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How soon should you get an attorney for your accident claim?

Trucking Accident Attorney

I’ll go ahead and say it: Some people prefer the wait and see approach. That is stupid.

The very minute your accident occurs, you are in an adversarial confrontation. The other driver’s insurance company doesn’t want to pay you anything, and if they have to pay you something, they want to pay you as little as possible. So you better believe that from that very moment of the accident forces will be working against you and your claim. How much damage can be done before you hire an attorney? You’d be surprised.

Insurance adjusters are trained to ask you questions in such a way as to elicit answers that will help them, not you. In North Carolina, we still have an ancient law called Contributory Negligence. If the adjuster can make you accept even 1% of responsibility for the accident occurring, they have a great reason to deny your claim – by your own admission?

And that’s just one of the ways they’ll look to trip you up.

If you want to protect yourself and your rights after an accident call a lawyer ASAP. Call me. 919-929-2992.

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Back to Back Auto Accidents

Ugh.

Because of some weird law of the universe that is as of yet unexplained, clients often suffer two auto accidents within a few months of each other. This makes for a complicated claims scenario that no one wants, but we have to deal with it sometimes. So where to begin?

If you’re lucky (that being relative, of course), your accidents are completely distinct. If case one involves a neck injury and case two involves a foot injury, then that makes things infinitely more simple. But often times we’re faced with similar injuries, or possibly aggravation of the first injuries. That makes things way more difficult.

The onus will mainly lie with the health care providers to help you distinguish between your diagnoses and what caused what when. Having a health care provider who can confidently help you navigate that will be crucial to the successful presentation of your claim, so choose wisely!

If possible, create a cut-off between treatment for the two accidents. If you were close to wrapping up treatment on the first one and then the second one happens, you might as well call it quits on the first treatment period and move forward with trying to resolve that claim if possible. The first insurance carrier is going to give you grief about paying for anything that happens after the second date of injury, so this makes a lot of sense for both sides of the case.

It is hopeful that you’ve already handled your property damage claim from the first accident because if you haven’t, you’re in for a world of nonsense. Good luck!

All personal injury claims require tailored advice and solutions because they all have their own character and difficulties. These back to back cases are even more temperamental, so seek advice as soon as you can. Call an attorney. Call me. 919-929-2992.

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When can I pay off my ticket in NC?

Traffic Attorney

“The cop told me I can just pay this ticket off? Is that a bad idea?”

Almost certainly, yes, that’s a bad idea.

Look, obviously I have some interest in you hiring me to handle your ticket for you, but hear me out: There are only VERY rare circumstances in which paying off your speeding ticket won’t hurt you from an insurance point perspective. So when is it OK to pay off a speeding ticket?

The ONLY time I think it’s reasonable to pay off a speeding ticket in NC is when you have ALL of the following circumstances:

  1. You’re charged with speeding 10 mph over the limit or less;
  2. You have not been convicted of any moving violation within the past 3 years;
  3. You haven’t been in an at-fault auto accident within the past 3 years.

If you have those exact circumstances, fine, pay it off if you want. But it’s still smart to call an attorney who handles tickets in that county to see if you might be able to do better. Paying a little extra up front might save you a lot of trouble later. You see, if you do get convicted of a moving violation within 3 years of paying off that ticket, you’ll get the points from the new ticket AND the points from the old one will be activated.

Like lots of legal stuff, it’s tricky. So get some quality advice before you act. Call me. 919-929-2992.

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Personal Injury Settlements and Taxes

“Is my settlement money taxable?”

I get this ALL the time. It’s mostly a simple question, but like anything with the IRS, and it can get complicated pretty darn quickly.

Here is your best reference for this question:
https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4345.pdf

If you got a few grand out of a car accident, that’s not going to be taxable. That’s most of what I see in my practice so it’s an easy answer.

Of course, it can get more complicated. Remember, income is taxable. The IRS default is to think of income as any money you take in, but there are exceptions. For your personal injury award, that’s compensation for for what you lost, so it’s not viewed as income, per se, but more like replacement value, so in that sense it’s not income. It’s kind of the same when you’re getting money to pay back medical expenses you’ve paid or owed; in that instance you’re essentially breaking even, so that’s not income.

But if you’ll read that IRS publication above, you’ll note that if you’ve taken tax advantage from those losses above, then you’ll need to report that you’ve made them up. This almost NEVER comes up in the tiny medical expense scenario of the average auto accident claim. But it could come up with some more complicated injury/treatment scenarios. Also, if you’re getting compensation for wages you lost which would have been counted as income, that can count, too.

Is it terribly complicated? Nah. But is it smart to seek advice? For sure. If you have an injury claim, talk to an attorney. Talk to me. 919-929-2992.

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Emotional Distress Claims from Auto Accidents

Yes. That’s a thing. But like everything in this business, it’s tricky.

If you feel like you’ve suffered an emotional/psychological injury as the result of an automobile accident, it’s important that you get a diagnosis from an accredited healthcare professional. Psychiatrist? Yes. Psychologist? Yes. LCSW? Maybe. Your dad? Nope.

As with all aspects of your damages, you have the burden of proving your loss, so the better your proof, the more likely you’ll prevail.

You could probably use some guidance in this. Call me to discuss! 919-929-2992.

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Injured? Get Representation NOW!

I see this situation way too often: A person is injured in an automobile accident, a dog bite, or whatever, and they hope that things get better. They hope that things resolve nicely on their own. They rely on hope, instead of good advice and experience. And guess what that gets them?

When you don’t seek good advice, you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know what will help your claim, what will hurt you claim, who you can talk to, what you can say. You really don’t have any informed notion as to how to take care of your claim, which means you’re probably going to hurt it. Does that sound like a good way to handle things?

If you have a potential injury claim, it makes sense to talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to make sure you’re doing everything you’re supposed to in order to not harm your claim.

Hoping that things will work out isn’t a plan. That’s just setting yourself up for a worst case scenario. If you’re hurt, don’t waste time seeking good advice. Call an attorney. Call me. 919-929-2992.

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How Long Should I Get Treatment For My Injury Claim (this is a trick question)?

I get this a lot, too.

If you haven’t been in an accident before, and haven’t gone through the claims process, you probably don’t really know how the process works. What’s worth, is you’ve probably heard a lot of nonsense that’s given you ideas about this process that aren’t really accurate. Thanks, media!

Anywho, clients sometimes ask me how long they should get treatment for their injury claim. Here’s my answer: I DON’T KNOW! I’m not that kind of doctor! I’m happy to talk with you about your injuries, your treatment options, and how your decisions about these affect your claim. But I can’t tell you how long you should get treatment, or what kind of treatment you should get. That’s not my gig, and it’s between you and your health care professionals to figure out that stuff. My job is to help you understand how your decisions and your particular situation will work inside of your claim.

So I don’t know how long you should get treatment. I just know that if you have an injury, it makes sense to get treatment, and then I’ll use that information to help make sure you’re treated fairly in your claim. Call me for help! 919-929-2992.

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Interested in Losing Your License?

You got a speeding ticket. Big deal. Maybe you want to just plead guilty and forget about it.

BE CAREFUL! Pleading to speeding tickets is a quick way to get your license revoked. If you’re going 16 or more MPH over the limit and greater than 55 MPH, you can get your license revoked for up to a year. This happens to people ALL the time when they’re trying to just simplify their lives. Don’t fall for it.

Call an attorney and get some quality advice. Sometimes it’s not necessarily a bad idea to pay off a ticket, but those times are few and far between. Talk to an attorney and get some good advice. Talk to me! 919-929-2992.

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Med Pay Coverage and Liens Trickiness

Some of you won’t know what Med Pay is, so we’ll start with that. You have to have liability insurance on your automobile, right? Well, you can purchase extra coverage, too. Some of us get collision coverage, which pays for your car damage. But you can also purchase medical payments coverage (the cool kids call it “Med Pay”) which can help pay for medical treatment necessitated by injuries sustained in an auto accident, whether it was your fault or not. It’s good stuff!

But you have to be careful when accessing it, and not for the reason you think. Med Pay is no-fault coverage, which is short hand for saying that making a Med Pay claim on an accident that wasn’t your fault won’t give you insurance points, and won’t raise your premiums. And it can be super handy in helping to pay for your treatment costs while you await your liability settlement.

As always, there can be problems. One problem I see is that when there are health insurance liens or claims for reimbursement that attach to your claim. There are some health insurance plans that allow for subrogation, meaning if they pay for your medical treatment, and then you get money for that same treatment, you have to pay them back. Some of those plans have a right of reimbursement over your Med Pay money, too. What that means is if you spend that Med Pay money when your health plan had a right to it, you could be jeopardizing your coverage.

This can be a bit complex for a short blog post; heck, it can be a bit complex for a long conversation. But this is all the more reason that you should have a personal injury attorney if you have an injury claim. This is exactly what we’re here for, so please call someone. Call me! 919-929-2992.

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Do I need an attorney?

I probably get this question maybe 28 times a minute. Here’s the thing: I don’t know! Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. I’m sure you get tired of attorney-speak, but every case is different, so the answer to the question, “Do I need an attorney?” can vary for every situation.

Having said that, there are a few things you can look at that will help steer you in the right direction:

If you aren’t hurt, you probably don’t need a lawyer.

Conversely, the more hurt you are (and the more treatment you need/the longer your recovery) the more likely it is that you need an attorney. With that much at stake, you don’t want to risk it, do you?

Do you feel confident in knowing what to ask for, or how to ask for it, or when to do so? If you don’t, then you probably need a lawyer.

If you can’t explain quickly and easily what these terms mean, you probably need an attorney:

contributory negligence, civil burden of proof, causation, pre-existing condition, lien, subrogation, UM/UIM

If you’re more worried about your health than you are the settlement you think you’re going to get, you probably could use an attorney. This one may not be intuitive, but think about it…the settlement doesn’t matter as much as your health. And if you want your health back, you should be able to focus on THAT, not on trying to figure out how to do my job.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident, particularly an auto accident, call me and let’s talk. Maybe I can help. 919-929-2992.

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Contact Jeffrey

Jeffrey Allen Howard, Attorney at Law, PLLC
1829 E. Franklin St. - Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

(P) 919-929-2992
(F) 919-636-4779

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