THINK TWICE BEFORE LETTING FRIENDS DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE
September 16, 2019
A friend may ask to drive your car and say, "Don't worry, I have insurance." Nevertheless, automobile insurance in North Carolina typically follows the vehicle instead of the person. Thus, if your friend causes an accident while driving your vehicle, it is likely that your insurance instead of his or hers will pay.
Think twice before letting someone else drive your vehicle. In addition to having your automobile insurance pay for damages, you may also be held personally liable for the negligence of someone driving your vehicle if that person is acting as your agent when an accident occurs, if that person is a family member, or if you negligently entrust your vehicle to that person such as allowing someone to drive who is intoxicated or has no license.
MEDICAL PAYMENTS COVERAGE
September 9, 2019
Medical payments coverage, often referred to as “med pay,” will cover reasonable and necessary medical and funeral expenses incurred as a result of an automobile accident. The expenses must be incurred within 3 years from the date of the accident in order for the coverage to apply. While med pay is an optional coverage not required by the state of North Carolina, it can be extremely helpful to individuals who are financially strapped due to an automobile accident.
If you have a North Carolina insurance policy, you are eligible to file med pay even if your medical expenses are paid in full by your health insurance company. If the accident was not your fault, you are also eligible to file med pay if your medical expenses were paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If your insurance policy was issued in a state other than North Carolina, there may be a right of subrogation or reimbursement if your medical expenses are paid by both the liability insurance company and your own automobile insurance carrier when a third party is at fault for the accident. Quinn Law Firm, PLLC can help you determine if the medical payments carrier has reimbursement or subrogation rights, can help determine if there is more than one policy that will provide medical payments coverage for your accident, and can answer questions about medical payments and other coverages.
NO "HANDS FREE NC" FOR NOW
August 26, 2019
North Carolina's legislature failed to pass the Hands Free NC Act last month which would have banned all cellphone usage by drivers in North Carolina. Three prior attempts to pass such a law in North Carolina have failed, while similar laws have passed in 16 other states.
The law would have imposed a $100 fine for first offenders with repeat offenders receiving higher fines and stiffer punishments.
According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, distracted driving was a factor in more than 10% of North Carolina deaths last year.
However, opponents of the bill see the Hands Free NC Act as sanctioning governmental interference with personal liberty. Opponents cherish their personal freedoms and don't want government telling them what they can and can't do.
Supporters of the proposed law see it as a safety issue and say they will try again next year.
LOST WAGE CLAIMS
August 19, 2019
If you are injured in an automobile accident, you may be entitled to recover lost wages. There are several types of lost wage claims.
1) Past lost wages: This is compensation for time already missed from work either for doctor's appointments or because you are disabled from working as a result of your injuries.
2) Future lost wages: If you suffer a traumatic injury that will render you unable to work in the future, you may be entitled to compensation for future loss of income. An economist's testimony will likely be required to document future wages.
3) Diminished earning capacity: If you are able to return to work after an accident but not to the extent that you worked before the accident, your ability to earn wages may be diminished. You may even be forced to take a job which pays less than you were earning before the accident. An economist's testimony will also likely be required to prove diminished earning capacity.
August 12, 2019
Driving at night is more dangerous than driving during daylight hours. Visibility is limited at night to the range of your headlights. Reflections and glare can reduce visibility even more. Depth perception, peripheral vision and color recognition are all compromised at night, and your night vision worsens as you age.
Drivers are more likely to be tired or sleepy at night, and there are more drunk drivers on the road at night. Your chances of being involved in a deadly crash are three times greater at night according to the National Safety Council.
Be safe, and take steps to combat the risks of night driving:
1) Slow down to allow for reduced visibility.
2) Dim the lights on your dashboard.
3) Clean your windshield to help eliminate streaks.
4) Wear glasses that are anti-reflective and help minimize glare.
5) Don't look directly at oncoming lights.
AUGUST 4TH IS NATIONAL COAST GUARD DAY
August 4, 2019
The Coast Guard is a branch of the United States military and one of the five US Armed Forces. The Coast Guard is charged with protecting our country's waterways. They conduct search and rescue missions and offer courses on boating safety to help prevent accidents on our waterways. Unfortunately, people sometimes ignore safe boating rules and become a danger to other boaters. If you see a drunk boater, call the Coast Guard. They enforce federal laws against boating under the influence. If you are injured by a drunk boater or someone else disregarding boater safety rules, call Quinn Law Firm for assistance. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.
JULY 15TH IS WORLD YOUTH SKILLS DAY
July 15, 2019
World Youth Skills Day was established by the United Nations in 2014 to focus on the goals of employment and entrepreneurship by the youth of the world and to propel countries around the world toward a more prosperous future.
The United Nations recognized that our youth are our future. Quinn Law Firm encourages you to protect our youth by setting a good example for them when you drive, buckling your seatbelt, putting down your phone and never drinking while driving.
HEALTH INSURANCE SUBROGATION LIENS
July 8, 2019
People who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents are often eligible to have some or all of their medical expenses paid by their health insurance carrier. In some situations, the heath insurance company may be entitled to reimbursement for benefits paid in the event the injured party recovers a settlement from the person at fault for the accident.
True health insurance companies who issue policies within the State of North Carolina are not allowed to contain provisions for subrogation. See 11 North Carolina Administrative Code 12.0319 which states that, "Life or accident and health insurance forms shall not contain a provision allowing subrogation of benefits."
However, if an out-of-state health insurance company issues a policy, such policy would not be subject to the regulations of the North Carolina Administrative Code. The health insurance company could issue a policy containing subrogation provisions if allowed to do so by the state in which the policy is being issued.
GIVE BIG TRUCKS PLENTY OF SPACE
June 10, 2019
A tractor trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds and require a distance equivalent to two football fields to stop, while an average passenger vehicle weighing 3,000 to 4,000 pounds can usually stop in half that distance. A tractor trailer's stopping distance increases with heavy loads and with weather conditions such as rain, sleet, snow or ice. Also, unlike most passenger vehicles which have hydraulic brakes, most large tractor trailers have air brakes. Air brakes have lag time similar to the delay between the time the water is turned on and the time it comes out of the hose. When a truck driver applies the brake, compressed air has to travel from one part of the braking system to another. This results in a short delay between the time the truck driver applies the brakes and the time the brakes react. Never cut suddenly in front of a tractor trailer, and always give large trucks and buses plenty of room to stop.
WHO HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY WHEN TRAFFIC LIGHTS ARE OUT?
June 3, 2019
When a traffic light is out due to a power outage or malfunction, vehicles are required to proceed as if the intersection had stop signs controlling all approaches. However, this rule doesn't apply when traffic is being directed by a law enforcement officer, another authorized person or a different type of traffic control device.
May 20, 2019
Floods can occur almost anytime and anywhere in North Carolina. Follow these safety rules when you encounter wet roads:
1) Don't drive through standing water or puddles. You can lose control of your vehicle in six inches of water or less.
2) Don't drive through flooded sections of the highway. If you can't see the road markings ahead, stop immediately. Even a foot of water can sweep your vehicle away.
3) If your car does travel through water, you should test your brakes to make sure they are functioning properly. If your brakes are wet, they may pull to one side or not work at all, You can dry your brakes by driving very slowly and lightly applying pressure to the brake pedal.
Be safe, and arrive alive!
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR STOPPING DISTANCE
May 6, 2019
There are two factors that determine how long it takes to stop your vehicle. The first is your reaction time. Thus, paying close attention to your surroundings while driving is extremely important. Watch out for pedestrians, other vehicles, animals and anything else that could result in you having to stop suddenly. Avoid all distractions while driving.
The second factor in determining how long it takes to stop your vehicle is its braking distance. How long it should take your car to stop is not always determinative of how long it actually will take your car to stop.
In order to insure that your vehicle is able to stop as quickly as possible, start with checking the brakes themselves. Make sure that the brake pads and rotors are not worn or damaged.
Check your tires as well. Make sure that they have sufficient tread and have not passed their expiration date. Old tires can become dried out and brittle and can blow out.
Finally, pay attention to weather conditions. Braking on extremely wet roads can cause your vehicle to hydroplane, and special tires or chains may be required in icy or snowy conditions.
Remember, following these simple rules may help you to avoid collisions with others who don't. Stay safe, and arrive alive!
WATCH OUT FOR TRUCKS MAKING WIDE RIGHT TURNS
April 29, 2019
Commercial truck drivers are trained on how to properly make right turns. The NC Commercial Driver License Manual published by the NC Department of Transportation states that drivers of tractor trailers and other large commercial vehicles should keep their wheels close to the curb and only swing wide after starting to make their turn so that their vehicle doesn’t cross into the lane of oncoming traffic.
Nevertheless, many commercial truck drivers move into the left lane before making a wide right turn. Drivers behind them sometimes believe that the truck driver is going to make a left turn when he moves into the left lane in preparation for making a wide right turn. They believe it is safe to pull up beside the truck in the right-hand lane and even into the truck's blind spot. They may not realize the truck is making a right turn until it suddenly crosses the lane in front of them. By that time, it may be too late to stop, and collisions with large trucks can be dangerous if not fatal.
Always keep a proper lookout for vehicles around you and especially for those ahead of you. Be safe, and arrive alive!
WEAR YOUR SEATBELT!
April 8, 2019
Pursuant to North Carolina General Statutes § 20-135.2A, every occupant of a motor vehicle equipped with seat belts must have his or her seat belt properly fastened at all times while the vehicle is in motion. Special rules may apply to minors under the age of 16.
Seat belts save over 15,000 lives a year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and your chances of being ejected from a vehicle are more than 15 times greater if you are not wearing a properly fastened seat belt.
Be safe, and buckle up!
LOSS OF CONSORTIUM CLAIMS
April 1, 2019
A person doesn't always have to receive bodily injuries in order to make a claim arising out of a motor vehicle accident. In North Carolina, if your spouse is injured and no longer able to provide marital services, companionship, sexual gratification or affection, you may have the right to make a claim for loss of consortium. Such claims are typically made when an accident victim is paralyzed, brain damaged or receives other life-altering injuries.
Loss of consortium claims may be available to other family members as well in a wrongful death action. A parent may lose the love and companionship of a child, or a child may lose the love and support of a parent.
When an accident occurs, the injured victim may not be the only one who suffers. A claim for loss of consortium should be considered when the circumstances warrant.
ARE YOUR TIRES SAFE?
February 25, 2019
Old tires are dangerous. They dry out and are at risk for total failure due to tread separation. Even skilled drivers can’t maintain control of their vehicle when their tires fail at 60 mph. So how can you tell if a tire is old? The US Department of Transportation requires all tires to be manufactured with a code which will tell you several things including the week, year, and place of manufacture. The code consists of letters and numbers located on the side of your tires. For tires manufactured from 2000 to present, the date of manufacture is the last four digits of the DOT code. The first two digits are the week of manufacture, and the last two digits are the year. If your tires are more than 6 years old, they are unsafe. Vendors all over the nation are selling tires that are more than 6 years old. Don’t assume that a tire is brand new because you just bought it. It may have been sitting on the shelf for years. Be safe, and check the dates on your tires. The following link will show you how: https://www.facebook.com/rayfield.boyd.3/videos/2761457567413422/
ALWAYS TRY TO GET THE LICENSE PLATE NUMBER OF A HIT & RUN DRIVER
February 2, 2019
Many drivers flee the scene of an accident because they've been drinking, don't have insurance or are fearful of being arrested.
Always try to get the license plate number of a hit and run driver. If you are unable to identify either the driver or owner of the hit and run vehicle, your uninsured motorist coverage may still cover your injury claim.
However, uninsured motorist coverage will not pay for your vehicle damage unless you can identify either the driver or owner of the hit and run vehicle. Thus, if you don't have collision coverage, you may be out of luck if the hit and run driver is not apprehended.
CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE DOES NOT ALWAYS BAR RECOVERY
An insurance company may contend that a claimant contributed to the accident as a basis for denying his claim.
North Carolina is one of the few states where contributory negligence will generally bar recovery for damages. However, there are exceptions. For example, contributory negligence is not a defense against gross negligence such as when the other driver is drunk. Likewise, contributory negligence is not a defense against an intentional assault.
If an insurance company alleges you were contributory negligent, always consult an attorney to see if you can still recover for your injuries and damages.
CAN A PASSENGER IN A VEHICLE RECOVER DAMAGES FROM ITS DRIVER?
January 12, 2019
A passenger in a vehicle can typically recover damages from a driver whose negligence causes an accident. However, if the passenger contributes to the accident, he may be barred from recovery. For example, when a passenger rides with a driver whom he knew or should have known was drunk, the passenger's own negligence will generally bar him from recovering from the driver or from the driver’s insurance company.
LEFT-TURN TRAFFIC SIGNALS
CHRISTMAS TREE SAFETY
December 15, 2018
It only takes a few seconds for a dry Christmas tree to become engulfed in flames. Please follow these simple holiday safety tips:
1. Use decorations made of non-combustible or flame-retardant materials.
2. Don't use damaged light strings. Inspect them carefully before use.
3. Don't overload the extension cords.
4. Turn off all Christmas light decorations before you leave the house or go to bed.
5. If you have a live Christmas tree, water it every day. Moist trees create much less of a fire hazard than dry ones.
6. Keep your Christmas tree at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, candles, portable heaters and other heat sources.
At Quinn Law Firm, we wish you a very safe and Merry Christmas!
DRIVER POSITION SAFETY TIPS
December 8, 2018
1) Don't sit too close to the steering wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you should drive with your breastbone at least 10 inches from the airbag cover in the center of the steering wheel at all times. If you have trouble getting your feet to reach the pedals, try using pedal extenders.
2) Always adjust your steering wheel downward so that it points at your chest and not at your head or neck.
3) Keep your hands at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock position. Not only is this position stable and comfortable, it also keeps your hands out of harm's way from the airbag.
4) Wear your shoulder harness so that it sits flat against your chest and not against your neck, and wear your seatbelt so that it fits snugly across your hips.
Following these simple tips will help keep you safe when you're behind the wheel.
Automobile manufacturers equip vehicles with airbags to protect occupants from injury when a crash occurs.
To get the most benefit from an airbag, always make sure your seat belt is properly fastened.
To protect children, always put them in the back seat with proper restraints. If a child must ride in the front seat, move the child's seat back as far as you possibly can, and tell the child never to lean forward at any time during the trip.
Never place rear-facing car seats in the path of an airbag.
TIPS FOR DRIVING IN WORK ZONES
November 26, 2018
Expect closed lanes, reduced speed limits and other conditions in work zones that can affect normal traffic flow. Whenever possible, use alternate routes. When not possible, follow these safety tips:
1) Don't speed. The penalty for speeding in a work zone is $250.
2) Turn on your headlights so workers and other motorists can see you.
3) Pay attention, and don't get distracted.
4) Keep up with traffic, but don't tailgate.
5) Don't change lanes in a work zone.
6) Expect the unexpected. Watch out for workers, their equipment and road debris.
WHICH WAY SHOULD YOUR WHEELS BE POINTED WHEN WAITING TO MAKE A LEFT TURN?
November 19, 2018
Your wheels should always be pointed straight when you are waiting to make a left turn. Otherwise, you will be pushed into oncoming traffic if you are struck from behind. Many people are killed in traffic accidents every year by failing to follow this simple safety rule.
November 12, 2018
Walking is a great way to get exercise, but don’t take unnecessary chances. Crossing the street outside of the crosswalk is known as jaywalking, a practice which can result in serious injury or death.
If you are not in the crosswalk when you cross the street, you must maintain a proper lookout for all vehicles on the highway and yield the right-of-way to them. Failure to do so is contributory negligence which you can bar a pedestrian’s recovery of damages for his or her injuries in a civil action in North Carolina.
Stay safe. Stay in the crosswalk!
WHO HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY WHEN MERGING?
November 5, 2018
A driver has the right of way in the lane in which his vehicle is traveling. Always be careful when merging into someone else's lane. NCGG 20-146(d)(1) states that a driver should not move his vehicle into another lane “until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.” Nevertheless, even if you have the right of way, slow down when you see another driver trying to move into your lane and allow him to merge. Be courteous to other drivers on the road.
COLLISIONS WITH LIVESTOCK
October 29, 2018
Collisions with animals kill 200 people a year in the United States. Many others are injured and their vehicles damaged.
Who is responsible? Obviously, it's not the animal. However, sometimes action can be taken against the livestock owner. Anyone who owns livestock in North Carolina is required to take reasonable measures to ensure that their animals do not escape.
Taking reasonable measures includes providing adequate fencing or other enclosures and also properly maintaining those enclosures.
Victims of collisions with livestock must prove that the livestock owner was negligent in order to recover damages. This may be hard to do when a determined bull breaks through a perfectly good solid fence and escapes. Consult an experienced personal injury attorney if you or a loved one has been injured in a collision with livestock.
LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR CAR
October 22, 2018
North Carolina law requires every motor vehicle traveling on the highway to have its headlights and rear lamps lit: 1) from sunrise to sunset, 2) any time there's not enough light to clearly discern a person from distance of 400 feet, and 3) any time that your windshield wipers are constantly in use due to smoke, rain, snow, fog or other weather or environmental conditions which severely reduce your ability to clearly see a person or motor vehicle at a distance of 500 feet. You're not required to have your headlights and rear lamps on if your windshield wipers are operating only intermittently due to misting rain, snow or sleet.
As of March 1, 2018, North Carolina law requires all vehicles originally equipped with white backup lights to have those backup lights operational.
North Carolina also has laws in effect setting forth the lighting requirements for motorcycles, bicycles, road machinery, farm equipment and trailers.
1) Be prepared. Keep your gas tank full and your car in good running condition. You don’t want to run out of gas or be stuck on the side of the road with
car trouble during a hurricane.
2) If you have to travel, don’t wait till the last minute. Waiting increases the risk that you will get stuck in traffic as the storm intensifies around you.
3) Stay in your vehicle and try to find a sheltered place to park such as a parking garage or overpass.
4) Don’t drive through water on the road. There can be hidden dangers beneath the water. It can damage to your engine or even sweep your vehicle off the road.
5) Be aware of your surroundings, and be on the lookout for downed electrical wires, trees or other debris on the road and in the air.
6) Maintain a safe distance from big trucks and trailers on the road. Because of their large surface area, they are more vulnerable to tipping over in strong winds.
7) Don’t set your cruise control. Doing so could make your vehicle accelerate and hydroplane turning a bad situation into a worse one. If you do hydroplane, take your foot off the accelerator. Don’t hit the brakes or turn your steering wheel. Wait till you regain traction and then tap the brakes lightly to help them dry.
8) When it’s raining so hard that you can’t see what’s ahead of you, pull off the road and wait it out.
It’s best to stay completely off the road during a hurricane. If you can’t, remember these tips and stay safe!
TIPS FOR AVOIDING ROAD RAGE ACCIDENTS
October 8, 2018
AVOID CONFRONTATION. Don't let another driver draw you into a confrontation that can end badly. Remember, driving is not a competitive sport.
ATTITUDE. Always try to control your anger and stay calm. Focus on your driving and on getting to your destination safely.
KEEP UP THE PACE. When you drive in the left lane, make sure to keep up with other traffic.
No matter how fast you are going, move into the right lane if another driver wants to pass.
AVOID TAILGATING. Not only does tailgating increase your chances of being involved in an accident, it also annoys other drivers around you.
AVOID GESTURES. Although you may be angry over the rudeness of another driver, never let the other driver see that you are upset.
Never make angry or obscene gestures towards the other driver.
GET HELP. If you feel that your safety is in jeopardy as a result of road rage, call the police or go to a heavily populated area.
Never drive to your home, and never get out of your car to confront an angry driver.
DRIVE SMART! STAY CALM, AND STAY SAFE!
WHEN YOUR NEW CAR IS WRECKED
September 24, 2018
North Carolina General Statute 20-71.4 makes it a misdemeanor to transfer title to a motor vehicle which is 5 model years old or less and to fail to disclose in writing to the purchaser that it has been involved in a collision in which the cost of repairs, excluding airbag replacement, exceeded 25% of the vehicle's fair market value at the time of the collision.
Thus, if another driver causes an accident in which your vehicle is wrecked but not totaled, your vehicle may lose value. After all, no purchaser is going to pay the same price for a vehicle that has been wrecked as for one that hasn't.
If an accident results in your vehicle losing value, you may be entitled to make a claim for diminution in value in addition to your claims for vehicle repairs, loss of use and any other property damage claims you may have.
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!