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Vaping Illnesses Strike Teens as Number of Lawsuits Grow

The Latest From the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control have been researching vaping-related illnesses throughout the country. Progress is finally being made on what they term EVALI (E-cigarette/Vaping Associated Lung Illness). More can be expected.

It has been determined that vaping products containing THC, specifically those from unofficial sources like friends, family, or in-person/online dealers, are linked to most EVALI cases and play a major role in the outbreak. THC vaping oils contains an additive called Vitamin E acetate. Vitamin E acetate is strongly linked to the EVALI outbreak and, in 82% of EVALI cases, victims vaped THC-containing liquids.

Alarming Risks to Teens

Daniel Ament never dreamed he would have a double-lung transplant at the age of 17, but it was necessary in order to save his life. Like many of his friends, Daniel vaped e-cigarettes and occasionally THC. Unlike his peers, Daniel ended up in the hospital with a severe, life-threatening illness due to vaping. The transplant saved his life, but he will forever feel the effects. After graduating high school, he planned to enlist in the military, but that option is no longer possible. With these horrifying events behind him, Daniel now advocates to stop teen vaping.

Christy D’Ambrosio has taken on a similar quest to stop teen vaping. Her son, Ricky, was 21 when he was admitted to the hospital for respiratory failure and eventually a medically induced coma. She went to the media with pleas for prayers and support to save her young son’s life. Christy, like many other parents, was unaware of the extent of her son’s vaping – that it had been going on for five years and had gotten to the point of an addiction. Doctors struggled to find explanations for Ricky’s symptoms. It wasn’t until they learned he’d been vaping that they determined the cause and were able to save his life. When Christy went to Facebook with a picture of her son in the hospital, she captioned the post with a plea for everyone to stop vaping, tell others to stop, tell everyone to stop. Her post was shared more than four thousand times.

At the end of 2019, the youngest patient to die from EVALI was reported – a teenager only 15 years old. Before that, the youngest was a 17-year-old from New York. The teen was hospitalized twice previously for symptoms related to vaping. His death was the first in the state of New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo made a public announcement regarding the boy’s death and made a plea to both parents and teenagers to recognize the risk: “You are playing with your life when you play with this stuff,” said Cuomo.

Everyone should be fully aware of the risks and effects of vaping. No substance is worth altering someone’s entire life. Just because something is easily obtained doesn’t make it safe. Parents should be aware of their children’s possible e-cigarette use and warn them of the risks.

Vaping-related illness and death increasing, answers are not

As reported in February 2020, the number of vaping-related illnesses in the United States have topped 2,800 with deaths reaching nearly 70.

The Centers for Disease Control is working around the clock to identify the cause of this seemingly sudden outbreak in vaping-related illnesses. The ongoing investigation provides regular updates on the CDC website regarding those affected and what they know:

  • Investigation spans almost all states, more than 2,000 patients, and a wide variety of brands, substances, and e-cigarette/vaping products
  • 2,290 cases of E-cigarette/Vaping product use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) have been reported to the CDC from 49 states
  • 47 deaths have been confirmed in 25 states and the District of Columbia
    • Median age of deceased patients is 53, ranges from 17 to 75
  • Of the studied illnesses:
    • 68% were male
    • 77% were under 35 years old, the youngest being 13

Symptoms of Vaping-Related Illness

Reports continue to fill the news regarding individuals getting sick from vaping. What exactly is happening? And should you be concerned? In short, yes. Among the growing list of health problems attributed to vaping, some symptoms include:

  • Coughing, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Fatigue, fever, or weight loss

Contact a medical professional immediately if you regularly use e-cigarettes or vaping devices and experience any of the above symptoms.

The damage being done to lungs is extensive. Some individuals are admitted to the hospital with minor symptoms and are released. They continue to use e-cigarettes and are later readmitted. Some of the known cases of vaping-related illnesses have found the following damage to their lungs:

  • Inflammation
  • Damage that resembled exposure to inhaled toxic substances, like from a chemical spill
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (fluid in the lungs that impedes oxygen getting to the body)
  • Pneumonia-like symptoms and illness

Possible Causes of Vaping-Related Illness

The numbers of deaths and illnesses related to vaping continue to rise. So do the questions, but not the answers. The common factor in these illnesses is vaping. Beyond that, there is only speculation about what else could be the cause.

The CDC found one common denominator in vaping illnesses – the additive vitamin E acetate. The vaping-related illnesses are seen in individuals vaping THC, tobacco, or a combination of the two, but most illnesses (83%) come from vaping products containing THC. Vitamin E acetate is an additive specific to THC vaping and has been found in the diseased lungs of those studied by the CDC.

There are also concerns regarding those looking to save money by purchasing “off-brands” and buying products online from unverified sources. Some of these online products are acquired illegally and have not been verified by the FDA. The CDC has stated: “The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak.”

The severity of illnesses related to vaping has driven the American Medical Association (AMA) to call for a ban on all e-cigarette and vaping products that have not been approved by the FDA for use supporting those attempting to quit smoking traditional tobacco products.

The dangers of e-cigarette use are very real. Many, as we are seeing, are still alarmingly unknown. Individuals continue to become ill and even die due to a product previously deemed “safe.”

With the rise of vaping and e-cigarette use in the country, we are seeing the long-lasting health effects of prolonged use for teens and young adults.

Many parents are now fighting back by suing vaping companies, like Juul, for targeting their teens.

“Are vaping or e-cigarettes a good alternative to smoking?”

The answer is a resounding NO!

In the past (and maybe until now), e-cigarette companies have advertised their product as something that can help people quit smoking. However, the American Heart Association (AHA) warns that vaping and e-cigarettes should not be promoted as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco. In fact, here are a few reasons from the AHA website about why vaping and e-cigarettes are not a better alternative to smoking:

  • Most e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm the developing brains of teens, kids and fetuses in women who vape while pregnant. Some types expose users to even more nicotine than traditional cigarettes.
  • In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette vapor includes potentially harmful substances such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to a serious lung disease), cancer-causing chemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. Users breathe in these toxic contaminants, and non-users nearby risk secondhand exposure.
  • The liquid used in e-cigarettes can be dangerous, even apart from its intended use. Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing or absorbing the liquid through their skin or eyes.
  • E-cigarettes have been linked to thousands of cases of serious lung injury, some resulting in death. While the exact cause is still not confirmed, the CDC recommends against use of e-cigarettes.

Click here for more information from the American Heart Association.

Teens and e-Cigarettes/Vaping: Companies Get Richer, While Our Kids Get Sicker

On any given day, you’ll find articles in the media about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping. Most of them are saying the same thing: that illnesses, diseases, and deaths connected to the use of such products continue to climb, especially in high schools and on college campuses. This should come as no surprise, because “Juul-ing,” “vaping,” and the like are marketed as cool, sleek, and offer flavored products that tend to appeal to a younger demographic. Not to mention their ability to be disguised from parents and teachers (see subsequent section on “What Is Juul?”).

As a result, courts all over the U.S. are seeing an increase in lawsuits being filed against some of the major companies manufacturing and distributing these products. In October 2019 , e-cigarette company Juul Labs (JUUL) was sued for allegedly deceptive marketing of its products to teenagers. The case was settled, and JUUL was handed specific restrictions on how, where and when it can advertise to teens and adolescents. Recent legislation banned the sale of some — but not all  — flavored vaping products, attributing fruit, mint, and dessert flavors as a source of appeal to younger demographics. Menthol- and tobacco-flavored products were the exception.

Yet the number of teenagers using vape products continues to increase. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS ) from 2019, teen cigarette smoking is at an all-time low, but e-cigarette use is increasing. The NYTS found that 5 million youth report having used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, with nearly one million reporting daily use.

Take a look at the numbers from the 2019 report:

2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey results infographic
Infographic describing the results of the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which surveys middle and high school students focusing on patterns of tobacco use.

What Is JUUL?

As mentioned in the above infographic, JUUL is the most popular e-cigarette brand for teens. JUUL  is shaped like a USB flash drive, enabling the product to be used right under parents’ and teachers’ noses (no pun intended).

The device itself heats a liquid (aka “vape juice”) that is turned into aerosol and subsequently inhaled by the user. Bystanders can also inhale this aerosol when the user exhales it into the air. The liquid contains nicotine, but with JUUL products the nicotine comes in the form of a salt. Nicotine salts allow a higher dosage of nicotine per puff.

What is perhaps most alarming is only one-third of JUUL users aged 15-24 know that JUUL always contains nicotine, and not just harmless “water vapor” according to CDC findings. Moreover, secondhand vapor can be harmful to others.

What Teens Are Saying About Vaping

In October 2019, a survey was conducted at Buffalo High School near Minneapolis, Minnesota. The following are direct quotes from the high school students there about why they vape. We hope these can shed some light as to why vaping has become such a widespread epidemic in this particular demographic:

  • “I didn’t want to be left out and miss out on the fun.”
  • “I think it was supposed to be a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. That’s, like, not the case anymore.”
  • “Your friends do it, so why would you be that one person who doesn’t do it?”
  • “People just assume it’s good because you’re not blowing smoke out of your mouth, you’re blowing vapor.”

Help for Parents on How to Start a Conversation With Their Teenager

From this survey, you can get a sense of how teens feel some peer pressure and influence on their decision to start vaping. Perhaps part of the appeal of vaping is also the forbidden aspect of these devices. With e-cigarette and vaping devices being banned in schools, airplanes, public gathering spaces, and more, other companies have jumped on the bandwagon of creating vaping devices that are disguised as something else, such as hoodie straps, backpacks, smart watches, and phone cases, according to Healthline. The point is that vaping devices can be masked as anything these days, which can appeal to the younger generation.

If you are a concerned parent of a teenager, the first step is usually having an open, non-judgmental conversation about it with him or her. The CDC provides a parent tip sheet on how to broach this topic in ways that keep communication lines open; you can find it here.

While the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is not actively pursuing these cases, we hope you have found this information helpful.

Should you or someone you know need legal guidance in North Carolina:

Please do not hesitate to call us at 1-866-900-7078, or click here to contact us.

Recently-Terminated Juul Executive Alleges The Company Shipped Tainted Products

And How This Can Affect You:

While Juul has recently been under fire for shady marketing techniques, including marketing to underage users, another serious issue has emerged for those using Juul products. The possibility of contaminated pods being shipped out to users was made public by former Juul Exec Siddharth Breja. At least 1,600 cases of lung damage cases have been reported in relation to vaping, including more than 30 deaths. It is currently unknown whether contaminated pods are related to this issue but it’s safe to say the use of vaping products isn’t as safe as originally thought.

1600+ cases of lung damage reported related to vaping including 30+ deaths

Siddharth Breja, who was originally a finance executive at the e-cigarette company Juul, was fired earlier this year. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday by lawyers that represent Breja, they claim Breja was terminated after opposing company practices such as shipping contaminated flavored pods and not listing expiration dates on Juul products. The lawsuit does not specify the contamination issue, or go into further detail on how it occurred. Lawyers for Breja have declined to speak further on the issue.

A Juul spokesperson responded to the claims stating that they were “baseless” and that Breja was terminated because he failed to “demonstrate the leadership qualities required for the job.” No further statements have been issued since then.

Breja described a “reckless” and “win at all costs” mentality at Juul, and he aims the majority of the criticism at the company’s former CEO, Kevin Burns, who was recently replaced.

According to the lawsuit, Breja states that he learned in March that some batches of nicotine solution had been contaminated, and claims that roughly one million of these contaminated pods were shipped without a recall or public health warning. Breja says he protested shipping the pods, but his supervisor continued forward because they were more concerned with stockholders’ profits.

After pulling Mango, Fruit, and other flavors under the pressure of health authorities, Mint pods were the contaminated products according to Breja. A majority of vape users used Mint pods as a substitute for the fruity flavors that were pulled off-market. According to the lawsuit, Burns stated, “You need to have an IQ of 5 to know that when customers don’t find mango they buy mint.”

Breja claims that he was wrongfully terminated after bringing health concerns related to the contaminated pods to Burns. Breja states that Burns responded to his concerns with “half of our customers are drunk and vaping like mofos, who the f— is going to notice the quality of our pods?” The lawsuit was filed in Northern California seeking $10 million.

For safety concerns, users should consider halting any use of Juul vaping products and schedule a precautionary visit with a doctor. If users have any symptoms of EVALI, the name given to the vape related illness, they should immediately seek treatment. These symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pains.

Contact a North Carolina Injury Attorney

Working with an experienced North Carolina injury attorney can potentially make or break your case. If you have used vape products and believe you may be suffering illness from them, let’s talk. Our mission is to help those who’ve been harmed by defective products and ensure that businesses are held accountable for producing them. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

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

man in safety equipment checks water for GenXOn October 3, 2017, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin and our co-counsel The Hannon Law Firm, LLC have filed suit against The Chemours Company and duPont Chemical Corporation seeking compensation for property related damages and funds for a monitoring program for early detection of disease because of GenX and other toxic contamination released from the companies’ Fayetteville Works Site. The GenX and other toxic chemicals, including PFOA and other perfluorinated chemicals, have contaminated water that the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) in Wilmington, North Carolina uses to supply the majority of properties in Wilmington.

The CFPUA provides water to over 100,000 residents in Wilmington using surface water from the Cape Fear River. Testing done by North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (“NCEDQ”) has verified that PFAS and PFECAs including GenX released from the Fayetteville Works Site have contaminated the CFPUA water supply from the Cape Fear River.

Read the Nix v. The Chemours Company, et al. Complaint

Learn More About GenX

On June 22, 2017, the US EPA measured over 720 ppt of GenX in the finished water delivered to properties serviced by CFPUA. In July, 2017, CPPFUA reported GenX in finished water from CFPUA at 250, 286, and 185 ppt. High levels of other perflourinated compounds including PFO2HxA and PFO3A were also found in July.

North Carolina Law Firm Offers Free GenX Case Evaluation

If you think you have been impacted by the Cape Fear River contamination, call us right now for a free case evaluation. We will review your claim and try to answer any questions you have.

Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for your free case evaluation.

Kids Can Suffer Heat Stroke in a Hot Car in 10 Minutes. Here’s What to Know.

All of us know what it’s like to experience a hot car. The leather exterior of the steering can sometimes be too hot to touch and the stifling hot air makes it difficult to breathe. After just a few minutes, your heart rate begins to rise as your body tries to cool itself down.

Most of us wouldn’t sit in a hot car for more than a few minutes before turning the air conditioning on. But what if you were stuck in your car on a 90-degree day and you weren’t able to turn on the air conditioning? What if you were a child strapped into a car seat? Helpless.

baby's crying faceNationwide approximately 37 children die by overheating in cars every year. North Carolina ranks number 6 in the country since 1991 for hot car deaths, according to data from kidsandcars.org, an organization that advocates for stronger car safety measures for children.

I am a mom of a young child, and these statistics break my heart. Children cannot defend themselves against high temperatures like adults – their body temperature climbs three to five times faster. Even cool days can pose a threat. Every 10-20 minutes, the internal temperature of a car can rise 20 degrees.

Children have died in cars when the outside temperature was as low as 60 degrees.

Cracking the Windows Doesn’t Help

Some people believe that opening the windows will keep their child from overheating, but Kidsandcars.org asserts that lowering the windows does not help.

It is extremely important to make sure you always take your child out of the car with you, no matter how quick your errand may be.

As a busy single working mom, I certainly understand how some parents might think, “I’ll just run in and run out of the drugstore and it will only take a few minutes.” We’re busy and in a rush, and taking a child out of a car seat and putting him back in again can take time. Especially if the child is unwilling or sleeping.

Call 911 if a Child is Unattended in a Car

If you see a child left unattended in a car, take action right away by calling 911. If you notice signs of heat stroke, let the 911 operator know you plan to break the window to help the child cool down.

Signs of Heat Stroke

If you notice any of these signs, prompt action is in order.

  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness
  • Seizure
  • Hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Hallucinations

How to Rescue a Child From a Hot Car

Check out this video from the Today Show that shows exactly how to rescue a child (or a pet for that matter) out of a hot car. It’s good info to know.

Half of Child Deaths in Overheated Cars Occur Because Someone Forgot

Most child deaths occur when parents unintentionally leave their infant in the car. Many parents are quick to assume that they would never “forget” their child in the backseat. But parents do forget. Parents of every background have forgotten their child in their car – it has happened to social workers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, soldiers.

52% of heatstroke deaths in cars occur because someone forgot a child was in the car.

As a parent, you’re probably used to a fast-paced and strict schedule. Some days, it may feel like you’re on autopilot – you’re so used to a particular routine that you don’t even consciously think about it. Any sudden new tasks can be difficult to remember to incorporate into your day. For instance, if you’re used to waking up and driving straight to work every morning, it may be easy to forget to drop off your child at daycare. These tragedies often happen during busy times – especially around holidays or schedule changes when parents are stressed and fatigued and forget more easily.

4 Ways to Remember Your Child Is in the Car

While it’s difficult to prevent stress and fatigue, there are several ways to help remember your child in the backseat:

  1. Put something you need (like your purse, employee ID, or cell phone) in the backseat next to your child, so that you’ll have to open the back door in order to grab it.
  2. Use drive thru services when available.
  3. Always keep your vehicles locked – even when they are sitting in your garage – so that your child can’t sneak inside and accidentally lock themselves in.
  4. A free app called Kars4Kids Safety is designed to act as an alert system for parents. A customizable alarm rings on your phone when you exit the car to remind you that your child is still inside!

Let’s spread awareness along with these helpful tips in order to try to ensure our children’s safety.

P.S. Your furry friends are at risk, too. Leaving your pet in a hot car can be extremely dangerous and have deadly consequences – animals may suffer heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes. Dogs are only able to cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paw pads, making them especially vulnerable in hot weather. If you’re running errands, it may be best to leave your pets at home.  

 

Car accidents are terrifying. And sometimes they’re even scarier if you’re worried about discrimination or even fear being deported. We understand.

Don’t let that fear cause you to make bad choices. If someone is negligent and injures you, you’re supposed to be given the same care and respect as any U.S. citizen.

“Supposed to” is key. As a non-U.S. citizen, you may have to take extra steps to try to make sure you’re treated fairly.

That’s what this blog is about, but chat with us now
if you want to skip reading and talk to someone right away.

Why You Have to Be Careful After an Accident If You’re Not a U.S. Citizen

I and many of my James Scott Farrin colleagues do a lot of community work – particularly in the Spanish-speaking community. One question I hear a lot from our Latino neighbors is: “What should I do if I’m injured in a car accident but don’t have papers or a driver’s license?” They’re understandably afraid.

North Carolina accident laws are designed to try to help protect anyone who is injured in the state – documented, undocumented, U.S. citizens, and citizens of other countries.

Yet sadly, oftentimes we see adversarial behavior toward our non-citizen clients, especially Latinos, by some insurance companies and others. We have seen some of them try to intimidate these clients just because they don’t speak English, don’t have a driver’s license or proper documentation, or they’re not a U.S. citizen.

The Insurance Company Believes You Won’t Go to Court – Blatant Discrimination?

In our booklet Insurance Companies Behaving Badly, one employee recounted a story about an insurance adjuster who said they had a video contradicting what our client said about how she got her injuries. In mediation, we proved it wasn’t our client on the video, but the defense continued to deny the claim.

In response, we launched discovery into the insurance company’s treatment of Hispanic clients. They ended up settling the case for six figures.*

When you mess with our clients, you mess with us. We’ll play hardball. We do not appreciate bad behavior.

My Best Advice: Get Free Advice from an Attorney

A large portion of the cases I resolve in any given year are for non-U.S. and undocumented residents. Every time I think I’ve seen it all, an insurance company will come along and surprise me again.

My advice when you’re injured in an accident is to call an attorney right away. There are just too many ways insurance companies can affect your claim. Most attorneys will do an initial consultation for free, and if you ultimately choose to hire them you could potentially end up getting more for your claim.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5x times more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own. **

And if you think you cannot afford an attorney, think again. At our firm, you pay nothing upfront. We work on a contingency basis, which means if we don’t get you compensation, you don’t pay any attorney’s fees!

What to Do After an Accident If You Are Undocumented

When undocumented people call me after an accident and ask what to do, I tell them their initial steps are the same things anyone should do after an accident.

If you or someone else is injured, call 9-1-1. If your injury is serious, you may not have time to collect all the facts, and that’s OK. Your health comes first.

Don’t be Afraid to Report the Accident to the Police

In order to make a claim for your damages and your injuries, you must be able to prove the accident happened. You should call the police. Don’t be afraid. The purpose of calling is so the responding police officer will conduct an investigation and make an official report of the accident.

Never trust the at fault driver to report it on his own. He may later deny the accident ever occurred. By then it will be too late to contact the police, and you could be stuck paying for the crash yourself.

Suppose I got a ticket for no U.S. driver’s license? Will this affect my claim?

No. You should not ignore your ticket, as it may have other legal ramifications, but you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and any damages to your vehicle, whether you have a license or not.

Will I be in danger of being deported if I have no drivers’ license and make a claim?

Generally, you will not likely be deported simply because you make an insurance claim after an accident where you received a ticket for driving without a license.

Gather Facts

Get as much information as you can while you are still at the scene, or immediately thereafter. Write down:

  • Date and time of the accident
  • Location of the accident
  • Other driver’s name and license plate number
  • Police report number
  • Investigating officer’s name
  • Witnesses names and their contact information, including phone number

Take Pictures

With your cell phone, someone else’s cell phone, or a camera, take pictures of:

  • All vehicles involved
  • Any property damaged by the wreck
  • Any visible injuries
  • Tire marks and debris in the roadway

Seek Medical Attention

Even if you feel fine, you should probably see a doctor. It’s not uncommon for people feel fine in the minutes and hours immediately after a crash, when adrenaline is high. Many people don’t start to feel the effects of a wreck until hours or even a few days later.

But if you don’t see a doctor and something starts to feel worse, you won’t have any documentation that your injuries are related to your accident and an insurance company may deny your claim.

 

10 Things Most Non-U.S. Citizens Want to Know After a Car Wreck

As I mentioned previously, a large number of my cases are non-citizens. Here are the top things most want to know.

  1. I don’t have health insurance, can I go to the doctor?
    If you are injured, you should seek immediate medical attention. There are options for those without health insurance.
  2. Will the adjuster send me to a doctor?
    No, it is your responsibility to obtain medical treatment. The adjuster does not direct treatment, or work directly with any specific doctors.
  3. My injuries seem minor; can I just wait and see if they go away?
    While your injuries may seem minor, only a medical doctor can confirm this. Sometimes injuries left untreated become worse or even permanent. If you do not seek medical attention in a timely manner, the insurance company may try to deny compensation for your injuries and related medical bills.
  4. My car is not drivable, how can I go to the doctor?
    It is your responsibility to obtain medical treatment, with or without transportation. Ask a friend or family member to give you a ride or take the bus. If you don’t get yourself to the doctor, you could prolong your pain. Without medical treatment, the insurance company will conclude you were not injured in the wreck, no matter how much pain you are feeling.
  5. Should I call my insurance company?
    Even if the accident is not your fault, you should contact your own insurance company to let them know you have been in a car wreck. You may have coverage available on your own policy that you can use without affecting your rates. If you are the owner of the vehicle involved in the crash, you should open a claim with the at-fault insurance company for your property damage. Do not go into detail about your injuries or treatment. It is enough to tell them you are injured and under a doctor’s care.It is not wise to sign anything without first speaking to an experienced attorney; you may be signing away your entire case!
  6. The adjuster said he needs my Social Security number, but I don’t have one. Can I still make a claim?
    Yes, if you are injured in a car accident, you may have a right to compensation, regardless of your citizenship status.
  7. The adjuster wants a recorded statement, should I give one?
    Probably not. The insurance company knows how to protect their own interests. You may think there is no harm in telling your story, but liability laws are complicated and you could do irreparable damage to your case.
  8. I am not fluent in English, how can I communicate with the adjuster?
    Most insurance companies have Spanish-speaking staff, and if not, have translators available. Request to be contacted by a Spanish-speaking adjuster, or a translator.
  9. The adjuster said the other driver has no insurance, what can I do?
    There may be other types of coverage available to you to cover your losses. Inform your own insurance company the at-fault driver was uninsured.
  10. The adjuster says he will pay for everything, so I don’t need an attorney, right?
    No! You have no guarantee the adjuster will pay even a portion of your bills. Often at the end of the case the adjuster will offer to pay only a few of your expenses. You should decide for yourself if you need an attorney in your case. Don’t let the adjuster make this decision for you.

The insurance company has adjusters and attorneys working for them to make sure they come out on top. Sometimes an adjuster will give you misleading information, or try to scare you out of pursuing your rights. Each case is unique, and while you may not hire an attorney, it is a good idea to speak to an experienced attorney to discuss the nuances and issues or your particular case, and find out what your options are.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation by Experienced NC Car Crash Attorneys
We’re always here for you to try to help you protect your rights – documented or undocumented. Contact us anytime for a FREE case evaluation or call at 1-866-900-7078.

We have both Spanish-speaking staff and attorneys available to help you.

 

*Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannon be predicated upon a lawyer’s or law firms past results. These are specific examples of experiences we have had with some insurance companies, adjusters, or others. These stories do not necessarily represent any industry as a whole. These descriptions of events are based upon the recollections of individual staff members. Client identities have been removed or changed to protect their privacy.

**Insurance Research Council, 1999

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