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Category: Personal Injury

Contributory Negligence — How It Can Affect You

Personal Injury

Does it matter that North Carolina is one of only four states in our country that supports contributory negligence? What kind of legal jargon is that and what does it mean to you and me?

Under current NC law, you cannot get any insurance benefit or claim any compensation as a result of an accident if you are the least bit at fault. If, for example, another driver is barrelling down the road and slams into your car,and you didn’t have your turn signal on at the stop sign. Obviously, whether or not your turn signal was on would not have affected if the speeding driver was going to hit your vehicle, but an insurance company may argue that you were not following the law, and they could suspend any claim you would file. In North Carolina contributory negligence begins when you are only 1% at fault, and this is not fair. It is merely a way for insurance companies to get out of paying claims.

Considering that 46 states do not endorse contributory negligence, it’s high time North Carolina got with the program. The law in those states is comparative fault, which wisely divides the responsibility among those involved in the accident, based on how much each person was at fault. This allows for a balance of responsibility and parties pay or are compensated based on the degree of involvement and fault of each participant.

Attorneys at Oxner + Permar are part of NC Advocates for Justice, and we support the bill that’s currently before the Senate to change the law in North Carolina. Our state needs to do away with contributory negligence. It’s way past time that this unfair practice is changed.

This article was written by Chip Permar

Uninsured Motorist Coverage Should Be Extended

Personal Injury

Setting the scene: Let’s say you’re driving down the road and another vehicle crosses over the yellow line,swerves into your lane and is about to hit you. As you try to avoid getting hit by the other car, you turn your wheel hard to the right and go off the road and into a tree. Your car is totaled and you have injuries. The other car never hit you and sped away. The at-fault driver’s identity is never discovered. Fortunately, a witness traveling behind you saw the whole thing happen and stops to give you assistance.

How do you recover? The at-fault driver’s insurance is unavailable because it’s unknown. If you have uninsured coverage, the insurance company won’t pay the claim because North Carolina law requires, in a “hit and run,” that there be some physical contact from the at-fault vehicle in order for you to recover. The current law is protecting insurance companies from paying claims for single car accidents caused by the driver. But in the case of having a witness to verify the events, the proposed law would allow the described accident to be treated as a “hit and run.” We at Oxner + Permar feel that Uninsured Motorist Coverage should include coverage for the injured person and his or her vehicle any time the victim can prove that another person caused the accident (with a witness, video coverage from a nearby business, etc.)

This article was written by Todd P. Oxner

Texting & Driving Can Kill You

Personal Injury

Five states in our country now outlaw the use of hand-held cellphones while driving. There are 21 states that prohibit the use by new drivers (in NC it’s under age 18)and a third of the states deny hand-held cell phones by school bus drivers (including NC). This information, as posted by the Governors Highway Safety Association, highlights the concern by law enforcement of cell phone and texting distractions.

All drivers are banned from text messaging in 14 states (NC included), with 10 of the states restricting new license holders from texting while driving. Crash data collection,from police reports and survivor and witness interviews, shows that driver distraction can greatly increase the risk of an accident.

In a study released this week by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, the dangers of driving a long-haul truck and texting were capitalized. There was a six times greater risk of a crash or near crash when the driver was texting or dialing a cell phone — when his eyes were off of the road. Drivers were aware of video cameras and software in their trucks for these studies and the researchers could see the near-miss scenarios and actual accidents that occurred. To read more information about the study, click here.

As noted in one article, the ever-present “ping” of an incoming text or the ring of a cell phone can be difficult to ignore, but it may just save your life. Think about it. Focus on the road and don’t be a multi-tasking overachiever.

This article was written by Chip Permar

Getting an outside appraisal for your damaged vehicle value

Personal Injury

The recently ratified Motor Vehicle Property Damage bill (SB 660, to be effective October 1) gives the person who claims the damages on his/her vehicle the right to dispute vehicle value differences that may occur with the insurance company. Specifically, if the before and after vehicle value damage estimates differ between the two parties at more than $2,000 or 25% of the fair market retail value of the vehicle before the accident took place, then the claimant and insurance company may each get an outside appraiser involved to help reach an agreement. Your attorney can give you more details.

This article was written by Todd P. Oxner

Personal Injury Team Wins Jury Verdict

Personal Injury

Our client was traveling home from a friend’s house just outside of downtown Greensboro and stopped at a red light. His car was hit from behind and totalled. He had no reported injuries at the scene, but after a night’s sleep, he had back pain. He had chiropractic treatment and saw an orthopaedic physician but did not have an operable condition. So he was stuck with ongoing pain and medical bills of $6,700. The insurance company for the driver that hit him (who ironically refer to themselves as the “good hands people”) felt that his injuries were worth a settlement offer of $5,400, … yes, $1,300 less than his actual medical bills. Zero for pain and suffering. Zero for lost wages. A Guilford county jury felt otherwise and awarded our client just over $32,000. By the time costs and prejudgment interest were added, “the good hands people” paid over $37,000 for their driver’s negligence.

This article was written by Chip Permar