Car Accidents

Do I Need an Attorney to Help Me Obtain Compensation for My Injuries and Property Damage after a Serious Car Accident?

A car accident is a stressful event—especially if you were seriously injured. And to make matters worse, you may start receiving phone calls from the at-fault party’s insurance company very soon after your crash. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they work hard to settle cases quickly and for the lowest dollar amount possible. While a quick settlement may sound enticing, it may not be in your best interests. You may not yet know the full extent of your injuries or the type of medical care you will need in the future. In addition, you may not know how long you will be unable to work or if you will be able to work at all.

What You Need to Know After a Crash?

North Carolina is a “fault” state, meaning that the person who caused the accident is responsible for compensating the victim for the injuries and property damage caused by the crash. Depending on your accident, compensation may be obtained by:

  • Filing a claim with your own car insurance company, which will, in turn, seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company
  • Filing a third-party insurance claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver
How We Can Help You?

Keep in mind that not every accident requires the services of an attorney. However, if you were seriously hurt in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it is in your best interest to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you can reasonably do so. Our seasoned legal team would be happy to review your case and help you to determine the best course of action for your particular situation—all during a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Contact us today using our online contact form or initiate a live chat to get started.


Am I Allowed to Ride in the Open Bed of a Pickup in North Carolina?

Yes, you are permitted to ride in the open bed of a pickup as long as you are older than 16. However, children less than 16 may ride in the bed in certain situations:

  • If there is an adult there as well who is supervising the child
  • If the truck is being operated in a parade
  • If there is some sort of emergency requiring the child to ride in the bed of the truck
  • If the truck is being operated on a farm or other agricultural enterprise

The driver of the truck is the one responsible for all kids under 16, so the driver would be the one ticketed even if the child’s parent is sitting right next to the driver. The fine is $25. There are also special requirements with regard to North Carolina’s seatbelt law, so check out my other materials on this website.

For obvious reasons, it is very dangerous to ride in the bed of a pickup whether you are a child or an adult. People can violently bounce around in an accident and even be thrown out of the truck, so caution should always be taken. Hopefully, you will never need a Raleigh personal injury or car accident lawyer, but if you do, or if you have any questions at all, give us a call today at 919-229-8359.


What is the North Carolina Graduated License System?

North Carolina takes teen driving safety very seriously, which is why it implemented its graduated license system in 1997. This program has served as a national model for scientifically based strategies to improve teen driver safety. Since its inception, accidents have decreased by 38 percent for 16-year-olds and 20 percent for 17-year-olds. The system is comprised of three different levels:

  • Level One Limited Learner Permit. To receive a Level One Limited Learner Permit, the driver must be at least 15 years of age, but under 18. He must have completed an approved driver’s education course that meets the state requirements. Additionally, he must present a Driver Eligibility Certificate; a high school diploma or its equivalent; and pass written, signs, and vision tests.

  • Level Two Limited Learner Permit. To receive a Level Two Limited Learner Permit, the driver must be at least 16 years of age, but under 18. The candidate must have held a Level One Limited Learner Permit for at least 12 months, and must have no convictions of seat belt infractions or moving violations within the preceding six months.

  • Level Three Full Provisional License. In order to receive a Level Three Full Provisional License, drivers must be 18 years of age or older. Additionally, they must have held Level Two Limited Learner Permits for at least six months and have no convictions of moving violations or seat belt infractions within the preceding six months.

A variety of restrictions and provisions accompany each level of permit and license. Not adhering to them could result in a driver not receiving his license.

Although the system attempts to prevent crashes caused by teenagers, they can still happen. If you are the victim of a car crash in Raleigh or the surrounding area, contact the law offices of Maurer Law. We may be able to help you receive compensation to help cover your medical bills and vehicle repair costs.

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What Does Actual Cash Value or ACV Mean?

Actual Cash Value (ACV) refers to the amount your car was actually worth before it was totaled in a North Carolina car wreck. In other words, ACV refers to the fair market value of the car. Generally, this means the cost of replacing the vehicle minus depreciation. Depreciation is the decrease in value of any car due to wear and tear over time.So if you paid $20,000 for your 2001 Mustang when you bought it new, but it had 120,000 miles on it and is well over 10 years old, the ACV is probably only about $7,000 at the time of the wreck. This is usually the rough amount that the same car is selling for in the used car market in your locale. In theory, you should be able to take the $7,000 and find another car just like yours. Of course, we often find that people always seem to fall short and cannot find a replacement vehicle for the ACV that the insurance company pays them.

At Maurer Law, we frequently help our clients injured in a car wreck with their property damage claims (as a courtesy, as long as they have an injury claim we are handing). Often times, we are able to negotiate with the insurance companies to convince them why the ACV should actually be higher than they say it is. This puts more money in the client’s pocket and often times allows them to actually buy the replacement vehicle that they want.

Attorney Mike Maurer is a board certified civil trial specialist who previously worked as an attorney for insurance companies defending personal injury claims. He now puts all of his experience to work for injured folks in Raleigh Durham and throughout North Carolina who have sustained personal injuries in car accidents. If you have questions, we have answers. Give Maurer Law a call today for a free consultation at 919-229-8359.


Can I Keep My Car after the Insurance Company Deems it a Total Loss?

You sure can. All you have to do is fill out a simple form by the North Carolina DOT which essentially makes you acknowledge the obvious: that you are deciding to keep a vehicle which has been deemed totaled. You are required by law to disclose this fact if you ever sell the vehicle or transfer it to someone else. There are many reasons you might want to keep a vehicle that is totaled. It could be that the vehicle has sentimental value and you just cannot let it go. It could be that you feel you can do better selling it for parts yourself. Or, it could be that you want Uncle Joe to make it new again, and he’s really good with cars!

Whatever the reason, if the insurance company deems your vehicle a total loss, they will offer to pay you for the vehicle. They will pay the actual cash value of the vehicle. Once they do that, they will sell your vehicle to a salvage yard and collect a few hundred dollars in salvage value. If you opt to keep your wrecked vehicle following a Raleigh car accident, all you have to do is fill out the DOT form and a few forms from the insurance company and that is pretty much it. Of course, the salvage value, or the amount the insurance company could have gotten if they have taken your vehicle to a salvage yard, will be deducted from the check they give you.

If the actual cash value of your wrecked car is $5,000, and the salvage value is $400, then instead of the insurance company paying you $5,000 for your wrecked vehicle which they can sell to a junkyard for $400 (to help recoup what they paid on the “loss”), they will deduct the $400 which they could have gotten and give you a check for $4,600 and you can keep the vehicle.

If your vehicle has been totaled in an accident in the Raleigh Durham area or anywhere else in North Carolina, and you have sustained injuries, it is probably a good idea to at least consult with a personal injury attorney to determine your rights and responsibilities. At Maurer Law, we handle all types of motor vehicle accident cases involving accidents in which our clients were injured through no fault of their own.

Attorney Mike Maurer is a board certified civil trial specialist who previously worked as an insurance company defense attorney handling personal injury claims. He is now putting all of his experience to work for injured folks. Give Maurer Law a call today at 919-229-8359.


I Was in a Trucking Accident where I never Saw the Truck Coming, Am I at Fault?

Few types of roadway accidents are as frightening as those involving semi-trucks. These vehicles are so large and intimidating that the damage inflicted upon automobiles and its passengers is often severe. If you were involved in an accident while traveling on Capital Boulevard, or one of Raleigh’s many other roadways, the truck driver, their insurance company, or the owner of the truck may be responsible for compensating you for your injuries. This is true even if you never saw the truck coming at the time the crash occurred.

5 Reasons a Truck Accident May Not Be Your Fault

Even if you did not see the truck, and therefore did not try to react to avoid an accident, the crash may not have been your fault. The truck driver could have been acting negligently. The following are five such examples:

  • The truck pulled out in front of you very quickly, with no time for you to see it and react
  • The truck pulled over onto the side of the road but failed to put on its emergency indicator lights
  • Substantial rain or snow was falling at the time of the accident, reducing visibility and making it impossible to see the truck. This is especially true where the truck driver was travelling at a high rate of speed for the conditions
  • The truck was driving without its headlights or brake lights on
  • The truck came up behind you so fast, that you never had time to react

Regardless of how the accident occurred, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side to protect your legal rights. We encourage you to view our free guide, How to Hire a Lawyer: Avoid the 7 Pitfalls Which Can Wreck Your Case, for more helpful information. Our guide will help you become an informed consumer when it comes to choosing the right attorney for your case.


What Should Visitors of North Carolina Do after They Are Involved in Research Triangle Car Accidents?

You are passionate about badminton and have come to Research Triangle to learn more about the sport. As home to one of the largest badminton communities in the South Eastern United States, the Triangle is the perfect spot to hone in on your passion. On your way to visit the American Badminton Academy, you are rear-ended by another motorist. Since you are simply visiting the state, you’re not sure what you should do. Tourists involved in Research Triangle car accidentsmust take action immediately to be able to receive the compensation they might be entitled to.

Gather Evidence and Information

Collect the insurance information from the other driver involved in the accident, as well as his or her contact info. Also take pictures of the vehicle damage, along with any skid marks on the road. Attempt to get contact information from any witnesses, as well.

Go to the Hospital

Visit the hospital as soon as you are able to following the collision. Even if you don’t feel that you are injured, it is still essential for you to go. Receiving an examination allows you to start a medical record of your injuries, which can help you in court. Additionally, obtaining medical treatment right away also helps you to recover as quickly as possible.

Contact a Lawyer

Call an experienced attorney as soon as you can. The lawyer will advise you of what to do about your accident and may be able to help you receive compensation that can cover the costly medical bills you will likely incur. If you don’t have the help of a lawyer, you may be expected to pay for the costs, which isn’t fair — particularly since you didn’t cause the accident.

The legal team at Maurer Law has helped many victims of Research Triangle car accidents. We invite you to contact us today to find out how we can assist you in your situation.

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What Treatments Will I Receive after Experiencing Internal Injuries because of My Auto Accident?

No one asks to be involved in an car accident. And certainly, nobody wants to become injured. Although internal injuries are often the most common effects after a crash, they can also be some of the most serious, particularly if internal bleeding is involved. A variety of treatments are used to resolve the injuries, and unfortunately they are all quite costly.

Surgery

When internal organs are injured, surgery is sometimes the only way to resolve them. Torn spleens, ruptured appendixes, and internal bleeding are common injuries after a wreck, and surgery is usually required. Broken bones often require surgical repair. As you can probably imagine, procedures are extremely expensive and the recovery can take extensive periods of time.

Blood Transfusions

Internal bleeding often occurs as a result of blunt trauma. If the bleeding is severe enough, massive amounts of blood can be lost, resulting in unconsciousness and even death. If you’ve suffered significant blood loss, a transfusion can help replenish what was lost.

Physical Therapy

Back and neck injuries are some of the most common injuries that occur after an accident. Discs can become herniated and muscles and tendons can become strained. Physical therapy is often prescribed to help remedy the ailments, which often takes long periods of time to heal.

When you are the victim of an car accident, a variety of issues you have never had to think about before come up. For instance, have you thought about how you’re going to pay for the medical bills associated with the crash, or the wages you’ve lost from missing work? Unless you have the help of an experienced attorney, you may be held responsible for these fees, which isn’t fair.

Maurer Law doesn’t think victims should be held responsible for the payment of their treatments. The insurance company will try to give you less than what you should receive, and we want to help you get the most you can.

Call us today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help.

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What Rights Do I Have When a Drunk Driver on the Cliff Benson Beltline Caused an Accident that Killed My Loved One?

First, I am so sorry to hear that you have lost someone dear to you. The intense grief associated with the sudden death of a loved one is never easy. Knowing that another person’s carelessness caused your loss only makes the situation that much more painful. You may be feeling numb, angry, confused and hurt all at the same time. You may not know what to do or how to get past this painful stage of your life.While you are in the midst of grieving, rest assured that you don’t have to handle the extra financial burdens associated with a loved one’s death on your own. When a drunk driving accident on the Cliff Benson Beltline or Capital Boulevard claims a life, the victim’s family—spouse, parents, or children—may be able to recoup damages for their loss. You may be able to request compensation to pay for any or all of the following:

  • Your loved one’s medical expenses, including a stay in the ICU and medications to ease his or her suffering
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Your loved one’s pain and suffering
  • Lost wages if the family member who died contributed to your family’s monthly income
  • Loss of companionship or parental support

When you’ve lost someone you love in a drunk driving crash caused by another’s negligence, the grief can be more than you can handle. Rather than adding on to your stress, trust the legal matters to a Raleigh attorney who is skilled in pursuing wrongful death claims after drunk driving accidents. For more information, order your free copy of our book, How to Hire a Lawyer: Avoid the 7 Pitfalls Which Can Wreck Your Case.


What is Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage in North Carolina?

Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage protects you in the event someone without car insurance causes a wreck and injures you in Raleigh Durham or anywhere else in North Carolina. This type of insurance coverage is also referred to as “Underinsured” Motorist coverage (aka UIM, but we’ll call it all UM to keep it simple). “Underinsured” Motorist coverage addresses situations where the at fault party HAD insurance but not ENOUGH insurance to fully compensate you for your injuries. They both are meant to protect you if you have a wreck caused by someone else.If you have been injured in a car accident, one of the most important things you can do is to check your insurance policy to see how much UM coverage you carry. This coverage is mandatory in North Carolina, in keeping with the public policy of protecting innocent victims from injuries arising from the use of an automobile. Sadly, most people do not carry enough coverage–only the state minimums of $30,000.

At Maurer Law, we handle all types of accidents involving a motor vehicle, whether it is a car, truck, or motorcycle. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in an accident caused by someone else, give us a call today for a FREE consultation with a Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist who previously worked as an insurance company attorney. 919-229-8359.


What Laws Does North Carolina Have Regarding Cell Phone Use while Driving?

Distracted driving is an extremely dangerous activity that creates serious risk to drivers, passengers, and non-occupants of the vehicle alike. Unfortunately, despite knowledge of this danger, many people continue to use their cell phones when operating a motor vehicle on North Carolina’s roadways. The United States Department of Transportation is not able to ban distracted driving outright because this authority is left to the individual states. As a result, North Carolina has opted to enact some laws that pertain to this dangerous behavior.

North Carolina’s Laws Against Cell Phone Use while Driving

Unfortunately, the use of handheld cell phones while driving is not banned outright for all motorists on North Carolina’s roads. Instead, this activity is banned for specific classes of drivers. The following is an overview of the laws enacted in this state:

  1. Cell phone use, both handheld and hands-free, is banned for bus drivers except in the event of emergency
  2. Cell phone use, both handheld and hands-free, is banned for novice drivers. Exceptions are made for calls made under emergency circumstances or to contact parents
  3. Texting while driving is banned for all drivers unless the vehicle is fully stopped or lawfully parked
  4. Police officers, firefighters, and ambulance drivers are permitted to use mobile phones in the performance of their official duties

Unless the driver is a novice or a bus driver, making and accepting calls on a cell phone while driving is permitted. Drivers are also permitted to read caller ID information or use stored names and numbers to make phone calls while operating a vehicle. Voice-activated technology, such as Bluetooth, is also allowed.

On the topic of texting while doing something else, the video below shows why texting while walking is not a good idea either!

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What Makes a Head-On Collision more Dangerous than Other Types of Car Accidents?

Statistically, head-on collisions are among the most dangerous types of car accidents currently effecting drivers on our nation’s roadways. These crashes often result in severe injuries — including death. Other common injuries include broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and whiplash. These injuries may create significant financial loss for victims and their families. Expenses often include loss of the ability to work, ongoing medical care, and property damage.

Three Reasons Why Head-On Collisions Are More Often Fatal

In general, the extreme danger presented by a head-on collision can be explained by physics. The force created by two vehicles hitting each other head-on is greater than many other types of car accidents. The following is a brief overview of three reasons that explain why head-on collisions are often more fatal than other crashes:

  1. Head-On collisions are often abrupt, because the forward movement is stopped so quickly – It is similar to a car crashing into a brick wall
  2. Another travelling vehicle becomes a stationary force in an accident – There is no giving way or absorption of the force of impact following a Head-On collision
  3. The force of the Head-On collision is doubled due to the traveling speed of each vehicle – Even if the vehicles are traveling slowly, the collision will result in a tremendous impact

To learn more about the dangers of car accidents and recent news relating to these issues, we encourage you to connect with us on Google+. The information you find may help you in the event of a crash, or can be shared with your friends and loved ones who suffer from injuries caused by an accident.


What is Contributory Negligence Law in North Carolina?

North Carolina is only one of 5 states which still utilize an old, quite harsh rule of law called contributory negligence. Contributory negligence means that if an accident victim contributed to their own injuries any way whatsoever, they will be completely barred from any recovery at all.If it sounds unfair, that is because it is. Imagine that a jury found a defendant 90% at fault for causing the accident, but also found that the plaintiff was 10% at fault too (perhaps for something as minor as traveling the speed limit on a rainy day, which some might consider too fast for conditions). No matter what the plaintiff’s injuries are, or the amount of her medical bills, she will recover nothing in this scenario.

Most states follow a much more fair rule of law called comparative negligence. In a comparative negligence state, If that same plaintiff is found by the jury to be 10% at fault, and her total damages are $100,000, then her award is simply reduced by that 10% to $90,000. This makes much more sense.

Other than North Carolina, Alabama, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia are the only jurisdictions which recognize the contributory negligence rule.

As with most rules, there are exceptions which may apply. One exception is called the “Last Clear Chance” doctrine. Under this doctrine, even if a plaintiff may have contributed to her own injuries in some small way, if the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the accident, and didn’t, then the plaintiff can make a full recovery from the negligent defendant.

A good example of this doctrine at work is in a case where a plaintiff with limited vision negligently crosses the street in an area outside of a crosswalk. The defendant, had he been maintaining a proper lookout while driving, should have been able to see the plaintiff and had ample opportunity to avoid hitting her, but negligently hit her anyway. In this case, it may be said that, aside from the plaintiff’s own negligence, the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the accident and the helpless plaintiff, who may not have even realized she was outside of the crosswalk, will not be held liable. An even better real world example can be found here.

Every case depends on its own unique facts and there certainly is no one size fits all approach. For this reason, if you have been injured in a car wreck, motorcycle wreck, pedestrian accident, or bicycle accident in North Carolina, you should consider hiring a board certified civil trial specialist to help you wade though the sometimes complex issues of fault and liability. Call Maurer Law today at 919-229-8359 for a FREE CONSULTATION.


Are Brain Injury Victims at Risk of Developing Cognitive Issues Following a Car Crash?

Unfortunately for victims of traumatic brain injuries, cognitive problems may result from the damage. Since approximately half of all traumatic brain injuries are caused by automobile accidents, these cognitive symptoms can become a very real problem after a crash. If you suffered a traumatic brain injury and are now facing issues with cognitive thinking skills, you may be entitled to compensation. It is vital that you contact an attorney for guidance in protecting your legal rights.

Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Cause Many Difficulties

Damage to cognitive skills as a result of a traumatic brain injury can affect many areas of a victim’s life. Victims suffering from TBI’s may experience difficulties with any of the following:

  • Awareness of one’s surroundings
  • Ability to pay attention to tasks
  • Memory
  • Reasoning
  • Problem solving
  • Executive functioning, such as goal setting and planning

Further, the location and severity of possible cognitive symptoms is extensive. Victims may see their symptoms exhibited in many ways, including:

  • Difficulty concentrating whenever there is a distraction
  • Taking longer to absorb new information
  • Needing to have new messages broken down into smaller pieces
  • Making people repeat messages to be sure they are heard
  • Difficulty remembering short-term memories
  • Difficulty starting and completing tasks, as well as planning and organizing
Getting the Help You Deserve

These symptoms may be short-term or they may last for the indefinite future. Medical and rehabilitative treatment could be required to help the victim function in daily life. For these reasons, it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you pursue compensation for your suffering.

For more helpful information about car accidents in North Carolina, we encourage you to follow us on Twitter! If you have any other unanswered questions, we invite you to contact us directly.


Can I Still Recover in a Car Accident if I Was Not Wearing My Seat Belt?

If you have suffered an injury in a car accident in Raleigh and you did not have your seat belt on, you may still be able to recover for your injuries. Although North Carolina law says that drivers and front seat passengers must wear their seat belts, your failure to wear it is inadmissible in trial. Therefore, the jury never gets to hear that you were not wearing your seat belt. While we hope that everyone will wear their seat belts (they save lives!!), we are fortunate that there is this quirk in the law which makes it possible to recover for your injuries, assuming the accident itself was not your fault.Without this quirk, you would be barred from recovery because of a harsh principle in the law called “contributory negligence”. Ordinarily, if you contributed to your own injuries in any way, even a little, you would be prohibited from recovery for your injuries. The rationale behind the law is that people who are even partially responsible for their injuries should not be able to blame someone else for the injuries. However, this does NOT apply in a car accident case in North Carolina. This quirk in the law will only work if you were not at fault for causing the accident itself.

For helpful information about car accidents in North Carolina, call us today to speak with a board certified civil trial attorney who used to work for the insurance companies!


What Type of Damages Can I Recover after a Raleigh Car Accident?

Immediately following your auto accident injury, you probably weren’t thinking about money (and rightfully so). You were seriously injured, dealing with intense pain, and focusing just on recovery. However, once the reality of your situation set in and your medical bills started to accumulate, you probably started to become concerned about how everything was going to be paid for. If the accident was not your fault, figuring out how to cover the costs of your accident should not be put on your shoulders … period.

If your Raleigh auto accident attorney is able to prove that the crash was not your fault, you may be entitled to a variety of damages that could include compensation for:

  • Medical expenses past, present, and future
  • Lost wages, including future lost wages
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement or scarring
  • Loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life

If you are the family member of someone who was killed in an auto accident, you may also be entitled to recover any costs related to his or her death.

The key thing to remember is that damages don’t just cover what has already happened; they also include future expenses you may incur as the result of your injuries. This is one primary reason you truly need to seek the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer before accepting any type of payment from the insurance company. The insurance adjuster is probably offering you a settlement that may cover most of your past expenses but does not factor in any future expenses such as physical therapy, the inability to work ever again, or medications you’ll be taking for the foreseeable future.

Contact Raleigh’s Maurer Law for a completely free consultation and to learn about your options after your auto accident. Call today at 919-229-8359.