breaker” between the conflicting testimony of the plaintiff and defendant.

The Police Report – If the police report is in your client’s favor, the attorney will attempt to admit the police report into evidence as an official record. This report was made during the officer’s duties as an employee and the officer can often testify as to its authenticity based on what the officer witnessed at the scene of the accident.

Speak With A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Proving fault in an NC car accident is often more challenging than we predict. Insurance adjusters see the world through a different lens than the injured party. Having a lawyer represent you can make all the difference. If you would like to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your car accident case, call us at 704.479.7747 or click HERE to request a free consultation. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

Want to meet Chris Layton? Here is a one-minute introduction VIDEO.

 

Hello, I’m Chris Layton and I’m a personal injury and bankruptcy attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our firm has built a reputation for effective representation for our clients, combined with a very personalized experience for the client throughout the process.

When you work with The Layton Law Firm, you’ll get to know your paralegal and your attorney, and you’ll stay informed as your case progresses and develops.

When deciding which law firm to hire for your personal injury or bankruptcy, we know it’s an important decision. If you would like a consultation to discuss your legal questions, we’re here to help. All consultations are absolutely free and can be done over the phone or in person. You can request one by calling us or by requesting one through our website. Answering questions is part of our job and we’re happy to do it. That’s true even if you don’t end up moving forward with our firm.

We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.

Can I Sue A Homeowner’s Insurance Company?

The liability of a homeowner for injuries or “Can I sue a homeowner’s insurance company” is a topic which clients often reach out to our office about. Does the property owner have homeowner’s insurance? What can I do if the homeowner refuses to go through their insurer? Can I even sue a homeowner if I’m injured on their property? These are a few routinely asked questions. Every personal injury case is different, and liability is often determined by the severity and origin of the injuries which were incurred on the property.

Yes, you can sue a homeowner’s insurance company. A more important question is whether you can establish liability or negligence of the homeowner and win the lawsuit.

Statistically speaking, according to The Insurance Information Institute, roughly 1 in 900 policies experience a claim for bodily injury as a result of something the homeowner did or failed to do.

Is the Homeowner Liable?

Liability is situational and arguably is the key factor when debating the legitimacy of any personal injury claim. In order for the property owner to be liable for your injuries, and your claim to be considered legitimate, there are a few requirements relating to both the severity and origin of your injuries that must be met.

  • Where did the injury occur?
    • Your injury must have occurred within the property belonging to the homeowner. The homeowner is generally responsible for the safety of others on his/her property.
  • Were you on the property legally?
    • Trespassing typically negates any homeowner’s liability, unless the homeowner grossly overlooks and actively ignores a serious hazard on their property, and/or expects trespassers. Otherwise, to be liable during trespassing, the property owner must have acted aggressively towards you in an unreasonable manner.
  • Was the homeowner negligent?
    • The injuries must have been caused by the property owner’s own negligence. If any of your actions specifically caused your injuries, the homeowner is not likely to be held accountable for them.
    • If there is a hazard overlooked by the homeowner, which caused your injuries, you may be able to establish negligence and therefore liable for damages.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Often, the first determination to be made when pursuing a personal injury claim against a homeowner is whether or not they have insurance on the property. Typically if a property owner has a mortgage, they have homeowner’s insurance, because mortgage companies require it. However, if the homeowner owns the property free and clear, with no mortgage, there is a possibility they do not carry the homeowner’s insurance.

The primary way to discover whether or not the property owner has homeowner’s insurance is to ask them. If the homeowner refuses to tell you this information, but you suspect they may have insurance because you know they have a mortgage, the only way to obtain that information is by suing the property owner, and demanding that information through the court’s discovery process.

What happens after I make my claim?

Prior to suing the homeowner’s insurance company, you’ll make a claim. First, if you are injured on someone else’s property due to the homeowner’s negligence, inform the homeowner’s insurer as quickly as possible. The insurance company’s suspicion of illegitimacy will rise as time passes.

A claim is not a lawsuit against someone’s homeowner’s insurance company. A claim is just that– a claim for damages, in hopes of being paid for your injuries. After a personal injury claim is made against the property owner, an insurance adjuster from the homeowner’s insurance company will typically contact both the insured (homeowner) and the claimant (you) in order to gain perspective regarding the injury and facts surrounding it. The adjuster may ask for a recorded statement about what occurred on the property which caused your injuries. Do not give them a recorded or written statement without first consulting with your lawyer.

If the adjuster is going to honor the claim, they will ask for medical records, bills, and proof of lost wages. After your treatment is finished, will try to settle the claim with you. If a settlement cannot be reached, the filing of a lawsuit is necessary in order to receive proper compensation for your injuries.

When To Speak With A Lawyer

It’s important to speak with a lawyer sooner rather than later, if you may have a personal injury claim. Every communication you engage in with the homeowner’s insurance company can potentially be damaging to your case. We can help you get an answer to the question “Can I sue a homeowner’s insurance company?”

If you would like to speak with a North Carolina personal injury lawyer about an incident regarding an injury at a homeowner’s property, or homeowner’s insurance questions, please call us at 704.749.7747. You can also click HERE to request a consultation. We know you have choices. We hope you choose Layton Law.