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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  • I was hurt in a car accident in Wilmington, North Carolina. My medical bills are outrageously high. The driver who caused the accident has the minimum insurance limits ($30,000.00) that are required by law. The adjuster has offered to pay the policy limits ($30,000.00). Should I get an attorney? What should I do?

    State law requires each vehicle owner to carry at least $30,000.00 of liability insurance coverage.  You can purchase more.  Many people carry at least $100,000 in liability coverage per person and $300,000 per occurrence. 

    The liability insurance policy for the vehicle of the responsible driver is required to pay for the medical and other expenses of those who were not at fault.  The policy will pay up to the limits of the policy.  In other words, where there is $30,000.00 (or $60,000.00) of liability coverage, the insurance company could be required to pay that entire amount, but no more.

    Where the damages are greater than the limits of the insurance policy, the injured person must look for other sources of recovery.  These are some of the questions your lawyer will ask in order to comprehensively address this complex issue:

    • Does the responsible driver have a different liability policy that you could access?
    • Was the responsible driver working for his employer at the time of the accident?
    • Does the responsible driver have an umbrella insurance policy?
    • Does the injured person have underinsured motorist coverage?
    • Does the responsible driver have assets that could be seized and sold in order to pay some or all of the judgment beyond the limits of the insurance policy?* 

    * This particular analysis can be complicated.  Before you reject the insurance companies offer to settle the case for the policy limits and proceed with a lawsuit, you must think clearly and carefully.  If you were seriously injured by the negligence of another person, you are probably angry.  Who could blame you? I would be.  Of course, you want the person responsible for the accident to pay for the damage they caused.  In fact, the law requires it.

    However, if the negilgent driver does not have the assets to pay for damages beyond the limits of the insurance policy, you will be wasting valuable time and money.  You may want to perform an asset search in order to determine whether this is a viable option.  The process of securing and enforcing a judgment can be expensive.  If the responsible person does not have sufficient assets, then you will have wasted time and money for no reason.

    Where damages exceed insurance coverage you need an experienced personal injury lawyer more than ever.  A good lawyer may be able to find additional sources or recovery.  He or she may be able to perform an informal asset search.  From that he will be able to determine whether you should you accept the policy limits or fight for more. 

    Even if there is not enough money to pay all of the medical expenses from the available insurance policy, an experienced personal injury attorney can help.  He may be able to negotiate down the amount of the outstanding medical bills.  He may be able to use financial leverage and statutory laws to get your bills paid and still put a substantial amount of money in your pocket.  Call or contact us now to find out how we can help you maximize your recovery in your auto accident and injury case.

    Personal Injury Lawyers, Auto Accident and Injury AttorneysWilmington, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Jacksonville, Burgaw, Bolivia, Shallotte, New Hanover County, Pender County, Brunswick County, Onslow County, North Carolina.

  • What is your approach to divorce and child custody cases in Wilmington, NC?

    At Speaks Law Firm our focus is on you and your priorities.  What do you want to accomplish?  What is important to you?  What are your concerns?  We work on each family law case like it is our only case.  We understand how important these matters are to you.  After all, what is more important than family?

    • Divorce
    • Collaborative Divorce
    • Child Support
    • Child Custody
    • Post Separation Support
    • Alimony
    • Equitable Distribution
    • Separation Agreements
    • Breach or Separation Agreements
    • Consent Agreements
    • Domestic Violence
    • Trials
    • Appeals

    We understand that these issues produce financial and emotional challenges.  Most people do not know what to expect.  Uncertainty causes anxiety.

    Our philosophy is that knowledge as power.  We give you the information that you need to understand the rules and the process.  By doing that, we are able to reduce uncertainty.  You can see the issues more clearly.  As a result, you are able to make good decisions. 

    After you have made good decisions, we put our experience to work for you.  We develop a cost-effective strategy for achieving your objectives.  We work to find every inch of common ground we can find.  We will resolve every issue we can by agreement.  If a fair and reasonable agreement cannot be reached, we can aggressively pursue your objectives in court.

    Divorce Custody Equitable Distribution Separation in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Porter’s Neck, Hampstead, Leland, New Hanover County, Pender County, Brunswick County and the surrounding areas.

  • What is Fathers Rights anyway?

    FATHERS RIGHTS Lawyers in Wilmington NC

    Wilmington, NC Divorce and Custody Lawyers

    The Increased Role of Fathers in the Modern Family

    Your Wilmington Divorce lawyer may have to fight for your to protect your access to your children.Too many times today we see judges rule against men in divorce and custody cases, our firm has devoted a significant quantity of its family law practice to representing men and fathers, in particular. In today’s families, fathers have taken a much more active role in raising children, yet their contributions are often ignored because of outdated ideas and preconceptions of parental roles.

    Everyone knows how important Mothers are in the lives of their children, but what about Fathers? Fathers’ rights are sometimes underrepresented in divorce proceedings, and Speaks Law Firm has enjoyed success representing men and protecting their children and their assets. Using an innovative approach to tell the story of our clients, we are able to paint a much more compelling picture of the emotional bonds that exist between you and your children.  “We want to use technology, creativity and any means necessary to tell our clients story in order to make sure that our clients continue to enjoy quality time with their children".  Our firm uses a more three-dimensional approach to effectively portray our clients as the loving and hardworking fathers that they truly are.

    Wilmington NC Divorce and Fathers Rights Lawyers

  • What should I look for in a divorce lawyer?


    North Carolina Family Lawyer:  Rule 1 - Do No Harm

    Wilmington Divorce LawyerPhoto of family going through divorceDivorce and custody cases can be heartbreaking and painful. They are almost always emotionally and legally challenging for all of those involved. Because most divorce and custody cases are emotionally charged disputes, your lawyer must be careful not to add fuel to the fires of conflict. She must listen to your concerns in order to understand the important issues and establish your priorities. She must work to identify solutions and evaluate alternatives. She must fight when it is necessary—and compromise when it is not.

    It is possible to negotiate through a divorce, child custody revision, or request for domestic violence protective orders without poisoning family relationships or destroying a family's finances. When the Wilmington Divorce and Custody Lawyer Ashley Smith at Speaks Law Firm represents you, you can be assured she is committed to achieving your family law objectives without destroying your family.

    Your divorce does not have to be a disaster. We will fight when necessary.  We can also negotiate with your spouse’s attorneys to resolve as many issues as possible through compromise, allowing the parties—rather than a judge—to control the outcome. Call us locally at 910-341-7570 or statewide toll-free at 877-593-4233 to learn how we can help bring your situation to a resolution that will allow your family to move forward in a positive direction even after divorce.

  • How do I know if I have a personal injury case?



    Who will pay for my injuries when another person was careless or negligent? An experienced personal injury lawyer in Wilmington, North Carolina, can help.

    We all have an obligation to each other to act responsibly. We must conduct ourselves in a reasonable and prudent manner. When one of us fails to act responsibly, he or she exposes the rest of us to a risk of injury. If someone is injured because of carelessness of another, the law requires the careless person to pay for the damage that he or she causes.

    Injury does not follow every negligent act. But a momentary lapse of judgment can cause the life of other human beings to be torn apart forever. Whether it is a catastrophic North Carolina traffic crash or an accidental drowning in a Wrightsville Beach pool that was not properly fenced or maintained, some acts of negligence have devastating consequences. Such incidents, caused by another person’s negligence, demand a direct and deliberate response—not only for the sake of justice, but to recover the expenses that follow for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and even funeral expenses.

    The Wilmington personal injury attorneys at Speaks Law Firm are ready to assist you in holding the negligent person and his insurance company responsible. The first step in this process is for you to call us.  Doyou have a case?  Are there additional responsible parties?  What is the most effective way to pursue your claim?  We can help you answer these questions and get the fair compensation to which you are entitled under the law.

  • Should I get a divorce?

    Wilmington Divorce Attorney Ashley Smith

    Is it absolutely necessary?

    When considering divorce, it is important gather information and consider it carefully.  At Speaks Law Firm, we don't encourage divorce. We don't take it lightly. We understand how families are affected. However, if divorce is inevitable, we want you to know what to do in order to protect your assets and your relationships.  

    If you are considering divorce, it is important to ask questions.  Consider alternatives.  Is a divorce going to solve the problems?  Can you and your spouse work through the problems?  Is reconciliation an option?  How will divorce affect your finances and your family? We never want to encourage divorce if a marriage can be saved. However, sometimes divorce is necessary.

    What matters most?

    Divorce and Custody LawyersSometimes divorce is the only way.  When it is, it is important to focus on what is really important to you.  Divorce is confrontational by definition.  You may have to fight to protect your assets or your time  with your kids.  You must protect your relationship with your children.  Sometimes you have to be aggressive. 

    Avoid unnecessary conflicts.

    Wilmington Divorce Lawyer Ashley SmithIt is important to protect these things without causing unnecessary harm.  Many people waste time, energy and money fighting over issues that are not really that important to their core objectives.  Extensive court battles can cause damage to your finances and to your relationships.  It is your lawyer’s responsibility to help you accomplish what is important to you without causing needless conflict or incurring unnecessary expense.

    Create a plan.

    Finding the right divorce attorney can be challenging.  If you have questions call Wilmington Divorce Attorney Ashley Smith. Ashley is lead divorce attorney at Speaks Law Firm.  Her practice is entirely focused on Divorce, Custody and Family Law.

    Ashley can listen to you story.  She can give you practical information about the process and develop a comprehensive plan for your particular circumstances.  She can give you opinions about your best course of action.  This information will empower you by helping you make informed decisions.  Informed decisions produce good results.


  • What causes divorce?

    What Causes Divorce?

    There are lots of different causes for divorce.  Every case is different.  However, in my experience three factors contribute more than most.

    Lawyers identify financial pressure as leading cause of divorce in Wilmington, NC.First, constant disagreement over financial issues causes many marital problems.  Income, expenses, savings, investments and college funds can be sources of dispute.  I find this to be especially true when times are tough.

    The second common cause is when people just grow apart.  Their interests, motivations and expectations change over time.  Sometimes people evolve into people who are different than they were when they got married.  They become interested in different things.  We see this sometimes when one spouse becomes more or less interested in health and fitness or church and faith.

    The third leading cause for divorce in is initial incompatibility.  In other words, sometimes the marriage never made sense from the beginning.  Maybe your spouse just is not who you thought they were.  Maybe they engage in immoral, illegal or unpleasant behavior and you realize that you do not want that type of behavior in your life.

    You may need a lawyer to fight for custody in a divorce.Whatever the cause, if you are facing divorce there are things you must do immediately to protect your family and your access to your children.  Call now to find out what you need to do to prepare (910) 341-7570.

  • I was in an auto wreck that was not my fault. How can I get a fair settlement from the insurance company for the damage to my car after the collision?

    Auto Collision Property Damage Claims

    Auto collisions produce two types of claims.  You may have a claim for property damage resulting from damage to your car.  You may also have a separate claim for personal injury resulting from injuries to your body.  The focus of this article is on the resolution of property damage claims.  There are other articles on this site that are devoted to auto and other injury claims.

    Property damage claims are based upon the principle that people should pay for the damage caused by their mistakes.  A person who causes a wreck by inattention is responsible for paying for the resulting damage.  Most people don’t have money available to pay these types of unanticipated expenses.  The law requires drivers in North Carolina to purchase auto liability insurance coverage.  The insurance will pay for the damages caused by its insured drivers.

    The Adjuster(s)

    The insurance company for the responsible driver will assign an adjuster to each claim.  If there is more than one insurance company involved, there may be more than one adjuster.  Each adjuster involved is responsible for resolving the claims in the way that is best for his or her employer-the insurance company.

    Property Damage

    Property damage claims used to be straightforward and uncomplicated.  The insurance company is responsible for putting you back into the same position financially that you were before the collision.  That means they must pay to have your vehicle repaired or replaced.  They may also be required to pay for a rental car for a reasonable period of time after the collision.

    Like everything, these claims have grown more complicated over time.  Below are some of the issues that arise with increasing frequency regarding property damage after an auto collision?

    • Am I eligible for a rental car?
    • What kind of rental car can I get?
    • How long can I keep the rental car?
    • What about the personal items that remain in my car?
    • I have three kids, are we supposed to squeeze into a compact car?
    • Should my car be repaired or replaced?
    • Where can I take my car for repairs?
    • How do I know that my car will be repaired correctly?
    • What should my insurance pay?
    • What should their insurance pay?
    • My car was severely damaged.  It is worth less money even after repair.  Who pays for that?

    These questions must be addressed at an early stage of the claims process.  Historically property damage claim were usually resolved without incident.  However, your discussions with the adjuster regarding property damage can have dramatic, negative and unexpected consequences.  See the attached article.

    How We Help With Property Damage

    Some of these issues arise in almost every case.  I could write an entire book on how to deal with these issues.  Instead, I would prefer to handle your property damage claim for you.  We can make sure that your property damage claim is resolved fairly.

    The Cost for This Service

    We provide this service (valued at $500.00 or more) for free when we handle your auto injury claim.  We do this so that you will not make any mistakes trying to “do it yourself”.  These mistakes can reduce or eliminate the value of your claim for personal injuries.

    If you have questions about this or anything else relating to your auto injury claim, give us a call at (877) 593-4233.


  • I was injured in a car wreck. Does it matter if the other driver received a traffic citation?

    Most auto collisions are caused by the inattention of one or more of the drivers involved.  The responsible driver is usually cited by the investigating officer.  The citation shows what the responsible driver did to cause the collision.  It is important evidence that shows who is responsible for the collision and why they are responsible.  You and your lawyer should review the citation. 

    Also, the responsible driver will have to address the citation in court.  The responsible driver may pay the citation, go to court himself, or hire a lawyer to go to court for him.  It is also important to review the court file for the citation.  It may contain an admission of liability or other evidence that is helpful to your auto injury claim.

  • I was in a car accident where I hit my head. I have headaches. My wife says it has affected my mood. What is going on?

    I was in a car accident where I hit my head.  I have headaches.  My wife says it has affected my mood.  What is going on?


    We are learning more and more about Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs).  NFL players who have had concussions are having all kinds of problems.  The science, diagnostic procedures and treatment is improving daily.


    Any time there is an impact to your head, you are at risk for a TBI.  Historically, many of these injuries go undiagnosed and cause problems that can last a lifetime.  Now, we all know to look for them.


    TBIs can affect people in different ways.  They can affect your mood, sleep, vision and memory.  They can affect your relationships and your quality of life.  A TBI can affect you in other ways, as well.  These affects can be permanent.


    In an injury case or claim, the important thing to remember is that these types of injuries must be properly diagnosed, documented and treated.  If they are not, it will diminish your claim and your prognosis.  Sometimes brain injuries are missed altogether by medical professionals who are looking for other more visible types of injuries.


    If you were in an auto accident and think you may have a TBI call (877) 593-4233 for more information.