WILL AUTO INSURANCE PAY IF I’M INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT CAUSED BY MY SPOUSE?
September 17, 2018
Many years ago, marriage was considered to the be a merger of the wife’s identity into her husband’s. Women couldn’t enter into contracts or file lawsuits without their husband’s joinder.
Since a husband and wife were considered to be one entity and since an entity can't sue itself, lawsuits seeking damages for negligence were not permitted between spouses.
However, in modern times, immunity for injuries caused by a spouse's negligence has been abolished in North Carolina, and you CAN make a claim against your spouse if you are injured in an automobile accident that is his or her fault.
WHOSE INSURANCE PAYS WHEN YOU WRECK A CAR YOU'RE TEST DRIVING?
September 10, 2018
When you test drive a car, it is considered to be a temporary substitute vehicle under the terms of your automobile insurance policy.
As such, your insurance company will be responsible for paying for the damages when you cause an accident while test driving a vehicle that belongs to the dealership.
NEVER JUST “EXCHANGE INFORMATION” AFTER AN ACCIDENT
September 4, 2018
When another driver causes an accident, he or she may plead with you not to call the police--especially if they are driving without a license or driving while impaired. The at-fault driver may apologize, admit fault and give you their insurance information at the scene with the promise that their insurance company will take care of your damages. However, far too often the at-fault driver's “version” of how the accident occurred changes when they are speaking to their insurance carrier after they've had time to think about how a chargeable accident will increase their insurance premiums. They no longer admit fault and will even place the blame on you. Then your claim will likely be denied. Failure to contact law enforcement can also result in charges being brought against you for failure to report an accident with property damage in excess of $1,000. Don't take chances. If you're involved in an accident, play it safe and report it!
WHY WON’T THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER RETURN MY PHONE CALLS?
August 27, 2018
Adjusters for the at-fault driver’s insurance company don't have to return your phone calls. In fact, the insurance company doesn't have to pay anything at all on your claim unless forced to pay by a Court of law.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. As a result, some adjusters look for ways to deny or reduce the value of your claim. The less they pay, the more the insurance company gets to keep.
An accident victim may be wondering how they're going to pay for their medical expenses or a rental car. The longer the adjuster takes to return that victim’s call, the more financial pressure the victim may feel and the more likely he or she may be to accept whatever they are finally offered regardless of whether or not the offer is fair.
At Quinn Law Firm, we have found that simply hiring an attorney will usually stop these delaying tactics. Let us help take the frustration out of dealing with insurance claims--and difficult adjusters--on your own.
MYTH: ALL LAWYERS CAN HANDLE PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS
August 20, 2018
Although cheeseburgers may be on the menu at an Italian restaurant, no one goes to an Italian restaurant for a cheeseburger. They go for lasagna or pizza.
The same goes when selecting a personal injury attorney. Always choose an attorney who routinely handles cases like yours.
Attorneys who handle automobile accident and personal injury claims on a regular basis have the experience to know the types and amounts of benefits to which their clients are entitled and the best strategies for recovering those benefits. They are familiar with automobile accident laws as well as insurance policy provisions.
At Quinn Law Firm, our practice has been focused on automobile accident and personal injury claims for over 30 years. Let us put our experience to work for you.
WILL THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER OFFER ME A “FAIR” SETTLEMENT?
August 13, 2018
If an adjuster offers to settle your personal injury claim, it's likely that he or she will tell you that the insurance company's offer is “fair.” Although the adjuster is not being untruthful, what he or she actually means is that the settlement offer is fair from the perspective of the insurance company. Remember, the adjuster works for the insurance company. His or her job is to settle your case for the lowest amount possible--regardless of whether or not you are adequately compensated you for your damages.
Always hire an experienced personal injury attorney who will fight for a settlement that is fair for YOU, the injured victim!
“BLACK BOX” CRASH DATA RECORDERS
August 6, 2018
Many people don't realize that most cars and trucks have tamper-proof “black boxes” just like airplanes. They record data from the vehicle’s sensors which can help prove how an accident occurred--especially if there are no witnesses.
After a car crash, the data can be downloaded from the black box, also known as a crash data retrieval (CDR) system or an event data recorder (EDR), to a computer and analyzed to help lawyers and law enforcement officers determine what factors contributed to the crash including data regarding the vehicle's speed, whether or not brakes were applied, how the car was being steered, the throttle position, whether the cruise control was on, whether or not seat belts were in use, and more. Some vehicles have systems such as OnStar which transmit information from the CDR system to a remote location for storage.
It's important to download the recorded data as soon as possible after an accident, as some black boxes will only retain the recorded data for a limited period of time. Also, make sure not to give the black box from your “totaled” vehicle to the insurance company before the data is retrieved.
AM I RESPONSIBLE IF SOMEONE DRIVING MY CAR GETS INTO AN ACCIDENT?
July 30, 2018
If someone driving your car with your permission, express or implied, is at fault in an accident, your insurance company will cover the damages. A judgment solely against that driver will be covered under your policy.
There are also circumstances under which you can be held personally liable as well. You may be held liable if an individual driving your vehicle was acting as your agent such as when driving to the store to buy groceries on your behalf. You can also be held personally liable if you negligently allow another driver to drive your car. For example, when you give your car keys to someone who is intoxicated, you will be responsible for negligently entrusting your vehicle to a drunk driver and can be held personally liable for any damages that drunk driver may cause.
SHOULD I PAY OFF AN ACCIDENT-RELATED TRAFFIC TICKET?
July 23, 2018
The answer is NO. When you pay off a ticket, you are pleading guilty or responsible for committing the offense charged. A plea of guilty or responsible can be used against you in a subsequent civil action should the other driver sue you. It can also be used to bar your claim if the accident was not your fault. Even if it's cheaper in the short run to pay off the ticket than hire an attorney to fight it, never pay off a ticket for an accident-related traffic citation. Not only can paying off a ticket hurt you in a civil action, it can also result in points against your driver's license and increase your insurance premiums.
UNBIASED WITNESSES CAN BE INVALUABLE AFTER AN ACCIDENT
July 7, 2018
If you witness an automobile accident, please stop, provide any assistance you can to the injured parties, wait for the police to arrive and then tell them what you saw.
Innocent victims often need help proving that the other driver caused the accident in order to get the at-fault driver's insurance company to pay for their medical bills, lost wages, auto repairs and other damages.
If you are an innocent victim in an accident and there are witnesses at the scene, don’t assume they will hang around until the police arrive to give a statement. Make sure to get each witness’s name, address and telephone number as soon as possible so that the police officer, the insurance company and your attorney can talk to the witness later.
When the at-fault driver’s insurance company is performing their investigation, unbiased witnesses can often make the difference in whether or not the insurance company accepts liability for the accident.
SHOULD I PURCHASE INSURANCE FOR A RENTAL CAR?
July 1, 2018
The rental company may tell you that you HAVE to buy the insurance they are selling or else you will be personally responsible for damages in the event of an accident. That's not always the case. You should check with your insurance agent to find out if your automobile insurance policy will cover the rental. Most policies do. Also, the credit card you use when you rent a vehicle may provide some sort of coverage for the rental as well. Ask them, and be SURE to read the rental agreement carefully to make sure you aren't agreeing to pay for coverage you don't need. If you don't have coverage under your policy or through the credit card company, you will need to purchase insurance coverage when you rent a car, but don't be coerced into buying coverage that you don't need. Ask your insurance agent and credit card company first, and know your rights before you rent a car.
People who don't seek treatment tend to get worse instead of getting better, so get treatment right away after an accident. Then always keep your doctor’s appointments, and follow your doctor's advice. Doing so will help your case and your health.
SCHOOL SAFETY TIPS FOR STUDENTS AND PARENTS
May 21, 2018
School will be starting again before you know it. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has published safety tips for children walking to school.
• Cross in crosswalks.
• Watch for and obey crossing guards.
• Look both ways before crossing the street.
• Be careful crossing multiple lanes of traffic.
• Pay attention. When walking, avoid distractions like cellphones.
• Obey signs and signals.
• Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the road as you can.
WILL THE INSURANCE COMPANY PAY YOUR INJURY CLAIM IF YOUR NAME IS NOT LISTED ON THE ACCIDENT REPORT?
May 7, 2018
Occasionally a passenger's name is omitted from the police report. This may be an oversight, or perhaps the officer did not even realize you were a passenger. When this happens, the insurance company may refuse to pay your claim. However, your name can generally be added to the police report simply by making an appointment to meet with the officer and asking him to amend the police report to include your name. With an amended police report that includes your name, the insurance company will no longer dispute your presence in the vehicle.
CAN THE INSURANCE COMPANY “CLOSE” YOUR CLAIM?
April 30, 2018
Attorneys sometimes receive calls from panicked automobile accident victims who have been told by the at-fault driver's insurance carrier that their claim has been “closed.” This is a tactic used by insurance companies to put pressure on the claimant to settle his or her case quickly. Closing a claim simply means that the insurance company has placed the claim on “inactive” status. It does not mean that your claim is permanently closed or that it cannot be reopened. As a claimant, the only date with which you should be concerned is the statute of limitations, or time allowed by law during which you must either settle your claim or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Statutes of limitations differ from state to state and may be affected by the claimant’s age, mental capacity, military service or other factors. You should always consult an attorney to determine the proper statute of limitations for your case.
WHEN THE AT-FAULT DRIVER REFUSES TO COOPERATE WITH HIS INSURANCE CARRIER
April 23, 2018
An insurance company may attempt to deny a claim when their insured, the at-fault driver, avoids speaking to them about the accident. All insurance policies contain a clause requiring their insured to cooperate with the carrier. However, the insured's failure to cooperate cannot bar the victim's claims for compensation for injuries and damages in North Carolina. Pursuant to the provisions of NCGS 20-279.21(f), liability of the insurance company "becomes absolute" when the accident occurs, and no subsequent violation of the policy provisions by the insured can affect the victim's right to recover. Thus, although the insurance company is allowed a reasonable period of time to try to obtain a statement from their insured after an accident, ultimately the insurance carrier must make a liability decision without their insured's statement if their insured fails to cooperate.
DOES FAILURE TO WEAR A SEAT BELT BAR YOUR INJURY CLAIM?
April 16, 2018
North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, so being even 1% at fault can bar your injury claim. An insurance company may argue that failure to wear a seat belt is negligence that will bar your claim. However, North Carolina General Statute § 20-135.2A(d) states that evidence of failure to wear a seat belt is admissible in Court in a civil action. Thus, although you should ALWAYS buckle up for your own safety, failure to wear a seat belt does not bar your injury claim in North Carolina.
WILL DRIVING WITH A SUSPENDED LICENSE BAR YOUR INJURY CLAIM?
April 9, 2018
Driving with a suspended or revoked license when an automobile accident occurs is against the law and will likely result in you receiving a traffic citation. However, if the accident is not your fault, the fact that your driver's license was suspended or revoked at the time of the collision will not bar recovery for your injury or property damage claims in North Carolina. If the other driver's negligence caused the accident, you are entitled to recover.
HANDS-FREE NOT RISK-FREE
April 2, 2018
According to National Safety Council, “In order to stay safe, you need your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on driving.”
In a study conducted by Stanford University, a virtual simulator was populated with hazards such as pedestrians, bicyclists and animals darting out into the road. The study involved 30 drivers--15 of whom used hand-held cell phones and 15 of whom were allowed to talk hands-free.
Of the drivers in the simulation using handheld cell phones, 1 passed, 5 drove into oncoming traffic and 9 crashed. Of the 15 drivers talking hands-free, 1 passed, 6 drove into oncoming traffic and 8 crashed.
What this study showed is that there is virtually no safety difference in talking on the phone hands-free versus using a hand-held cell phone while driving. According to the National Safety Council, “Drivers talking on a cell phone can overlook up to 50% of what’s around them, and activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images is reduced by up to 1/3 when talking or listening to the phone while driving.
CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE TO REPORT AN ACCIDENT
March 25, 2018
NCGS § 20-166.1 requires parties involved in an accident to “immediately” report it to the appropriate law enforcement agency whenever there is injury, death or more than $1,000 in property damage. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor which can subject you to criminal penalties and driver’s license suspension.
In cases involving “hit-and-run” drivers whose identity is not known, NCGS § 20-279.21(b)(3)(b) states “the insured, or someone in his behalf, shall report the accident within 24 hours or as soon thereafter as may be practicable, to a police officer.” Your auto policy also requires you to promptly notify both the police and your insurance company if you have been involved in an accident with a hit-and-run driver. In Hoffman v. Great American Alliance Insurance Company, COA03-947 (2004), the plaintiff’s claim for uninsured motorist benefits under his policy was denied for failure to comply with the reporting requirements of the North Carolina General Statutes and his insurance policy.
You should always report a motor vehicle accident to the police. Don’t simply “exchange insurance information.” At-fault drivers often tell their insurance company a different version of how the accident occurred if no report was made, and your claim may be denied. Protect yourself by making a police report.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
March 18, 2018
Here are some tips:
1. Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. Personal injury laws can you very complex. Make sure you hire an attorney who knows what he or she is doing.
2. Hire an attorney who offers free initial consultations. This gives you an opportunity to get to know your attorney, and it gives your attorney an opportunity to evaluate your case.
3. Ask questions before you hire an attorney. Learn what to expect and possible outcomes. Find out about the claims process. Find out if the lawyer is willing to handle your personal injury case on a contingent fee basis. It's a good idea to write down any questions you might have before your appointment, so you won't forget to ask.
4. Choose a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable and well-represented. A good lawyer will listen to you and make you feel confident that he is representing your interests and not those of insurance company.
DRIVING WITH ANIMALS IN YOUR LAP
REPLACING YOUR CHILD'S CAR SEAT AFTER AN ACCIDENT
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that you replace your child's car seat after a moderate to severe impact accident. If an accident is severe enough to bend your car's steel frame, it can certainly damage the plastic in your child's car seat--even if can't see any damage with the naked eye. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of replacement after an accident without question.
GET EYEWITNESS INFORMATION
February 7, 2018
After an automobile accident, get contact information for all witnesses. Encourage them to remain at the scene until police arrive and obtain their contact information as well. If an at-fault driver runs a stop light, he may not tell the truth for fear of getting a traffic ticket or having his premiums rise. Eyewitness testimony can be crucial in persuading the at-fault driver's insurance company to accept responsibility for your damages.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed an online search tool where drivers can find out if their car has been recalled and why. To find out if your car has been recalled or to sign up for notifications about future recalls, visit www.safercar.gov or call (888)327-4236. Recalls can help keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist
June 19, 2017
One out of every seven drivers on the road is uninsured. Protect yourself, your passengers and resident family members by purchasing uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage today.
Mandatory Backup Cameras Required by May 1, 2018
December 17, 2016
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will require all vehicles under 10,000 pounds manufactured on or after May 1, 2018 to include backup cameras as standard equipment. According to the NHTSA, an average of 210 people die every year as a result of backup accidents. Of those, 31 percent are children ages 5 and younger. Vehicles will be required to have rear visibility technology as of May 1, 2018 to ensure that drivers have a clear view of the area behind their vehicle in the hopes that this will reduce the number of deaths that occur annually in backup accidents. At Quinn Law Firm, PLLC, we applaud this dedication to increase the safety of both drivers and pedestrians!
Pedestrians, Bicyclists or Motorists: Who Has the Right-of-Way?
August 22, 2015
When not using a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, pedestrians must yield the right-of-way when crossing the road. When a sidewalk is available, pedestrians must use the sidewalk instead of walking on the road. When sidewalks are not available, pedestrians walking along or on the highway should walk on the extreme left of the road or shoulder facing traffic and must yield the right-of-way to traffic.
Unlike pedestrians walking outside of crosswalks, pedestrians in crosswalks do have the right-of-way at marked and unmarked crosswalks in residential and business areas except where there is a traffic or pedestrian signal. Also, whenever any vehicle is stopped at an intersection crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross, any other motorist or bicyclist approaching from the rear is not permitted to overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.
When riding a bicycle on a road, the bicyclist must ride in the same direction as other traffic. Also, the bicyclist must travel in the right-hand lane and should ride as close as practicable to the right-hand edge of the highway. Exceptions to this law are provided when the bicyclist is:
• Passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction
• Avoiding a dangerous obstruction
• Riding on a one-way street
• Preparing to make a left turn
At intersections, both motorists and bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic when making a right turn on red.
Being struck as a pedestrian or while riding a bicycle can cause catastrophic injuries and even death. If this happens to you or a family member, call Quinn Law Firm to help recover the compensation to which you or your family member is entitled.
GRACO Recalls 3.7 Million Car Seats:
Is Your Child's Car Seat Safe?
March 6, 2014
Car seat safety is of the utmost importance for parents. If you’re involved in an automobile accident, your children could be severely injured if not properly restrained. If you’re unsure whether or not your car seat is safe, you can go to one of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's inspection stations and have your child's car seat inspected for free. Nothing is more important than the safety of our children!
You Are Entitled to Claim Lost Wages Even if You are Paid by Your Employer!
November 1, 2013
If you are unable to work due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident or if you lose time from work for doctor's appointments, you are entitled to compensation for the time you missed from work even if you've already been paid by your employer. You may receive sick leave benefits or use vacation time. However, those are your benefits, and evidence of those benefits is not admissible in Court. If you lose a vacation day, you have suffered a loss. Being paid by your employer for missing time from work because of the pain you are suffering from an automobile accident does not make up for the vacation time you could have spent with your family. Your time is valuable.
Let us help you recover compensation for the time you missed from work and for the other damages to which you are entitled! Call Quinn Law Firm, PLLC today!
August 30, 2013
Dog bite victims may be able to recover compensation for their injuries from irresponsible dog owners under several legal theories. Under one theory, there may be liability for violation of a safety statute, ordinance or regulation. For example, when a dog owner ignores a leash law and simply lets his dog roam the neighborhood, that person could be held accountable for making such a foolish choice.
In North Carolina, dog owners are also generally held liable under basic negligence principles if they knew or should have known that their dog had vicious propensities or was dangerous and failed to take adequate precautions for the protection of others.
Also, if the dog has previously bitten anyone or been declared dangerous by the authorities, then the owner becomes responsible under the theory of strictly liable for any future bites. Homeowner's or renter's insurance may provide coverage for the negligence of their insured which results in a dog bite. If you or a family member has been bitten by a dog, call Quinn Law Firm, PLLC today!