Posts Tagged ‘personal injury claims’

Slip and Fall Claims in NC and why they aren’t easy

I probably have this conversation once a month, and while I have documented it in my super sweet Video Library (, it’s worth writing about again. And again.

Injury claims in NC can be tricky. After all, we have Contributory Negligence (, one of 4 states that still has that nonsense on the books (Yay for backwards NC!). So any time of injury claim based on negligence can be subject to this defense, even when it’s seemingly inappropriate. Slip and fall claims, or Premises Liability claims as we refer to them generally, can be extra tricky because of how the law has been shaped over time in this field.

For maybe the millionth time in my career, I’ll tell you that just because you’re hurt on someone’s property doesn’t mean that the owner of that property is responsible for your injury. That’s just not how it works here. you have to show that their negligence lead to your injury. Specifically, you have to show that by the exercise of reasonable care, they should have discovered the dangerous condition that caused your injury AND should have (at the minimum) warned you about it or taken action to address it. “Reasonable care” can vary depending on the situation. What’s reasonable for a 75 employee mega-store might not be reasonable for a picture framing shop.

Let’s step back to contributory negligence, what it means, and how it interacts with what I’ve described above. Contributory negligence (“contrib” in the business) is the doctrine that if you’re even 1% at fault in causing your accident/injury, you can’t recover anything from the person that’s 99% at fault. The idea is that you have a duty to exercise “reasonable care” (there’s that phrase again) to look out for your own safety.

Here’s where contrib and premises liability theory clash to the great detriment of plaintiffs in NC. If you can successfully show that there was a dangerous condition that caused your injury, and it was so bloody obvious and dangerous that the owners should have seen it and done something about it, you’re probably helping them to prove that it was so bloody obvious that YOU should have seen it and exercised “reasonable care” to keep yourself away from it. It is a kind of Catch-22.

Don’t get me wrong. It is possible to have a very viable slip and fall or premises liability claim in North Carolina. You just have to have the right facts. It helps if you have an attorney to guide you through this, so call me at 919-929-2992.

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Med Pay and Your Liability Policy

Sometimes we have to make a liability claim against our own liability policy. This happens most often in inter-family claims where, perhaps, hubby was driving, screws up, causes a wreck, and wife is injured. Well, that’s what you have liability insurance for, so there’s no need to be shy. Make the claim!

But there is a little surprise lurking in that process for people who have opted to pay extra for medical payments coverage, or “med pay” as we call it in the business.

Let’s say your overall claim was worth $6000. Cool. Let’s also say that you have $2000 in Med Pay. That means your policy will pay out your $2000 in Med Pay, and your liability policy will then cover the remaining $4000. In other words, the liability policy gets a credit for Med Pay! But you’ve paid extra for that! Is that fair?

Well, it depends on your perspective. It’s allowed, so we’re stuck with it, so fair doesn’t really matter. But from the POV of the insurance companies, the claim is “worth” $6000, so why should they pay more? From our POV, though, they should pay the $6000 because that’s what the liability policy is on the hook for, and they should pay the $2000 because you’ve paid for it.

The current rule for the credit stands as of this writing. However, it is worth noting that if the liability policy pays out its limits, then it does not get a credit for Med Pay, in which case you’d get the limits PLUS the Med Pay. So there’s that.

This stuff is wacky, and you probably don’t have time to figure it all out, which is precisely why you should call me. If you have an injury claim call me at 919-929-2992.

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Who is at fault in your auto accident?

Fault can be clear sometimes in automobile accidents. But sometimes, it’s really, really tricky to tell who is the responsible party.

Who had the right of way? Was anyone speeding? Were lights/blinkers in use? Should they have been? What were the conditions? There’s a ton to consider.

Can you tell from the accident report who the officer thought was at fault? Does that matter? Does the officer’s opinion control the issue? Can you read the semi-secret codes on the report? This is getting more and more complicated, which means it’s more likely you’re going to need help.

What makes that even more difficult in North Carolina is that we are a contributory negligence state. In short, that means if a person is even 1% at fault in their accident, then they can’t get anything from the person who is 99% at fault. This is crazy when you consider that in most states under those facts the 1% guy could get 99% of his damages from the other guy. That seems a lot more fair, but we have a really strong insurance lobby here, so they get to make the laws!

If you have a question about who is at fault in your auto accident in North Carolina, you’re probably in for an uphill battle. Call me for some advice and help. 919-929-2992.

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Medicare and Your Auto Accident Injury Claim


In general, the way auto injury claims work in North Carolina is that they hit you, you get treatment, then their insurance pays you for your losses.  Easy peasy, right?  Well, it’s not that simple, and if you have Medicare, it’s way more complicated.

When you have Medicare, they should pay for your treatment.  Don’t let the hospital tell you they can’t/won’t bill them.  They should take your health insurance, whether it’s Medicare or not!

But it gets even more complicated.  When negotiating the settlement of you claim, you need to take into account what Medicare is going to want back.  That’s right, you’re going to have to pay something out of your settlement to Medicare after you settle the claim.

Early in your claim, you should (or your attorney should) send a letter to Medicare asking them for a Conditional Payment amount.  This can take months, so the sooner you ask the better.  This is the amount you use for negotiation purposes to determine what you’ll have to pay them back from the settlement.

This will sound backwards, I know, but bear with me.  AFTER you settle the case, yes, AFTER you settle the case, you THEN ask Medicare for their Final Payment amount, which is the amount they really do want back.  It’s normally less than the Conditional Payment number, but doesn’t have to be.  Medicare does take into account the cost of recovery (attorney’s fees, etc.), so that helps.

In a nutshell, it’s complicated, which is why you should seek competent legal representation.  Call a personal injury lawyer. Heck, call me!  919-929-2992.

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Attorney to Handle Your Durham NC Personal Injury Insurance Claim

Can you handle your personal injury claim on your own? Sure. You can also operate on yourself, but you are more likely to have a good outcome if you have a surgeon do it.

If you are thinking about handling your own claim, consider this:
• Do you know how to establish liability?
• Do you know what contributory negligence is?
• How to investigate different coverage options?
• Do you know the difference between UM and UIM coverage?
• Do you know when you are required to pay medical bills from your settlement funds?
• Do you understand the recent “billed v. paid” legislation and how it affects claim values?

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Cost to Hire Personal Injury Attorneys

How much does it cost you to hire a personal injury attorney? I think the best way to answer that is to look at it from a different perspective: How much does it cost not to hire a personal injury attorney?

Hire Durham NC Personal Injury Attorneys

If you aren’t trained to avoid making mistakes with your statement, document your damages, and understand what damages you are entitle to and how to document them, what is your claim worth? How will you get anything for your personal injury claim if you don’t know how to go about it?

If you can’t get anything for your claim, isn’t it worth paying an attorney something to help? After all, 66% of something is better than 100% of nothing, right?

Generally, I take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning I don’t get a fee (reimbursement of costs are different) unless I get you a settlement that you accept. That fee is more often than not 33.333% of the settlement, or 1/3 of the settlement. Remember, my job is to maximize the value of your claim and to make sure you get what you should get. In the end, my fee should be justified by your recovery. And you don’t write me a check; I get paid from your settlement.

I handle personal injury claims all over the state of North Carolina, so no matter where your accident occurred in North Carolina, or where you live in North Carolina, I might be able to help. Call me at 919-929-2992.

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Personal Injury Attorneys Help

What does a personal injury attorney do to help you in your claim? Hopefully everything s/he can to help make it the best that it can be.

Hiring Personal Injury Attorneys Durham NC

If I get involved in a claim from the outset, I help in initiating the claim with the at-fault insurance provider. I investigate the claim to make sure we have the strongest liability claim we can have under the facts. I help the client avoid making statements that might compromise the claim, and I also explore insurance coverage to see what avenues of recovery will be available.

From there I walk the client through treatment, helping them to understand how their treatment, actions, and decisions can affect the claim. If the claim has particular complications that require the selection and hiring of expert witness I offer advice on that process and help to coordinate experts to lend strength to the claim.

When the client has reached maximum medical improvement (of if otherwise seems to be the right time) then I gather all of the relevant treatment records and bills, as well as other documentation of damages (lost wages, pain logs, etc.) to help demonstrate the value of the claim to the insurance company. I then create a settlement brochure and demand letter to present our claim to the appropriate insurance carrier(s) and begin the negotiations process.

In cases that don’t get settled, I counsel the client on the litigation process, draft and file the complaint, help the client complete the discovery process, depose necessary witnesses, complete the mediation process, and try the case when necessary.

Does that sound like it’s worth what you pay?

I handle personal injury claims all over the state of North Carolina, so no matter where your accident occurred in North Carolina, or where you live in North Carolina, I might be able to help. Call me at 919-929-2992.

Personal Injury Attorneys Durham NC Claims Processing

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Jeffrey Howard – Personal Injury Insurance Durham NC Claims

Won’t the insurance company just “handle it?” Won’t they just do the right thing?

Allow me to answer a question with a question: Why should they?

Remember, insurance companies are in the business of making money, and the more they give away, the less they are making. So doesn’t it stand to reason that they will do everything they can to avoid paying you as much as you deserve?

Insurance company adjusters are trained to do their job well. They are skilled at getting you to do harm to your claim by making statements that aren’t in your interests. Remember, everything you say can and will be used against you!

As the injured party, you have the burden of proof, so you have to work diligently to prepare your case. The insurance company has no financial incentive to give you the benefit of the doubt or “do the right thing.” That costs them money.

Call me and see what I might be able to do to help you. I handle personal injury claims all over the state of North Carolina, so no matter where your accident occurred in North Carolina, or where you live in North Carolina, I might be able to help. Call me at 919-929-2992.

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Hire Personal Injury Attorneys Durham NC

Should you hire an attorney for your personal injury claim? Well, every case is different and unique, but generally, I would say the answer is “yes.”

What Personal Injury Attorneys Durham NC Do to Help Process Claims

Why should you hire an attorney? Think of it this way: You might be handy around the house and can fix things here and there. But if you have a problem with your toilet, wouldn’t it be better to hire a professional to help you, instead of ending up with a messier, smellier, more expensive problem?

Hiring an attorney is like hiring any other professional to do a job. As a personal injury attorney, I know how to help guide you through your claims process and help you avoid mistakes that can cost you and your family in the long run. I know how to intelligently value your claim, how to document your damages, and how to argue to get them.

Moreover, an attorney represents the legitimate threat of a lawsuit to the insurance companies. People who represent themselves tend not to file lawsuits, and when they do they tend to royally screw them up. But attorneys know when and how to litigate, which can cost an insurance company money in the long run. Don’t you think they take that into consideration when they are negotiating with us?

Sure there are some cases where you might be able to bear the burden by yourself. But doesn’t it make sense to get a professional opinion on that before you get too deep?

I handle personal injury claims all over the state of North Carolina, so no matter where your accident occurred in North Carolina, or where you live in North Carolina, I might be able to help. Call me at 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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