Get Answers to Your Most Commonly Asked Questions About Injury, Criminal, Divorce and Civil Law in North Carolina.

Questions about an important legal matter involving an injury claim, a criminal charge in state or federal court, a divorce or custody issue or a civil litigation case?  We answer many of your questions here.  This is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice.  It is designed to give you the information you need to get started and to be knowledgable about the process so that you can make good decisions about your case going forward.

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  • I was injured in a car accident. It was clearly the other driver’s fault. I don’t want to sue anyone. I just want to be treated fairly. Do I need a lawyer?

     

    Can you "Do It Yourself"?

    Representing yourself after a North Carolina auto accident.You are smart.  You are organized.  You can keep up with your medical bills.  You can communicate with the insurance adjuster.  You communicate with people about important things all the time.  Also, you are not a person who likes to sue people.  You are not trying to get rich.  You just want to be treated fairly.  In addition, the other driver caused the accident.  It is clear as day that he is responsible for the wreck.  He received a ticket.  The insurance adjuster said they would pay the claim.

    Why on earth do you need a lawyer?

    You don’t need a lawyer to make them pay the claim.  You may need a lawyer to make them pay a fair amount for the claim.

    I’ll give you an example.  Let’s say you apply for a job.  “You are hired!” the manager says.  “Great!” you say.  You start work.  After two weeks of work the manager hands you an envelope.  You open the envelope when you get to your car.  The check is made out to you for $1.32.

    You got the job.  He paid you.   The question is, “How much?”

    What are the rules?

    The insurance adjuster knows the laws regarding accident claims in North Carolina.  Do you?There are laws to protect you from being treated unfairly by an employer.  Employers must pay you a minimum wage and comply with other laws and regulations.  There are laws to protect injured people, too.  Do you know them?  The insurance adjuster does.  But, does he have to tell you what they are?  No, he does not.  In fact, he is legally forbidden from giving you legal advice.

    Is the insurance company trying determine the fair value of your claim?  

    The insurance company has no incentive to treat you fairly.  Insurance companies do two things.  They bring in money in the form of premiums.  They spend money in the form of claims. 

    Like all corporations, they have an obligation to their stockholders to maximize profits.  Insurance companies maximize profits by bringing in as much as possible in premiums and paying out as little as possible in claims.

    The role of an insurance adjuster after an auto accident in Wilmington, North Carolina.The insurance company’s incentive is to pay you as little as possible for your claim.  The adjuster works for the insurance company.  He or she does a better job for them by paying you less.  His performance will be evaluated by his employer according to how little he pays you.

    Why would they treat us differently?

    We speak their language.  We know the laws.  We know the rules.  We know the process.  We know what compensation you are entitled to receive.  We know the reasonable settlement value of your claim. 

    Speaks Law Firm helps recover fair compensation after a lawsuit.In addition, we know what you are legally obligated to pay from your settlement proceeds.  We know what the insurance company can lawfully withhold from you.  We can minimize the claim expenses or pay-out to others who have legally enforceable liens against your settlement proceeds including medical providers, Medicaid, Medicare, Tri-care, and health insurance carriers.  By maximizing your claim revenue and minimizing your claim expenses, we can help you reach your objective for this claim: fair compensation for your injuries.

    Call (910) 341-7570 if you have questions about whether we can help you recover fair compensation for your injuries.

     

  • Should I give a recorded statement to insurance adjuster after an auto accident?

     

    Should you give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster after an auto accident?

    Should i give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster after my North Carolina Auto AccidentThe Recorded Statement with the Adjuster

    Adjuster:         “Hi. This is Cindy from Statewide Insurance Company.  I understand that you were in an accident.  Is that right?”

    You:    “Yes, it is.”

    Adjuster:         “Well I am sorry about that.  I am going to process this claim for you.  I just need to ask you a few questions to get started.  Do you have a few minutes?”

    You:    “Yes.”

    Adjuster:         “Alright. Now, I am going to record our conversation for my file. Is that ok?”

    You:    “That is fine.  I have nothing to hide.”

    Adjuster:         “Great.  Can you tell me about the accident?”

    You:    “Sure.  It wasn’t my fault.  The other driver, he just . . .  And, then I went to the hospital”.

    Adjuster:         “I understand.”

    Adjuster:         “Can you tell me, where were you coming from?”

    Adjuster:         “Where were you going?”

    Adjuster:         “What were you doing immediately before the accident?”

    Adjuster:         “Is there anything at all that you could have done to avoid the accident?”

    Adjuster:         “When was the very first moment in time that you saw the other car?”

    Adjuster:         “How far away was the car when you saw it?”

    Adjuster:         “How much time passed between the time you first saw the car and impact?”

    Adjuster:         “Now, please forgive me. I have to ask everyone this question.  Had you had any alcohol to drink that day?  Had you taken any drugs or medication?”

    Adjuster:         “Were you injured in any way?”

    “Adjuster:       "What was injured in the wreck?”

    Adjuster:         “Ok.  Your back, neck and knee were hurt. Was anything else hurt?”

    Adjuster:         “Have you had problems with your neck before the accident?”

    Adjuster:         “Have you seen any medical professionals for these injuries?”

    Notice Anything?

                These are just some of the questions that an adjuster will ask.  Do you notice any thing about the questions?  Ask yourself two questions:

    1.         If the accident was completely and totally the other driver’s fault why do all of the questions relate to the injured person and not to the person who caused the accident?

    2.         The adjuster needs to get a recorded statement "for her file".  Oh . . .         What does that mean?

    Questions about the Auto Accident

    Shouldn’t she already have a collision report in her file?  Doesn’t the collision report say what happened?  Didn’t the investigating officer perform a thorough investigation?  Didn’t he obtain statements, take measurements, record weather information and document road conditions?  Didn’t he prepare a detailed written report?  Didn’t he indicate clearly in that written report that the collision was caused by the other driver?  What else does she need "in her file"?

    Questions about your Medical Treatment

    Didn’t the doctor’s and other medical professionals perform examinations?  Don’t they usually record their findings?  Don’t they usually document their diagnosis and prescribed course of treatment?  Aren’t the medical records readily available?  Wouldn’t these records be a more accurate and thorough source of information about your medical condition than asking you to answer questions with no preparation in a casual conversation?  Wouldn’t obtaining those records be a better way to get the information that she needs "in her file"?

    Would you be surprised to know . . .

    She already has the report.  She is going to get the medical records. 

    So what’s with all the questions?

    Never give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster with out speaking with an experienced injury attorney following your North Carolina auto accidentShe is fishing.  All of these questions are designed to do one thing.  They are designed to gather information that can be used to pay you nothing or pay you less than you deserve.  It is her job to resolve this claim in a way that is best for her employer.

    The Business Model for Insurance Companies

    Insurance adjusters maximize profits for their employers by paying you lessThink about it for a moment. Insurance companies do two things.  They collect premiums and pay claims.  All companies seek to maximize profits.  Insurance companies maximize profits by collecting as much money as possible in premiums and paying out as little as possible in claims.  Her job is to help them pay out as little as possible for claims.

    Doesn’t it make sense to have someone on your side?  Shouldn’t you have someone working for you?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know someone is there to make sure you are treated fairly?

    R. Clarke Speaks wrote the book on Auto Injuries in North CarolinaWhat if I told you that help was a phone call away? What if I told you that we would take care of everything?  What if I told you that there would be no charge for our services unless we are successful?  In all my years of representing injured people, I have never seen one case where an injured person would have been better off it they had not called.

    Call (910) 341-7570 or (877) 593-4233.                Chat (Bottom left).              Fill out the "How Can We Help?" contact form (Above right).  Call for a free copy of my book The North Carolina Auto Injury Book or download it free here.

    Accident Injury Lawyer, North Carolina

     

     

     

     

     

  • I was injured because another driver was texting. How much money will I get for my auto accident if I get the best lawyer possible?

    I was injured because another driver was texting.  How much money will I get for my auto accident if I get the best lawyer possible?

     

    Immediately after an accident, no lawyer can tell you how much money you will receive.  Generally, more serious injuries result in larger settlements.  However, that is an oversimplification and other issues can affect the outcome of your claim.

     

    Other issues may include contributory negligence, insurance coverage, liens, subrogation and expenses.  Medical expenses, future medical expenses, permanent injury, scarring, loss of use, loss of income must be considered.  We can help you address each of these issues in a way that is most beneficial to you.

     

    The way that we do that is by looking at your case like it is its own independent corporation.  All corporations need to do two things:  Maximize revenue and minimize expenses.

     

    Also, we also position your case for successful settlement from the first day.  Successful cases are those that are properly diagnosed, treated, and documented from the beginning.  If any of these is missing, the case will never resolve for full value.  We monitor every step of your medical care.

     

    Sometimes people try to “do it themselves”.  I understand the idea.  I want to save money just like any one else.  The problem is that mistakes made early in injury cases can never be completely fixed.  They will always reduce or eliminate the claim’s value.

     

    In the years I have been doing this, I have never met one person who would have been better off if they had not called.

     

    The best thing to do is to get information before you hire a lawyer, sign a form or settle you case.  Call (877) 593-4233 now for a free copy of The North Carolina Auto Injury Book or for a free explanation of your legal rights and responsibilities.

  • What should I be looking for in a personal injury lawyer?

    Look for Experience, Knowledge, Reputation, and Results

    I started helping injured people in the fall of 1997.  I had just graduated from law school and set up my office.  I knew I wanted to work with injured people so I went around to other established injury lawyers’ offices.  I gave them my card and asked them to send me the difficult cases that they did not want.  They did.

    For the next decade I took every difficult case that walked in the door.  The only cases I would not take was where a person was lying about an accident or faking an injury.  For much of that time, I did everything myself. I gathered evidence, investigated injuries, retrieved medical reports, found medical experts, collected documents, and cross-examined doctors.

    I also tried cases in front of juries.  I tried cases in big cities and small towns in the eastern, central and western parts of North Carolina. I won and I lost.  I learned a lot from the wins.  I learned more from the losses.

    I really enjoyed that time. I gained knowledge and experience that comes from years of daily practive.  Those lessons cannot be learned from books.  I developed a reputation as an honest, hard-working lawyer who would not stop until I achieved justice for my clients.

    I am very proud the work we did then and the work we do now.  Although we have grown and we handle very serious injury cases, we have not changed.  I am older, and hopefully a little wiser.  I have never changed in my commitment.  Our firm continues to use the knowledge, experience and reputation that I gained during those years to help every person we represent today.  Our results and client satisfaction demonstrate that continued commitment.

  • I was injured in a car wreck. The adjuster wants me to give a recorded statement. What questions should I expect from the insurance adjuster when giving a recorded statement after a auto injury?

    The following is taken from an actual recorded statement:

    This is Jennifer interviewing Matthew Johnson concerning an accident to occurred on June 26th of 2012.  The time is approximately 2:14 p.m. Today’s date is July 30th of 2012.  Mr. Johnson, do you understand that I am recording this interview?

    Yes.

     

    Do I have your permission to do so?

     

    Yes, ma’am.

     

    And Mr. Speaks, you are Mr. Johnson’s attorney?

     

    Yes ma’am.

     

    And do I have your permission to record this interview?

     

    You do.

     

    [Administrative Information is exchanged]

     

    What is the year make and model of the car you were driving?

     

    [Answers are removed for privacy reasons.]

     

    What color?

     

    Are you the owner?

     

    Do you have a valid driver’s license?

     

    Do you have restrictions?

     

    Did you have passengers?

     

    Had you consumed alcohol or drugs prior to the accident?

     

    What time did the accident occur?

     

    Was it light or dark?

     

    Were headlights required at that time?

     

    Did you have yours on?

     

    Were you wearing a seat belt?

     

    On what road were you traveling?

     

    How many lanes are on that road?

     

    In what lane were you traveling?

     

    The other vehicle that was involved in the accident, on what road was it traveling?

     

    In what lane?

     

    Was there a stop sign or traffic signal?

     

    What was the color of the traffic signal as you approached?

     

    Did the traffic signal ever change color before you passed through the intersection?

     

    How did the accident happen?

     

    When did you first see the other vehicle?

     

    Where was the other vehicle when you first saw it?

     

    Was there anything you could have done to avoid the accident?

     

    Are you aware of any witnesses?

     

    Were you injured in the accident?

     

    What was injured?

     

    How was it injured?

     

    Have you sought treatment for your injuries?

     

    Are there any other details that you wish to provide?

     

    After we provided this recorded statement, the insurance company accepted liability and paid the claim.  They did so for one reason.  My client was prepared.  I had spent an hour and a half the day before preparing him to answer these questions.  He would have answered truthfully even without me.  But because we prepared together, he was able to avoid the dozens of traps in these seemingly innocent questions.  Those traps almost always damage or eliminate most claims of those who are not adequately prepared.  Never give a recorded statement without an experienced injury attorney by your side.

     

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in auto injury cases that cost them thousands and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes call (877) 593-4233 or request a free copy of my book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book on this site.

     

  • How much should I ask for from the insurance company for my injuries after a traffic accident in North Carolina?

    How much should I ask for from the insurance company for my injuries after a traffic accident in North Carolina?

    In determining the value of your claim, you must take the facts of your case and look ahead. You project what a jury will award after a trial in the specific geographic region where you would try your case. This is true in every case, even though most cases never go to court. In general, more serious injuries with greater medical bills produce higher settlement values.

    Also, insurance companies will pay more for cases involving permanent injuries or death as long as these cases are properly prepared and carefully documented. However, the value of a personal injury case is based upon many factors. Below you will find 15 critical issues the insurance company will assess in determining the value for your auto injury claim.

    1. Was the collision clearly someone else’s fault?

    2. Was the responsible driver ticketed?

    3. What are your medical bills?

    4. What are the nature and extent of your injuries?

    5. Should you expect future medical expenses?

    6. Have you lost income as a result of your injuries?

    7. Have any of your bills been paid by a third party, such as health insurance or Medicaid?

    8. Are there liens against the proceeds of your case that you are responsible for paying?

    9. Is there any permanent injury or loss of use of a particular part of the body?

    10. Did you have any pre-existing injuries?

    11. Did you have any particular susceptibility to injury?

    12. Was the responsible driver driving for his or her employer at the time of the collision?

    13. What are the limits of the responsible driver’s insurance policy?

    14. Do you have any insurance coverage that may pay for some of your injuries?

    15. Do you have a respected lawyer?

    Securing a fair settlement offer is not magic. You don’t get fair compensation because of whom you know. Fair compensation is not the product of intimidation, “smooth talking,” or “bulldogging.” It is the result of hard work, knowledge, experience, organization, and determination. It is both an art and a science. It is about using the right combination of sticks and carrots at the right times. The objective in every injury case is to demonstrate to the insurance company that

    1. You can pay us now, or
    2. You can pay us later.

    A respected injury lawyer can show the insurance adjuster, without arrogance or ego, that the insurance company is going to have to pay this claim. He or she must show that the way that the adjuster can best do her job and save money for her company is by paying now instead of paying lawyers to defend the case and then end up paying you later.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in auto injury cases that cost them thousands and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, 20 Secrets to Maximize your Claim or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.

     

  • Why should I consult with an Attorney in an auto injury case?

    I know the consultation is FREE, but it seems like a hassle.  I think I can handle this myself.  Maybe I’ll call if a problem arises.  Why should I speak to an attorney before speaking to the insurance adjuster?

    Watch out for the two most common auto injury claim killers.

    Claim Killer 1:

    Insurance adjuster:      “You don’t need a lawyer! You can settle your own case and save some money. I just need find out from you what happened for my file.”

    What is the most dangerous question an insurance adjuster can ask you?

    Insurance adjuster:      “Mr. Jones, just one more question … Was there anything you could have done to avoid the collision?

    There is always something else we could have done.  We could have left earlier.  We could have started later.  We could have taken a different route.

    What the adjuster is doing here is looking for CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE.  Contributory Negligence will end your claim.  In North Carolina, if you are in ANY way AT ALL responsible for the collision or your injuries you are entitled to nothing as a matter of law.

    The words you choose to answer this seemingly innocent question (or other questions designed to elicite the same type of information) will be carefully analyzed by lawyers and insurance representatives to determine if they can avoid paying you a dime.

    Call (910) 341-7570 now to find out how to protect yourself legally when you are asked this and other questions.  You can also find out what other dangerous questions you can expect when speaking with the insurance adjuster.

    Claim Killer 2:

    Insurance adjuster:      “You don’t need a lawyer. We have admitted liability.  It was our driver’s fault.  We will pay for the damage.  Why do you want to pay for a lawyer?”

    Injury cases involve two issues:  (1) Liability and (2) Damages.  An insurance company admitting liability is like an employer saying you are hired. It is better than the alternative but it is not the end of the analysis.  The question is how much?  They have superior information and experience.  This is what they do.  They have an advantage and they will use it to the benefit of their employer, the insurance company.  If they agree to pay the claim but then only offer a fraction of what they are legally obligated to pay, then you have a problem.  You need your own claims representative.

    Also, you will need to consider future medical bills, permanent injuries, loss of income, your own auto insurance policy, your health insurance plan, Medicare, Medicaid or Tri-Star, liens on the insurance proceeds.  We can maximize your recovery and navigate through these issues for you.  Sometimes the mistakes people make early in auto injury cases while trying to “do it themselves” cannot be undone and cause irreparable damage.

    In the years I have been representing injured people, I have not met one person who would have been better off if they had not called.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in auto injury cases that cost them thousands and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, 20 Secrets to Maximize your Claim or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.

  • In settling an auto injury claim, how much should I ask for from the insurance company?

    In settling an auto injury claim, how much should I ask for from the insurance company?

    In determining the value of your claim, you must take the facts of your case and look ahead. You project what a jury will award after a trial in the specific geographic region where you would try your case. This is true in every case, even though most cases never go to court. In general, more serious injuries with greater medical bills produce higher settlement values. Also, insurance companies will pay more for cases involving permanent injuries or death as long as these cases are properly prepared and carefully documented. However, the value of a personal injury case is based upon many factors. Below you will find 15 critical questions to ask in determining the value of your auto injury claim.

    1. Was the collision clearly someone else’s fault?

    2. Was the responsible driver ticketed?

    3. What are your medical bills?

    4. What are the nature and extent of your injuries?

    5. Should you expect future medical expenses?

    6. Have you lost income as a result of your injuries?

    7. Have any of your bills been paid by a third party, such as health insurance or Medicaid?

    8. Are there liens against the proceeds of your case that you are responsible for paying?

    9. Is there any permanent injury or loss of use of a particular part of the body?

    10. Did you have any pre-existing injuries?

    11. Did you have any particular susceptibility to injury?

    12. Was the responsible driver driving for his or her employer at the time of the collision?

    13. What are the limits of the responsible driver’s insurance policy?

    14. Do you have any insurance coverage that may pay for some of your injuries?

    15. Do you have a respected lawyer?

    Securing a fair settlement offer is not magic. You don’t get fair compensation because of whom you know. Fair compensation is not the product of intimidation, “smooth talking,” or “bulldogging.” It is the result of hard work, knowledge, experience, organization, and determination. It is both an art and a science. It is about using the right combination of sticks and carrots at the right times. The objective in every injury case is to demonstrate to the insurance company that

    1. You can pay us now, or
    2. You can pay us later.

    A respected injury lawyer can show the insurance adjuster, without arrogance or ego, that the company is going to have to pay this claim. He or she must show that the way that the adjuster can best do her job and save money for her company is by paying now instead of paying lawyers to defend the case and then end up paying you later. Call (910) 341-7570 now for a free consultation with no obligation.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in auto injury cases that cost them thousands and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, 20 Secrets to Maximize your Claim or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.

     

  • Why should you speak to an attorney before speaking to the insurance adjuster?

    Why should you speak to an attorney

    before speaking to the insurance adjuster?

     Scenario 1

    Insurance adjuster:      “You don’t need a lawyer. You can settle you own case. I just need find out from you what happened for my file.”

    What is the most dangerous question an insurance adjuster can ask you?

    Insurance adjuster:      “Mr. Jones, just one more question … Was there anything you could have done to avoid the collision?

    The words you choose to answer this seemingly innocent question will be scrutinized by lawyers and insurance representatives.

    Call (910) 341-7570 now to find out how to protect yourself legally when you are asked this question.  You can also find out what other dangerous questions you can expect when speaking with the insurance adjuster.

    Scenario 2

    Insurance adjuster:      “You don’t need a lawyer. We have admitted liability.  It was our driver’s fault.  We will pay for the damage.  Why do you need a lawyer?”

    Injury cases involve two issues:  (1) Liability and (2) Damages.  An insurance company admitting liability is like an employer saying you are hired. It is better than the alternative but it is not the end of the analysis.  The question is how much?  They have superior information and experience.  This is what they do.  They have an advantage and they will use it to the benefit of their employer, the insurance company.  If they agree to pay the claim but then only offer a fraction of what they are legally obligated to pay, then you have a problem.  You need your own claims representative.

    Also, you will need to consider future medical bills, permanent injuries, loss of income, your own auto insurance policy, your health insurance plan, Medicare, Medicaid or Tri-Star, liens on the insurance proceeds.  We can maximize your recovery and navigate through these issues for you.  Sometimes the mistakes people make early in auto injury cases while trying to “do it themselves” cannot be undone and cause irreparable damage.

    In the years I have been representing injured people, I have not met one person who would have been better off if they had not called.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in auto injury cases that cost them thousands and the most effective ways to avoid these mistakes please call (877) 593-4233 to request a free copy of my book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, 20 Secrets to Maximize your Claim or to speak with an experienced professional about your case.

  • I had surgery seven years ago to correct a pinched nerve in my back. Last fall, I was involved in an auto accident just outside Wilmington, and I am again having serious back pain. Does the other driver—who caused the accident—have to pay my medical bills, even though I had a previous spine problem?

    If the other driver acted with negligence or malice to cause your New Hanover County car accident, then he potentially has legal liability for the consequences. That means that if other people suffer losses due to his behavior, he has a duty to set them right: to restore them (as much as possible) to the condition they enjoyed before the accident.

    The legal system recognizes that this is often impossible to accomplish in a literal sense. A negligent driver can’t make a fractured bone become whole or make a scar disappear. Instead, our society demands that the responsible driver pay money to cover the costs of any property losses and the expenses of medical care. We ask a jury to calculate the equivalent cash value of suffering and pain, and we award that amount to the injured party, too.

    Now, as far as your specific case, there are at least three reasons why your previous medical history should not be a barrier to you recovering full compensation for your North Carolina auto accident injuries:

    • It’s ancient history. Your spine problem was resolved seven years ago. In a sense, your history of a pinched nerve is irrelevant: you were not suffering from back pain before the accident, and now, you are. If the accident caused your back pain, then the negligent driver has a duty to compensate you.
    • It’s a different injury. You don’t know yet whether your current back pain has any relationship at all with the pinched nerve you suffered in the past. Perhaps your current pain signals a different type of back injury. Perhaps there is another pinched nerve, but in a different location. Until additional medical tests can provide a complete diagnosis, you should not assume you have merely re-injured an old wound.
    • The negligent driver doesn’t get his pick of North Carolina traffic injury victims. Insurance companies and car accident defendants have to address the losses of the victims as they find them. Insurance company lawyers, in particular, are quick to blame preexisting conditions for new pain, but that claim can be refuted by solid medical evidence and testimony. Even if your previous injury made you more vulnerable to being hurt in a car accident, it remains true that the accident was the single necessary element that led to your losses.

    For a deeper analysis of your case, we encourage you to contact one of our experienced Wilmington car accident lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. Speaks Law Firm can be reached locally at 910-341-7570 or toll-free from anywhere across the state at 1-877-593-4233. You can also learn a lot about what you may face by reading The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, our law firm’s manual for prospective clients; if you ask for it, we’ll send you a FREE copy when you call us for your appointment.