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.

 

10 Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid in Personal Injury Claims

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Negotiating personal injury claims is a very tricky business that’s typically best left to an experienced personal injury lawyer.

But even if you have an attorney — and you should! — there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to negotiating with insurance companies.

Here are 10 mistakes that could hurt you in the end:

1. Giving a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company — This is something you should never do, unless you have your lawyer with you when you give a statement. It might seem like an innocuous task, especially if you weren’t at fault, but insurance adjusters are trained to interview you in a manner that might make you say something to negatively impact your claim.

2. Lying to the insurance company — This also sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s important to note. You should always be completely honest when you give information to both your insurance company and the insurance company of the other party.

3. Giving the other party your insurance records too early in the claims process — A good lawyer will advise you not to release your medical records before you are almost done with your medical treatment. This is because your injuries could get worse or change over time, and you don’t want the claims adjustor to have an incomplete file when it comes to your medical problems.

4. Exaggerating your injuries — If you are injured and you have someone helping you with the claims process, then you will get the award you deserve without having to stretch the truth on the extent of your injuries.

5. Talking about pre-existing conditions or injuries with the insurance company

6. Trying to answer every question, even if you don’t necessarily know the right answer.

7. Letting claims adjusters get informal with you — No matter how innocent it seems, you should never have “off-the-record” conversations with a claims adjuster. It’s called “letting your guard down,” and it’s exactly what they want you to do.

8. Using red-flag terms with adjusters — Be very careful when choosing which words you use with the insurance company. Words to avoid include whiplash and other medical terms. Don’t use them without a proper medical diagnosis. Also, don’t talk about complex legal terms like negligence if you are not a licensed attorney.

9. Giving out your social security number or contact information for friends and family to an insurance adjuster.

10. Assuming your claim will be accepted without a lawsuit — Sometimes, a claim can be settled without having to file a lawsuit. But often, that’s not the case.

This is why it’s so crucial to have a solid personal injury attorney on your side. If you or someone you love has been in an accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today.

 

 

 

June National Safety Month

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June is National Safety Month, according to the National Safety Council, which makes it a perfect time to talk about road safety topics that often lead to personal injury cases for lawyers.

What are the dangers of impaired driving?

Driving drunk or under the influence of drugs is not only illegal, it’s extremely dangerous. If you are in an accident and it is discovered that you are impaired, the consequences can be very serious.

Here are some statistics about drunk driving:

  • Someone who has a blood alcohol concentration, also known as BAC, of .10 or higher is seven times more likely to cause a fatal car crash than a driver who is sober. That number increases to 25 times more likely if the driver has a BAC of .15 or more.
  • If you drink two beers and weigh about 160 pounds, your BAC will be somewhere around .04. That’s lower than the legal limit for drinking and driving, but you are still 1.4 times more likely to cause an accident than someone who had zero beers.
  • Studies have shown that people begin to lose their ability to see moving objects properly with as little as a .02 BAC.
  • If you are arrested and convicted on a drunk driving charge, you can expect to pay anywhere between $9,000 and $24,000 before it’s all said and done, and that doesn’t include damages to people you have injured in a crash.

How can you avoid distracted driving?

As smartphones continue to rise in popularity, so do the number of accidents that are caused by distracted driving. Here are some tips to help you stay focused when you’re behind the wheel:

  • Limit cell phone use to ONLY emergency situations: The only time you should pick up your cell phone while you’re driving is if it’s an emergency. Otherwise, keep it out of sight and out of mind until you get to where you’re going.
  • Don’t drive when you’re tired: Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, and there’s no reason for you to push forward when your eyes start to droop. Pull over and rest until you’re fresh enough to hit the highway and stay alert.
  • Try not to fill your car with passengers and loud music: Having a car full of people can distract you from the obstacles at hand while driving. Try to limit the number of people in your car. And turn the blaring music down!

Tips for avoiding car accidents

We all know that accidents can happen. That is, after all, why they are called accidents.

But there are some things you can do while driving to avoid them. Here are some tips:

  • Try to stay away from the “fast lane” – Often, if you are driving in the far left lane and something happens, you have fewer options for avoiding the obstacle or swerving into another lane to miss being hit.
  • Be aware of blind spots  – You can’t put all of your faith into rear and sideview mirrors. Always turn and look into the lane you are trying to enter.
  • Maintain your vehicle – Bad tires, old belts and other car ailments can equal disasters on the road if they’re not taken care of. Don’t let yourself become a statistic because you waited too long to buy new tires or take care of other problems with your vehicle.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact the law office of Robert Armstrong today for help.

5 tips for choosing the best personal injury lawyer

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Perhaps the most important task you have after an accident with injury is choosing the personal injury lawyer in North Carolina who is right for you. After all, so much depends on it.

Here are some tips for selecting the best personal injury attorney:

  • Experience – It may seem obvious, but it’s crucial that you choose an attorney who has ample experience in investigating and analyzing all aspects of your claim. He or she will know exactly what to look for, where to find it, and knows that the minute details can make or break your case. Robert Armstrong has 32 years of experience in personal injury cases.
  • Area of focus – Some personal injury lawyers may specialize in big rig accidents, while others may focus on motorcycle or other types of motor vehicle accidents. It’s important that you pick an attorney who’s well-versed in the type of accident for which you have a claim. It’s said that about 95 percent of personal injury claims are settled without a judge or jury, so it’s key that your lawyer understands the many factors at play. A family mortgage attorney or a corporate litigator won’t cut it for these types of cases. Robert Armstrong has handled only personal injury cases for his entire 32-year career.
  • Reputation – Is your attorney well-known, or is your lawyer infamous? Your attorney’s reputation will factor heavily into dealing with insurance companies, other lawyers, judges and court officials. Someone who has been kicked out of courtrooms for bad behavior or doesn’t play nice with others probably isn’t the best lawyer to handle your case. You need someone who is well-respected with a track record of getting fair settlements for his or her clients.
  • Disciplinary record – How many complaints does your potential lawyer have against him or her? Has he or she ever been disciplined for actions or behavior while practicing? Has your attorney ever been suspended? Disbarred? You can typically find all of this information online in a searchable database.
  • Personality – He or she might be the best lawyer out there, but if you and your attorney don’t mesh well or can’t get along, then you might want to find someone else. Also, you need an attorney who is willing to return your phone calls and answer specific questions about your case. You don’t need to be best friends with your attorney, but you do need to have a good working relationship.

Hiring a personal injury attorney is a key step in recovering all the money you deserve after an experience as traumatic as an accident. Be sure to follow these steps in selecting the right attorney for you. If you or someone you love has been in an accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help.

What is Contributory Negligence?

What is Contributory Negligence Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

If you are involved in a vehicle or other type of accident, the term contributory negligence might come up.

Contributory negligence is how the legal community describes the actions of an injured person who may have played a part in causing his or her own injury.

For example: if you are hit by a car while riding your bicycle, but you were riding on the wrong side of the road, then you could share in the blame for the accident, and your compensation could be affected.

Another example would be if you are dining in a restaurant and have a severe peanut allergy, but fail to notify the restaurant. If you eat something with peanuts and have an allergic reaction, it may be partially your fault for failing to tell the employees.

How does North Carolina’s contributory negligence law work?

North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that still abide by contributory negligence instead of comparative negligence, which is when the degree of fault is measured for each party, and then your compensation is based on that analysis.

In North Carolina, that’s not the case:

  • Even if you are only partially at fault in North Carolina, you cannot recover any compensation in your claim.
  • North Carolina does not have a comparative negligence law in place.
  • However, North Carolina does have legal doctrines which can overcome contributory negligence: If the defendant had the “last clear chance” to avoid the occurrence and injury, you may still recover; If the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly, you may still recover; or if you were faced with a “sudden emergency” you may still recover. All of the above exceptions are factors to consider.

Only Alabama, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., join North Carolina in the list of places that go by the contributory negligence law.

How is contributory negligence evaluated?

Contributory negligence is calculated by something called the “standard of care” provision:

  • Standard of care applies to what a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation.
  • To be considered contributory negligent, you must have done something that was negligent and caused the specific injury or damage that is at the center of the claim.
  • Just because you may have been negligent, it still must have caused or contributed to your injury in order to bar recovery.

What are the components of negligence?

Although laws vary from state to state, negligence, in general, is pretty standard across state lines. The following are considered elements of a negligence case:

  • The defendant had a responsibility to do a particular thing or refrain from doing said particular thing.
  • The defendant failed in that responsibility.
  • The defendant’s breach in responsibility caused injury to a person or damage to a thing.
  • The defendant’s actions or inactions were the reason why the plaintiff was injured or the property was damaged.  
  • The victim suffered actual damages that can be calculated, like lost wages from work, medical bills, etc.

If you or someone you love was in an accident, it’s important that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to work through the complexities of your case. Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help.

The process of a personal injury claim

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If you’ve been in a car accident, there’s a long road ahead to settling the claim and getting what you are owed. It’s a complicated process, which is why one of the first things you should always do is contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

What happens when you meet with a personal injury attorney?

Here are a few things you can expect when you have your first encounter with an injury lawyer:

  • You might be asked to sign a form releasing your medical information so that your lawyer can access them. They’re important documents for building your case.  
  • You will probably be asked all about your insurance coverage, with lots of specifics on premiums and what kind of coverage you have.
  • Your lawyer will want to know what, if anything, you have said to insurance adjusters, and if you have given any recorded interviews or written statements.

What happens after you hire a lawyer?

Once you hire a lawyer, he or she will begin the process of filing a claim with the insurance company, or filing a suit in court.

Here are a few things to note about this stage:

  • This phase of the settlement is called discovery, and it’s the time when every little detail about your case will come to light. Keep in mind that it is very likely that anything and everything will come out at some point in the discovery process.
  • You’ve got to be totally and completely honest with your attorney. If you’re not, then it could impact the outcome of your case. There’s nothing worse than losing a case or losing out on money you’re owed because you lied.

What happens during the settlement phase?

The good news is that most personal injury claims don’t ever reach a courtroom. They are usually settled before it goes to court.

Here are some things to talk to your attorney about when it comes to the settlement phase:

  • How have settlement amounts and jury verdicts been for other cases that were similar to yours?
  • What are your chances of winning if you do go to trial?
  • Are there any special circumstances that make it harder to try your case in court?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your case? How does the evidence hold up to your claims?
  • What are the strength and weaknesses of your opponent’s case?
  • What does your attorney think your claim is worth – talk specifics, including exact dollar amounts and how that amount compares to the amount you could receive if you went to trial.
  • What is the minimum amount of money you are willing to accept in an effort to avoid going to court?
  • What are the specifics of your opponent’s insurance policy? Are you seeking more than the insurance policy is able to pay out?
  • What about your opponent’s own personal financial resources? Is he or she able to compensate you out of pocket?

 

If there’s anything you learned from reading this, it’s that personal injury cases are very complex legal matters, and they should always be handled by an experienced injury lawyer. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today.

 

How does pain and suffering factor into a personal injury lawsuit?

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When you’re in a serious car accident, the likelihood that you will experience some form of pain and suffering is high. We’ve all heard of pain and suffering, but how do those words play into a personal injury lawsuit?

What is pain and suffering?

Typically, there are two types:

  • Physical pain and suffering – that’s the actual physical pain that comes with injuries sustained in the accident. Physical pain and suffering is not just the pain you experienced during the crash and after the crash. It also takes into account pain and suffering that you are likely to experience in the future because of the accident.
  • Mental pain and suffering – This is more of a “byproduct” of the physical injuries. When you’ve been injured in an accident, you might experience a lot of crippling emotions – anguish, sadness, loss of joy, fear, anger, etc. – all of which can have a negative impact on you and your life. Just like physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering not only calculates the mental anguish you felt right after the accident, but also the mental pain and suffering you are likely to experience down the road.

How is pain and suffering factored into your personal injury case?

An insurance company, a judge or a jury is going to look a wide range of things when determining pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit.

Here are some of the factors they will consider:

  • Consistency – Does your story stay the same every time you tell it? Are you consistent when you describe your pain?
  • Credibility – Do you have a criminal record? Is there evidence that you have lied at any point during the personal injury case?
  • Likeability – The bad part about this factor is that it’s subjective, but it’s still very important when determining how much money you will receive for pain and suffering. If you don’t consider yourself a “people” person, make sure your highly experienced personal injury attorney spends ample time prepping you for trial or depositions. You should be able to speak openly and clearly about your injuries and the aftermath. This is why it is vitally important for your lawyer to get to know you.
  • Doctor support – Does your doctor’s diagnosis consistent with your claims? Because the award must be based on the severity of the injury, you’ve got to have supporting documents and testimony from health care professionals.

How is pain and suffering calculated?

Although there’s no set in stone law on how to calculate the amount of money a person should receive in a personal injury case, insurance companies sometimes rely on two methods:

  • Multiplier – This means the award is determined by multiplying the actual damages, like medical bills and lost employment wages, by a set number. That number is usually between 1 and 5.
  • Per diem – Insurance companies have also been known to use the per diem method in which they pick a daily amount (like $150, for example) and pay you that amount every day from the day of the accident until you have reached “maximum recovery.”

Regardless of how an insurance company values your claim, it may not be the value that you agree with. That is why it is so important to have a conversation with your lawyer about how the injury has affected you at home, work and the things that you enjoy doing in life. You are not stuck with any amount that an insurance company is willing to offer. That is why our Court system is there.

There’s a lot of information out there on pain and suffering, but no amount of research can make up for having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact Robert Armstrong today.

 

Do I need a personal injury attorney?

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Do I need a personal injury attorney? The answer to this question is absolutely, unequivocally yes! Years ago, insurance companies used to handle claims very differently than they do now. A person’s insurance company has a contract with said person. A contract that basically says that the insurance company will defend and indemnify that person against all claims for negligence; even if they caused the wreck!

Whose side do you think that they are on? Who do you think they are looking out for? I can assure you that it is not you! Their only concern is to protect their insured. They are also in the business of saving money – if they can get out cheaply, they absolutely will. It’s their bread and butter, and is what they do best. So how can a person compete against an agency that is actively trying to denounce their claim?

You hire someone who can go toe-to-toe with these companies to be your champion. A really good personal injury lawyer that knows how to:

  • Handle all facets of the case
  • Deal with these corporate giants
  • Protect their client’s interests
  • Get you the compensation you deserve

There are many varieties of lawyer; traffic ticket, criminal, real estate, business, etc. And while some lawyers may dabble in multiple areas – it is vital that you go to someone who specializes in personal injury law. Additionally, you want a lawyer that will be there for you for small and large issues – someone that is going to answer when you call, respond to your texts or emails, and meet you whenever and wherever you need them to. You need a lawyer that will treat you with respect whether your claim is worth $3,000 or $3,000,000.

You may be asking yourself, “That sounds great, but how do I pay for all of this on top of my medical bills?” Short answer? You don’t have to! Most decent personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee. You don’t pay your lawyer out of your own pocket! The lawyer is paid a percentage of your recovery (typically around 33%). If there is no recovery, you don’t owe your lawyer any fees. You and your lawyer succeed or fail, together.

That’s why it’s so important to choose a lawyer that will be honest about the merits of your case, in order to avoid creating false hope.You also want a lawyer that will not sell you short, but knows the value of the case to you, and will give you sound advice about the merits of settling your claim vs filing your claim in Court and trying your case to a jury of your peers. Your lawyer should be looking out for you and giving you wise, sound advice so that you can make an informed decision about how you want your case handled.

Call 910-256-1233 for a free personal injury case consultation.