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Personal Injury Law NC2021-06-16T21:27:13-04:00

Personal Injury Law NC

If you have been injured by the actions or negligence of someone else and believe you may have a case, please contact us about your case.

What is personal injury law?

NC Personal injury law, also known as Tort law, is defined as an injury to the body (less so emotional or mental injuries in NC), as a result of the negligence, carelessness, or wrongful conduct of another person or business. The injured party is allowed to file a lawsuit and seek damages to cover the cost of lost wages and medical expenses caused by the injury.

Pain scales and other subjective issues with reporting pain2021-04-23T20:49:50-04:00

Pain scales and other subjective issues with reporting pain

So I hate pain scales. When you’re hurt and in a decent amount of pain and want a doctor to take you seriously, you’re naturally going to rate your pain highly on a scale of 1 to 10. But the reality is that a 10 should be akin to natural childbirth or that the pain is so great that you’re going to pass out. In my not so humble opinion, if you’re going to say you’re at an 8 on a 1-10 pain scale, a bone needs to be sticking out of your skin or you are on fire. I like this pain scale from Hyperbole and a Half (by Allie Brosh) if you haven’t read her blog or her books, you’re missing out.

At any rate, you get the gist. If a health care provider asks you to rate your pain, ask them to set the high and low number values for you. Pain is subjective at its core because we all experience it differently. Some people have bulging discs with little to no nerve pain, others have significant nerve pain and other neurological issues which gets me to objective findings coupled with subjective reports of pain.

Many doctors (mostly back doctors) are going to want to see objective findings that correlate to your subjective reports of pain and they can get those objective findings a number of ways during a physical exam or scan. A common method of testing for exaggeration of faking is the use of Waddell’s signs.

These signs include:

Positive Waddell’s sign for tenderness- if there is deep tenderness over a wide area, that is a positive sign.

Stimulation – downward pressure on the head causes low back pain is a positive sign. The examiner holding the shoulders and hips in the same plane and rotating patient, resulting in pain is a positive sign.

Distraction – straight leg raise causes pain when formally tested, but straightening the leg with the hip flex 90 degrees to check Babinski sign does not cause pain, is a positive sign.

Regional – if there is weakness in multiple muscles not enervated by the same root sensation, such as a “glove and stocking” loss of sensation, this is a positive sign.

Overreaction – if there is an excessive show of emotion, this is a positive sign.

Test to detect false paresis (weakness or loss of voluntary movement) is the “arm drop” test. The examiner holds the paretic hand above the patient’s face and drops it, if that hand misses the patient’s face on the way down, the paresis is non-organic.

Bottom line, don’t malinger or try to seem like you’re worse than you actually are. You’ll get caught because doctors are good detectives when assessing their patients and then you’ll alienate your doctor.

What happens after I am released by my doctor?2021-06-16T21:21:37-04:00

What happens after I am released by my doctor?

So my favorite answer is: it depends!

Look, if you’re injured and you’ve been released by your doctor, AND you are able to go back to work AND you are earning your pre-injury gross income, life is good! If you have been given a permanent partial impairment rating to a “body part,” you will be paid “PPD” or permanent partial disability compensation based on the permanent partial impairment to your body has sustained.

The key is that the statute only identifies specific body parts like lower extremity, foot, arm, back, etc. as having value. The statue can be found here: http://www.ic.nc.gov/ncic/pages/statute/97-31.htm.

Again, the key variable in this equation is the amount of permanent partial impairment as you multiply that number by the number of weeks allowed for the body part injured and then multiply that by your compensation rate – not complicated at all, right? As an example, let’s assume that your compensation rate is $400.00 and use that for an example:

5% impairment to the shoulder x 240 weeks allowed by statute for the arm (12 weeks)

12 weeks x $400.00 = $4,800.00

Based on the fact pattern above, here is how Line 8 of the Form 26A should be filled out for one body part, in this case the shoulder as described above:

8. Permanent partial disability compensation will be paid to the injured worker as follows:
12 weeks of compensation at a rate of $400.00 per week for 5% rating to the upper extremity.

However, if you were released to return to work with restrictions and your wages have been lower than your pre-injury wages, you should contact Laurie Meilleur immediately as you are likely entitled to other (and maybe “more”) compensation!

Please keep in mind that vocational rehabilitation is available in some cases including educational costs such as tuition for college or certification/training courses! Most of the time insurance adjusters will want you to sign off on a Form 26A so that the clock can start running (see the FAQ on time limits for additional medical treatment or other benefits).

However, there are other types of agreements and compensation that may be better for your situation. Please contact an attorney if your wages have dropped since returning to work and you have not received any compensation to make up for the difference at any time after your injury as you may be missing out on what our lawmakers intended for you to have.

How long will it take to settle my claim?2021-06-16T21:22:03-04:00

How long will it take to settle my claim?

It depends on your case and the extent of treatment you need. It is usually the duration of your medical treatment that dictates the timing of your case and it is unwise to try to settle the case before you are fully recovered from your injuries.

What do I do after a car accident?2021-06-16T21:22:11-04:00

What do I do after a car accident?

Sometimes after an accident, your adrenaline is pumping and you’re in a state of shock. You may not notice injuries right away and in most cases, injuries are minor and will easily recover with rest, ice, and over the counter anti-inflammatories. But sometimes, that ache starts shortly after the accident and doesn’t go away.

Because you never know the extent of any injury immediately after the accident it is best to always try to do the following:

  • Pull over if you are blocking traffic. Stopping after an accident is required in North Carolina and failure to do so can result in criminal charges for a hit and run. If you get into an accident on an interstate…do not get out of the car until law enforcement arrives. Try to move to an emergency lane and call 911. There have been too many serious accidents because an accident victim got out of a car, only to be hit by oncoming traffic who couldn’t see the accident or avoid impact. In your car, you have some safety from impact.
  • Check to see if you or anyone else was injured in your car and if so, call 911 and follow the dispatcher’s instructions. Do not try to move anyone who has been injured.
  • Call the cops. Even if the other driver gives you a copy of their insurance and driver’s license, you will want an official police report if you wish to pursue compensation.
  • Exchange information with the other driver and try to get the name and phone number of any witnesses. Use your smartphone to create a voice memo or recording of their statement if you have time. Any witness who stops is stopping because they saw something go wrong and want to help. Take advantage of that gift.
  • If you’re physically in North Carolina, try to record any conversation with any driver or person you believe was at-fault or take notes.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you are injured. Even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured, going to see your primary doctor is a good way to document symptoms. Sometimes injuries don’t show symptoms until hours after the injury. And again, make sure that you explain that you were in an accident.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company and ask about med-pay or medical payment coverage. If the at-fault driver or their insurance company doesn’t take care of the damage to your car in a reasonable time frame, you can ask your insurance company to cover your property damage. They will then seek reimbursement through the at-fault insurance carrier.
  • Report the accident to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Upon notice of the accident, the adjuster for the at-fault driver will begin an investigation and will probably want to speak with you as part of their investigation. You do not have to do this. Also, please have an attorney review any document given to you by the at-fault adjuster because you could sign something that waives your right to file a claim in the future.
  • Keep a diary. It could be a video diary. It could be a note on your phone. You will want to document your injuries, treatment, details of an accident, expenses, etc. If you have any development in any way, you should document it. Cases sometimes take a while to resolve and your notes will be helpful in recalling details that may get fuzzy with time.
How do I claim Med-Pay from my Insurance Carrier?2021-06-16T21:23:25-04:00

How do I claim Med-Pay from my Insurance Carrier?

Because Med-Pay is not required in North Carolina, you should contact your insurance agent to see if you have it and elect it if you do not. Assuming that you have the Med-Pay election/policy, you need to organize your documentation relating to any accident.

If you get emergency or other medical services for yourself or anyone else that was injured in the accident, you need to inform the medical professional that you received the injury through an accident so that they can correctly document your injuries and any associated bills should be expenses eligible to be reimbursed through Med-Pay.

If a medical provider tries to get you to sign lien paperwork allowing them to collect directly from your Med-Pay policy, please contact an attorney as most policies do not require this and you should be the first person to collect Med-Pay. While providers are allowed to have a lien against any recovery against an at-fault driver for medical bills, there is no lien under the North Carolina general statutes, §44-49, §44-50, with respect to medical payment coverages.

What is Med-Pay?2021-06-16T21:23:46-04:00

What is Med-Pay?

Med-Pay is short hand for “medical payments coverage” which is an additional kind of insurance car owners can purchase when they purchase car insurance. It is usually a couple of thousand dollars, but you can request a Med-Pay amount of up to $100,000 in North Carolina. Insurers have to request Med-Pay as it is not automatic. The benefit of Med-Pay is that eligibility for receiving Med-Pay funds is not dependent upon fault. So even if you are the at fault driver, you can still receive funds through a Med-Pay policy.

What if I can’t work because of injuries I received in an accident?2021-06-16T21:24:21-04:00

What if I can’t work because of injuries I received in an accident?

Keep track of your lost hours and whether you use sick/vacation leave to offset time lost from work. You will not get compensation for lost wages until you are ready to settle your claim because most insurances do not pay for any part of a claim until after you receive all of your medical care and treatment related to your injuries so that the claim can be settled in a lump sum.

How is compensation for pain and suffering calculated?2021-06-16T21:24:53-04:00

How is compensation for pain and suffering calculated?

There is no exact formula. But the general amount an insurance company pays will be dependent upon the severity of your injuries and the amount of medical care you require. The more serious the injuries or extensive the treatment, the more you will recover for pain and suffering.

How much time do I have to initiate a lawsuit for my accident?2021-06-16T21:25:01-04:00

How much time do I have to initiate a lawsuit for my accident?

The statute of limitations in North Carolina for car accidents is three years from the date of the car accident. If you fail to file a lawsuit for damages within that three-year period, you will likely lose your right to compensation. If the claim is for wrongful death, the statute of limitations is two years.

QUESTIONS ABOUT A LEGAL ISSUE? ASK US.

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While we endeavor to provide accurate information at this website and in the podcasts and blogs, we cannot guarantee that the information provided here (or linked from this site) is up to date, accurate, complete, or adequate for your needs. We provide general legal information on an ‘as-is’ basis.

We make no warranties and disclaim liability for damages resulting from its use. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances in your case, and laws are constantly changing, so nothing provided at this site should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

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