Do your personal injury medical records have red flag? What are they?

Do your personal injury medical records have red flag- - Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

Unfortunately, when it comes to personal injury claims against insurance companies, insurance companies will always try to offer you less money than you deserve to compensate you for injuries you sustained in a car accident. That’s just the way the insurance business works.

An experienced personal injury attorney like Robert Armstrong will work tirelessly to make the insurance companies pay what they owe, but often there are “red flags”  that insurance companies look for in your medical records as a way to justify paying you less money.

What are some of the red flags that insurance companies will identify?

There are several factors that come into play when insurance companies examine your medical records. Red flags include:

  • Degenerative changes – Degenerative means that your symptoms are chronic and that your condition continues to deteriorate or is irreversible. If your symptoms are degenerative, it will usually show up on tests like MRIs and X-rays. Typically, degenerative conditions are caused simply by the aging process, but degenerative changes could start to appear in your body as early as your 20s, so degenerative characteristics could realistically show up on almost anyone’s imaging tests. Insurance adjusters are quick to point out soft tissue injuries and claim that they are degenerative changes and not the direct result of a car accident. With the help of a good lawyer and the honest testimony of a medical professional, it could be proven that you weren’t having any discomfort or symptoms before the crash, even if there are degenerative signs that show up on your MRI or X-ray.
  • Pre-existing conditions – If you broke your arm in a car accident, and it just so happens that you broke the same arm in a skateboarding accident two years ago, an insurance adjuster could try to link your current pain and aftermath of the injury to your last painful injury. The same could hold true for prior car accidents, slip-and-falls, or any other pre-existing injury. That’s why it’s so important to have the testimony of a doctor or other medical professional.
  • Treatment gaps – If your doctor recommends that you go to physical therapy once a week, and records show that you consistently miss appointments and aren’t following your doctor’s orders, it could be a big red flag for the insurance adjuster. It’s common for crash victims to try to heal on their own without having the inconvenience of seeking medical treatment, but it’s important you don’t do that. Remember that an insurance company will do everything in its power to try to prove that you haven’t been completely honest and forthcoming about your injuries. Don’t give them any leeway.

There are many other red flags that could show up on your medical records, but with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney you can still get the settlement you deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help.

Do you need a witness to prove an auto accident case?

Do you need a witness to prove an auto accident case- - Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

If you were in an accident and it wasn’t your fault, how do you prove that someone else was to blame? You need evidence to prove that you’re telling the truth, and witnesses are an extremely valuable tool in helping you and your lawyer build your case.

Can you still prove your case without a witness? Certainly. But it’s a little harder to do, and there are steps you need to take immediately after the crash to help yourself obtain evidence.

What do you do when you have witnesses?

If someone at the scene saw what happened, that’s great news! It’s a much easier case to prove if you have a witness on your side. What’s even better is if the witness happened to get pictures or video of the crash.

Here’s what you should do at the scene if you are not seriously injured and are able to do so:

  • Make sure you ask any and all witnesses to recall every single detail about what they saw.
  • Record all of their statements
  • Get their names and contact information so they can be contacted later about the case.

What do you do when there are no witnesses to the accident?

If no one was around and no one saw the accident, you should take the following steps immediately after the crash, provided you are not seriously injured and are able to do so:

  • Get out your camera phone, and start taking pictures of everything. Is there broken glass? Snap a picture. Tire marks on the road? Snap a picture. Anything and everything that might help your case, snap a picture.
  • If you are injured and stuck in one place, then record yourself and describe your injuries, recount what happened, and talk about the pain and what you’re feeling at the scene.

It may seem like an odd place and time to be snapping pictures and recording yourself, but the more evidence, pictures and recordings you have, the better the chances of you getting the amount of money you deserve when you pursue your claim.

Plus, it will help you to keep your story consistent as time goes by.

What’s the most important thing you can do after an accident?

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident and it wasn’t your fault, the most important thing you can do for yourself or your loved one is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle your case. Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help.b

Should Your Car Accident Claim Include Pain and Suffering?

Should Your Car Accident Claim Include Pain and Suffering- Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

You might have heard the term “pain and suffering” in association with lawsuits, but what is it — and is it prudent to go for pain and suffering in your car accident claim?

Pain and suffering is a legal word that describes a wide range of injuries you might have suffered if you were in a car accident. That’s not just physical pain. It could also include emotional and mental trauma, like losing sleep, depression, worry, inconvenience and loss of quality of life.

Pain and suffering is included in the “non-economic” side of damages, i.e., it’s not easily seen on paper in the form of medical bills, lost income, the cost to fix your car or buy a new one, and other things like that.

Pain and suffering isn’t an easy thing to calculate. How do you put a number on emotional distress, anxiety and fear? Although there’s no written statute on how exactly it is determined, there are ways that it can be factored in, and with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney you should receive a fair amount of money for your pain.

What factors are considered in pain and suffering?

Here are some of the things insurance adjusters, lawyers and judges look at when calculating pain and suffering:

  • How severe were your injuries?
  • How much physical pain and overall discomfort are typically associated with your injuries?
  • How have your injuries affected your life? Are you unable to play sports? Are you unable to be a good partner in your relationship? Does your injury prevent you from your hobbies?
  • How long will it take you to completely heal from your injuries?
  • Are you on pain medication for the long-term, or are you required to have long-term physical therapy?

What methods do adjusters and lawyers use to determine pain and suffering?

There are two popular methods that lawyers and insurance adjusters use to calculate a starting point for pain and suffering:

  • Per-diem – they set a dollar amount for each and every day you lived in pain
  • Multiplier – this is a number based on your economic damages — a multiple of your medical bills and lost income.

How do you negotiate a higher amount of pain and suffering?

Getting the most for your injuries, as well as your pain and suffering, is a job best left up to an experienced personal injury attorney. He or she is able to better gauge the severity of your injuries and the potential monetary value of your pain and suffering.

These monetary awards can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. There’s a lot at stake.

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

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.