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.

If you have an ongoing personal injury lawsuit, or a potential personal injury lawsuit, you must disclose it when filing your bankruptcy. This does not mean you will lose the personal injury awards in bankruptcy. If your injury occurs after filing your bankruptcy, generally the lawsuit and any award you may receive from it are exempted from the bankruptcy estate and the proceeds are yours to keep.

Compensation and Filing of Bankruptcy

Compensation Received Prior To Filing—If you’ve received compensation for your personal injury prior to filing your bankruptcy, your compensation is part of the bankruptcy estate and must be disclosed. Your bankruptcy attorney may be able to exempt or protect some or all of the compensation.

Compensation Received After Filing—You must disclose the existence of the personal injury claim or potential claim when filing your bankruptcy. Depending upon the facts, likelihood of recovery, and ability to value the claim, the Trustee will then make a determination as to whether to pursue the claim on your behalf, work with your existing personal injury attorney, or abandon the claim from the estate altogether.

Disclosure Is Key

In any case, if your injury took place prior to the filing of the bankruptcy, you must either disclose the compensation you have received, or in the alternative, disclose the potential for compensation. This puts the Trustee on notice and keeps you in compliance with the federal rules of bankruptcy. You’ll work with your bankruptcy attorney when filing your petition, and when preparing to discuss the claim with the Trustee.

If you have any questions about bankruptcy or personal injury awards in bankruptcy, please feel free to call me at 704.749.7747.

If you’re in a car accident in North Carolina involving death, injury or property damage, the law requires that you stop your vehicle and remain at the scene of the accident until authorized to leave the scene by a law enforcement officer. An exception to this is leaving the scene to obtain medical help or assistance.

The health of the individuals at the scene is of primary concern. Offer assistance or call for emergency help for the injured.

Notify the police department or highway patrol that there has been an accident. Where a car accident in North Carolina results in personal injury, death or property damage, this is the law.

Obtain the name, address and phone number of anyone who witnessed the accident. It is advisable to have them write down a statement indicating what they saw and have them sign that statement at the scene, if possible.

You’re required by law to provide your name, address, vehicle registration number and license number to the person struck in the accident, or occupants of the other vehicle. Conversely, you should obtain this information from the other driver. It is reasonable to ask the other driver to show you their drivers license.

When the officer arrives, cooperate with the officer and do not leave the scene until the officer authorizes your departure. The officer may ask you to make a statement about the accident—you’re entitled to seek counsel from a lawyer before doing so.

Complete an accident form. If you have blank paper, make notes of pertinent information: Draw the position of the vehicles, walk off distances of skid marks if any, and any other distances which might help to complete the picture. If you have a camera or phone, take photos of the vehicles from numerous angles, including some ‘establishing’ photos from further away to show the vehicles in relation to the road.

See a physician. You can go to the emergency room or your family doctor but it is important to remember that only a doctor can properly assist you in determining whether you’ve been injured. Additionally, some injuries do not appear at the time of the accident. A follow-up visit to your doctor within ten days of the accident is advisable as well.

Do not pay or exchange money with anyone. Do not promise to make a payment or accept the promise of a payment. You don’t want to do anything to compromise your rights. Instead, notify your insurance company of the accident.

Seek the assistance of a lawyer. Most lawyers will be happy to speak with you about the situation and help provide guidance. At that time, you can decide whether it would be best to go forward with an attorney or work with the insurance company yourself to reach a resolution.

If you have any questions please call my office at 704.749.7747. I’m here to help.

If you have personal injury resulting from a car accident or the negligence of another person or product, you may have a valid legal claim or the basis for a personal injury lawsuit. After allowing an attorney to assist you in understanding what your rights are, and what you might recover, you can make an informed decision as to whether to move forward.

Determining If You Have A Case

Generally, if you have emotional or physical injury resulting from the act of another—or a company’s product—and if you did nothing to contribute to that injury, you have the basis for a lawsuit. Whether you can expect compensation for the injury depends somewhat upon the evidence we can gather to support the claim. Typically, this means our firm communicates with the doctors or physicians who have treated you in an attempt to assess your health condition, and then negotiating with insurance companies for a fair result.

Determining Fault

North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. Practically speaking, this means that so long as you did not fail to exercise the care of an ordinarily prudent person in an attempt to avoid the injury, it’s not your fault. Your personal injury attorney will ask specific questions in a free consultation to help determine if this is the case—all you have to do is give an honest account of what happened.

Statute of Limitations

Generally speaking, actions for personal injury must be brought within three years of the occurrence. N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 1-52(5). There are some exceptions and nuances to this rule, depending upon when you discovered the injury, which is sometimes after the event that caused it.

By speaking with a North Carolina personal injury attorney, you’ll be able to quickly determine whether you have a case and if there’s still time to pursue it.

Get Your Questions Answered

Answering questions is part of my job. I’m happy to receive calls from individuals who are simply trying to determine what to do next. Sometimes that’s a lawsuit, other times it’s just gaining peace of mind about the options. I’d be happy to discuss your situation over the telephone or in person in my SouthPark office. Call 704.749.7747 today to speak with me about your situation. The call is free and I’m happy to help.

If you’ve been harmed in an accident or in any other way, your choice for a personal injury attorney is critical. None of my clients make a living suing people. They have all found themselves in a situation where they have been harmed, and they need help.

It’s Your Choice

If you or a family member has been injured by the negligence of another, whether by car accident, on the job, or on the premises of a business, you need help. It’s critical you choose a personal injury attorney who communicates regularly, understands your situation, and never loses sight of the desire to help generate the best result for you.

You Deserve An Invested Attorney

The Layton Law Firm, PLLC manages personal injury claims from start to finish. The client is always kept informed and has a say in the final outcome. And the law firm is invested in your case—after all, if you don’t recover something in the lawsuit, we don’t get paid.

You Deserve To Recover

Many times, I find myself having to convince clients that they deserve as much as we are attempting to recover. While emotional recovery is critical, economic recovery provides emotional stability and the ability to continue your life with fewer interruptions.

Whether motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, or medical malpractice, our job is to position you to recover what you deserve. The law governs some aspect of this, but your attorney and the law firm representing you play an important role in the result.

Call Today – We’re Here

If you’d like to speak to an attorney about your situation, we’re here to talk. The phone call is free. Tell us what happened, and we’ll tell you what we can do for you. 704.749.7747.

Often, a specific event in your life leads to the filing of a bankruptcy. If the event gives rise to loss of work, you’re unable to pay our bills. If the event gives rise to insurmountable bills, you may be unable to maintain your monthly debts no matter how hard you work. In the case of a personal injury, quite often both are true: you are faced with medical bills and you’re unable to work. A pending personal injury claim doesn’t mean you can’t file bankruptcy, or that you will necessarily lose the award if you win your claim.

When you file bankruptcy, a ‘bankruptcy estate’ is created. It consists of all the property you own. At the time of filing, the potential award from a personal injury claim—whether filed or not—is considered property for the purpose of the bankruptcy estate.

Will The Bankruptcy Court Take My Award?

In a bankruptcy, federal and state laws allow for certain types and amounts of property to be exempt from claims by the trustee and creditors. Once the debtor has filed for bankruptcy, the debtor no longer owns that cause of action: the claim has become property of the bankruptcy estate. Sometimes, the trustee in effect steps into the shoes of the debtor and will hire an attorney to handle claim. The relationship that the trustee has with the personal injury attorney is a standard attorney-client relationship, including the customary contingency fee arrangement in a personal injury case. Other times, the bankruptcy trustee abandons the claim if he decides there is nothing in it for your creditors. At that time, you can pursue your own claim with your chosen attorney.

Regardless, the award must be disclosed to the bankruptcy court. Once damages have been awarded, they get apportioned in the following order: the personal injury attorney subtracts his fees, the exempted amount goes to the debtor, the trustee (potentially) takes his percentage of the award, and the creditors who have submitted proofs of claims get their portion. Any remaining money goes back to the debtor.
Different Damages Are Treated Differently

The amount of money from the settlement that you’re able to keep depends on the character of the award. Pain and suffering, disability and mental anguish are treated differently from financial losses suffered due to the injury, like medical expenses, damaged property, or lost wages. Your attorney will choose federal or state exemptions for you depending upon which choice is going to result in you retaining more of the award.

In Conclusion

If you’re facing overwhelming financial stress and you’re putting off bankruptcy because you fear you will lose your personal injury award, speak to an attorney today. The bankruptcy court is a court of equity and the goal is not to take all of your assets. You attorney can assist in proper disclosure of the claim and further assist in choosing the exemptions which are most suited to helping you retain more of your award due to the injury.

Call 704.749.7749 today or email me HERE , to speak to me about bankruptcy, personal injury, or any other financial concerns you may have. There are options. I’m here to assist you in determining those options, and to help you move forward productively.

Attorneys who look past strategies to identify the underlying needs of their clients, strengthen relationships at the moment, and generate creative solutions for their clients and their practice. I’ve learned to do this in my Charlotte bankruptcy practice, to great results. When we think about needs, we tend to think about things like money, time, a new car. The truth is, those items are strategies that we use to get our true underlying needs met. Money is a strategy that meets our need for stability. Time is a strategy that meets our need for relaxation or tranquility. A new car may meet our need for safety or accomplishment.  In this way, strategies are distinguishable from needs. As lawyers, our job is to meet the needs of clients. Additionally, we have our own needs which need to be met. A skilled and creative lawyer realizes there is usually more than one strategy available to get all of the underlying needs met.

Some time ago, my six-year-old daughter was acting out on a daily basis. She wouldn’t eat her food, she was talking back to both me and my wife, she took up the hobby of hitting her little sister on the head with heavy objects. Parents, you know the drill. I decided to increase the number of minutes she spent in time out, any time she acted out. I think at one point we got up to 20 minutes a time, in time out. It wasn’t working. I became a disciplinarian, as I saw this as a struggle for authority and respect. And I was losing the war.

My wife is a kindergarten teacher. She had the idea to hang a “Responsibility Chart” on our daughter’s bedroom door. I laughed at this idea. This child needed discipline, not coddling! That being said, I was out of ideas so I caved into the Responsibility Chart. The chart had five rows and seven columns. The rows were chores or requests like the ones mentioned above. The columns were days of the week. Within 48 hours, our child’s behavior did a complete 180. And each night, she dragged us upstairs to go through the chart, placing a magnet in each box where she had successfully completed the chore. Notice that the requested behavior from us had not changed. What had changed was our strategy for getting our needs met. And she responded very well to it. Why? Because her needs were being met. The need for control, appreciation, acknowledgment—so many things are packed into a family gathering around a responsibility chart.

When you are facing your next difficult or frustrating client conversation, or when you are sitting down to overcome the latest challenge your practice faces, think about needs. Distinguish them from strategies. A client who is expressing frustration is engaging in a strategy. Perhaps they are requesting you get back to them sooner, or move things along faster. Take a guess at the underlying need. Perhaps the client has a need to feel understood. Or maybe to have the urgency of their situation appreciated. Make an attempt to reflect needs in the conversation and see what kind of response you get. My experience is you will be pleased. You and the client will re-connect at the moment. And once the underlying needs are identified, you can go about offering up strategies for meeting those needs—strategies that work for you and the client both.

Marshall Rosenberg is a wonderful contributor to the discussion of needs and has a list of needs here. It’s a great reference tool for situations and behavior which at first you find perplexing. Identify the needs, speak to the needs, devise strategies to get the needs met. The incident I described above with our daughter took place two years ago. The Responsibility Chart is rarely in use but it still hangs on the back of our daughter’s door. The other night I asked her about it. “What did you like about using that responsibility chart?” I asked. She looked at me, smiled, and said “Oh, I don’t know, dad. It was a job well done.”