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Study Examines Gas Pedal Accidents in North Carolina

Older women cause about two-thirds of all gas pedal accidents in which the driver accidentally steps on the accelerator instead of the brake, according to a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

driver responds in shock at gas pedal incidentThe study, reported by the Associated Press, also finds that when looking at all types of car accidents, about 60 percent of drivers involved in motor vehicle crashes are men.

And in another finding, the gas pedal accidents tend to involve drivers who were over age 76 or under age 20. Researchers analyzed more than 2,400 gas pedal accidents in a North Carolina state crash database and also looked at nearly 900 media reports of such crashes.

If you or a loved one is injured in an accident due to negligence, such as a gas pedal accident, don’t hesitate to contact a North Carolina personal injury lawyer. An experienced car accident attorney in North Carolina who is well versed in state law may be able to help you get compensation for your losses.

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, our legal professionals have experience representing people injured through no fault of their own. The staff and attorneys have seen first-hand the devastating impact of serious injuries that may occur as a result of some other person’s negligent behavior.

Gas pedal accidents in the United States have had tragic consequences. In 2003, an 86-year-old man drove his car into a busy open-air market in Santa Monica, Calif., which resulted in 10 deaths and 63 injuries.

Most of these types of accidents occurred in parking lots, parking garages and driveways, according to the federal study.

While there may be several reasons for the frequency of gas pedal accidents among elderly drivers and teenage drivers, researchers say it’s possible that areas of the brain that deal with driving aren’t as robust in those age groups, according to the Associated Press report.

The Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina, under contract for NHTSA, and TransAnalytics LLC of Quakertown, Pa., conducted the study, according to the Associated Press.

Auto accidents can be overwhelming, whether you were injured in a car or injured as a pedestrian. A personal injury lawyer who knows how to deal with the insurance companies may be able to help you get justice. Talk to a law firm in North Carolina who understands what victims are coping with. Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. Call 1-866-900-7078. The firm has 16 offices located throughout North Carolina and one office in South Carolina.

Home Foreclosures Surge in January

Foreclosure sales spiked in January, indicating that many across the country are still struggling in the slow economy and may benefit from debt relief.

Aerial view of homesThe LPS Mortgage Monitor reported that foreclosure sales rose to 91,000 in January, up 29 percent from the previous month. The number of foreclosure starts also increased by 28 percent, and starts for repeat foreclosures hit an all-time high of 47 percent.

The agency suggested that the increase could suggest that a backlog of proceedings have finally started to move forward.

Foreclosure sales had dropped off in the fall 2010 after problems with banks’ documentation practices surfaced. Sales had remained flat through 2011.

The biggest increase in foreclosure sales occurred in the 24 “judicial states” – states where banks must get a judge’s permission before foreclosing on a home. Foreclosure sales in these states were up 51 percent over the previous month.

North Carolina is a non-judicial state.

Bankruptcy for Debt Relief

Now that banks are initiating foreclosure proceedings more quickly, many families may be forced to make some hard decisions. Perhaps you have been struggling with your mortgage for months and have fallen behind significantly.

If you are facing the threat of foreclosure – or if the bank has already initiated foreclosure proceedings against you – bankruptcy may be able to offer you the debt relief you need. Depending on how far behind you are on your mortgage, and how much other debt you have accumulated, bankruptcy may allow you to catch up on your payments through a structured debt-repayment plan, or it may allow you to eliminate unsecured debts, freeing up the income to pay back your mortgage.

Now is the time to act. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation to find out how bankruptcy may be able to help you. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

The North Carolina Industrial Commission announced this month that it will begin a review of its own policies and procedures after the Raleigh News & Observer reported that tens of thousands of North Carolina business owners do not buy workers’ compensation insurance, leaving their employees unprotected if they are hurt on the job.

The newspaper reported this month that the state does not track lapses in coverage, even though the Industrial Commission is notified of such instances. The commission also does not usually enforce fines for these violations of the law (up to $100 per day), and cases that are brought before it rarely lead to prosecution or sentencing.

Lack of Protection

 construction worker digging into dirt and rocks while standing in a holeWorkers’ compensation was introduced in the 1930s to protect workers who were injured on the job. In North Carolina, businesses with three or more employees are required to carry the insurance, or they must certify that they have the assets to pay for their liabilities for worker injuries.

However, the report by the Raleigh News & Observer indicated that about 170,000 companies in the state meet this criteria, yet databases show that insurance carriers only covered about 140,000 businesses for workers’ compensation insurance.

When workers are hurt on the job and their employers do not carry workers’ compensation insurance, they can sue their employer or appeal to the N.C. Industrial Commission to get compensation.

In the fiscal year 2011, the commission received 62,409 such claims, and about 75 percent of them were settled through mediation.

Need for Reform

The report by the Raleigh News & Observer noted that the N.C. Industrial Commission has the power to enforce the requirement that businesses carry workers’ compensation insurance, but that it rarely checks for lapses in coverage – which can be monitored through a state-mandated reporting system.

The commission is usually not aware that a business is in breach of the law until an injured worker files a complaint.

This lack of oversight often leaves injured workers struggling to pay mounting medical bills while also being unable to work, and proceedings can go on for years before a resolution is reached. Moreover, according to the article, those businesses who choose not to purchase workers’ compensation insurance often do so in an effort to cut costs and stay afloat, so most would not have enough assets to pay for any injuries should a case be decided in a worker’s favor.

The legislature approved changes to the workers’ compensation system last year but did not address the problem with the lack of coverage. Instead, the new law focused on cutting the amount and length of payment due to injured workers so that the cost of the insurance would go down.

Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin, a former deputy commissioner at the Industrial Commission, and a lawyer with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, called on Gov. Bev Perdue to make prompt reforms. He told The Charlotte Observer that he will ask Perdue to put reforms in the budget bill for this session.

Berger also said the commission should be required to perform spot checks on workers’ compensation insurance to ensure compliance. He also suggested giving more authority to the Department of Insurance to investigate fraud.

Gov. Bev Perdue called on the commission to make immediate changes to correct the problem.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

If you were injured on the job, don’t wait to find out if your employer is in compliance of the laws and will be able to provide compensation for your injuries. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 to find out how we may be able to help you. We have experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers who may be able to fight to get you the compensation you may deserve.

A sad woman in a dimly lit room.Tax time may give some the chance they need to finally to take a little trip. Others may use that extra cash to pad their savings for a rainy day.

For many who are struggling financially, tax time gives them the opportunity to finally declare bankruptcy, new research shows.

Economists at Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and Washington University in St. Louis found that the number of bankruptcy filings increases after people receive their tax refunds – when they finally have the money to pay the increased filing costs brought about by changes to the bankruptcy laws in 2005.

The researchers argue that many who want to file for bankruptcy cannot afford the average of $1,477 in fees that it now costs to file – an increase of approximately 60 percent since the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act was passed. The law also requires people to pay for their own mandatory credit counseling before they can file.

Limited Access

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 2 million people filed for bankruptcy in 2005. After the new law was passed, that number dropped 71 percent to 598,000.

Researchers for this new study said that bankruptcy filings rose 2 percent after tax rebates were received in 2001, but they increased 7 percent after tax rebates in 2008 – an increase of more than 300 percent.

The evidence suggests that the changes in the law have prevented many with lower incomes from filing for bankruptcy, rather than screening out abuse as intended, the researchers said.

“According to our research, bankruptcy fees prevent the most financially distressed households from being able to file, and tens of thousands of households will have trouble saving up for bankruptcy in 2012,” said Jialan Wang, a finance professor at Washington University in St. Louis and one of the study’s authors.

Bankruptcy provides a valuable form of debt relief for many families, and an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine how best to file bankruptcy if it is the right solution for you. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 to find out how we may be able to help you!

Some Social Security Attorneys Forced to Screen Clients Over Threat of Lost Fees, Group Reports

The National Organization of Social Security Claimants (NOSSCR) reported that some of its members are being forced to screen prospective clients seeking representation in federal court after changes were made to the law that deprive lawyers of receiving fees, in some cases.

social security lawyer on the phone screening potential clientsUnder the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), some disabled citizens are able to pursue Social Security benefits denied to them by the federal government. The act was created to allow impoverished individuals to sue the government, even if they couldn’t afford to hire an attorney to assist them. The act helped these individuals by awarding attorneys’ fees as part of a settlement in a winning case.

However, the Supreme Court upheld a decision that any fees awarded under this act must be paid directly to the injured party, rather than the attorney. The ruling also said that when plaintiffs were found to owe the federal government for another matter, these fees could be garnished to satisfy the debt – regardless of whether the attorney had been paid for services or not.

The result is that many people who were formerly offered some assistance to pursue claims against the government are now being hampered by the government to get the representation they need. Many NOSSCR members are reporting that they are forced to screen prospective clients to find out if they have federal debts before they commit to represent them and avoid risking loss of the attorney fees.

In some cases, awards that were previously made to provide legal assistance are now being stripped to pay back other debts – debts that may have been accumulated because the government has denied these people their rightful compensation in the first place.

Because this effect could result in some citizens being limited in their ability to get counsel, the Commissioner of Social Security Administration is authorized to request an exemption to the rule for EAJA fees. However, we know of no exemptions that have been made, and in our opinion, such an exemption is unlikely.

The Supreme Court decision is a tragedy that is playing out in ways that are depriving disabled, poor and often elderly citizens from getting the justice that they may need. The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin encourages all those who have experienced a denial of social security disability claims or knows a loved one who has to call your representative to demand legislative changes that ensure all citizens truly do have equal access to justice by being able to hire an attorney to represent them.

Top Five Counties for Traffic Fatalities in North Carolina

Traffic deaths in North Carolina are more likely to occur along rural roads, according to AAA Carolinas. Statistics show that the following counties had the most traffic fatalities in North Carolina:

  • Transylvania
  • Graham
  • Alleghany
  • Gates
  • Hyde

Overall, North Carolina has been ranked the 18th most dangerous state per mile driven, with an average of four people a day dying in car accidents. AAA Carolinas has attributed North Carolina’s rural roads for the high number of traffic fatalities, saying, “Rural roads are generally narrower, with lower shoulders, faded or non-existent road markers, more curves and less police presence than major highways.”

Line of cars stuck behind a car accidentTransportation Secretary Gene Conti said that North Carolina drivers can improve safety by “doing their part by slowing down, paying close attention, never drinking and driving, and always wearing their seatbelts, which is their best defense if they’re in a crash.”

The safest counties for traffic fatalities in North Carolina were Currituck, Polk, Haywood, Dare, and Cherokee.

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a car accident, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help. You may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and you need to know your rights. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.

Just Looking for Advice? You May Need Much More Than That

Person at a crossroadsThe N.C. Bar Association held its fifth annual 4ALL Statewide Service Day in March, and more than 460 attorneys from across the state worked together to field 8,648 calls over a 12-hour period.  Each year, lawyers participating in the event generously volunteer their time to discuss a wide variety of legal issues with callers, providing general advice and guidance where possible.

he 4ALL Statewide Service Day aims to help those who would otherwise not seek legal advice, and to make them aware of the resources available to them to get the help they may need. This worthy program serves a real need, as many people just need a little guidance to point them in the right direction.

But sometimes, more than advice is needed. Those who have suffered a personal injury as a result of an accident or negligence may need experienced legal representation to fight for compensation that is provided under the law.

When we speak with potential clients at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, sometimes we find that they are not seeking representation, but rather just want a little advice.  However, after our attorneys have had a chance to talk with them about the particular aspects of their case and their rights under the law, we’ve found that by the end of the call, many are eager to be represented.

Before they call us, most clients have already discussed their claim with the insurance adjuster for the at-fault party in their accident, and they often believe their case to be a simple, straightforward matter that can be settled directly. When they call us to discuss their lingering concerns and receive their initial consultation with one of our attorneys, many of these people come to understand how complicated the process of seeking compensation for their injuries can become and how important it is to have a personal injury attorney working on their behalf.  Insurance companies are working for their own interests – and they have teams of lawyers fighting to reduce or eliminate what they have to pay accident victims for their injuries.

Seemingly simple issues that clients think can be resolved without dispute often are much more complicated and can require the expert guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney. While the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin are unable to offer representation to every client who calls us, we have always tried to do our best to answer questions that potential clients have when they call.

Even if you may not be seeking representation for your case, an initial case evaluation is free and confidential, and it may be beneficial.  You may end up speaking with an attorney who can provide answers to your questions and make you aware of legal issues regarding your case. The only bad question is the question that was never asked. Let the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin see if we can help you to pursue compensation for injuries that you or a loved one may have suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence. Call us at 1-866-900-7078 to see if we can help.

Accident Highlights Need to Protect Your Workers Compensation Rights

distraught driver crouches down near pedestrian he hit on the highway.Last week, a truck driver who was walking on a highway entrance ramp while on the job was hit by another driver and was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The truck driver, an Apex man, was delivering a replacement cab to a transport truck that had broken down near the Jones Sausage Road interchange with I-40. As he was trying to cross the highway, the driver of a Mitsubishi struck him.

At the end of the day, the truck driver was still listed in critical condition.

No charges were filed against the driver of the Mitsubishi.

Experienced Legal Representation

Accidents such as these that occur on the job can lead to serious or even fatal injuries. Workers who are involved in these accidents may be entitled to compensation under the law for their injuries and other losses – even if no charges were filed in the case.

The Apex truck driver who was hit by a car may face serious, long-lasting health problems as a result of his accident, and he may lose work and have to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Whether you were hit by a car, fell on the job, or were injured by work equipment, your employer may be liable for providing compensation. An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you! Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

What You Should Know About Collision Coverage in North Carolina

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients is regarding how they should handle damage to their vehicle when they have been involved in a car accident. Typically, the at-fault insurance company should accept responsibility for paying for repairs for your vehicle or for paying the fair-market value of your car if it was totaled. There are times, however, when the at-fault insurance company does not accept liability, leaving you to wonder how your vehicle will be repaired or replaced.

claims adjuster taking notes on the vehicle damage of a clientCollision coverage offers you a way to protect your vehicle when the at-fault insurance company has not accepted liability. While there are certain exclusions from coverage, collision insurance usually provides that when your vehicle is involved in an accident, your insurance company will pay the lesser of actual cash value of the damaged property or the amount necessary to repair or replace the property. The actual cash value of the vehicle is not the amount it would cost to replace it, but rather the car’s value after taking into consideration the depreciation and physical condition of the car at the time of the accident. Any payment made by your insurance company will be reduced by any deductible on the policy.

In the event that the damage to your vehicle was caused by the wrongful act of another person, your insurance company may be subrogated to the claim for relief against that at-fault party. Simply put, this means that your insurance company who paid for the property damage may be reimbursed by the at-fault insurance company to the extent of its payment to you for your vehicle. Likewise, you may also be reimbursed by the at-fault party for any deductible you paid.

Collision coverage is not mandatory, so it is important to know whether your policy includes it so you can determine whether you need to add this coverage. Without collision coverage, you may be forced to pay out of your own pocket for your car’s repairs unless someone else is found liable for the damages (and sometimes even then).

If you or a loved one was involved in an auto accident due to someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. An experienced North Carolina car accident lawyer may be able to help you get compensation.