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 burned in a fire. How do I know if I have a case against the landlord or the property owner?

    Landlords, property owners, and others who are in control of property have a responsibility to maintain the premises in a safe condition.  That means they may be responsible if you are injured by a dangerous condition or their failure to warn of a dangerous condition.

     

    If you have been injured in a fire, you may have a claim against the property owner’s insurance policy for your medical bills, future medical bills, loss of income, loss of use, scarring, pain and suffering, and other damages.

     

    Watch out for this:

     

    A few months ago, a guy called about a fire in his rental house.  He had been asking his landlord for months to check on the wiring.  He had told his landlord there was a problem.  The landlord sent a handy-man and never fixed the problem.

     

    There was a fire.  The guy was lucky to escape with his family and his life.  But, he was injured.

     

    I asked him to come in immediately for a consultation.  He politely declined.  He had a friend who is a lawyer.  That lawyer had given him some “pointers”.  He submitted a claim on his own.

     

    He called back this week.  This insurance company denied the claim.  The lawyer did not know about fire cases.  The fire report was wrong.  No one had collected the evidence that was necessary to pursue the claim.  The restoration company had started (and in this case had finished) the clean up.

     

    I had to tell him it was too late.  At this point, the mistakes could not be fixed.  The insurance company has made a final determination and the evidence that might make them reconsider has been destroyed.

     

    It is possible to hire an expert to review the report and recreate the investigation.  However, the fact that the expert never saw the building after the fire will always be a basis for discounting his or her opinion.

     

    The law can be tricky.  The insurance adjuster will closely examine the fire report and other evidence in an effort to deny your claim.  Evidence will be destroyed by the clean-up efforts.  You should contact us immediately if you think you have a claim.

  • 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 is a TBI and will it affect my injury claim?

    TBI is a traumatic brain injury.  It typically results from trauma or impact to the head but can be caused by other means.  It can result from an open or closed head injury.

    TBIs can affect people in may different ways, such as:

    • mood swings
    • aggressive behavior
    • violent outbursts
    • memory problems
    • sleep problems
    • speech problems
    • vision problems
    • personality changes
    • seizures, and
    • other problems

    These problems can be life-changing for victims and their famillies.  People who suffer from TBI may not be able to return to work, may need daily or long-term care and may require additional support and services.  This reduction in income and increase in expense can be difficult for the strongest individuals and families.

    Get the Compensation that you will need and that you deserve.

    These are difficult cases.  You will need money to offset the lost income and to pay for these important services in order for your family to survive in the coming months and years.

    Speaks Law Firm helps injured people get through difficult times in their lives.  Our North Carolina traumatic brain injury lawyers and attorneys know personal injury law in auto negligence and premises liability cases.  We know how to get the compensation that you and your family will need after a traumatic brain injury.  Clarke Speaks is the author of The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, has experience working for insurance companies, has been a speaker at events for the North Carolina Bar Association and has represented people with serious injuries for almost 20 years.

    Call us at (877) 593-4233 or (910) 341-7570 and put our knowledge, skill and commitment to work for you.

  • 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.

     

  • What is your lawyer thinking in a serious injury case?

    What is different about a serious injury cases from your lawyer's perspective?

    It is raining.  I am driving in 5 o’clock traffic in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I’ll call you back,” I say to the person on the phone as my GPS directs me to the visitor’s parking lot.

    As I get closer to the hospital, I am forced to accept the reality of the situation .  After years of doing this, you would think it gets easier.  It does not.  Speaking to the family of someone who has been seriously injured in an accident is always a difficult thing to do.

    There is a part of me that wants to keep driving.  But, I know they need help, and they need it now.  There will be a wife, a daughter, or a parent who will be asking me what to do.  They will want me to tell them that everything will be ok.  I can’t tell them that, yet.

    Finally, I reach the parking area.  I get my bag, my identification, and cell phone (camera).  A family member meets me in the lobby.  We clear security.  I meet other family members, and we find a place to talk.

    I am always amazed by these trauma centers.  The people that work there deal with life and death everyday.  In my experience, these people are real pros.  They are singularly focused on giving a child back to a parent or a parent back to a child.  They all rush around with the same expression, “This person may die someday.  Just not today!”  I try to stay out of their way so they can do their jobs.

    I meet the family.  There are several of them here.  This time, it is a wife and two young children.  The wife already knows.  The kids don’t.  Dad is not coming home.

    It is always tough with kids.  Young kids know something is wrong, but they don’t understand the long-term implications.  They are concerned, but the family is here and they are in a big building with lots of people.  They are kind of excited like when they stay in a hotel.

    We find a place to talk.  The family wants to know, “Is this going to turn out ok?!”  I want to tell them, “Yes!”  I want to put my arms around them and say, “Absolutely!  Everything is going to be just fine.”  But, I can’t say that.

    That is the hard part; the part I dread.  They will depend on the words that I say and I can’t say something that I do not know to be true.  The truth is that I don’t know if everything is going to be fine.  Not being able to tell them everything will be fine is gut-wrenching.  I can feel some of what they feel.  That is my gift and my curse.

    I am not a doctor.  I can’t make injured or dying people better.  I can pray. I have already done that.  I cannot deal with any of the medical problems that this family will face. However, this family will face more than medical problems.  They will face financial problems, as well.

    When a person is seriously injured, financial pressure starts immediately. The course of treatment may be affected by the source of payment.  Care that saves lives (or tries its best) costs money; lots of money.

    And, that’s not all.  What about other financial challenges?  What about future medical expenses for surgeries, therapy, and long-term care?  What happens if it is a child who is injured?  The child may out-live the parents but need continued care.  What happens then?  What happens if it is a father?  Rent is going to be due on the 1st.  There will be car payments, electric bills, phone bills, and lunch money.  The list goes on and on.  The economic challenges that are presented by a serious injury are real, and they are immediate.

    I think about my own family.  What would I do?  What would I be feeling?  I picture my life without my kids or theirs without me.  “Snap out of it,” I think to myself.  “This is not about you.  You have a job to do.”

    I need information.  I need to know:  What happened?  Who was there? What evidence is still available?  “Darn!  It is raining.  That could complicate things,” I think to myself.  Was there an investigative report from the police, fire department, ATF, or some other agency?  The injured person was working. That could be good.  “Please, God! Let there be insurance.  Maybe we can access a general liability, a homeowner’s, a workers compensation, or auto policy?  If there is insurance, I can help.  Then it will defend on the evidence, the documentation and the policy limits.”

    I need documentation.  I need investigative reports and witness statements.  “Did anyone in the family make a statement?”  “I wish they had called me, first.  I know that months from now a team of lawyers will analyze every word.  I have been on that team,” I think to myself.

    I need photographs, lots of photographs.  I need photographs of the injured person, the family and the site of the injury.  I will need photographs of any equipment or machinery involved.  The experts will need photographs in order to complete their reports.  I need contact information for the witnesses, employers, family members, and investigators.

    I have paperwork.  I need to get it signed.  I need authorization to work.  I need to talk with you about fees and expenses.  You only have to pay us if we recover money for your family.  I need for you to understand this information, even at this difficult time.  I need medical releases so that I can get more documentation.  I need to take mental notes.  I am going to need to tell the story of this loss; of what it means to this family, and it needs to be good.

    For more information about the biggest mistakes people make in auto and other 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.