Get Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Auto Injury Claims, Workers Compensation Claims, and Divorce & Custody Cases.

Questions about an injury claim, workers compensation claim or a divorce or custody issue?  We want you to call us and ask your questions at (910) 341-7570.  There is almost always a lawyer available to speak with you.  The call is free and there is no obligation.  If you prefer, you can gather more information on this site before you call. We answer many of the most frequently asked questions here.  The site 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 as you search for the best injury lawyer, the best workers compensation lawyer, or the best divorce lawyer for you.

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  • Last weekend, I was in a head-on collision on I-40 near Wilmington NC. The other driver was drunk and came into my lane. It was completely his fault. I have injuries to my arms, legs and back. I am worried that there will not be enough insurance to pay for all of my medical bills. What should I do?


    Drunk Driving Accident and Injury Lawyers in Wilmington NC

    Last weekend, I was in a head-on collision.  The other driver was drunk and came into my lane.  It was completely his fault.  I have injuries to my arms, legs and back.  I am worried that there will not be enough insurance to pay for all of my medical bills.  What should I do?

    Accident and Injury Lawyers at Speaks Law Firm in Wilmington NC help people recover fair compensation for their injuries.Although every case is different, we start the analysis the same way in every auto injury case.  First, can we prove liability?  In other words, can we show that it was the other guys fault?  Here, we can show that easily because the other driver was drunk and came into your lane.  But, that is definitely not the end of the story.

    Next, we look at damages.  Your claim must be complete and comprehensiProper legal documentation is the key to fair recover after a drunk driving collision in Wilmington NC.  Accident Lawyers at Speaks Law Firm are here to in order to receive full value.  We need to make sure your injuries are accurately diagnosed, documented and treated.  The causal connection between your accident and each of your injuries must be established.  It is not enough that it is discussed orally with your doctors.  It must be legally and conclusively established in the medical records.

    Finally, we look at insurance coverage.  We will look for all possible sources of recovery.  We will maximize the value of your claim by including all legally relevant information.  This includes data that will be input into the insurance company’s computer model to establish claim value. We will minimize the expenses paid out from settlement proceeds. 

    Following this process faithfully and meticulously is what helps us achieve our clients’ goals in these types of situations even if there is insufficient insurance coverage.  You are entitled to fair compensation for your injuries, and we will do everything in our power to see that you get it. 

    The first thing you should do is to call us for a FREE consultation.  There is no obligation.  Should you choose to hire us, there is No Fee unless we recover money for you.  You should do this before you speak to the insurance adjuster or give a recorded statement

    Call the Accident and Injury attorneys at Speaks Law Firm if you have been involved in a wreck with a drunk driver in Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Hampstead, Jacksonville, Wrightsville Beach, Burgaw, Shallotte, New Hanover County, Onslow County, Pender County, Brunswick County or anywhere else in North Carolina.


  • I live in Wilmington, NC. My wife has informed me that she wants a divorce. I am very concerned about when I will be able to see my kids. What is Temporary Custody and how will it affect me?

    A temporary custody order establishes a court ordered or approved arrangement, so the parents have a set plan in place for custody. Once a party has filed for custody, it can take weeks or months before the parties, attorneys and the court are ready to hear the case. During that time, the parties may have difficultly agreeing on a schedule for the child to visit each parent. A temporary order is useful when the parents are unable to agree on visitation but not able to have a full custody hearing due to time and preparation needed to prepare for a permanent custody hearing. 

    The scope of a temporary order can range from anything to creating a schedule for the parties to follow, preventing one parent from withholding the child from the other, preventing a party from moving with the child, and even protect the child from an unsafe environment with one parent. The temporary custody order is a very important first step in securing your involvement in the lives or your children after a marriage ends.  It is critical that you are intentional and deliberate in your approach to matters such as this very early on in the process. 

    You can speak to an experienced, knowledgeable, caring divorce and custody attorney about your temporary custody options in New Hanover County, Pender County, Brunswick County, Wilmington, Hampstead, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Hampstead  North Carolina today. 

  • I live in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. I am considering divorce. I am worried about how my divorce will affect my relationship with my children. I have heard of Temporary and Permanent Child Custody. What is the difference?

    Wilmington NC Child Custody Lawyers\Divorce Custody and Family Law Lawyers in Wilmington NC on Temporary and Permanent Child Custody

    Immediately following a separation, the parents may go to court seeking a Temporary Custody Order.  Temporary Custody Orders are usually based on brief or condensed court hearings with specific rules providing limitations on the evidence that is presented to the court.  Usually, only the parents testify.  Other evidence is received by the court in the form of sworn affidavits from witnesses.  The judge will issue an order that establishes a schedule of child custody.  The order will set out which parent has the child(ren) at what times.  It may contain other important determinations, as well.

    Lawyers for Temporary Child Custody Hearings in Wilmington NCLater, the court may conduct Permanent Custody Hearings.  Permanent Custody Hearings are longer, and usually more involved.  Parents, witnesses and experts are permitted to testify.  The judge will issue a “permanent” custody order following the hearing.  Even though the resulting order is referred to as “permanent,” it is important to know that a party can always return to the court seeking a modification of custody.

    However, these hearings and orders are very important.  Later, if one party seeks to change the permanent custody order, he or she is held to a different standard in a modification hearing than they had at the initial custody determination. In addition, the temporary and permanent custody order will establish a pattern of parental contact and involvement that judges can be resistant to break.

    You can speak with a knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney who can explain and advise the legal standards of proof based on your specific situation in New Hanover County, Pender County, Brunswick County, Wilmington, Hampstead, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Hampstead today.

  • I was in an accident with a tractor-trailer truck in Wilmington NC on I-40. It was not my fault. I was hurt in the wreck. The insurance company has said they would pay my medical bills. Do I need a lawyer?

    Tractor Trailer and Commercial Truck Accident and Injury Lawyers in Wilmington NC

    You need to talk to an experienced injury lawyer as soon as possible.  The consultation is free.  The information you receive will be very helpful to you before you have additional discussions with the insurance adjuster.

    Wilmington NC Truck Accident LawyersTractor-trailer truck accident cases are just like other auto injury claims in some ways.  There is an investigation, a written report, and an insurance adjuster.  The same rules of the road that apply to other drivers apply to drivers of commercial vehicles.  The process is very similar.

    Tractor-trailer or commercial truck accident cases are different in other ways.  The injuries can be more severe and require additional documentation and medical opinion.  The insurance policies can contain different language, provisions and coverage amounts.  There may be additional regulations, investigative reports, and responsible parties involved.

    Even when the accident is clearly the truck driver’s fault, the conversation does not end.  So, they are going to pay.  That is great.  How much?  That is where the conversation can get sticky.

    The insurance adjusters in truck cases have the same directives from their employers-the insurance companies-as insurance adjusters in other auto accident claims.  Their directives are to get out of this case by paying the smallest amount possible for the claim.  They will do everything they can to pay as little as they possible can.

    They know the rules and the process.  You may be smart, organized and resourceful.  Most of our clients are all of those things.  But, no matter how much you research and no matter how careful you are, you simply don’t have the same level of knowledge and experience that the adjuster has about these types of claims. 

    The Commercial Truck Accident and Injury Lawyers at Speaks Law Firm in Wilmington NC can obtain a fair settlement for you.The adjuster may be friendly.  He may be nice, polite, and seemingly helpful.  He may give you fair compensation for your property damage claim.  That is pretty easy to establish using various on-line resources.  But, when it comes to paying the claim for your injuries, will he be fair?

    And by the way, what is a fair settlement amount for your claim?  Of course, they should pay for your medical expenses. Should they pay anything more?  How much more?  What if you have future medical expense?  Have you missed work?  Do you have permanent injuries?

    Also, did your health insurance company pay anything for your treatment?  Has that been considered?  Will you be required to pay them back from settlement proceeds?  What about the releases for property damage, medical information and liability?  What do they mean and how do they affect your claim?

    You are probably not the kind of person who likes to sue other people.  You just want to be treated fairly.  That is why we are here.  We obtain fair compensation for injured people.

    Call the tractor trailer and commercial truck accident and injury lawyers at Speaks Law Firm in Wilmington NC for more information.

  • I live in Hampstead, North Carolina. My husband and I are separating. What is a separation agreement and will we need one?

    In some situations, a separation agreement can be a great opportunity to protect your legal interests and save money.  A separation agreement is a written and signed agreement between the parties resolving issues such as division of marital property, custody and spousal support. When the parties do eventually file for divorce, the separation agreement can be incorporated into the divorce decree, wrapping up all of the issues at one time without the expense of further litigation.  Call (910) 341-7570 to find out if a separation agreement is best for you.

    You can speak to an experienced, knowledgeable and caring divorce attorney about your separation in Wilmington, NC, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Leland, Hampstead, Landfall, New Hanover County, Pender County, or Brunswick County.

  • Do I need to file for legal separation?

    Many of my clients share the same concern when it comes to separation and divorce.  They have been living separately from their spouse for some time, but have not filed for “legal separation”. They are concerned that this will prevent or delay their divorce.

    North Carolina law requires the parties to have lived separate and apart for a year.  There is no need to file for legal separation.  If you have been living apart for more than a year, then you are legally eligible to obtain a divorce.

    As soon as you decide that you and your spouse should separate, there are some things you may want to do to protect your rights, assets and relationships.  It is possible to create a separation agreement where both parties agree to split up their debts and assets.  This agreement can be a wonderful opportunity to resolve potentially contentious issues amicably.  There are other options, as well.  Call now to find out if a separation agreement is right for you.

    You can speak with an experienced, knowledgeable and caring divorce attorney about your separation in Wilmington, NC, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Leland, Hampstead, Landfall, New Hanover County, Pender County, or Brunswick County by calling (910) 341-7570 today.

  • How much will the insurance company offer?


    How much will the insurance company offer?

    what should i do after a wilmington nc auto accidentIf you have been injured in an auto or truck accident, the insurance adjuster has information that you do not have.  Insurance adjusters are knowledgeable and experienced.  They are not necessarily bad people, but their interests are in conflict with yours.  The adjuster will use that information, knowledge and experience for the benefit of his or her employer.  His or her employer is the insurance company.  The insurance company makes more money if they pay you less for your claim.  Level the playing field a little by learning some of what they know.

    1.  How the Insurance Company is Viewing Your Claim

    Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company, no for you.In determining the value of your claim, you must take the facts of your case and look ahead. You imagine what a jury would award if it heard the facts of your case after a trial.  This is the process in every case, even if your case never goes to trial.  And, if your case is set up correctly from the beginning, you may very well avoid court altogether.

    2.  Factors that Typically Increase Claim Value

    In general, more serious injuries with greater medical bills produce higher settlement values than less serious cases with lower medical bills.  Also, insurance companies will pay more for cases involving permanent injuries or death as long as these cases are properly diagnosed, treated and documented from the very beginning.

    3.  The Evolution of the Claims Process

    Evolution of injury claimsThe process for calculating the value of a particular case has grown more complicated over the years.  Twenty-five years ago, injury lawyers used a very basic calculation to estimate the settlement value of a case.  We would calculate the medical bills.  Then we could demand three times medical bills as a settlement for the claim.  The use of computers has changed that process forever.

    4.  How Computers have Changed How they Value Claims

    Insurance companies now use computer models to calculate the value of your case.  Claim data is entered into the computer, and the computer gives an estimated value or a range of values.  The insurance adjuster’s settlement authority is derived from that estimated value or range.

    5.  How Computers have Changed How We Prepare Claims

    What is a fair settlement value for my wilmington nc auto accident claimThe use of this computer model has changed the way settlement values are calculated.  More importantly, this process has changed the way we prepare and present a claim.  Our settlement demands are much more thorough, complete and comprehensive these days.

    6.  Documenting the Presence of Positive Factors

    Today, in order to get a fair settlement for an injury case, we must identify the positive settlement factors that apply to your case.  We cannot just describe these factors over the phone to the adjuster.  The adjuster may listen politely.  He may ignore these factors in the claim evaluation.  We must document the factors and support them with credible legal, factual or medical evidence.

    7.  Documenting the Absence of Negative Factors

    Precision documentation is the key to obtaining fair value in your north carolina auto injury claimIn addition, we must avoid negative factors.  An example of a negative settlement factor is “pre-existing medical condition".  Adjusters and health insurance providers may use these negative factors to reduce the value of your claim.  We may have to provide legal, factual or medical evidence to demonstrate that a particular negative settlement factor does not apply to your claim.

    8.  Factors that Determine the Value of Your Claim

    Below you will find 15 questions.  The answers to these questions can directly impact the value of your auto injury claim.

    1.  Do you have a respected lawyer?

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

    3.  Was the other driver ticketed?

    4.  What are your medical bills?

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

    6.  Should you expect future medical expenses?

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

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

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

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

    11.  Did you have any pre-existing injuries?

    12.  Did you have any particular susceptibility to injury?

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

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

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

    9.  Other Factors

    There are many other factors that may apply.  It is worth repeating that these factors should not be addressed orally over the phone.  The adjuster may acknowledge your assertion and then ignore it from the settlement calculations.  Each factor must be supported with evidence or documentation.

    10.  A Word of Caution

    Be careful when dealing with an insurance adjuster for an injury claimIn addition, all injury lawyers say they are aggressive.  You have heard the ads, right?  However, as you can see here there is more to this process than being aggressive.  In fact, a hyper-aggressive attorney can result in the unnecessary trial of your case.

    11.  The Art and Science of Settlement

    Securing a fair settlement 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.” Insurance adjusters are too smart and sophisticated to be bullied by a overly-aggressive lawyer. Fair settlements are the result of knowledge, experience, organization, diligence and determination. It is both an art and a science. 

    Insurance companies seek to maximize profits.12.  The Insurance Company's Motivation

    For the insurance company, this is not a moral analysis.  They have little incentive to “do the right thing”.  Insurance companies are businesses.  Businesses have a purpose. The purpose is to maximize profits. For them this is a mathematical analysis.  What is the smallest amount of money we can pay to get rid of this claim?  Your claim is an expense.  They maximize profits by minimizing how much they pay you.

    13.  How the Right Lawyer can Help

    It may sound like going through this process complicates your claim.  It does not.  It simplifies and clarifies the processes.  Claims that are properly documented, settle much more quickly and for much more money.  We can show the insurance adjuster each of the positive settlement factors that apply to your claim.  We can show why negative Call Speaks Law Firm to speak with an experienced professional about your auto injury claimfactors should not apply.  We can do this by making sure that your case is properly diagnosed, treated and documented from the beginning. Call (910) 341-7570 now for a free consultation with experienced professional.  There is no obligation.  Or click follow this link for additional information about finding the right injury lawyer.

  • 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.


  • What should I do after an accident to protect myself legally?

    Wilmington, North Carolina Auto Accident Lawyers Created a Checklist to help you after a car wreck.

    Auto Accident Injury Checklist

    • Write down the date and details of the accident.Photograph scene and injuries after your NC auto injury accident
    • Take photos that will tell the story of the accident, your injuries and your recovery.
    • Write down the names and addresses of witnesses.
    • Request a copy of the Accident Report. (We can help you get a copy.)
    • Review the Accident Report for accuracy and completeness.
    • Seek immediate medical attention if there is any chance you were injured in the accident.
    • Write down the name of the provider and practice for every medical professional you see for injuries resulting from the accident.
    • Do NOT give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster without a thorough consultation with an experienced injury lawyer.
    • Call  (877) 593-4233 for a free telephone or face-to-face consultation in order to protect yourself from financial loss.   
    • Gather insurance documents for your health and auto policy.

    North Carolina Auto Injury ChecklistFor more information about how we can help you avoid costly mistakes after an Auto Accident Injury in North Carolina contact us by filling out the "How can we help you?" form at the top of this page.



  • 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 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 your claim.

    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? Wouldn't it be great to have someone who Speaks for you?

    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 decades 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 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak with someone about your case.  Or you can call for a free copy of my book The North Carolina Auto Injury Book or download it free here.

    Accident Injury Lawyer, North Carolina