North Carolina Legal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When you or a loved one is injured in an accident, no one hands you a pamphlet containing all of the information you need to understand your case. In this section we strive to answer the basic questions that everyone has in the time following a car accident, on-the-job injury, medical malpractice, abuse, or other accident.
If you don't find the answers to all of your North Carolina injury questions here, we encourage you to contact our Raleigh injury lawyers for answers to questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
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Why Does My Credit Score Matter?
One day--if not already--you will need a loan. Your credit score is used to determine whether or not you are capable of making your loan payments. Your credit score shows how reliable you are to creditors.
Credit Scores are Based on These Factors
- Your payment history
- The amount of debt you have
- How long your credit accounts have been in use
- The credit you have
- How often you use credit
The better your credit score, the more likely you are to receive a loan.
If you have a question about your credit score or bankruptcy contact the office of Brent Adams and Associates in North Carolina.
Can I Draw Workers' Comp and SSD at the Same Time?
Yes, you can collect workers' comp and SSD at the same time However, the Social Security Administration may alter your monthly payment of SSD while you receive workers' compensation. Your workers' comp earnings, plus your SSD benefits, cannot total more than 80% of your earnings before you became disabled. If your earnings exceed this amount, the Social Security Administration will alter your alloted monthly payment.
Your Social Security benefits will return to their previous amount once you stop receiving workers' compensation. This does not apply to privately funded insurance plans; they will not alter your monthly Social Security Disability benefits. Veterans' benefits, state/local government benefits, and Supplemental Security Income will also not affect monthly SSD payments.
Why are Nursing Home Residents Abused?
Several nursing homes are understaffed. As well as being understaffed, some nursing home employees do not have proper training. Having an understaffed and underqualified employees would cause any business to experience several problems. However, when it comes to nursing homes, the problems caused by an understaffed and underqualified staff can be deadly. Residents are likely to receive improper treatment and neglect when this is the face, causing injuries, illnesses, or death. Some residents do not have family visit regularaly. If this is the case, detecting abuse may be more challenging.
However, this is not a problem at every nursing home. But if you see the signs, contact an attorney. Brent Adams has been practicing law for over forty years, and he and his team of lawyers are prepared to help you. Click here to schedule a free consultation or
How is mediation different from arbitration?
Sometimes injured parties try to avoid a jury trial and instead rely on out-of-court negotiations and settlement options. If direct negotiation with the negligent party (or parties) fails to reach an adequate settlement for the victim, the victim could opt for mediation or arbitration. Our North Carolina injury lawyers frequently participate with both of these options and help prepare clients for each. To understand the differences between these out-of-court options, first understand how each work:
Mediations are informal gatherings between the opposing parties and are overseen by a mediator. The mediator is an objective neutral party who helps both sides move forward toward a mutually agreeable settlement figure. The accident is discussed in detail. The victim and their counsel provide medical bills, estimates of lost wages, and accident evidence to accurately quantify their losses. The mediator moves back-and-forth between both sides delivering settlement offers until both parties agree on terms.
Arbitrations involve a small arbitration panel that acts similar to a jury. The victim and the defense each choose a member for the panel, and a third objective panel member is also included. All case materials are presented to the abritration panel, and the panel determines the settlement.
Out-of-court settlements are usually attractive because they:
- Reach a settlement faster than court proceedings in most cases.
- Require less expenses. Court costs are avoided.
However, there are downsides to settling outside of court:
- Settlements could be smaller. The American Healthcare Association studied awards and found that arbitration settlements were approximately 35% lower on average than similar cases that followed a jury trial.
- Decisions are often binding. Mediation and arbitration decisions are generally final. Appeals for arbitrations are rare. Without a jury trial in a court, the victim has no means of appealing the case and having the case heard by a new jury and judge.
The length of a jury trial is not easy to predict. Sometimes accident victims simply want to move on with their lives and avoid a lengthy trial. Our attorneys can help advise what would be in the victim's best interests depending on the circumstances of their case.
If you would like to hear more about these out-of-court options, are attorneys discuss them during a legal podcast here. We also provide free case evaluations.
Note: As of this writing, a pending federal proposal could change how credit card companies include arbitration-only clauses in their contracts. Pending federal legislation changes would also affect nursing homes that use binding arbitration agreements. Learn more at the previous link.
My NC disability claim was denied in the 1980s, is it considered a 'Hyatt Case?'
More than 75,000 individuals are eligible for reconsideration of their disability claims after a landmark case Hyatt v. Shalala. Since the Hyatt ruling, individuals who qualify for reconsideration are often referred to as 'Hyatt Cases.' Individuals who believe they are eligible for the protections afforded by the court ruling should consider a few points:
- Time the disability was claimed. The court orders apply to Social Security Disability cases that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s.
- Denial. The case law applies to individuals whose disability claims were denied in the 1980s and 1990s.
- Reason for disability denial. The lawsuit pertained to certain types of claims with little to no substantial evidence of medical improvement and were being denied by officials who arbitrarily decided the claimant's disability had improved. Many of the lawsuit cases referenced pain. Other conditions such as hypertension or diabetes were also cited.
Hyatt Cases are generally one of the most difficult types of disability cases to win. Claimants must meet all the criteria and documents should be gathered and prepared properly. Fortunately, our firm has an attorney who is a Board Certified Social Security Disability Benefits Specialist and who has successfully won a Hyatt Case. Contact our office for a free case evaluation.
How can I prove another driver was texting and driving?
Accident evidence varies case-by-case for vehicle crashes in North Carolina. Glare, obstructions and debris, speeding - these factors can be supported by weather reports, photos of the accident scene, and crash analysis by engineers. What about a driver who was texting and driving? How can an injured accident victim prove another driver was too busy checking email or texting a friend than focusing on the road?
Although these are only a few suggestions that should not replace a consultation with one of our Raleigh, Dunn or Fayetteville car accident lawyers, we want to help accident survivors start understanding the injury claim process in North Carolina--and evidence collection is just one part of it. If you are concerned about the challenge of proving another driver's negligent use of a cell phone while operating a vehicle, here are a few possible ways to help establish proof:
Police report. The negligent driver may have admitted their faulty cell phone use to the responding police officer, and that officer should have noted this in their police report.
Witnesses. Whether there were passengers in your vehicle, the at-fault driver's vehicle, or individuals nearby who were not directly involved with the accident--a collection of eyewitness accounts affirming that the other driver was texting and driving can help when negotiating your claim.
Cell phone records. Several laws govern the accessiblity and privacy of cell phone statements, however, in most cases it is possible to acquire drivers' cell phone statements. These statements provide clear evidence of the time calls and texts were made.
Sadly, the majority of drivers text and drive even though it is against the law. A recent study reported by Business Insider shows that 4 out of 5 college students text and drive. Statistically, we all face a great risk of being involved in an accident caused by a driver who was texting behind the wheel. Encourage your friends and family to avoid using their cell phones while driving. Even voice-to-text services have been proven to increase accident rates.
Safest Seat in the Car for a Child?
North Carolina, like all other states, has child seat safety laws that govern where children are legally permitted to ride as a passenger. These regulations are determined based on children's size or age.
Where is the safest place for a child to sit?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has created specific guidelines for children aged 12 and under, or who under 57 inches tall. Their guidelines consistently encourage parents and guardians to use:
Front seats are dangerous for young children as they can be severely injured or killed from air bag injuries in the event of a collision. Air bag injuries can cause facial disfiguration, loss of vision, and extensive surgeries with long recovery times.
Parents should follow the specific car seat guidelines for proper fit, as well as follow state requirements for children's seat belt use. Infants and toddlers under the age of 2 should remain in rear-facing child safety seats until their size permits them to move into a forward-facing child safety seat.
For parents or guardians who have three seats in the second row, or maybe even a third or fourth row of seating in a large vehicle, where is the safest place for a child to sit? According to the CDC:
"Place children in the middle of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest spot in the vehicle."
Learn about preventing rear-seat passenger injuries.
Wonder if you are liable for your injuries if you neglect to wear a seatbelt? Our Raleigh injury lawyers review a special statute that addresses a seat belt law loophole.
How do I get my medical bills paid after I've been in a wreck?
After a Raleigh car accident, there are several sources which may be available to you from which you can get your medical bills paid. You should use all of these sources in every case. There's never a reason not to make a claim against all available insurance policies.
One source of payment is your own health and hospital insurance policy. You should always make a claim against this insurance even though other sources of collection may be available to you.
Another common resource you may be able to use to pay your medical expenses is the medical payment provision of the liability insurance policy which insures the car in which you are riding at the time of the collision. If the vehicle you're in has medical payment coverage, you're entitled to recover all of your medical bills arising out of the wreck up to the limit of the policy. Most policies provide $1,000 to $5,000 of medical payment benefits. You can claim these medical payment benefits, commonly referred to as "med pay" regardless of whether you own the car. Also, if the car in which you are injured does not have a medical payment provision, but you have a car that does have such a provision, you can collect from that insurance policy on your car even though you are not in the car at the time you were injured.
If the collision was caused by the negligence of another person, you can collect all of your medical expenses from the liability insurance policy which insures that individual. Of course, the negligent party is personally liable for the damage caused to you in the collision as a result of their negligence. However, we usually think in terms of collecting from their insurance company. If for some reason the negligent party does not have liability insurance you could get a judgment against the negligent driver, although in many cases, that judgment would not be collectible.
If you are injured by an uninsured driver, you could collect from your own liability insurance policy if that policy includes an uninsured motorist provision. Under such a provision you collect from your own insurance company for damage caused by an uninsured driver.
You should collect from all of these sources even though there may be double recoveries. This is only fair since you paid for most of the insurance available. The negligent party should not get the benefit of insurance which you paid for. Therefore, the negligent party does not get any credit or set off from cause of the fact that you may have collected your medical bills from other sources.
Do I have to pay income tax on what I recover from my personal injury claim?
Generally, workers' compensation and recoveries against an asbestos manufacturer are not subject to income tax.
Social Security benefits are partially taxable, depending on your income for the year you receive them. Union pension benefits are taxable if you didn't pay the insurance premiums that bought them; they are tax-free if you did.
If you lose Social Security benefits because you also got workers' compensation, the amount of those workers' compensation benefits is taxable as Social Security even though workers' compensation is not taxable.
Understand that tax laws change over time and you should consult an attorney or a tax professional to verify your tax requirements.