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The idea of late-appearing car accident injuries sounds strange. If you’re injured, you’ll feel it, right? That’s not always the case. While you are almost certainly going to notice an injury when you’re bleeding profusely or have a badly broken bone, some injuries may be masked in the heat of the moment, and your after-car accident symptoms can take hours, days, or longer to appear. Here’s what you should know.

 A man comforting a traumatized woman after her car accident.

What Causes Delayed Injuries After a Car Accident?

Ever wonder why people often claim they’re sore the day after a car accident? The short answer is adrenaline. Adrenaline (also called epinephrine) is a hormone triggered by the body’s fight-or-flight reflex. When something traumatic like a car crash happens, the body pumps out adrenaline to help you survive a dangerous situation.

Molecular formula & structure of the adrenaline/epinephrine hormone.

Adrenaline enables the body to:

  • Dilate air passages to increase oxygen flow to muscles
  • Contract blood vessels to redirect blood flow to the heart and lungs
  • Decrease the body’s ability to feel pain
  • Increase strength, performance, and threat awareness

With veins full of adrenaline – call it a mute button for pain – you may not feel hurt. Adrenaline can delay common car accident injury symptoms. And, if there are no physically apparent signs of injury, you may even decline medical attention. That can be a big mistake. There are several kinds of injuries that you may not feel for a while.

Common Late-Appearing Car Accident Injuries

The body is a strange and wonderful thing, but sometimes you just can’t trust it. With adrenaline in play, you may not know you’re injured, leading to the phenomenon of late-appearing car accident injuries. Some soft tissue injuries, especially to the organs, aren’t always immediately apparent in any case. As a result, your health could be at risk and you aren’t even aware of it.

People often want to know what to expect physically after a car accident. What are some after-car accident symptoms to look for? Other than feeling sore after a car accident, what should you watch for? Here are some injuries you should be aware of, but may not feel!

The human brain in a body.Brain Injuries

Here’s an example. A healthy woman falls during a ski lesson but rises and continues about her day, joking with friends and seemingly none the worse for wear. She’s completely lucid. Later in the day, she complains of head pain. A few days later, she dies from an epidural hemorrhage.

There may be no difference in the forces the skier experienced in her fall and the forces you experience in a car crash – in fact, a car crash victim may be more at risk because they probably weren’t wearing a helmet. People on certain medications, such as blood thinners, are especially at risk for epidural hemorrhages, but you don’t need any preexisting conditions for it to happen.

This kind of traumatic brain injury is a risk in any crash. According to a congressional report by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, half of all traumatic brain injury victims received their injuries in automobile accidents.

Concussions are another brain injury that may take time to manifest. It happens when a bump, jolt, or blow to the head moves it violently one way and then the other, causing the brain to “bounce” within the skull. It doesn’t matter that your skull didn’t crack. What matters is what happened inside.

Plus, contrary to popular belief, you do not have to “black out” or lose consciousness due to a concussion. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most concussions do not result in a loss of consciousness. Signs of a concussion can include headaches, dizziness, or even changes in behavior.

The intestines, stomach, and abdomen of the human body.Abdominal Injuries

So-called “blunt trauma” to the abdomen – when something applies sudden, direct force to the body – can happen in car accidents. In a study of patients admitted to a trauma center over two years, from 2010 to 2012, researchers found that it took more than eight hours for intra-abdominal injuries to become clinically apparent after blunt trauma.

According to the study, “patients with a blunt intra-abdominal injury manifested a clinical sign or symptom of their intra-abdominal injury, resulting in their diagnosis within eight hours 25 minutes of arrival to the hospital.” Even in a hospital setting, it took more than eight hours on average to diagnose the issue.

Another example of an abdominal injury that may exhibit delayed onset is a bowel perforation – a tear in the intestines or the bowels due to the blunt trauma from the accident. In one case, it took weeks for physicians to diagnose the patient. Many different abdominal injuries may show no immediate symptoms.

The forces at work in a car crash may even weaponize the safety equipment. Seat belts, for example, protect you in the event of a serious accident, and they prevent you from being ejected from the vehicle. However, the restraints can put sudden and sometimes powerful pressure on your body, resulting in what’s called seat belt syndrome.

Seat belt syndrome takes the form of bruising and tenderness of the abdomen and, sometimes, an injury to an organ or even vertebral fractures. In one case, two different car accident patients were admitted to a hospital with symptoms of seat belt syndrome. While scans were initially negative, both were eventually diagnosed with peritonitis – an inflammation of the abdominal lining. One patient’s diagnosis came within 24 hours. The other took three days.

These injuries can and do happen, and you should seek medical attention and give your body time to reveal any injuries you may have suffered.

The muscles and ligaments of the arm in a human body.Injuries to Muscles, Ligaments, and Joints

Muscles and connecting tissue undergo a lot of stress in car accidents. Bruising is common – maybe you hit your arm or knee on the dashboard or door. The trouble is that you might not feel those bruises or more severe injuries right away. You could have a sprain or a strain and not even know it. What’s the difference?

  • Sprain: A sprain is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament (the tissue connecting two bones). Ligaments are the stabilizers for the joints. Sprains may not be immediately apparent and can later affect mobility, range of motion, and many other daily activities. Without the ligaments in the knee to connect the upper leg with the lower leg, you couldn’t walk or run, as an example.
  • Strain: A strain is a twist, pull, and/or tear of muscles or tendons. Tendons are what connect muscles to bones. Muscle strains are graded by severity. A grade one strain doesn’t inhibit you but will be sore. A grade two strain means nearly half of the muscle fibers are torn and results in pain, swelling, and loss of strength. A grade three strain occurs when either the tendon has separated from the muscle or the muscle itself is entirely ruptured, resulting in severe pain and complete loss of function. You may not even realize these injuries at first, especially grade one and grade two strains.

Many of these types of injuries come from hyperextension – the flexing of the body beyond its limits. Other injuries we see people suffering from delayed onset include:

  • Plantar fasciitis: This is an injury to the band of tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes, causing stabbing pain and limiting mobility. When bracing for an impact, you might brace your heel on the floorboard, causing this kind of injury. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ): This is an injury to the ligaments in the jaw causing pain, limiting movement of the jaw, and in some cases locking the jaw. TMJ can happen in airbag deployment, for example.Carpal tunnel syndrome: Most people think of this as a repetitive stress disorder, but in truth, any force that constricts or irritates the median nerve in the carpal tunnel can cause it. Causes include wrist fractures and hyperextending the wrist in a car accident.

The neck vertebrae in a human body.Whiplash and Back Injuries in Car Accidents

One of the most common and sometimes most debilitating injuries someone can suffer in a car accident is whiplash. We’ve dedicated an entire page to discussing whiplash in detail, including the tendency of the injury to manifest long after the accident that caused it.

Back injuries are also common, and some can also exhibit delayed after-accident symptoms. An injury like a herniated disc may not present itself until you bend, lift, or even just lay down. Even spinal cord injuries may not be immediately evident but can have a dramatic, long-lasting, and even permanent effect on your life and ability to function. Delayed back pain after a car accident is not uncommon, so pay attention to your body.

Delayed Injury After a Car Accident: Your Mental Health

Car accidents are traumatic events, not just for the body but the mind as well. They can put a great deal of stress on your mental well-being – worries about the future, stress about your health, and even witnessing the effect of the accident on others can stay with you.

Believe it or not, car accidents are the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the general population. According to a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study, 39.2% of survivors of motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) develop PTSD. It’s not hard to believe that victims aren’t immediately diagnosed, considering that the standard for diagnosis requires someone to suffer symptoms for at least one month.

Why You Should Seek Medical Attention: Beyond Health

Delayed onset injuries threaten your health after a car accident. However, there’s something else at risk as well: your financial well-being. Not seeking immediate medical attention or not bringing discomfort or pain to the attention of a physician as soon as possible can jeopardize your ability to seek compensation.

Late-Appearing Car Accident Injury Insurance Claims May Be Easier to Deny

The insurance companies involved in a car accident case look for suspicious behavior as they try to filter out fraudulent claims. The unfortunate side effect is that they may deny claims filed days or weeks later for injuries with delayed onset. Thus, if you don’t seek medical attention and aren’t reporting pain, discomfort, or anything that feels wrong or out of the ordinary as soon as possible, the insurance company may argue that you weren’t injured at all and deny your claim.

My advice is to seek treatment immediately. Medical professionals may be able to notice things you aren’t able to feel just yet. Initial medical attention immediately after an accident starts a record of your health after the accident. Insurance companies want to see a pattern of seeking care. They want to see a physician’s diagnosis and treatment recommendations. That’s logical to them. Delayed onset injuries don’t work that way, so this can become a point of contention.

Beware of Signing a Document That Waives the Liability of the Insurance Company

After the accident, the insurance company will be in touch. Be careful what you say to them because, as we’ve established, you may not feel any pain and still have a perfectly legitimate injury. The questions they ask are usually scripted and worded very specifically. You may think you’re being friendly while harming your case for potential compensation.

If you say you’re feeling fine, the insurance company may ask you to sign a document that releases the insurance company from liability. You’re not injured, so no big deal, right? The document can be called any number of things, including (but not limited to):

  • Release
  • Release from Liability
  • General Release
  • Release From All Claims
  • Liability Waiver
  • Waiver of Liability

Regardless of what they call it, they’re asking you to settle your case, no matter what injuries manifest later. It can be incredibly difficult to seek compensation for an injury that hasn’t become apparent if you sign this form.

Speak to an Attorney Before You Sign Anything

You may file this under “obvious” coming from me, but I’ve seen too many people accept too little compensation for their injuries. These people can get stuck with expensive medical bills and other complications that significantly diminish their quality of life. Others sign away their rights for nothing and must make do without any financial help.

What to Do After You’re in an Accident – “I Got Hit By a Car But I Feel Fine”

Here’s a quick checklist of things to do after you’re in an accident:

  • Seek medical attention immediately, even if you don’t feel any post-car accident injuries.
  • Be as forthcoming as possible with your doctor. If something feels wrong, strange, or just new, say so.
  • Keep good records and document everything.
  • Be cautious when communicating with an insurance company.
  • Don’t sign any waivers or releases.
  • Consider hiring a personal injury attorney.

The bottom line is, if you’re in a car accident, seek medical attention even if you “feel fine.” Delayed injury after a car accident is a very real possibility. Carefully monitor your body and mind after the accident, and continue to do so. Bring any concerns, pains, discomfort, or even weirdness to the attention of a physician.

Speak to the insurance company as carefully and as little as possible, or better yet, contact an attorney to try to avoid making a costly mistake. You may suffer from delayed injuries after your car accident, be injured and not even know it yet. And, even with a diagnosis, do you have any idea what the immediate and long-term care costs might be? And what about other expenses and costs that may be associated, like missed time at work?

This is what I work on all day, every day, on behalf of my clients. I do everything I can to try to ensure they’re treated fairly, and my team has extensive experience dealing with these injuries. We have a good idea what care could cost you – and it’s probably more than you think!

Don’t delay. We don’t charge up front for our services — instead, we collect a portion of any compensation we recover for you. If you don’t collect, you don’t pay an attorney’s fee.2 Contact us and let’s see what we can do for you.

You were just in a car wreck, but thankfully, no one was hurt. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for your car, which is a total loss. So what now?

In situations where you’ve suffered injuries, the next best step once you’ve received immediate medical attention is clear: find a car accident lawyer who will fight for you. But what if you just want to make sure the insurance company fully compensates you for the loss of your vehicle? It may be time to negotiate.

You had a working vehicle when you started your journey. Whoever is at-fault for the accident that damaged or even destroyed your vehicle should make you whole – or rather, unless they were uninsured or underinsured, their insurance company should. Here’s how to try to make sure that happens.

Claims and Offers and Adjusters, Oh My

In a car accident, the at-fault insurance company may accept responsibility for the damage to your vehicle and make an offer to settle the property damage claim. If the insurance company does not accept responsibility for their insured and refuses to compensate you, hiring an attorney is probably the smart move.

You will almost always deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company through its adjuster in the insurance claim process. An adjuster works for the insurance company, and will review and negotiate your claim. Typically, part of the adjuster’s job is to try to minimize potential compensation for your claim in order to control costs for the company.

When the insurance company accepts fault, and makes an offer, this will either go towards the repair of your vehicle, or they may decide the vehicle was a total loss and pay you for the vehicle’s value.

Potential Issues When Dealing With Insurance Companies

We deal with insurance companies on a daily basis. Here are three common tactics some insurance companies may use as you seek fair compensation for your vehicle.

Delay

Insurance companies may not be in a hurry to pay you. In fact, you may not hear from them for days, weeks, or even months! And when they get in touch, they may ask for some documentation or evidence that they should already have. Keep calm and be patient. Delay tactics can cause people to settle for less than they deserve to “get it over with.” It can also put you in a real financial bind if the car isn’t drivable and you’re stuck without a way to work, or if your car is racking up storage fees at a tow lot and you can’t afford to get it out.

Denial

In a few cases, some insurance companies may outright deny your claim. This can be a strong-arm tactic, and may be the result of a perceived weakness in you or your claim. Some insurance companies may argue almost anything you do makes the accident your fault – even something miniscule like an officer thinking you were doing 1 mph over the speed limit. Don’t give up! If their insured was at-fault in the accident, they should compensate you. Refer back to the accident report, and press your claim.

Quick, Lowball Settlement Offers

On the opposite side of the spectrum from the first two tactics is when an insurance company tries to get you to take a low settlement offer immediately, despite that fact that it doesn’t cover your losses. This is more likely to be a problem in cases where the damage is light. The insurance company may be betting you’ll pocket the cash rather than fix the car. Don’t fall for it, especially if they claim it is “take it or leave it.” Take the time to get multiple estimates if your car is repairable – or find comparable cars for sale locally if it is totaled – to give you a basis to negotiate fairly. Often, the best bet is to have the insurance company pay the repair shop you’ve chosen directly.

Should You Take the Insurance Company’s First Offer to Repair or Total Your Vehicle?

That’s a judgment call. Most people don’t really know the value of their cars and therefore how much they’re owed if it’s a total loss. If you did not recently purchase it, you probably don’t know the market for it. However, you would know if it had a lot of problems, damage, mechanical issues, and so on. If you are well-informed, and satisfied with the insurance company’s first offer, then accepting it can be the right decision.

However, if you are not satisfied with the insurance company’s offer, you should arm yourself with information to negotiate with the insurance adjuster.

How Do Insurance Companies Value Your Vehicle?

To negotiate with the insurance company, you need to know how they work. They’re concerned with the pre-accident cash value of your car, sometimes called the “fair market value.” Fair market value is the price a willing buyer would pay a willing seller, when neither is being compelled to buy and/or sell, and both have reasonable knowledge about the relevant facts. When the insurance company accepts liability, this is the number they use to decide whether to offer to repair the vehicle or to total it.

When calculating repair costs versus value, insurance adjusters may use the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) publication, the “Official Used Car Guide,” to determine the fair market value. The NADA is published monthly and is available online at www.nadaguides.com.

Am I Able to Negotiate With the Insurance Company?

Absolutely. The foundations for any good negotiation are a fair idea of what your car or its repairs will cost and patience. Be a good-faith negotiator. Document everything, and ask for documents in return. If the insurance company refuses to be fair or realistic in their offers to you, you may consider filing suit in a civil court – and remember, just because you file a lawsuit does not mean you’ll end up spending time in a courtroom.

Trying to Negotiate for More, Point 1: Fair Market Value

While the insurance company may use the value from a service like ValueScope to determine fair market value, you can negotiate with your own sources, such as the NADA guide. There is typically room to negotiate based on the actual condition and mileage of your vehicle, and adjustments by region if applicable.

How to Negotiate When the Insurance Company Offers to Repair Your Vehicle

An insurance company may offer to repair a vehicle if the cost of repairs plus supplemental claims equals less than 75% of the vehicle’s pre-accident cash value. “Supplemental claims” include things like the projected rental vehicle costs during the repair period.

You should get multiple estimates for the amount of repairs your vehicle will need. You can look for highly-regarded repair shops and get their opinions and estimates. After you get the estimates and provide them to the insurance company, the insurance adjuster may make an offer.

If you don’t agree with the offer and the adjuster has never seen the damaged vehicle, then you can require the adjuster or the insurance company’s appraiser to personally inspect your damaged vehicle.

Where Can I Get My Car Repaired?

An adjuster may tell you they want you to take your car to a particular garage – typically, a garage with which they get a volume discount. However, you have the right to take your vehicle to any repair shop of your choosing.

Trying to Negotiate for More, Point 2: Repair Versus Total

If you believe that your car cannot be adequately repaired, there is typically some room to negotiate. This is tied directly to fair market value – that number is driving everything that comes after. It may be difficult to get an insurance company to change its mind here, but it is worth trying if you believe you will not be left with a safe, functional, reliable vehicle after repairs are completed. Pursuing a diminished value claim may put you over the top.

How to Try to Negotiate a Better Settlement When the Insurance Company Totals Your Vehicle

Insurance agent working during on site car accident claim processThe total loss negotiation process is straightforward. A vehicle is legally considered a total loss if the cost of repairs and supplemental claims equal or exceed 75% of the fair market value – which, again, can typically be negotiated. If your car is a total loss, and the insurance carrier accepts liability, they are required to pay fair market value for the vehicle.

In addition to using the NADA information, fair market value is often determined via a local market survey. Local fair market value must be determined by using either the local market price of comparable vehicles or, if no comparable vehicles can be found, quotes from at least two qualified dealers within the local market area. If your vehicle was in better-than-average condition prior to the collision, the adjuster is required to give due consideration to this fact when determining value.

The insurance company is not obligated to pay the full balance of an existing lien on the vehicle. If you owe more on the car than it is worth at the time of loss, all the insurance company has to pay is fair market value, not the payoff amount.

If you do not agree with the settlement offered by the adjuster, you have the right to request that the adjuster send to you in writing the amount of the offer along with the specific policy provisions or legal basis the adjuster is relying on in support of the offer.

You should always require the adjuster to give you a written statement along with the total loss payment offer. This statement should include estimates, evaluations, and deductions used in calculating the payment, as well as stating the source of these values.

Trying to Negotiate for More, Point 3: Local Market Prices

It’s a good idea to do your own research into pricing of cars similar to yours in your local market. You may find examples that the insurance company did not consider. The closer the example to your own car, the more leverage it may provide. If the insurance company is choosing base model vehicles, for example, and your vehicle had many options, you likely have a good argument for a higher price.

How to File a Complaint Against the Insurance Company

Insurance agent working on car accident claim process with accident victim

If negotiations aren’t going well, you have options. If you have a complaint about an insurance company and the way they are handling your claim, you may call or write the Consumer Insurance Information Division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

The toll-free telephone number is:
855-408-1212

The mailing address is:
North Carolina Department of Insurance
Consumer Services Division
1201 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699

The Consumer Services Division will take information from you, and then an analyst from the Division will request information from the insurance company, agent, or adjuster. If the analyst finds that there is just cause for the complaint, they will then make a recommendation to both sides as to how to settle the situation.

If this does not resolve the problem, a deputy commissioner may arrange a conference with the insurance company involved to resolve the problem. If the conference does not resolve the disputed issue, then the deputy commissioner may recommend to the commissioner to take appropriate legal action, including a public hearing (filing a lawsuit).

Our Recommendation: Generally No Need for an Attorney Unless You Were Hurt or Insurance Co. Isn’t Fair

At our firm, we recommend you handle most property damage claims yourself. This can save you both time and money. You do not want to unnecessarily delay the property damage aspect of your claim, and property damage claims typically are too low to justify hiring an attorney. If the insurance company just isn’t being fair, then consider involving an attorney.

However, if we represent you on a bodily injury claim related to the accident, we can handle any diminished value claim you may have.

Whatever the size of your case, our goal is the best representation and service we can provide. If you have questions, or want to see if we can help, give us a call at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online.

Most vehicles manufactured since Sept. 1, 2002 are required to have what is known as the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. This system joins child safety seats and vehicles together for the safety of the children riding in them.

In 2014, a new rule took effect which lowered the recommended weight. We examined the LATCH rule changes and what effects those changes had on children hurt in car accidents based on the data. If your child was hurt in an accident, consider contacting a car accident lawyer.

What Car Seat Rule Was Changed, and Why?

Starting in 2014, child safety seat manufacturers were required to tell parents not to use the LATCH system if the combined weight of the car seat and their child exceeded 65 pounds.

Parents were told not to use the car seat LATCH system if the seat and child were over 65 lbs.

At the time, car seats were generally recommended for children of certain ages, regardless of weight. Car seats weighed generally between 15 and 33 pounds, which meant children as light as 32 pounds or as young as 3 could be affected by the rule.

The American Society of Pediatrics (ASP) recommended at the time that children remain in car seats with harnesses until age 8. But the average 8-year-old weighs more than 50 pounds. The ASP since changed its recommendation to “the highest weight or height allowed by the seat’s manufacturer.”

The change in the rule that led to the change in recommendation was the result of a petition by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The strength of the lower tethers built into vehicles was not enough to ensure the safety of heavier children.

The average 8 year old child is about 50.5 inches tall and weighs about 57 lbs.

As you can see, most children will exceed a 65-pound limit on a 30-pound car seat by age four or five. Comparing these averages (your child may weigh more or less, or be taller or shorter) with the recommendations for the manufacturers of car seats available on the market show that children are outgrowing car seats quickly.

But what does the data say about how that change affected the number of children killed in car accidents?

Did Child Fatalities in Car Accidents Increase as a Result of the LATCH Rule Change?

We’ve identified a few statistical sources that we can look at. First, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has compiled data on the deaths of children in car accidents, filtering them in a few ways. Here are the numbers by age (note that we are starting a few years before 2002, when the LATCH system was first required):

child deaths in car accidents decreasing from 1999-2019

While we do see a rise in fatalities from 2014-2016 across all ages, it is difficult to attribute that rise to the rules regarding LATCH use. There are similar increases in fatalities in prior years as well, so the increase in fatalities in the years following the rule change is not surprising or even out of the ordinary.

How Should Parents Approach the LATCH System Moving Forward?

Research shows that child safety seats and the LATCH system work reasonably well. Unfortunately, much of the time, parents are not using them correctly.

Many websites give detailed instructions and advice to parents on how to choose and when to use car seats based on the LATCH recommendations. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 46% of car seats and booster seats are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness. The CDC further estimates that correct car seat use reduces the risk of injury in a crash by 71-82% for children compared to seat belt use alone.

According to an AAA Foundation survey released in 2014, Child Passenger Safety Technicians supported the LATCH system, with 81.3% agreeing that the system is effective if used properly. However, 80.5% claimed that errors in the installation were not easily noticed by parents and caregivers, and more than 80% encounter incorrectly installed or used safety seats “often” or “occasionally.”

Data from various sources put the misuse of child restraints at anywhere between 46% (according to the NHTSA) to 84%, depending on the type of restraint involved. At the same time, another statistic states that 96% of parents believe they are using the equipment correctly.

LATCH Works, But Only if Used Correctly

Given the available data, we conclude that the changes to LATCH recommendations in 2014 did not necessarily cause an increase in child traffic deaths. Unfortunately, not everyone is using child safety restraints correctly – or at all. The National Safety Council (NSC) has an interactive tool that shows child traffic fatalities comparative to restraint use.

The greatest danger to children, then, isn’t the LATCH system or its limitations. Parents and caregivers need to utilize the system and the car seats themselves correctly to gain the safety benefits. Consult with a Child Passenger Safety Technician to install the seat, verify its installation, or even teach you how to use the features if you’re not sure. You can find a tech online.

We see car accident injuries all the time as part of our job. It’s incredibly tragic when a child is hurt or killed in a car accident. If it happens to your family, don’t hesitate to contact us. We hope you never need to.

Shocking Facts About Hit-And-Run Crashes

The only thing more infuriating than being in an accident that’s not your fault is watching the driver flee the scene, and it’s unfortunately not all that uncommon. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than one hit-and-run crash happens every minute on America’s roads.

Hit-and-runs occur when at least one person involved in the crash flees the scene before offering help or information to others involved. While hit-and-runs typically occur between two moving cars, they may also involve pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, parked cars, and other property.

Hit-and-runs are serious business and can increase the cost of your medical care and the severity of outcomes, given the delays or total absence of medical attention for victims. These types of accidents can be very difficult for you and your family, and you may be looking for remediation and insurance support. If this has happened to you, you may need a hit-and-run lawyer.

Unfortunately, hit-and-runs are increasing. Experts say staying to help the injured victim could save a life. So, why do people flee the scene of the accident?

Hit-and-Run Stats: Putting Them in Perspective

Here’s what a national AAA study shows about the severity and frequency of hit-and-runs.

  • Hit-and-runs accounted for over 5% of traffic fatalities.
  • There’s an average increase of 7.2% every year.
  • Fleeing drivers accounted for 20% of pedestrian crash fatalities.
  • 68% of people killed due to hit-and-runs were pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • 737,100 hit-and-run crashes occurred in 2015.
  • 2,049 people were killed in hit-and-runs in 2016 – a 60% increase since 2009.

To put it in perspective, that’s almost six deaths per day and more than one hit-and-run every minute on US roadways.

68% of people killed due to hit-and-runs are pedestrians and bicyclists

Possible Causes of This Alarming Trend of Hit-and-Runs

No one knows exactly why there is an increase in hit-and-run collisions, but there are many theories, ranging from population increase to distracted drivers.

Population Growth

With a population of 328 million, the United States is the third most populous country in the world. And the U.S. Census anticipates that the population will double during this century.

This means there are far more people on the road, which increases the number of collisions, including the likelihood of hit-and-runs.

Distracted Driving

Another theory for the increase of hit-and-runs centers on distracted driving, namely cell phone usage.

In many states, texting and driving is illegal, meaning that a collision due to phone usage turns an accident into a criminal offense. This may be a scary enough consequence to send a driver fleeing the scene and creating a hit-and-run situation.

A Zendrive study revealed what many of us intuitively suspected. More than half of Americans (60%) use their phones when they get behind the wheel. The study also found that drivers spend more than 3.5 minutes every hour on their phones while driving, even though a two-second distraction increases the chances of a crash by 20 times.

Drunk Driving

Driving a vehicle drunk or impaired is a crime. Like texting and driving, fear of that criminal charge on top of causing a collision could lead someone to flee the scene, effectively creating a whole new criminal charge.

Every day, about 28 people in the United States die because of alcohol-related vehicle crashes – or one person every 52 minutes in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

While these represent only a few theories on the hit-and-run increase, there is no definitive answer as to why hit-and-runs have continued to increase.

Some potential reasons for the increase of hit-and-runs include drunk and distracted driving

Common Characteristics of People Involved in Hit-and-Run Crashes

Leaving the scene of a collision is illegal in every state and can lead to serious criminal charges. In some states, even a misdemeanor hit-and-run (involving property damage or minor injury) carries a potential sentence of up to one year in jail, as well as fines.

According to Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations at AAA, “While no one likes being involved in a crash, leaving the scene will significantly increase the penalties for drivers – whether they caused the crash or not.”

Yet, it happens over two thousand times a day.

Who Are Hit-and-Run Victims?

  • Fatally injured pedestrians under age six or over age 80 were half as likely to be victims of hit-and-runs as in any other age groups.
  • In crashes involving children, the driver is identified more than 60% of the time versus 39% for older victims.
  • Males make up around 70% of hit-and-run victims in crashes.

Who Are Hit-and-Run Drivers?

  • Drivers are likely to be young males with a history of prior DWI and license suspension.
  • Drivers tend to drive older model cars, suggesting a lower socioeconomic status.
  • Drivers frequently have positive blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest, and drivers who leave the scene are between two and nine times more likely to have been intoxicated at the time of the crash.
  • Drivers who flee crashes involving children ages 15 and younger or women are more likely to be identified later on.
  • Drivers are about twice as likely to be identified in hit-and-runs when they happen in locations other than the road or crosswalks.

What Factors Contribute to Hit-and-Runs?

  • Environmental factors such as lighting, roadway design, and location.
  • A lack of witnesses on a low-traffic road.
  • The time it happens — hit-and-runs are 4.5 times more likely to happen between midnight and 4 a.m., because of low visibility and a higher likelihood of an intoxicated driver.
  • What type of roadway it is – because if it is undivided or has a lower speed limit, pedestrians often attempt to cross it.
  • How heavily populated the area is — urban areas have more hit-and-runs than low-population areas simply because more vehicles and pedestrians are in close proximity.

How Insurance Issues Can Impact Hit-and-Run Driver Decisions

In the United States, all drivers are required to have automobile insurance. If a driver causes a crash, his or her insurance will potentially pay for damages that the accident victim suffers as a result.

Unfortunately, not every driver has insurance. Some drivers:

  • Don’t have a valid driver’s license
  • Have a suspended license
  • Are unable to afford insurance
  • Do not qualify for coverage

Any time a driver has no insurance, that driver is a risk to others on the road. When uninsured drivers are at-fault in accidents, they are supposed to pay the bills that victims incur as a result of the crash.

Without insurance, few drivers have assets to cover the medical bills, lost wages, and other damages associated with the accident, which may total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Drivers with no license and no insurance are more likely to hit-and-run because they know they are breaking the law. This could result in victims being injured more seriously due to delayed medical care.

Can Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Policies Protect You in a Hit-and-Run?

If you’ve been in a hit-and-run, you need to find out if your insurance will pay through an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.

Whether an insurer will pay and how much they pay will depend on the type and extent of coverage you bought when you purchased your auto insurance. If you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident, consult with an experienced attorney who can help you review your policy and determine if an uninsured motorist claim is a viable solution.

Countermeasures: What You Can Do

These statistics are alarming. What can you do to avoid being a victim of a hit-and-run?

When a Collision Happens

If you are in a vehicle and are the victim of a hit-and-run, follow these steps:

  1. Pull over to get out of traffic. Write down or take a picture of the license plate number of the other vehicle. Police say that many victims are tricked when the driver of the other vehicle appears to pull over but then takes off, leaving behind a very confused victim.
  2. Try to get a description of the vehicle and where it is heading if it speeds away.
  3. Contact law enforcement immediately.
  4. Photograph the damage.
  5. Stay at the scene — panicking decreases your chances of getting viable information.

Avoid a Hit-and-Run as a Pedestrian

A pedestrian hit-and-run accident can be even more challenging to deal with. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind as a pedestrian to try to reduce the risk of being hit by a car:

  1. Wear bright colors or reflectors so you can be more visible to drivers. Colors that easily reflect light, like white or yellow, are good choices. Reflectors can make you visible in a car’s headlights within 500 feet.
  2. Stay on the sidewalks and crosswalks, especially at night.
  3. Stay off roads without sidewalks, or walk against traffic if there are no sidewalks. Walking against traffic allows you to see oncoming cars that might not see you.
  4. Look where you are going. When crossing a street, look left, right, and then left again.
  5. Be alert. You can’t control what other people are doing, but by being alert, you can control what you’re doing and how you might need to react to a potential situation.

Of course, none of these things can guarantee your safety, but by doing your best to stay safe, you are potentially reducing your risk.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from Experienced Lawyers

If you or someone you know was the victim of a hit-and-run, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. You may be unable to obtain the compensation you may deserve on your own. Our car accident attorneys are here to help. The call and case evaluation are free.

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Texting + Walking in NC – You Could Get Hurt (And Be Liable)

Remember this video of the woman who fell into a fountain while texting that went viral a few years ago?

In interviews after the video became popular, the woman later reminded viewers that the video, while humorous, was a good reminder about the seriousness of texting and walking. She asked: What if that fountain had been a bus?

But, despite her warnings, texting and walking has become a real problem with devastating consequences.

Texting While Walking Accidents

According to a 2018 report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian deaths reached their highest number since 1990. An estimated 6,283 pedestrians were killed and, on average, 17 pedestrians were killed each day in fatal crashes.

Moreover, texting while walking, or “distracted walking,” has contributed to the rise in these numbers, causing more than 11,100 injuries in 2017 alone.

Researchers from an Ohio State University study also believe the actual number of injured pedestrians is much higher due to many not seeking treatment in an emergency room or not reporting the involvement of a cell phone in the accident.Aerial top view of a man with smartphone crossing the road in the city

Efforts to Stop Texting and Walking Accidents in NC

Several cities, such as Honolulu, HI, Montclair, CA, and Stamford, CT, have created laws banning “distracted walking” in response to several fatal pedestrian accidents. Now, North Carolina has decided it’s also time to take action.

According to WFMY News, one of Watch for Me NC campaign’s latest initiatives has been focusing on this very problem – encouraging pedestrians to keep their eyes on the road, not on their cell phone screen.

“It’s something we see all the time. It’s very common, see people walking with their heads down texting…not paying attention to their surroundings,” said Officer Brad Smith with UNCG Police in the WFMY story.

He went on to say that the number of distracted pedestrians, combined with the number of distracted drivers, makes for many very dangerous situations.

Texting and Walking Could Be “Contributory Negligence” in NC

In North Carolina, we have what is called “contributory negligence” which basically means that if you’re found to have contributed to the accident in any way, the other party (or their insurance company) may not have to pay for your injuries or property damage – even if they were “more” at fault.

In our experience, this means if you were distracted by a cell phone at the time of an accident, an insurance company may try to use that against you to avoid paying your medical bills or other damages.

However, the state of North Carolina does allow for some exceptions to the contributory negligence rule. If you may have contributed to your accident in some way, we highly recommend that you contact a pedestrian lawyer in NC.

NC Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

The injuries from a pedestrian accident can be serious and long-lasting. If you or a loved one were hit by a car, you should contact a North Carolina pedestrian accident lawyer right away.

A NC pedestrian accident lawyer may be able to help you get the medical treatments you need now and provisions for future medical needs.

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has helped thousands of residents in North Carolina fight for the benefits they needed and we may be able to help you. Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation today.

How Can I Get Medical Treatment Without Health Insurance After A Car Accident

Ambulance moving down the street at high speed under the rain

One minute you’re driving and minding your own business, and the next, you’re injured in a car accident and need medical care. But what if you don’t have health insurance? You’ll have to negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for how much they may owe you for your damages – including the cost of your medical treatment.

This is important: The only way to prove the extent of your injuries is to get medical treatment. You have to show what it took to resolve your injury. Your medical treatment becomes your story of why the insurance company should compensate you.

When Does the Insurance Company Actually Pay You?

This “story” for trying to prove your case begins at the time of your injury and ends at the last date of your medical treatment. This is why you often have to wait until “maximum medical improvement” (or “MMI”) before the insurance company will talk about settling and paying your claim. You are just seeking reimbursement for all of the bills you’ve already had to pay.

Note: if the insurance company attempts to settle your injury claim before you are done treating, you are at risk of a lowball offer and should contact an attorney right away.

You may also have a right to be compensated for pain and suffering and lost wages.

How Can You Pay for Medical Care If You Don’t Have Health Insurance?

This is the problem many people face. Maybe you’re between jobs, or maybe you have a job that doesn’t include insurance and haven’t obtained any for yourself. Most doctors and other medical providers require payment at the time of service. If you don’t have health insurance, it may seem impossible to get medical treatment.

It’s not, and you absolutely must get care. Not only does your health depend on it, but your claim to potential compensation does as well. Here are types of care common in car accident injuries and how you can handle payment while you’re recovering and negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company.

Blur of the emergency room entranceEmergency Room Visits

Why seek this care: You should not take chances if you’ve been hurt. It may be obvious, or it may be difficult for you to recognize the severity of your injuries. After a car accident, most injured people go to the emergency room (ER) for initial treatment. The ER visit needs to happen early in your treatment, preferably the day of the accident. Remember: you are protecting the connection between your accident and your injuries. You need to seek medical treatment as soon as possible for an injury resulting from the accident.

However, you should not go to the ER repeatedly because an ER is set up for emergency visits only, not for ongoing care. Essentially, if you are experiencing an emergency, by all means, go to the ER. If it is not an emergency, seek your care elsewhere. Multiple non-emergency treatments at the ER will risk the insurance company refusing to pay the excess bills.

What If I Just Go to Urgent Care Instead?

If you believe an urgent care clinic can handle your injuries, you’re free to choose that route. However, some serious injuries may not be apparent immediately. The stress of being involved in an accident can “mask” injuries, so you may not even realize you’re injured.

While an ER certainly has access to better technology and diagnostic equipment, the urgent care clinic will be far less costly. Understanding the trade-off is essential here. An urgent care clinic may not detect an injury that an ER would, but it will likely cost much less. We caution against cutting corners with your care.

Essentially, urgent care clinics are a cost-effective option for follow-up care after you’ve visited an ER and your injuries have been thoroughly checked. Appointments are more widely available, and urgent care clinics may also refer for further treatment.

How to pay without insurance: Some ERs will attach a “lien” to your bill. A lien means the provider will give you treatment without immediate payment, and instead collect it later, out of any future final settlement. The lien gives them a legal right to be paid directly out of your potential settlement.

Other ERs do not automatically attach a lien and instead try to collect payment at the regularly scheduled interval. If the ER tries to collect payment immediately, you should let them know your treatment resulted from a collision and the status of your case. Ask the ER to give you the option to pay the bill when the case is resolved. They may or may not agree.

If delay is not an option, offer to pay minimal amounts to keep the bill out of collections and then pay the balance once the case is resolved. The last thing you want is for the bill to be sent to collections, so stay in touch with the provider.

A chiropractor placing their hands on a patient's back.Follow-up Care for Muscle Strains/Sprains

Why seek this care: After the initial ER care, if you have general muscle strains and sprains, chiropractic treatment is usually a good option. The reason chiropractors are helpful is that they do a good job with soft tissue injuries, which are common after car accidents. Also, chiropractors are highly accessible: you can typically schedule an appointment within a day, which means you are protecting the connection between your accident and your treatment for the accident.

You do not need a referral to see a chiropractor. However, if the severity of your injury is a concern, asking your physician or care provider if they recommend chiropractic care could be a good idea.

Do not miss appointments – the insurance company may take that as a sign that the appointment wasn’t necessary. You should follow the chiropractor’s plan but constantly communicate with the chiropractor about what is working and what’s not.

How to pay without insurance: Most chiropractors will treat on a lien, or at least they may be more inclined to do so when an attorney is involved. Even if they won’t, they often will not require immediate payment. If they do not treat on a lien, speak to them about your situation and your case, and again if you must pay, pay as little as they will accept to keep the bill from collections.

Follow-up Care for More Serious Injuries

Why seek this care: If you suffered more serious injuries or don’t feel better after several weeks of consistent chiropractic care, you may need to seek medical attention from a family care doctor or specialist. Again, you should attempt to find whatever care or treatment you need to heal from your injury

How to pay without insurance: You may have to find a clinic or family care doctor who will treat you on a lien, and ask them for a referral to a specialist who can treat you on a lien. These providers can be difficult to find, but they can be invaluable to your case if they are available.

Some urgent care facilities will treat on a lien. You can also investigate free clinics and free medical providers in your area. There are usually links to these services through your local health department. Large providers in our area, like Duke University Health Systems and UNC Health Systems, often provide charitable care services for uninsured individuals.

Negotiating a Lien

If you get treatment on a lien, the extent to which a provider is paid is based on what you may be able to recover for the final settlement. If the provider is not paid in full, then you will be responsible for the rest. Sometimes, an attorney can negotiate with the lien holder to try to reduce the out-of-pocket expense to the client.

For example, once a victim’s case settles, if the medical provider is only scheduled to be reimbursed 70% of their bill, then the medical provider may agree not to charge the client for the remaining 30%. Having an experienced car accident attorney handling your case from the beginning means you have experienced representation and people experienced in negotiations working on your behalf.

How Can an Attorney Help You?

In many cases, it is important to have skilled representation that can help direct your case with your best interests at heart. Without an attorney, you risk making a mistake that could cost you. With our team of more than 50 attorneys, we have extensive knowledge to assist our clients without health insurance try to get the treatment they need.

Treatment on a lien is a highly complex arrangement. Having an attorney handle the case may help you avoid personal liability and may help you put more money in your pocket.

This is important because, as we said at the beginning, settlement is most often related to treatment. Our goal as attorneys is to try to ensure you get as much as possible as quickly as possible, and that’s especially important when you don’t have health insurance – you want to know those bills are going to be paid. We understand! We’ve represented more than 50,000 clients and recovered a total of more than $1.2 billion in compensation.1

If you’ve been injured, time is not on your side. Contact us online for a free case evaluation or call us at 1-866-900-7078. Remember, there’s no attorney’s fee unless we recover compensation for your claim.2

Eating and Drinking While Driving Can Be Dangerous Distractions

Next time you pass someone on the road who is texting while driving, don’t be so quick to judge. At least, not if you have ever eaten a burger or sipped a soda while you were driving. Because eating and drinking are driving distractions, too.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that 8% of fatal crashes and 15% of injury crashes in 2018 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. That equates to 2,841 people killed and an estimated additional 400,000 people injured – all from distracted driving. And eating and drinking are considered to be driving distractions by the NHTSA.

But … you justify it to yourself. Eating while driving is part of every soccer mom’s weekly routine, right? And doesn’t every morning rush-hour commuter and tired trucker do it? And what about family road trips – surely that’s ok?

Eating on the go has become as American as apple pie. Thanks to the drive-thru, eating in our cars has become commonplace – routine, even. It is woven into the frenzied fabric of our everyday lives so intricately that we don’t think twice about it, let alone consider it a “distraction.” Yet many of us have never stopped to consider if we may be putting others (or ourselves and our passengers) in harm’s way as we careen down the road in a minivan full of little sluggers, while we force down yet another McNugget.

How Common Is Eating Behind the Wheel?

Eating on-the-go in our cars is pervasive. The fast-food drive-thru is so ingrained in American culture there’s even a national holiday celebrating it. July 24th every year. Here are some startling facts:

  • According to the CDC, 36% of adult Americans get food each day at a fast food restaurant.
  • There are over 204,000 fast food restaurants in the U.S.
  • These fast food restaurants serve roughly 50 million Americans every day and bring in $110 billion in annual revenues.
  • A Stanford University study says that over 20% of Americans’ meals are eaten in the car.

Why Eating Behind the Wheel Is So Distracting

There are many reasons why eating while driving is so dangerous. One major reason is that, when you eat behind the wheel, you are multitasking big time. You may not know just how little it takes for us to become unfocused while multitasking. Here’s a quick multitasking exercise that can help you determine just how good you are. (Spoiler alert: you’re not as good at it as you thought you were.)

Fewer Than Two Hands on the Steering Wheel

Driver eating a large burger while driving may increase his chances of a wreck.

Eating and driving almost always leads to driving without both hands on the steering wheel. Drivers must unwrap fast food items, apply sauce packets and condiments, clean up spills and crumbs, throw away trash, and more – all while trying to steer the car.

Even if you bring your own food to eat in the car, you may be handling lunch boxes with zippers that get stuck or Tupperware with lids that won’t open. Your hands are busy. But not busy doing what they should be doing, which is driving.

Eyes Off the Road

If your hands are off the wheel when you’re eating, your eyes probably are, too. What happens when a pickle falls off your burger? Our eyes (and hands) are trying to find that pickle instead of trying to keep our car on our side of the road. And chances are your mind is not on your driving at all at this point. It is on that pickle.

With your eyes off the road, you can easily miss changes in road patterns or road conditions, road signs and warning signs, or even other drivers who may be trying to find their own pickle while driving.

Slower Reaction Times

With your hands, eyes, and mind off the road, your reaction time will naturally be much slower. This contributes to the potential for collisions as drivers cannot always react in time to make the necessary maneuvers to avoid car accidents.

One university study, entitled ‘Two Hands Better Than One,’ found that drivers’ reaction times when eating increased by 44%, compared to their non-distracted counterparts. (And by increased, we mean got slower.)

Passengers With Food

We know that having rambunctious or loud passengers can result in distractions. But we don’t often think about how passengers who are eating can affect our ability to focus. Driving-Tests.org states:

“A backseat full of friends chowing down on burgers and fries can be just as distracting as enjoying some drive-thru fare yourself. The smells and sounds of passengers eating while you are attempting to concentrate on the important task of driving, not to mention offers of fries and ‘bites,’ can tempt you to turn around and take your eyes off the road.”

Car Clutter and Food Wrappers

Every time you pick up fast-food, you are left with a pile of paper bags, napkins, empty cups, straw wrappers, and more. Oftentimes, this trash is tossed to the floorboard to be picked up “later.” “Later” typically takes a while to come around and, slowly, the food wrappers and trash on your floorboards can create a hazardous, cluttered environment. Have you ever had a water bottle roll around your car? That bottle could easily get caught between your brake pedal and the floorboard.

According to one insurance company:

  • Loose objects can fly through the air if you have to stop suddenly – creating 20x the punch they normally would and potentially causing injuries to you and your passengers.
  • Loose objects rolling around your car can be distracting all by themselves. Garbage from food or drink can pose health hazards, becoming home to nasty bacteria that generally increase in hot weather. This can lead to multiple health problems, including E.coli.

Even an odor (rotting food and trash) or sight (trash piling up and making your car an eyesore) can be distracting and take your mind and eyes off the road.

Tips to Try to Avoid Eating and Driving

Treating your vehicle like a dining room is asking for more than just a big mess. Here are some tips to avoid the mess – and the potential mess of dealing with a car crash.

Eat Before You Leave

Wake up a few minutes earlier and eat your granola bar before getting in your car and heading to work. It may be slightly less convenient, but I can guarantee you it is way more convenient than dealing with a car wreck.

Make Your Car a Snack-Free Zone

Keep snacks like granola bars or fruit snacks out of your car. Some people keep snack foods in the glove compartment or center console. But if you don’t have food there, you won’t be tempted to eat it in a non-emergency setting – like when you’re driving.

Eat in the Parking Lot or the Restaurant

Eating in a parking lot or in the restaurant – or even pulling off the road to eat a snack – could save a life (even yours) by keeping you focused on your driving.

The 10 Worst Foods to Eat Behind the Wheel

If you absolutely have to eat behind the wheel, try to make the situation less distracting by using more accessible containers, keeping your trash in check, and avoiding certain messy foods. Here’s a list of the 10 worst foods to eat while driving, as reported by Drive-safely.net.

The top 10 worst foods to eat while driving include chocolate, soda, donuts, burgers, tacos and coffee.

  • Chocolate
    It may not be as bad as other foods because it isn’t something you can spill. But chocolate can leave stains and fingerprints that tempt us to clean them up, which is another major distraction when driving.
  • Soda
    Any drink can be distracting because you risk a real mess if you spill. Soda, because of its sticky nature, may be one you want to avoid, especially opening the can. We’ve all gotten sprayed with Sprite or Diet Coke, and it is not something that we want to happen in our car.
  • Donuts
    Jelly, cream-filled, or powered donuts can lead to a messy end-result. Use that willpower and resist the Krispy Kreme drive-thru on your next road trip.
  • Fried Chicken
    Fried chicken is greasy. A driver eating it is likely going to be cleaning their fingers or trying to wipe grease off the steering wheel. Consider eating your KFC inside or in the parking lot before pulling back onto the interstate.
  • Barbecue
    Like fried chicken, barbecue is extremely messy with its hot, dripping sauces. Getting it all over your hands, car, or clothing can be a major distraction.
  • Hamburgers
    Hamburgers are hard to resist on a road trip. But burgers have many parts – pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, bacon – all of which can slide out of the bun and make a mess in your car. And no one wants ketchup on their khakis.
  • Chili
    Hot chili on your clothes, hands, and car can not only be distracting, but it can be painful. Don’t let yourself get burned or distracted by eating chili. Some years ago, a driver of a Metro bus in Cincinnati hit two pedestrians because he was looking down to throw away his cup of chili. One was killed, the other was injured.
  • Tacos
    Tacos are hard enough to eat when you’re not driving. The mess will likely create an even bigger mess in your car. One driver crashed into two parked cars and flipped his own car onto its roof because he was eating a taco and brushing crumbs off his lap, thus causing the collision.
  • Soups
    Eating hot soup in your car is a bad idea. Period. It’s easy to spill, a mess to clean up, and depending on how hot it is, dangerous if you spill it on yourself.
  • Coffee
    Who doesn’t drink coffee in their car? Everyone needs a pick-me-up from Starbucks or McCafe, but hot coffee can burn your mouth or your hands, which can certainly take your focus off the road.

Keep in mind that many food-related car crashes happen in the morning during the rush to work. One driver was eating breakfast while driving 50 mph through an area already occupied by first responders. His breakfast distraction caused a second collision.

Are You Breaking the Law if You Eat and Drive?

No. In the United States, eating while driving is not prohibited by law. However, most distracted driving laws are interpretable, making it a very gray area.

One police officer put it this way: “Would I pull someone over if they have some french fries in their hands? No. But if someone is eating a sub, swerving all over the road? For sure. And I have.”

Importantly, North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, meaning you may be barred from compensation if you were in any way negligent in contributing to the accident.

For example, if you were in a car accident, and it was found that eating or drinking contributed, you could very well be considered negligent and denied potential compensation. Even worse, you could face legal action.

So, is eating and driving illegal? No, but it is certainly safer not to, and you could potentially be held liable if you contributed to an accident.

Now You Know – So What?

First, don’t be a distracted driver – of any kind. Try to find ways to avoid eating behind the wheel. It’s not as hard as you think. It could be as simple as setting your alarm five minutes earlier in the morning. It may not be convenient to you at first, but it could save your life or someone else’s.

Second, be a conscientious passenger. Help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road, even if food is involved.

And finally, encourage others not to eat or drink while driving so they can keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming more than 3,100 lives in 2019 in the U.S. Almost all of these tragedies are preventable.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from NC Personal Injury Lawyers

Far too many people are injured because of distracted drivers – including those eating while driving. If you or someone you know was injured by a distracted driver, please contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. Our car accident attorneys can help you seek the compensation you may deserve. We are here for you 24/7.

Injuries in Parking Lots – The Risk Is Real

When people think of car accidents, they think of stop lights, stop signs, or even Interstate pile-ups. If they think of slipping and falling, they think of their homes, or perhaps a workplace. There’s actually one place where all of those risks combine, including the risk of being hit by a car.

Parking lots are a part of everyday life for most, and they can be a free-for-all when it comes to safety. It’s one of the few places where motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists share the same space and are often subject to the weather. Even with pandemic restrictions in place, many grocery stores, department stores, and hospitals are open to the public.

Parking Lot Danger #1: Distracted or Careless Drivers

Believe it or not, parking lots can be just as dangerous as main roadways. Many injuries that occur in parking lot accidents are the result of negligence. Speeding and distracted driving are common in parking lots – people fiddling with their seat belts, phones, navigation systems, sunroofs, windows, or dealing with shifting groceries are just a few examples.

Crashes involving two cars can occur when drivers back out of spaces or fail to yield the right of way to other drivers. The National Safety Council conducted a public opinion poll in 2016 that found:

  • 63% of participants admitted to programming a GPS while driving in a parking lot.
  • 56% admitted to texting and driving in a parking lot.
  • 52% admitted to using social media.
  • 50% admitted to reading emails.
  • 49% admitted to taking pictures or watching videos.

How many of us are guilty of fiddling with a mask these days, as well?

Low Impact Car Accidents in Parking Lots Can Lead to Serious Injuries

There is a common misconception that if there is little car damage in a low-impact crash, then it’s unlikely that an injury occurred. The attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin often see injuries occur in low impact parking lot crashes. For example, a rear-end collision or side-impact crash that occurs in a parking lot can lead to whiplash, neck and back injuries, soft tissue injuries, and concussions.

Plus, how many people fail to buckle up until they’re moving? Some people don’t fasten their seat belts until they’re leaving the lot – and that lack of restraint could lead to injuries in low speed car accidents as well. And we’re just talking about the people in cars.

Even if you feel fine after a parking lot accident or your initial injuries seem minor, it’s important that you get medical help as soon as possible. A medical evaluation may reveal an injury that you were not aware of at the time of your accident. Some injuries can take several days to produce symptoms.

Parking Lot Danger #2: Pedestrians and Cyclists Not Paying Attention

While accidents involving two cars may result in injuries, pedestrians and cyclists are at a far greater risk. As much as it is a driver’s responsibility to watch what they are doing, pedestrians should be especially alert – they have the greatest risk of injury.

Many parking lots are poorly lit and lack walking areas specifically designated for pedestrians. Many modern cars have cameras and warning sensors, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate crashes or injuries – technology is not infallible. Some drivers trust too much in the technology when a simple glance could prevent certain injuries from ever happening.

Pedestrians and cyclists also don’t have the protection of a vehicular frame if they’re hit by a car. They’re not restrained by seatbelts or protected by airbags. As a result, the injuries they sustain in parking lot accidents are more likely to be severe.

For example, pedestrians and cyclists can sustain injuries such as:

  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Serious spinal injuries
  • Crushed limbs
  • Nerve pain
  • Internal injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Death

In spite of all of that, people still walk down the middle of the travel lanes, cut between cars where drivers can’t see them, sort through groceries or purchases, talk to each other, and pay more attention to their phones than the two-ton automobiles that could run them over.

Parking Lot Danger #3: Slips and Falls

How many times have you nearly fallen in a parking lot because of a curb or concrete wheel stop in a parking space? Or a pothole, or other uneven surface? Or a slick surface due to rain, ice, or oil?

Slips and falls aren’t always a product of being clumsy or inattentive. Maybe the parking lot is poorly lit and you trip on something you couldn’t see in the darkness. Maybe the pavement is in poor condition and you turn an ankle in a depression and fall. Or maybe the drainage is poor and causing water to pool. You might slip in a puddle or step in what you think is a shallow puddle only to find it much deeper, causing you to fall.

The owners of these lots are responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe environment, and for warning patrons if a dangerous condition exists. If negligent maintenance contributed to a slip and fall accident causing injury in a parking lot, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury case!

Parking Lot Injuries and Workers Compensation

Whether you’re in North Carolina or South Carolina, there are laws in place to protect workers. Most employers are required by the state to carry workers’ compensation insurance. As a result, if you’re injured in a parking lot while you’re carrying out work duties, you may be entitled to compensation in the form of workers’ compensation – in addition to a possible personal injury claim against the lot’s owner if the injury was caused by negligent maintenance or lack of proper warning.

There are some interesting rules about when an employee is and is not covered. It will depend on your state, your job, and why you were in the parking lot in the first place. It’s probably best to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you have any questions about your specific circumstance.

Protecting Yourself After a Parking Lot Accident

If you were injured in a parking lot accident, your life could become a series of overwhelming challenges. You could be facing a long rehabilitation period, be out of work for months and unable to support your family. You may never be able to work again.

The negligent party who injured you may very well deny any responsibility. He or she, in fact, may blame you, adding to your worries as you try to navigate your way through the legal system. An insurance company, knowing you may be financially desperate, may make a lowball settlement offer to save itself money.

Before signing away your rights, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to protect your rights, and help you seek the maximum compensation you may deserve. We have been handling personal injury cases for decades. We know how the legal system works and how to take on large insurance companies that do not want to pay you and your family for your injuries, suffering, and financial losses.

NC Highway Ranks As a “Top 10 Most Dangerous Road”

11 Miles, 318 Curves

The Tail of the Dragon, or US 129, from an aerial view in the winter
This aerial view of the “Tail of the Dragon” offers a glimpse of its potential to cause catastrophe.

Not all high rankings are cause for celebration. North Carolina’s highway US 129 continues to find a home on recent lists of the top 10 most dangerous roads in the United States.

According to U-Pack.com, while most of the road is normal and easy to traverse, the 11 mile Tail of the Dragon is another ballgame entirely. Popular with more adventurous drivers, the windy stretch of highway is an all-too-frequent locale for motorcycle and (despite a big rig ban) truck accidents.

It’s not just U-Pack stepping on 129’s Tail. Conde Nast’s Traveler has it on its list of “extreme drives,” categorizing it as one of the scariest highways. Suspicious of the 318 curves legend, Traveler still acknowledges it’s “a darned twisty road.” But these aren’t your run-of-the-mill bends. “With monikers like Pearly Gates, Brake or Bust Bend, and Gravity Cavity, you can tell these twists are dead serious.”

MotorBiscuit calls it one of the most dangerous drives in the country. Two lanes, sharp curves, and blind corners will do that to you. Reader’s Digest covers the pros and cons of the road succinctly, calling it “one of the most exciting — and dangerous — drives in the country.”

Riding the Dragon

You finally made it to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina to ride the Tail of the Dragon. The Dragon is an amazing ride, so it’s easy to understand why it is so popular with bikers and other motorists. In addition to the grandiose scenery, there are no intersecting roads to interrupt the ride or drive. But the price of popularity is that the Dragon is more crowded and busy now than ever before. And more vehicles means more danger to bikers.

According to USA Today, the Tail of the Dragon gets about 1,200 vehicles visiting per day. With hundreds of blind curves and crests, even the most experienced drivers and riders can quickly find themselves in trouble. The speed limit for the North Carolina portion of the Tail of the Dragon was lowered to 30mph in early 2005. You can decide for yourself how effective speed limits signs are likely to be on a road for speed enthusiasts.

Deputies monitor and patrol the road frequently, trying to reduce the number of crashes. Prevention is ideal, as the remote location means emergency services take a long time to get there after a crash. Waiting for the ambulance to arrive and then waiting for transfer to a hospital or trauma center can take hours.

Unpredictable Road Conditions

Sun to snowfall and back can happen in the blink of an eye. Unpredictable and harsh weather from about November through March makes a dangerous road even more challenging. The remote road can mean encountering any or all of the following during your trip:

  • Unplowed/unsalted ice and snow
  • Wildlife in the road, like bears and boars
  • Road obstructions, like downed trees
  • Tractor-trailers in both lanes

Bustling Motorcycle Haven

Riders love taking on famed US 129, the Tail of the Dragon. Motorcycle Roads touts the ride as “legendary,” the most famous motorcycle road in the world, and the road most consistently rated as number one by motorcyclists.

Not surprisingly, the highway sees a lot of accidents. For the five year period ending in 2019, more than 450 crashes happened on the Tail of the Dragon. Thankfully, deaths on the Dragon don’t usually reach more than a handful per year due to the low speeds. But there are many possible consequences to a crash beyond a full-fledged fatality.

Two motorcyclists biking in the wrong lane on a narrow, winding forest road.

For riders sharing the narrow road with full-sized cars, the dangers can’t be ignored or always avoided. Even on regular roads, cops have an acronym for cars crashing into motorcycles negligently: LBFS — “looked but failed to see” accidents. If that’s the case on straight roads, imagine the danger across hundreds of cambered curves. And, remember, drivers are there for the sights, not to show their mastery of road awareness.

There is even a morbid marker to warn riders of the dangers of disrespecting the road and its many occupants. The “Tree of Shame” at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort has its own bit of fame and notoriety. The tree is covered in parts from motorcycles that have crashed and been “bitten by the Dragon” over the years.

Even at relatively low speeds, there are many injuries you can suffer from a collision on the Tail of the Dragon motorcycle ride. These include:

  • Arm injuries, such as breaks or biker’s arm
  • Road rash, such as abrasions, scrapes, and burns
  • Leg injuries, such as sprains, breaks, and amputations
  • Head injuries, such as concussions and brain damage

There is a lot more to know about motorcycle wrecks and what to do following an injury. Recruit medical and legal professionals to your side to help you try to recover as best as possible.

Trucks Trying to Traverse the Tail

This road used to be a popular shortcut for truckers when I-40 was blocked. After so many incidents involving semis, authorities completely restricted large commercial vehicles from using the road by 2015. Still, much like speed enthusiasts and their dubious dedication to observing speed limits, truckers’ dedication to saving time on their routes might cause them to disregard the letter of the law.

Curves can be a deadly factor in North Carolina truck accidents. Curves are especially dangerous for truck drivers because they can’t accelerate at a regular speed. Instead, they are generally accelerating and braking at every single curve. This makes it challenging for cars and motorcycles behind truckers on the road, because it requires constant attention and reactions. And more novice truckers may not be familiar with the kind of strategies it takes to maneuver a road like US 129.

In addition, trucks tend to drift into other lanes while negotiating sharp curves. For oncoming traffic, this is incredibly dangerous. And since the narrowness of US 129 doesn’t allow for much shoulder space to move out of the way of a drifting truck, this can lead to deadly accidents for other drivers.

Taming the Dragon

If you tackle the Tail, please be safe. Here are some planning tips from our resident experienced biker who has tamed the Dragon:

  • Never ride the Dragon alone; always have a buddy.
  • Make sure to allot enough time to finish the ride while it’s still light – especially if it’s your first time on the Dragon.
  • Don’t ride the Dragon when you’re tired. You need to be alert and focused for hours.
  • The Dragon is less crowded on weekdays, so avoid weekends if possible.
  • Avoid bad weather; a tight, curvy road with limited visibility is a lot less fun – and a lot more dangerous – when the weather is poor.

If You’ve Been “Bitten by the Dragon”

Safe driving is dependent on many factors — including those out of your control, like other drivers. When other drivers or riders take blind corners without sufficient skill, collisions resulting in serious injuries or even death will occur eventually. Trucking accidents can occur for a number of reasons, ranging from driver distraction to fatigue or driving while intoxicated (DWI). And being involved in an accident with a truck is especially dangerous because of their sheer size. Truck wrecks are not just big car wrecks.

A wreck can happen at any time no matter how carefully you navigate the road. If you need to file a truck accident claim or need help determining liability following a motorcycle accident, we’re available 24/7 to discuss your case. Contact us online or call us at 1-866-900-7078. There’s no reason to do it alone.

5 Things Your Insurance Adjuster Doesn’t Want You to Know (But We Do!)

People who have been injured will often come to us after they have tried to deal with the insurance companies themselves.

They may be frustrated with the lack of timely response from insurance adjusters. Some tell us the insurance company will not offer them enough to cover their medical expenses and other damages. Sometimes people are simply overwhelmed by the amount of phone calls, paperwork, follow-up, and bureaucracy just to try to get the insurance company to cover damages.

We know how they feel. We have many people here who play paper chase with the insurance companies every day.

There are some statements we often hear from people who call us for help. These are people who have never dealt with insurance adjusters and claims-filing entities. We work with these types every day. (Some of us used to work on the other side!) Here are five statements we hear and the accompanying things the “friendly” insurance adjuster and “good neighbor” insurance company may not want you to know.

1. The Insurance Adjuster Handling My Case Seems Very Nice and Is Even Willing to Settle as Soon as Possible. But the Settlement Amount Is So Low.

You should never rely on the adjuster or the insurance company as your friends. Most insurance companies are in business to make money. The less money the adjuster offers you to pay your damages, the more money insurance companies keep for themselves. Fact is, it is part of an insurance adjuster’s job description to offer you as little as possible. Adjusters may seem pleasant and sympathetic to your circumstances. Perhaps they are. But the bottom line is you are not signing their paychecks.

Adjusters go through intensive training programs to learn the art of negotiation. They can get very detailed, even covering the psychological aspects of negotiating in many instances.

Most insurance companies have auditing systems that show how much their adjusters paid out to claimants, based on the medical reports and what they can mitigate in their claimants’ files. Sometimes the adjuster’s pay can be tied to whether or not they meet the criteria the company has devised as “best practices” for payouts.

2. My Adjuster Said a Lawyer Won’t Do Anything More for Me Other Than Drag My Case On and On.

An insurance company may say that because they do not want you to hire a lawyer. If you hire a lawyer, they know they may potentially have to pay you more money. They know we know information that can help you. Insurance companies may sometimes call us ambulance chasers, sharks, greedy, and all kinds of names to try to prevent you from getting legal advice.

And they are unlikely to want to go to court to try your case in front of a jury. Insurance companies do not like uncertainty. And juries are by their very nature an uncertainty. We will go to court in a heartbeat if we think it will help you get the compensation you may deserve. Is that something the insurance companies want to hear?

3. My Pre-Existing Shoulder Condition Prohibits Them From Paying Me for the Full Extent of My Shoulder, Neck, and Back Injuries.

Ah! The pre-existing condition. That’s an oldie goldie. Some of our employees used to be insurance adjusters. Here’s what one of them had to say about this tactic:

“As a former insurance adjuster, our job was to gather the evidence and point out all the potential negatives to try to reduce the payout. If a claimant had a prior neck problem, and the wreck caused an injury to their neck, we would argue that they may have caused aggravation to the neck so we would not offer 100%. Same with degenerative issues. We would focus on that to reduce payout.”

The reality is a pre-existing condition may have no bearing on your new injury at all.

4. My Adjuster Told Me That After I Pay an Attorney’s Fee, I Would Probably Get Less Than Their Offer.

An insurance adjuster might try to get you to buy into all kinds of assumptions. They are highly trained professional negotiators. They might challenge you to take them to court. “You just wait and see,” they might say, acting like they welcome the chance. They might play the “take it or leave it” or “that’s my final offer” card. They might try to confuse you with all kinds of data and analyses and algorithms their statisticians have determined are “reasonable and fair” based on your medical bills and circumstances.

The list of deny and delay tactics is long. Yet it is effective in many instances! We don’t scare. (And we understand their algorithms.) If it’s in your best interest, we don’t back down.

5. The Insurance Company Said To Go Ahead and Take Them To Court. Facts Are Facts, and in My Case, the Facts Are Against Me.

Court is expensive. That is among the main reasons insurance companies typically want to settle your case quickly. Yet they may not let on that they would rather settle than go to court in most cases. Even so, they may still discount the amount they potentially owe you for damages. They may be assuming that you have no idea what you are potentially owed. They may try to make you believe they can only compensate you for medical expenses and not other damages, which may include the following:

  • mileage to and from your medical appointments
  • lost time from work
  • prescriptions
  • loss of the use of your vehicle
  • and sometimes pain and suffering

You aren’t likely to hear those options voluntarily from the adjuster. But you will from us. And then some.

Insurance Companies Keep Millions by Limiting Payouts

The bottom line is that many insurance companies are all about their bottom line. They hold millions, and in some cases billions, of dollars in reserves and earn interest and dividends on these assets. Many also have shareholders to answer to – large major shareholders like investment banks and mutual fund firms. Shareholders like to keep investing in profitable companies.

Sadly, it boils down to this. The insurance company is taking care of the shareholder and investor. The adjuster is taking care of the insurance company who gives them a consistent paycheck. Who is taking care of you?

You need to take care of you. We can help. Make sure you take care of your interests by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who knows how to deal with these issues.

Why Choose James Scott Farrin for Personal Injury, Workers’ Comp, or Social Security Disability Claims?

It starts with great people. We have over 50 accomplished attorneys, many of whom have won awards for their service and advocacy inside and outside the courtroom, including Best Lawyers “Best Lawyers in America,” 2021 list,3 “Lawyer of the Year” from Best Lawyers for 2017,“Super Lawyer” 20215 list by Super Lawyers, and Business North Carolina’s “Legal Elite” list for 2021.6

They’ve authored books, spoken at seminars for other attorneys, and some are sought by the media for their legal expertise. All are advocates dedicated to fighting tooth and nail for each and every client.

We’ve gone to great lengths to help make sure we know how the “other side” operates by hiring attorneys who’ve represented insurance companies and large major corporations.

We also have attorneys who are bilingual (as are many of our paralegals and staff).

Experienced Accident Attorneys Evaluate Your Case FREE

If you’re getting the run-around from your insurance adjuster or feel your best interests are not being considered, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

 

Related Resource:

What Should You Not Say to An Insurance Adjuster

3, 4 For more information about rules for inclusion visit www.bestlawyers.com

5 For more information about rules for inclusion visit www.superlawyers.com

6 For more information about rules for inclusion visit businessnc.com