How do Police Reports factor in as Evidence in Your Car Accident Injury Case

How do Police Reports factor in as Evidence in Your Car Accident Injury Case Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

Anytime you have been in an accident that involves injuries, the police will be called to the scene.

Although there might be citations issued at the scene, after police conclude their investigation of the crash and what caused it, there will also be a police report about the accident.

When are police officers dispatched to the scene of a crash?

In some states, police officers are always dispatched to an accident, even if no one is injured. In other cities and states, however, the following circumstances will bring a police officer to the scene:

  • Passengers, drivers and/or bystanders were injured.
  • The crash is obstructing the flow of traffic.
  • The driver or drivers are suspected of driving while intoxicated.
  • The people involved in the crash are fighting or causing a disruption at the scene.

The first thing you should do if you’re injured in a car accident is call 911. The 911 operator will assess whether paramedics and/or police need to be called.

If you’re injured in a car accident, call 911. The dispatcher will ask you questions about the type and extent of your injuries. If she decides the injuries require paramedics, she will dispatch them to the scene, along with the police.

What kind of information will officers gather at the scene of a crash?

Some of the information officers will want to know for their report includes:

  • The date, time and place of the crash
  • Statements from witnesses, drivers and passengers
  • The insurance information and personal information of drivers and passengers
  • A written narrative from the investigating officer saying what happened and what caused the accident
  • Other factors that might have contributed to the crash, such as weather conditions or road hazards
  • Detailed descriptions of any property damage that might have happened as a result of the crash — these could also include photos.
  • Descriptions of the vehicles involved — i.e. year, make, model and color

Typically, police reports are finished within five business days after the crash. You can usually get a copy for a nominal fee.

How does the police report factor into your claim?

Although insurance company claims adjusters will conduct their own investigations — and sometimes they will challenge the findings of the police report — in most cases, the police report is the key document in deciding which party is at fault.

Here’s why:

  • The police officer was at the scene. The insurance adjuster was not.
  • Officers are trained to analyze the crash and all the factors that caused it, particularly which driver was at fault.
  • Police officers generally have more credibility than claims adjusters.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your case. Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today.

Meeting the Burden of Proof in a Car Accident Injury Claim

Meeting the Burden of Proof in a Car Accident Injury Claim Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

If you’ve ever been involved in a car accident with injury, you know there are facts and evidence you have to present to prove your case. This is called the burden of proof — proving to the insurance company, or the judge or jury, that all the allegations you are bringing forth actually happened.

Although car accident injury cases are complicated, fortunately, the burden of proof is lower in civil cases — i.e. car accident claims — than it is for criminal cases, because the civil burden is based on “a preponderance of the evidence” or “more likely than not” that the defendant is liable.

What elements do you have to prove in a car accident injury case?

In order to prevail in your car accident claim, you have to prove that the defendant was negligent. This is done by proving the following four elements of negligence:

  • The defendant had a “duty of care” to the car accident victim.
  • The defendant breached said “duty of care.”
  • The injury was caused by the defendant’s negligent actions.
  • The person filing the claim was injured.

What is duty of care?

Duty of care is a broad term that means someone had an obligation to be cautious and show reasonable care for the plaintiff’s safety.

One obvious example of duty of care is that you are required by law to drive cautiously and safely on the road. If you didn’t do that, you breached your duty of care.

Other ways the duty of care can be breached include:

  • Driving drunk
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Following too closely
  • Texting and driving

If any of those offenses are listed in the accident report, then it’s much easier to establish that the defendant breached his or her duty of care.

Next, the plaintiff — or likely the plaintiff’s experienced personal injury attorney — must prove that the duty of care breach — the defendant’s actions and subsequent vehicle accident — caused injury to the plaintiff.

In other words, the plaintiff has to prove that the injury would not have happened if it weren’t for the accident, and that the injury did not exist before the accident.

Obvious examples of this include a broken foot if a pedestrian is run over by a car. But other times, the direct link between the crash and the injury is harder to prove, especially if the plaintiff had pre-existing health problems — like a back injury — that were exacerbated by the crash.

The last thing you have to prove is that your injuries are real. That’s not a difficult thing to do as long as you have documented medical records, photos and receipts.

No matter how minor or severe you think your injury is, if you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today.

 

Your Car Accident Injury Claim: Settle or Sue in Court?

Your Car Accident Injury Claim- Settle or Sue in Court- Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

It’s fun to imagine a dramatic courtroom and a judge or jury handling your car accident claim, but the reality is that most car accident injury claims are settled without a lawsuit ever being filed — and the ones that are filed don’t usually make it all the way to trial.

Sometimes, it’s necessary and better for the injury victim to go to court and let a judge or jury hear your case. Other times, it’s more practical to pursue a settlement. Each case is different, and there are many factors at play.

What are the advantages to settling your car accident injury claim?

Here are a few pros of settling your claim before filing a lawsuit:

  • You get paid faster.
  • Your attorney costs could be lower — Litigating personal injury cases through the court system is a very costly undertaking. This could affect your settlement amount in the end.
  • You don’t take the chance of a jury or judge not ruling in your favor — i.e. you don’t end up with a settlement amount of 0 dollars.
  • You avoid the headaches of dealing with court hearings, depositions and other elements of a trial — Taking a case all the way to trial is a very long process. We’re talking months, if not years, in some cases. In the meantime, attorneys for the defense will likely do things that will try to “wear you down,” like looking into your personal life and threatening to disclose details in court that you don’t want shared into a public record.
  • You don’t have to deal with the appeals process post-trial — Even if a judge or jury rules in your favor and awards you the amount of money you deserve, the defense can — and often will — file appeals and post-trial motions that could seriously delay you getting your check.

What are the advantages to going to court?

Although most cases settle before court, there are a few advantages to taking your case all the way. These include:

  • You might get more money — If you take your case to a judge or jury and prevail, you might be rewarded with a much higher amount of money than the insurance company would have settled for.
  • You have a better chance of recouping all of your out-of-pocket costs – If a judge or jury rules in your favor, all those little expenses that you did not foresee coming after your accident could be repaid to you.

Ultimately, you should always consult with your attorney before deciding whether to settle or file a lawsuit. He or she is the best person to help you make that decision.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a vehicle accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today.

 

How Long will my Personal Injury Case Take?

How Long will my Personal Injury Case Take- Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

Personal injury cases can take anywhere from months to years to come to an end. Of course, all of this depends on the complexities of your case, the severity of the injuries, and many, many other factors.

Generally speaking, any personal injury case can be settled sooner than later — but you will have to be willing to take a lower payment for your suffering. The question you will have to ask yourself is: How much money are you willing to give up to get a check faster?

Why do personal injury cases take so long?

Personal injury cases can move at a snail’s pace for several reasons, the main ones being:

  • There are questions about facts and/or legalities of your case – What kind of issues? It could be that it is increasingly difficult to prove which party is liable for the damages, which means that insurance companies are going to hold off on offering a decent settlement amount for as long as possible. If there are legal problems – i.e. the defense is arguing that you are not entitled to go after damages – then once again, the insurance company will not make a decent offer until a judge or jury has weighed in. In some cases, there can be conflicting reports about the actual damages, such as whether the accident was the cause of the injury. This is another instance when insurance companies will be hesitant to offer a fair amount.
  • The amount of money in question is a very large sum of cash – No matter how obvious the negligence is, if the settlement amount is extremely big, no insurance company will cut such a large check without first exploring every single avenue for paying you less. If they cannot find a legitimate reason to pay you less money, sometimes the insurance company will delay the case repeatedly, just to wear the plaintiff down in an effort to get you to accept less money. This is why it’s so important that you have an experienced personal injury attorney.
  • Your status has not reached “maximum medical improvement” – Maximum medical improvement is when a doctor determines that a person’s medical condition cannot improve anymore than it already has, or the injured person has reached a plateau in the process.

If any of the above factors are at play, you’re just going to have to be patient and wait for things to be resolved. If not, you will be forced to settle for “pennies on the dollar.”

Don’t let the complexities of your personal injury case get in the way of getting the amount of money you deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today.

 

Types of Compensation for a Spinal Cord Injury

Types of Compensation for a Spinal Cord Injury Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

Spinal cord injuries are among the worst types of injuries because they are almost always complicated — and severe. A spinal cord injury will most likely affect you and your loved ones for the rest of your life.

The costs associated with a spinal cord injury are hard to fathom: The Christopher and Dave Reeve Foundation estimates that a 25-year-old person with a severe spinal cord injury could incur anywhere between $2 million and $4.5 million in expenses over the course of his or her life.

What are the costs associated with spinal cord injuries?

There are several costs that can be incurred with a spinal cord injury. These include:

  • Medical care – This can mean hospitalization, doctor’s visits, consultations, surgeries, prescriptions, home health care, wheelchairs, and much more. This can also include long-term injuries that are related to the spinal cord injury, such as bedsores, bladder infections and other illnesses. This can all add up very quickly.
  • Caregiver – If you hire a home health care professional to care for the victim of a spinal cord injury, then you can expect to pay a lot of money for that service, typically between $15 and $25 an hour. If a friend or family member is the one giving the care, that person will also likely lose income due to not being able to work full-time.
  • Loss of earning capacity – If you are permanently disabled from your spinal cord injury, your ability to work full-time and make a living is greatly diminished. This can have a big impact on your finances.
  • Alternative treatments – Often, spinal cord injuries lead to alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, chiropractors and massage. These are all additional expenses that you might not have planned for.

What types of compensation should you seek after a spinal cord injury?

If you sustained a spinal cord injury because of a business’s or someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to recoup all of the above expenses — medical, caregiving, loss of earning capacity, diminished quality of life, alternative treatments — plus more. These include:

  • Making adaptations to your home — like wheelchair lifts and ramps, widened doors, bathroom adaptations – or moving to a home or facility that will better suit your long-term needs.
  • To make sure you are compensated not only for the past income you have lost, but for future income as well.
  • Any and all costs associated with living the best, most independent life possible.

Spinal cord injuries are anything but easy, and that’s where an experienced spinal cord injury attorney comes in. If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury, contact Robert Armstrong’s office for help.  

The Dangers of Do It Yourself Accident Claims

do it yourself accident claims Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

If you’ve been in a car accident and were not seriously injured, or the damages to your vehicle weren’t very severe, you might start thinking about whether you can handle the insurance claim yourself, or if you need to hire a lawyer.

While it’s true that some car accidents are minor enough to not need a lawyer, you should think long and hard before you decide to go at it alone.

What are the dangers of representing yourself in a car accident claim?

Here are just a few of the downsides to settling a personal injury/car accident claim yourself:

  • You have to learn A LOT about the legal and insurance fields: Do you know all the terminology associated with insurance claims? If you don’t, then you’ll have to learn, and quickly. Do you know the ins and outs of medical billing, medical costs and how to factor in any future injuries that may arise? Do you know all of the regulations associated with medical liens? If not, then you probably want to consult with an attorney. And what if you learn everything there is to know about insurance companies, and then they still won’t pay you the amount you deserve? If that happens, you will have to file a lawsuit, and are you prepared to do that without a lawyer? Disputed liability is something that happens all the time in car accident claims, especially when the victim doesn’t have an experienced legal advocate working on their behalf.
  • Paying out of pocket for expenses related to your case: Typically, personal injury attorneys cover the everyday expenses of your claim, from copies to police reports and lots of other small hidden costs, then subtract that amount from your overall settlement amount after the case is closed. These costs can all add up very fast, and if you are handling the case yourself, you will be responsible for those upfront expenses.
  • Less money: Attorneys have years of experience in analyzing the particulars of a personal injury case, and they know when and where to look for more money. They are also expert negotiators who know when it’s best to settle and when it’s best to battle it out in court. Often, you will get much less money when you represent yourself.

 

While it’s true that some cases are more complicated than others and some require less work than others, the money you save by not hiring an experienced personal injury attorney could end up costing you more in the long run.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today.

 

Pedestrian Accidents: Can the Pedestrian Ever be Liable?

pedestrian accidents Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

When it comes to pedestrian accidents, people often assume that it’s almost always the  driver’s fault because of the old maxim, “The pedestrian has the right of way.” That’s not always correct, by the way, and there are several situations in which the pedestrian can be at fault — either totally at fault or partially at fault.

Of course, if you are a pedestrian and you’re hit by a vehicle and the accident wasn’t your fault at all, you will likely be able to recover damages for any injuries you might have sustained.

What are some common scenarios in which a pedestrian can be liable?

Have you ever heard the ice cream truck coming down the street and ran toward it without looking both ways? What if there was a vehicle coming and you didn’t see it? That’s just one instance in which you, the pedestrian, could be at fault for a pedestrian accident if that vehicle were to hit you.

Here are some more:

  • Ignoring the crosswalk traffic signal, as in crossing the street while the crosswalk signal says “Do Not “Walk” or has a large hand signaling for you to stop.
  • Walking in the street while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
  • Jaywalking – the act of crossing in the middle of a street without going to a crosswalk.
  • Walking along interstates, overpasses or other major roadways where pedestrians are not allowed.

In all of the above situations, there’s a good chance that the driver also shares some of the blame because he or she was traveling too fast, was not paying attention, or didn’t stop in time because of some other circumstance.

What if the pedestrian and the driver share fault?

In most states, if the driver and the pedestrian are both to blame for the accident, then an insurance company, or a judge or jury, will determine the percentage of fault for each person involved and base recovery of damages on that percentage.

North Carolina, unfortunately, is not most states. North Carolina is one of only four states and the District of Columbia to follow the contributory negligence rule, which means that even if the pedestrian is only 1 percent at fault for the accident, he or she is not legally able to recover a penny from the other person’s insurance company. Essentially, it’s an “all or none” regulation.

In sum, pedestrian accidents are not all black and white, and the cases can get very complicated very quickly. That’s why it’s so important that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney like Robert Armstrong. Contact his office today for help.

 

Common Reasons for Personal Injury Claim Denial

personal injury claim denial Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina (1)

If you’ve been injured in an accident and the other driver was at fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will do everything it can to give you as little money as possible. Unfortunately, that’s just the way insurance companies work.

Here are some common reasons why insurance companies could try to deny your claims:

  • The insurance company places you at fault for the accident – Even if you know you weren’t at fault, if there is no citation from police, then proving liability is made more difficult. If it’s your word against the other driver, then the insurance company will most likely deny your claim and maintain that you were the one to blame for the crash.
  • The accident was not serious enough for bodily injury – Often, an insurance company will deny a claim because the insurance company alleges that the impact and the speed factors in the crash were too low for you to claim that you were hurt. In other words, they think you are exaggerating or lying about the extent of your injuries, particularly if your injury is a sprained neck or whiplash. When this happens, a special team of investigators is called in to try to find evidence that proves you have been dishonest so the insurance company can deny your claim. That’s why it’s so important for you to keep impeccable medical records and transcripts of conversations with doctors.
  • The person who caused the crash was not a permitted driver on the insurance policy – Most insurance companies make drivers list on their policies the names of people who are authorized to drive the car. If someone who is not on the approved list of drivers causes a crash while driving, then the insurance company can try to deny the claim because the driver — even though he or she caused the accident — was not covered under the insurance policy.
  • The person injured waited to seek medical treatment – It’s always a good idea to see a doctor after a car accident, and it’s best if you do it as soon as possible if you sustained an injury in the accident – no matter how minor it may seem at the time. If you wait months to see a doctor, the insurance company will try to attack your credibility and deny your claim based on the fact that you waited too long. In other words, the insurance company will, again, accuse you of lying.

There are many other reasons why insurance companies will deny your personal injury claims, which is why it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney like Robert Armstrong to stop the insurance companies from wrongfully denying your claim.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today.

 

 

 

What Happens in Car Accident Cases With Multiple Defendants?

Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

Car accident cases are almost always complicated in some way, but when there are multiple cars involved — or multiple parties involved in the claims process — it gets even more convoluted.

This is especially true in North Carolina, which is one of only four states and the District of Columbia that follows the pure contributory negligence rule. Alabama, Maryland and Virginia are the other three.

What is the contributory negligence rule?

  • In North Carolina, if a judge determines that you are at fault in any manner — even if you are just 1 percent at fault for the car accident — you cannot recover a penny in damages from the other party, even if the other party is 99 percent at fault.
  • In most states, the comparative negligence rule is followed, which allots percentages of fault to each party and determines the amount of the damages based on the percentage of fault.

If there are multiple cars or multiple defendants involved in the case, the chance that there are multiple people at fault increases. If you are determined to have no fault, then you will be able to seek damages from all the parties that were determined to be at fault.

What is vicarious liability?

One thing you might encounter if you’re involved in a car accident case with multiple defendants is vicarious liability. What’s that?

  • Vicarious liability is when one person, business or entity assumes liability for the actions of someone else. For example, in a car accident involving a company vehicle, if the person driving the company vehicle is at fault, the company would assume liability for the crash. Often, though, an experienced personal injury attorney will go after both the driver and the company.

 

What happens when multiple people are at fault?

When multiple people caused the accident, then if you are 0 percent at fault, your personal injury attorney can go after all of the other people who caused the accident.

But there are also downsides to having multiple defendants:

  • Multiple defendants often means multiple defense lawyers, which always makes things more complicated.
  • If there are multiple defense lawyers, there are multiple angles by which they will try to discredit you and give you less than you deserve — or nothing at all.

If you have been involved in an accident and there are multiple defendants involved, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced personal injury law firm like Robert Armstrong’s office, immediately.

Cases involving multiple defendants take a lot more time, preparation and expertise, and without that expertise, you could be missing out on the money you are owed.

Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help.

 

Traumatic Brain Injuries signs and symptoms

traumatic brain injury signs and symptoms Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina (1)

If you’ve ever been in a serious automobile or motorcycle accident, it’s normal to feel off-kilter and out of sorts right after the crash. But how can you tell if that state of confusion stems from a traumatic brain injury?

You’ll need a doctor to determine that, but there are some signs and symptoms you should be on the lookout for in the days and weeks following your accident.

What are the symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury?

If you have a feeling of disorientation, headache or confusion after your injury this could be classified as a mild traumatic brain injury, which is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. The Center for Disease Control clearly states that a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury.

Here are the wide range of symptoms that are associated with mild traumatic brain injury:

  • Being unconscious – either for a few seconds or up to a few minutes
  • Feeling disoriented, confused and dazed
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness and fatigue, wanting or needing to sleep more
  • Feeling off-balance or woozy
  • Blurred vision
  • Strange or foul taste in your mouth
  • Feeling sensitive to light and/or sound
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss or trouble concentrating

If you experienced any of the above symptoms after an automobile accident, you should seek medical care as soon as possible, within one to two days of the injury.

What are the symptoms of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury?

To be classified a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury, you could have experienced any of the symptoms associated with a mild brain injury, in addition to the following troublesome signs:

  • Being unconscious for several minutes or several hours

  • Headache that won’t go away or gets worse over time
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Dilated eye pupils
  • Loss of feeling or numbness in your fingers and toes
  • Unable to wake up from sleeping
  • Drainage in the ears or nose
  • Extreme confusion
  • Slurred words
  • Feelings of anger and aggravation

 

Keep in mind that the “mild,” “moderate,” and “severe” descriptions of brain injuries are there to portray the level of impact the injury will have on your brain’s ability to function. Even if it’s considered a mild traumatic brain injury, your ability to function as you once did may be compromised and you should still seek prompt medical care.

If left unchecked, the temporary symptoms listed above could worsen or become permanent. People older than 65 are at an increased risk of brain injury after an accident, as are patients who are on blood-thinning medications.

If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury from an automobile or motorcycle accident, contact experienced personal injury attorney Robert Armstrong today.