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

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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.

Should You Handle Your Own Personal Injury Claim or Hire a Lawyer?

Should You Handle Your Own Personal Injury Claim or Hire a Lawyer? Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

It’s the moment no one is waiting for. You’re on your way to somewhere important, and then you get injured in a car accident.

What to do now? Do you hire a lawyer? Do you settle the claim on your own? These are complicated questions. There are a few benefits to settling the claim yourself if it’s a very minor accident with very little injury involved, but even in those cases, taking the case on your own without the guidance of an attorney is risky.

Saving the money on legal fees could end up costing you more in the end if you don’t have an experienced advocate handling all the convoluted details and advocating on your behalf. Keep in mind that an insurance company has lots of lawyers on staff who are trained to figure out how to pay you the least amount of money possible.

When should you hire an attorney for a personal injury claim?

It’s imperative that you hire a personal injury attorney if you have the following conditions:

  • Severe injuries
  • Expensive medical bills
  • Lost wages because of time off work and other factors caused by your injuries

How are your injuries measured?

So, you’ve been injured, but you don’t know if they’re considered severe. That’s one sign that you should consult with an attorney. Here’s how your injuries are measured:

  • What type of injury did you suffer? (Head injury, traumatic brain injury, broken bone, coma, etc.)
  • How long did it take you to recover?
  • How much do your medical bills cost? Will there be other medical costs in the future because of this injury?
  • Is your injury long-term? One that lasts for a year or longer? Have you been permanently disabled and are no longer able to work?
  • How has your quality of life been impacted by this accident and injury?

These are all factors that will determine the severity of your injury in terms of an insurance claim, and the more serious the injuries, the more complicated the case gets.

What can insurance companies do to try to avoid paying you?

Without a lawyer, insurance companies have several methods for denying you what you are owed. These include:

  • Disputed liability – This happens when an insurance company disputes the liability of the person you are filing a claim against. In other words, the insurance company can claim that the person they insure is not at fault, or they can say that there’s not enough evidence to prove otherwise.
  • Refusal of payment – This can be different than disputed liability. Sometimes, the insurance company will refuse to offer a settlement amount, instead forcing you to sue them and take them to court. Without a lawyer, you will have to represent yourself in a civil claim.

 

For all of these reasons and more, if you are injured in an automobile accident, it’s best that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney like Robert Armstrong. Contact his office today.

 

Understanding your accident report

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If you’ve ever been in an accident, you might have had to read your accident report that follows. It can seem like a daunting document, especially if you’re not versed in the lingo of traffic reports.

You might have some questions about accident reports, and hopefully, we have some answers for you right here.

First, you must understand that the report really contains two documents. It is all contained in the NC DMV-349. It contains a code form which explains all of the numbers in each little box along with another form listing parties, description of wreck and diagram of the occurrence.

Who is at-fault? Is anyone at-fault?

In most cases, you’ll see on the accident report a listing of which driver was at fault, even if no one received a citation. Sometimes, though rarely, the officer cannot determine who caused the accident, so he or she will place the blame on both drivers – or none of the drivers.

If an officer does not determine fault, it can be bad news for both drivers. If you only have liability coverage on your vehicle, then your insurance company won’t cover the costs of the property damage.

Contributing factors

This part of the accident report will list which factors caused the crash. It can either be listed in the form of a number or a written explanation:

  • In many instances, if you have a “0”or nothing in the box that lists the contributing factors, then you didn’t do anything that caused the accident.
  • If there’s anything other than a “0” or nothing at all, then you likely played some part, if not all parts, in causing the crash.
  • Contributing factors help to determine liability if citations aren’t issued at the scene.

Where are citations found in the report?

The citations section of the accident report will list and describe any tickets — or citations — that were given in connection with the crash. This can be done with a citation code or a written explanation – or sometimes both. If you were given a citation but don’t believe you were at fault, you can fight the ticket in traffic court or consult with an experienced attorney to handle your case.

Is your name listed on the accident report?

The drivers of the vehicles involved in the crash will be listed high up on the accident report, but if you are a passenger, your name might not show up until much later in the report – or sometimes not at all.

This is one of many reasons why it’s so important to get a copy of the accident report as soon as it is available. Make sure all passengers in the vehicle are listed on the accident report. If anything on the report is incorrect, or if there are names missing, you’ll need to talk with the police department to try to get your accident report amended.

Accident reports are critical documents that insurance companies and personal injury attorneys use to build their cases. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, contact the law office of Robert Armstrong today.