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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.

Urgent Public Service Announcement: Avoid COVID-19 Stimulus Check Fraud

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has ground much of the country to a halt. To help ease the financial strain, the government has passed a stimulus bill, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Under this Act, adults that qualify will receive a one-time $1,200 stimulus check, though some could receive less. For every qualifying child under age 16, the payment will increase by $500, according to this FAQ published by the New York Times.

Three scams to watch for with COVID-19 stimulus fraud

What Scams to Watch For: COVID-19 Stimulus Check Fraud

This mass distribution of money creates the potential for fraud, and there are already some cases being reported. The confusion over how and when the checks will be issued has not helped. According to a recent article from Forbes, here are some ways fraudsters are taking advantage of people:

SCAM #1: Someone contacts you via phone, email, social media, or text message and suggests that you might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant and that it’s necessary to first verify your identity and process your request.

TRUTH: They’re trying to steal your identity. There is no such grant. Do NOT give out any private information, such as your Social Security Number or bank account number.

SCAM #2: Someone contacts you and claims that you can get more money from the government, or get your stimulus check faster. They just need to verify your information and collect a “processing fee.”

TRUTH: The stimulus bill offers a specific benefit to qualifying individuals. No one can get you more money from the government, and no one can give it to you sooner.

SCAM #3: Someone claiming to be the IRS calls you to verify your direct deposit details so that you can receive your stimulus check.

TRUTH: While it is true that the IRS will direct deposit your stimulus check into a direct deposit account associated with your tax return (or cut you a paper check), they will NOT call you to confirm those details. Anyone who claims to be the IRS on the phone asking for your financial information is a scammer.

Stimulus Check Facts from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

To further clarify for the public what to expect and not to expect, FTC Associate Director in the Division of Consumer and Business Education, Jennifer Leach, published a blog on the FTC’s website. In it, she clarified some key points to help consumers spot and avoid fraud:

  • The government will not ask you to pay up front to get your stimulus check.
  • The government will not contact you to ask for your Social Security Number, bank account number, or credit card number.
  • As of March 30, checks have not yet been issued. Any check you may have received thus far is bogus. If it requires you to verify information online or by other means before you can cash or deposit it, it’s definitely fake.
  • You cannot do anything to receive your check sooner. It will come when it comes.

Leach further notes that, no matter what form it takes, or when it takes effect, anyone asking you to pay to receive your stimulus is a scammer. You can report scams to the FTC if you encounter one, and learn about known scams related to the COVID-19 outbreak and how to avoid them.

Anyone calling and claiming to be the IRS is a scammer

“We’re the IRS!”

No, they aren’t. Anyone calling and claiming to be the IRS is a scammer, whether they’re talking about the stimulus check or not. Here’s a checklist, in case you’re wondering whether that “IRS” call is legitimate. When in doubt, it’s likely a scam!

  • The IRS will never call you to demand immediate payment by phone.
  • The IRS will never call you about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill.
  • The IRS will never threaten to dispatch local police or law enforcement to arrest you.
  • The IRS will never demand you pay a tax bill without allowing you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • The IRS will not require a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
  • The IRS will never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Businesses Are Also Getting Scammed

Fraudsters look for any opportunity to siphon funds off of the unwary. Businesses, especially small businesses, are vulnerable to a few methods.

These are often perpetrated by robocalls – auto-dialed recorded messages that listen for responses from the victim. Some of these robocalls may make claims about the availability of special funds or loans for businesses for COVID-19 relief if the business will verify or enter some private information, pay a fee, and so on. Some may attempt to convince the business that they have some sort of online listing that is pending verification, and will again attempt to gain access to private information.

These calls often use scare tactics and high-pressure scripts to make people react out of fear. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a coronavirus or COVID-19 scam, we encourage you to contact law enforcement immediately.

What to Do If You Are Contacted by a Scammer

First and foremost, do not give them any information. In fact, it’s best just to hang up if you accidentally answer. Do not say anything. Just hang up or end the call. Don’t engage them in any way, even to tell them you’re onto them.

If you receive text messages, do not respond, and under no circumstances should you click any links they may contain. Delete these texts immediately.

Emails are another common method, and they do not always come directly from scammers. Well-meaning people who believe they’re helpfully sharing information – via email or social media – can contribute to the spread of fraud. Do not click links in those emails or forward them to anyone. Delete them.

In addition to reporting scams to the FTC, you can report them to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or check out their scam alert page.

Stay Safe From COVID-19 and the Scammers Looking to Make a Buck

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin continue to work for our clients and accept cases during this crisis, although how we serve you has changed a bit. Fraud of this kind falls outside of our legal expertise, but we are putting this information out because our community’s health and safety are important to us. Don’t let yourself or others fall victim of stimulus check fraud. Please share this post with everyone you know, as it may prevent a scammer from succeeding.

And if you or someone you know has been hurt through no fault of their own, the HurtLine is always open at 1-866-900-7078, or you can contact us online for a free consultation. We’re ready to help you.

Are Self-Driving Features Making the Roads More Dangerous?

Driver aids have been around for a long time. Designed to make the task of driving easier, automakers have steadily introduced convenience features with various levels of success. The feature we all know as “cruise control” was invented in the 1940s, and appeared first in Chrysler automobiles in 1958.  By 1960, it was standard equipment in all Cadillacs.

Fast forward to the modern era and you’ll find more robust versions of that original speed control system. Radar-guided cruise control is available in many cars, allowing the driver to set the desired speed, and to choose a “following distance” – the distance they want the system to maintain between their car and the car ahead. Automatic braking, lane departure warnings, and all manner of computer-controlled equipment combine to make driving easier and safer.

The Rise of Semi-Autonomy: “No, We Aren’t There Yet”

It’s only natural that these exponential advances in automobile technology have led to the idea of autonomous driving. According to techopedia.com, an autonomous car is a car that can guide itself without human conduction. Here’s the issue: as of December 2019, no such cars are available for purchase. Massive amounts of money are being invested in the technology by companies like Alphabet and its Waymo unit, Apple, GM, and Tesla, but true autonomous driving is not available.

Simply put, we’re not there. Yet.

That does not keep companies from adding semi-autonomous features to road-going products. General Motors offers SuperCruise in its Cadillac products, and Tesla offers the Autopilot system in all of its cars that are ordered online. Semi-autonomy, however, comes in forms as different as its makers – with surprising results.

Lack of clarity on semi-autonomous features becomes a safety issue at times

The Many Roads to Autonomy, and the Dangers Along the Way

The different companies offering semi-autonomous features arrive at their results in very different ways. This leads to confusion about which systems do what. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has defined its own . Emerging technology often has competing definitions as companies seek to brand their semi-autonomous driving systems, and the methods for evaluating the technologies are in development as well. This lack of clarity becomes a safety issue at times.

The easiest example to cite is that of Tesla’s “Autopilot” system, though they are not alone when it comes to safety issues, confusing terminology or accidents involving their products.

Tesla and Autopilot – Problems by Design?

Tesla is as much a technology firm as an automaker, and as such, they collect and use massive amounts of data. The company tracks their cars and releases a quarterly vehicle safety report, which contains data on accidents involving their vehicles. Specifically, it covers accidents involving their Autopilot system. In Q3 of 2019, the company registered one accident for every 4.34 million miles of driving with Autopilot engaged, versus one accident for every 2.7 million miles without it. Both numbers include the other active safety features of the cars in use.

In this case, the numbers are impressive, but may hide a problem. It starts with how the Autopilot requires driver input, how it differs from other systems on the market, and how the company markets it.

Driver Involvement

Tesla specifically instructs drivers to maintain control of their vehicles, even when autopilot is engaged. The company uses steering wheel input to monitor driver engagement, not simply contact with the steering wheel, as is widely reported. That system, however, is more simplistic than competitors who use cameras to monitor drivers’ eyes and focus.

Road-Sensing Systems

Tesla relies on radar and a camera to sense road conditions. Other makers, including Ford, Waymo and others, use something called LIDAR. The difference in sensors is significant. Tesla’s system uses radar, the camera, and computer software to detect hazards. A road sign and a guard rail require different responses than a car in the lane ahead. But radar can be fooled, as has apparently happened in crashes over the last few years in Connecticut and Florida. In these and other cases, the system has failed to react to other vehicles blocking the road. And, in the Connecticut case, the driver was not even watching the road, but had turned to attend to a dog in the back seat. Also worth noting is that Tesla uses a single forward-facing camera. Stereo cameras would have detected the difference in at least one case, and have been tested to be nearly as accurate as the more expensive LIDAR sensors by researchers at Cornell University for much lower cost.

Marketing

Tesla does seem to contradict itself in how it markets its system versus how it instructs users to behave with it. On one hand, the system is actually called “Autopilot,” which implies that the piloting of the vehicle is automatic, and Tesla claims the vehicles have all the equipment necessary for future autonomous driving. Tesla founder Elon Musk even famously misused the system in a demonstration, and people may be more apt to copy the man who owns the company than to read pages of instructions. On the other hand, the company makes a point of explaining that the system requires driver attention. Even so, there are many owners who have thought up “hacks” to defeat the monitoring method that the car uses to prompt them to pay attention.

Four important notes about vehicle accidents with autonomous features

When It All Goes Wrong

Even with millions of miles of pre-market testing, the real world with real owners is a different animal for autonomous driving systems. How a company claims a product works may not be accurate to how users employ it, and even the most tested technology is sometimes flawed.

If you or someone you love is involved in an accident with a vehicle with autonomous driving features, here are some things to note.

  • If you are driving, your behavior behind the wheel is still your responsibility. These vehicles are packed with sensors. By definition, the car is watching you. Regardless of what you see online or how much confidence the system instills, use these systems in accordance with the owners’ manual. If an accident still occurs, you want to eliminate yourself as a possible cause, and therefore, a source of liability.
  • If you are a passenger, make sure to use all of the safety features available to you. If the driver wants to show you the autonomous driving features, ask that they be employed responsibly. Preventing a dangerous situation is preferable to a lawsuit or a life-changing injury.
  • If you are struck by an autonomous vehicle, try to record the conditions that led up to the accident. It may be important later on for your potential claims, depending on how the vehicle behaved during the accident.
  • If you are injured, regardless of your role, it may be wise to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you’re able. Because of the sense of confidence these autonomous driving systems create, it is easy for drivers to become careless.

Seek Representation From an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we are advocates for those who are injured in North Carolina. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving an autonomous vehicle, please contact us for a free case evaluation. We pride ourselves on fighting for victims, and working to try to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. We’re not afraid to fight the big cases.

Protecting Loved Ones from Their “Protectors”: Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

You did your research, you visited the places you liked best, you worked out the finances ever so carefully, and you’re well on your way to providing your mom or dad with the care they need — and achieving some peace of mind for yourself. Care facilities and nursing homes are where your loved ones are supposed to get the round-the-clock help and attention they need, and you trust these facilities to do just that.

But what happens if those same places end up violating their commitment to take care of your loved ones — even when they have the highest ratings in your town or state?

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Case Shocks the Nation

You may remember hearing about the woman in an Arizona facility that gave birth in December 2018, even though she had been in a vegetative state for over a decade, and currently still is. The suspect was one of the male nurses in charge of the victim’s care, and was arrested. Investigations are still underway to find out how the facility did not notice the woman’s pregnancy until her medical distress while giving birth.

Senate Hearing on Nursing Home Sexual Assaults

Sadly, sexual abuse at care facilities is rampant across the nation, and yet little has been done to put the discussion at the forefront of people’s minds.

Thus far, nursing home and care facilities who have been cited for some form of abuse have been able to fly under the radar because so little has been done to keep them accountable. Not to mention, there is a high standard for proving sexual assault, so cases often go unreported.

On March 6, 2019, similar stories emerged during a senate hearing convened for the sole purpose of investigating the nursing home abuse crisis. Witnesses recounted their stories to lawmakers of how their loved ones experienced sexual abuse at the hands of their caretakers. Notably, one witness had placed her mother in a facility that was ranked at the highest possible level for quality of resident care by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). However, it had also been fined for verbal and physical abuse.

Reforms to Long-Term Healthcare Facility Reporting

As lawmakers await reports from watchdog reporting agencies, it would seem reforms are on the horizon regarding how nursing homes and care facilities are run. CMS announced that it was updating their online Nursing Home Compare and the Five-Star Quality Rating System, which helps families find and compare facilities for their loved ones. It also announced that it was updating its guidelines that identify red flags in those situations.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect – Red Flags

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care released the following checklist that may signal sexual abuse and neglect:

  • Bruises around inner thighs, the genital area, or breasts
  • Unexplained genital infections or STD’s
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, pain, or irritation
  • New difficulty sitting or walking
  • Torn, stained, or bloodied underclothing
  • Extreme agitation
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Panic attacks or emerging PTSD symptoms
  • Suicide attempts
  • Sudden or unexplained changes in behavior including:
    • Fear or avoidance of a person or place
    • Fear of being left alone or the dark
    • Increased nightmares and/or disturbed sleep
  • Victims of dementia will exhibit anxiety or excessive fear around the person providing or tending to their care. They may also engage in more aggressive behaviors.

Click here for common signs of general abuse and neglect at care facilities.

North Carolina Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Investigations Underway

If someone you know in a nursing home, rest home, assisted living, or senior care facility has complained about any mistreatment, we urge you to take them seriously. Ask questions. Get the facts. Talk to management. View their medical records. Place a hidden camera in the room like this Raleigh woman did.

And contact us immediately if you suspect abuse. You may be eligible for compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of care and family duties
  • Loss of the victim’s earnings
  • Wrongful death
  • Funeral expenses for the victim

The statute of limitations for reporting is a short window. We are available 24/7 to offer you a free case evaluation. You can use our live chat feature or send a message through our secure and confidential form on this page.

Contact us or call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 to find out if one of our North Carolina lawyers may be able to help you try to protect your loved one from elder abuse.

Careful With Opioids – What Greensboro Is Doing to Try to Help

A colleague’s 16-year-old daughter recently broke her arm. Although the daughter had stated that the pain was not “that bad,” the ER sent her home with opioid pain medication. The mother gave her ibuprofen, instead. Smart mom.

This information happened to come on the heels of an article I recently read about Dr. Wayland McKenzie of Greensboro. Dr. McKenzie is a doctor who lost his license for overprescribing opioids – allegedly to addicts.

When are some doctors going to wake up and smell the poppy seeds? There’s an opioid crisis in our country and it has reached epidemic levels. Innocent victims of injuries continue to unwittingly fall prey to the highly addictive nature of opioid pain killers. Why? Part of the reason is because some doctors have been handing them out like candy for years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the US in 2017. More than 67% of these deaths were from opioid overdoses.

Opioid Crisis in Greensboro Triad Area

North Carolina is among the states that showed statistically significant increases in drug overdose deaths from 2016 to 2017. In fact, a Winston-Salem Journal article reported that an average of four people die from opioid overdoses in North Carolina every day. The highest death rate among the 14-county region of the Triad and northwest North Carolina is Guilford County with 73 deaths in 2016.

Map of Greensboro North Carolina and the surrounding Triad area.

Cone Health Pilots Opioid Peer-Support Program

In 2018, Cone Health launched a pilot project to try to combat opioid abuse. This one-year test program has put certified peer support specialists, each of whom have been in recovery for at least three years, in the emergency departments of the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital and Wesley Long Hospital.

Personal Injury Attorneys in Greensboro and 16 Other Offices in the Carolinas

As a personal injury attorney, I applaud this effort. I have been privy to cases involving the misuse of drugs and dangerous medical devices. These cases are heartbreaking and often preventable. Opioid addiction is insidious and can sneak up on victims before they realize their plight. Sadly, many of these addictions begin with a family doctor or ER prescription.

 

James Scott Farrin Offers Durham Gas Explosion Victims and Businesses Help, Hope

The Blast That Shook Downtown Durham

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, 911 received a call from a woman who reported smelling “a very strong gas smell” around the Durham School of Arts at around 9:11 a.m.

Firefighters were dispatched to the area at 9:13 a.m. to investigate, but reported that they could not confirm its source.

At 9:37 a.m., a contractor called 911 to report that they had hit “a gas service line.” In a released audio clip of the 911 call, the contractor describes how they had hit a gas line and that they were waiting for the gas company to come turn off the gas. Firefighters and first responders started evacuating people inside the buildings.

At around 10:06 a.m., a building in the popular Brightleaf District exploded. The resulting blast radius could be heard and felt throughout downtown Durham, including the James Scott Farrin headquarters. The entire building shook, windows rattled, and the lights flickered. As co-workers anxiously left their cubicles and offices looking for a cause, news started to trickle in that a building had exploded and collapsed a mile away.

“We looked out the windows and saw the giant black tower of smoke rising above the skyline,” one Farrin employee said.

Chaos and Panic in Downtown Durham

Businesses near the blast suffered severe damages. People in nearby offices or inside their cars when the blast occurred were injured by shrapnel and glass. As people ran away in terror, some ran into the chaos to help the injured. Images and videos started streaming onto social media. Over two dozen people were injured, and one person tragically died. Some remained in the hospital a week later in serious condition.

Durham Community Rallies Around Blast Victims

As authorities continue to investigate the cause of the blast, many in the community are reaching out to the victims to see how they can help. With damages set to exceed $100 million in total, those affected have to assess how much they lost and eventually, rebuild and repair.

Damages are wide-ranging and some may take months or years to rectify. Many people were physically injured, some lost their businesses and livelihoods, many no longer have a place to work or live, and vehicles were severely damaged.

James Scott Farrin — Committed to Helping Victims of the Durham Gas Explosion

Our firm is ready to lend a legal hand to those affected by the explosion. We have an attorney who volunteered to help victims of 9/11.3 We also have an attorney that represented victims of the 2009 Garner ConAgra plant explosion, and one that represented those affected by the 2017 Hatteras Bridge blackout that caused hundreds of businesses to lose revenue at the height of the summer season. Our lawyers have handled other fire/explosion personal injury and loss of business cases.

CBS17 news and other news outlets interviewed Farrin attorney Gary Jackson about the legal options for those impacted. Gary has over 30 years of legal experience, and he believes the best outcome for all involved is for the insurance companies and those parties responsible to step up to the plate. Click on the image below to watch the interview:

Attorney Gary Jackson on CBS17 news discussing the Durham explosion

If you want help or guidance in putting together your claim, AND discussing whether or not you need an attorney to represent you, we would be happy to talk with you. Contact us here or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

We can lay out all of your options for you and help you assess the full extent of damages you may be owed along with any potential claims.
3Results obtained prior to joining the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin

Which Greensboro Roads Can be Dangerous?

Every town and city has them. They’re the intersections, roadways, merge sites, or construction zones that locals try to avoid like a root canal. At best, these sites can be a nuisance. At worst, they can sometimes be downright deadly.

Our law firm has 17 office locations across North and South Carolina. The James Scott Farrin headquarters in Durham is right off the NC-147 Freeway. While convenient, the NC-147 Freeway always seems to be under construction somewhere, sometimes causing accidents and traffic back-ups.

I am located in our Greensboro office, which is in downtown Greensboro next to the Greensboro Marriott. We have often seen clients from High Point, Asheboro, and Burlington in addition to Greensboro. As a personal injury attorney, I am often privy to information from clients, law enforcement and others regarding roadways around town that can be particularly worrisome.

Troublesome Roads in the Greensboro Area

For me, personally, there are a handful of trouble spots.

Wendover Avenue can be a challenge, but the section near the I-40 can be particularly troublesome at times.

Battleground Ave. is another area I tend to try to avoid if possible. As a Greensboro accident attorney, I have known of many collisions along this route. The intersections along Battleground Ave. can be confusing, the volume of traffic is high, and there are random, short, one-way sections that can be problematic, even to local Greensboro residents.

There can also be congestion and collisions along the stretch of I-40/I-85 between the Freeman Mill Road exit and the Lee Street exit.

Those are my personal bugaboos. The Greensboro Police Department has their own list of sites that they consider to be among the most dangerous.

Greensboro’s Top Crash Sites and Speed Traps

WWFMY News 2 reported on the top 10 crash sites, according to the Greensboro Police Department:

  • I-40/I-85 (Elm-Eugene Street to 29)
  • I-40/I-85 (Randleman Rd to 220)
  • US-29 Corridor (E Market to E Gate City)
  • W Wendover Avenue Corridor (Bridford to Tri-City)
  • Battleground Avenue Corridor (Westride to city limit)
  • I-40/Guilford College Road
  • Holden Rd/Vandalia Road
  • W Gate City Blvd/W Meadowview Road
  • Pisgah Church/N Elm Street
  • I-40/Sandy Ridge Road

Many of the problems along these Greensboro roads have to do with speeding, and the news reports that Greensboro police have often had officers patrolling these very areas where speeding has been an issue.

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has represented far too many victims of speeders. Speeding is avoidable and so are accidents due to this offense. Sadly, though, we see these every day. It never gets any easier to see a life change for the worse in one brief instant.

Click here for Tony’s story. He was “living the dream” until he was hit from behind by a vehicle speeding at 70 mph.

Get a Free Case Evaluation From Greensboro Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or a loved one have been the victim of any type of car wreck in Greensboro or anywhere in North Carolina as a result of speeding or for any other reason, contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

Get more information on the formidable team of car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin who stand ready to fight for you.

Have You Relaxed Car Seat Rules Now That Your Baby is Older? Don’t!

While driving in to the Durham office, I saw something that irritates me even more than texting while driving. A woman (I assumed she was a mom) had her little girl, who could not have been more than 5 or 6, in the front seat of her Beamer traveling down a very busy four-lane road.  Without a car seat. Seriously? I wanted to shout out:

“HEY MOM! DID YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD IS 24X MORE LIKELY TO DIE IN A CAR ACCIDENT IF NOT PROPERLY RESTRAINED?”

(Sorry for shouting in all caps. But I get worked up every time I think about it.)

If she had my job as a personal injury lawyer she’d think twice about her irresponsible, reckless, and potentially life-threatening decision.

We have represented far too many forever broken families whose children have died or been paralyzed or brain damaged as the result of car accidents. It can happen in a split second. And often it can be preventable.

“Just going down the street…”

Too often, parents might tend to loosen the rules a bit if they’re just going down the street. What some may not realize is that more kids get hurt when parents are running routine errands like going to daycare or the grocery store – or carpooling to school – than are injured on longer road trips. Safekids.org reports that 75% of car crashes affecting children happen within 25 miles of home. And 60% of crashes occur on roads with posted speed limits of 40 mph or less.

Many accidents and some child deaths happen at speeds of less than 25 MPH.

Children are not fully developed physically and are less able to withstand the impact of a car crash, compared with an adult. According to research conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, because air bags (and seat belts) were designed to protect average-sized adult males and NOT children, they can be extremely dangerous to infants or young children seated in front of them. Moreover, they report that children exposed to air bags during a crash are twice as likely to suffer a serious injury. Many people may be surprised to learn that a crash of less than 30 MPH can cause severe harm or death to a child as a result of airbag deployment. Why?

The technology used to deploy airbags is similar to the technology in some rocket boosters!

Keeping North Carolina’s Young Children Safer in the Car

Because of the position of airbags, children under 13 are safest when placed in the back seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Never place an infant in a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat with an air bag. In a crash, the air bag comes out of the dashboard with its force directed at the back of the infant’s head if riding in the front passenger seat.

Kids need to be in a rear-facing car seat until they’re 2 years old. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing in the back seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.

Keep most kids in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old, says the AAP. Only 20% of parents put children ages four to eight in booster seats, even though safety experts recommend it. The result of this is that kids between the ages of four and eight actually face a bigger risk of dying in a car accident than a child under the age of three, according to an article in parents.com.

If you don’t have enough room in the back of your car to safely transport the number of children who need to travel safely, visit a car seat check station in your area (typically the local police or fire station) where a trained expert will help evaluate your situation. Click here for Safekids.org safety check stations in North Carolina from Dare County in the Outer Banks to Cherokee County to the west.

5 Car Safety Tips for Kids 13 and Up

(That includes your college-aged “kids” and even you.)

  1. Move the front seat as far back as possible from the dashboard.
  2. Passengers 13 and up need to wear a lap and shoulder belt when riding in the front seat. Air bags are designed to work with the lap and shoulder belt to protect the occupant.
  3. Teach your child not to lean forward to change the radio station, insert CDs, or plug in their phones.
  4. Insist your child sit upright against the seatback, with the seat belt snug at all times.
  5. Find out what you need to know about air bags when buying a used car. Some, such as Takata have been recalled on thousands of vehicles.

We’re lawyers, but we’re parents too. It is beyond heartbreaking when we have to represent a mom and dad who has lost a child in a car crash, no matter what age or circumstances. I am adamant about safety rules in the car (especially teens texting and driving). Maybe it’s because of the brokenness I have seen as a lawyer – brokenness that didn’t have to happen. And it can happen just like that.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from NC Car Crash Lawyers

We have represented far too many clients with children injured in car crashes. Their stories are heartbreaking. If your child or anyone in your family was injured in a car wreck, please have them contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. We are available 24/7 and will evaluate the situation for FREE.

Who’s Behind the Business of “We Mean Business”?

Jim Farrin on the cover of Attorney at LawAt the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we often get questions about the man whose name emblazons our building. What’s he like? Does he still take cases? Is James Scott Farrin one person or three?

Spoiler alert – he’s one person. One person – three personas.

Lawyer.

Businessman.

Family man.

(Not necessarily in that order.)

James, or “Jim” as we know him, had a rogue notion back in 1997 that running a law firm like a business – focusing on customer service, marketing, and improving the non-lawyering parts of legal service, while still striving to provide excellent representation – just might make good business sense.

This audacious notion turned a one-shingle operation into one of the largest personal injury law firms in North Carolina, with more than 30 lawyers and 125 employees operating from 14 offices state-wide.

To showcase this success,  Attorney at Law Magazine Triangle edition, featured Jim in February as attorney of the month.

The cover story “The Audacity of Ambition” offers a glance inside the mind of our president and namesake. And a better understanding of his journey – one that has been wrought with interesting (sometimes harrowing) twists and turns, bumps in the road, a bit of Irish luck of being in the right places at the right times, and a whole lot of old fashioned rollupyoursleeves hard work.

And perseverance. Lots of perseverance.

But what do foreign lands and cartoons and the gleam in the eyes of an early client have in common with this interesting journey? Click here to find out

4 Insurance Claim Tips From a Former Adjuster

Health insurance accident claim form with stethoscopeYou’ve heard all the hype – one wrong step on your insurance claim after a car accident could leave you footing the bill for injuries that may not have even been your fault.

Unfortunately, there’s some truth to that (in our experience).

We talked with a former insurance adjuster and asked him for his top recommendations to anyone who’s been injured in a car accident, here’s what he said:

  1. Don’t Rush – A Speedy Settlement Can be a Shoddy Settlement
    Adjusters may want you to process your claim based on their timelines, which will usually be as quickly as possible. Don’t feel pressure to do this. This is a common strategy among adjusters because it can limit the amount of money they pay out for a claim.You are in control and shouldn’t feel the need to rush into something that may not be the best decision. A good rule of thumb is if you’re still getting any type of medical treatment, are on medications, or still in pain, you probably shouldn’t talk about settling anything.
  2. Get a Professional to Review Your Paperwork – for Free
    Signing a release or medical authorization can substantially limit your options for seeking compensation. If you’re not careful, you could give up benefits that you might have been entitled to otherwise. And often the damage from signing certain documents cannot be undone. It’s generally a good practice to consult with an attorney before signing any paperwork.Send your documents to an experienced attorney you trust (who focuses on your type of case) and ask them to review. Many personal injury attorneys will do this for free.
  3. Keep in Mind – the Adjuster Is Not Looking Out for You
    Although most adjusters present themselves as friendly and helpful, remember that their job is to resolve potential legal actions and claims as quickly and as cheaply as possible – that’s it. They are not there to look after your best interests.Even if your adjuster means well, they are just not trained to think of all the ways an injury can impact your life and what help you might need. What do insurance adjusters look for? Any potential problems with your claim and bring to light anything that could free their company of responsibility.Their goal is to keep more money in house than they pay out on claims (like yours).
  4. Don’t Risk Your Future Needs – Get Concessions Upfront
    Be careful resolving claims early on before you know the full extent of your injuries and medical care to come. You are bound by the agreement you enter into. If you settle too early and find that you still need ongoing treatment, you will likely have to pay for those treatments on your own.If you believe your injuries will result in permanent damage or may need ongoing care, make sure these concessions are calculated into your settlement upfront. An attorney may be able to help.

Hurt in a car accident that wasn’t your fault?

We’ve dedicated our practice to people like you. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t wonder if you’re being treated fairly by the insurance company – get a professional opinion.

Call us for your free case evaluation at 1-866-900-7078.  We’ll try to answer any questions you have and there’s no obligation to hire us afterwards.