The North Carolina Personal Injury Guide was created by H. Bright Linder to help residents obtain maximum compensation for their claim.
Getting severely hurt because someone else was negligent can be life ruining. Your life is now seriously affected by this event. We’re here to help. Richmond County, NC personal injury lawyer H Bright Lindler handles very serious cases of personal injury and gets the results they deserve. Call today to set up a consultation.
How a Personal Injury Case Works
Again, we handle very serious cases of personal injury that involve a lot of damage.
The people involved in a personal injury claim are as follow:
- You, the injured party; also known as the plaintiff
- Your Richmond County, NC personal injury lawyer
- The person or entity responsible for your severe injuries; also known as the defendant or liable party
- The insurance company representing the liable party
The case starts with your serious injury. That may have happened in a workplace accident, you may have been severely hurt in a truck accident, or you were a victim of medical malpractice, etc.
From there you MUST go to get medical care. You’re likely in a ton of pain. You may have even been taken to the emergency room on an ambulance. Any way you see it, you still have to get yourself to a doctor. It could be the emergency room, urgent care facility, or your primary doctor.
The next thing that typically happens is you reach out to your Richmond County, NC personal injury lawyer to set up a consultation. You are going to want to find someone who has experience handling a case as severe as yours. These cases are complicated and you don’t want someone who is just trying to get your case over with. H Bright Lindler wants you to be represented by a lawyer who knows how to navigate the challenges of these types of cases.
So you go to the doctor and you have a lawyer ready to go. Now you bring your claim. You gather all necessary documents you need, get the treatment your body needs, investigate the scene of the accident, and so on. You will be bringing the claim against the person or entity that caused the accident that you were severely harmed in.
In essence, this claim should cover your damages. They will try to get rid of your claim or reduce what they owe you. Your lawyer has the task of fighting them to protect your rights to a fair result.
The case could settle or it might have to go all the way to trial. Be sure your Richmond County, NC personal injury lawyer is up to the task.
Things You Don’t Want to Do When You Bring a Claim
You have some power in these cases to get the results that you deserve. Understand that the insurance company is the group who are supposed to be compensating you for your damages and they are the same people who want to get rid of your case. That’s why you have to be very careful with what you do.
There are three main things that you need to be careful about:
- Getting medical care and treatment in a timely manner
- Admitting to guilt to anyone
- Giving the insurance company a recorded statement
First, you need to understand how important it is that you get the medical care you need as soon as possible. If for some reason you weren’t taken on an ambulance to the emergency room, you are going to have to get yourself to an urgent care or an emergency visit into your primary care doctor. The consequences of not doing this right away are twofold:
- your condition will likely get worse which means you stay in pain
- the insurance company becomes suspicious of you
If the insurance company sees a gap in treatment, they are automatically going to become suspicious of your claim. They won’t care that you are a parent who needed to care for their kids or you are worried about missing time at work. They will say that you were lying about your injuries. Avoid this headache. Get medical attention immediately.
Admitting guilt seems like an obvious no-no but it happens often. If you’re in an accident and you say in passing that you’re so sorry and it was your fault, they can hold some weight when we’re trying to show that someone else was the liable party. Witnesses can claim that you admitted you were guilty. It’s best not to say anything at all.
Last, do not give the insurance company any kind of statement. They will try to use anything you say against you to throw out your claim or reduce what they owe you.
Giving a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company
Recently, someone in Hamlet called and wanted to know if it’s a good idea to go ahead and give a recorded statement about their injury to the corporate representative contacting them. The answer is, no, it’s not a good idea. Much, much more goes into a recorded statement than you might ever imagine. To begin with, the person who is taking a recorded statement for the corporation or the insurance company they represent has taken hundreds, maybe even thousands, of recorded statements. They have experience with how people answer questions, and they’ll use that experience to try to put you in the most negative light or maybe even get you to say something that actually will kill your case before it can every start.
Second of all, there’s all kinds of review that someone needs to make before they give a recorded statement. For example, in a recorded statement, you’re going to be asked, “Have you ever had any other injuries to your back or to a particular part of your body?” Well, most people can’t really answer that question because most people don’t keep a running catalog of their injuries over the course of their life. A lot of people will answer kind of flippantly, “No, I’ve never had an injury to my back before.”
The person asking that question on the other end, they know there’s a good chance that we’ve all complained about our back or a backache to a doctor before, particularly the older we get. As a result, they’re jumping for joy, because the next thing they’re going to do after the recorded statement is they’re going to ask you to sign a release to get all of your medical records going back 30 years, maybe more. Then they’re going to look for any record that shows that you’ve had an injury to your back. Then they’re going to claim you told a lie – “You said in your recorded statement you never injured your back, but 22 years ago, you told Doctor X that you hurt your back while you were lifting your child and you had a backache.” You’d forgotten all about that, but, guess what? Now the insurance company and the corporation are going to try to use that recorded statement to make it out like you’re a liar.
These are just two examples of why you should never give a recorded statement, unless you consult an attorney and unless you have an attorney with you when you give the recorded statement. A lot of times the recorded statement gets put off or it never happens because, when you come to my office, we’re going to do all the legwork to make sure you don’t get tricked in a recorded statement. Sometimes, when the insurance company sees that their trickery isn’t going to work, they just never reschedule the recorded statement.
Pre-existing Medical Conditions
Recently someone called me who had been seriously injured and they had a preexisting condition. They had been told by the insurance company that their case wasn’t worth much of anything because they had a preexisting condition. A preexisting condition is something that can be overcome, but it’s going to probably take preparing your case for trial and maybe even having to go to trial. It’s going to take someone that understands the implications of preexisting conditions so that they do a really good job preparing a deposition. It’s going to take work with your treating physicians to prepare the treating physician to bring out the things about preexisting conditions that show how unfair it is to try to use preexisting conditions to minimize somebody’s personal injury case.
If you were functioning well before you were injured, we want to bring that out, too. In jury selection, one of the most effective ways to neutralize the argument about preexisting conditions is to ask everybody in the jury box, “How many of you have a preexisting condition? How many of you think that someone with a preexisting condition shouldn’t be allowed to function in their life? How many think that simply because someone has a preexisting condition bad misconduct should be given a pass?” All of a sudden, a preexisting condition isn’t really that important anymore.
Taking the First Settlement Offer
Recently someone called my office who had been seriously injured in North Carolina, and they wanted to know if they should take the settlement offer from the insurance company. By the way, it was the very first offer the insurance company had made. My response to this person was, well, I know that insurance companies run a lot of ads on TV, and they say a lot of things in their ads with slogans such as “We’re on your side,” or “You’re in good hands.” Then, they call you and offer a settlement and act like you’re supposed to take their first offer.
The reality is, no, you should probably never take the first offer that an insurance company makes. To use the words again, in reality, insurance companies like to take money in and they like to never pay it out. If they’re making a first offer, they’re going to see if they can get you to settle cheap. We need to let them know that, no, we’re not going to settle cheap and we’re not going to settle for some ridiculous offer. If it becomes necessary, we’re going to prepare the case for trial, we’re going to plan for the worse and hope for the best. Once the case is prepared for trial, and we know we haven’t given our power away, we might talk and negotiate at that point. If we do, this insurance company is going to know they’re going to have to pay a whole lot more than the kind of settlement offer they’re calling up and making to you at the moment.
Recovering for Emotional Damages
Somebody recently called me from North Carolina and wanted to know if they could recover for, to be blunt, the hell that they had been through in their personal injury case. They wanted to know if they could recover for the sleepless nights and the mental anguish that they had experienced. They called me because they wanted to know about these things.
Yes, in North Carolina, you can bring a claim for the mental anguish and suffering that you experienced. The main thing is you have to be real about it. It has to be real pain and real mental anguish, and other people have to be able to feel it. I don’t mean that in a flippant way; I mean that in a serious way. If you have those things in your case, then you need an experienced trial attorney that knows how to bring those things out in your case and knows how to frame your case so that those things are highlighted. If you’re going to go before a jury, those types of damages are exactly the kind of damages that juries are experts in evaluating, because jury members are experts in life. All of us have felt pain, all of us have felt real mental anguish, and all of us have seen people that were claiming to experience that, but didn’t ring true. An experienced trial lawyer can help you channel the things that need to be brought out before a jury and also help you be objective about things that maybe don’t need to be brought out.
Expert Witnesses’ Role
Recently one of my clients that we’re representing in a serious catastrophic injury case, a bad case, came to my office and wanted to ask some questions. They had sent me an email and said, “Hey, I’ve got some questions about expert witnesses.” I made the decision to, rather than explain it to them over email, make an appointment and meet with them in person to answer their questions because expert witnesses can be very important.
An expert witness is someone that the law deems trustworthy enough to give opinions. We have two kinds of witnesses. We have witnesses that are lay witnesses: people in the law that a judge will allow to testify about what they witnessed firsthand and maybe what they heard. Lawyers call them fact witnesses. They are witnesses that can testify about the facts, but they’re not allowed to give opinions about the facts unless they can demonstrate to the judge that they have qualifications and they’ve done homework that makes their opinions reliable enough so the jury can decided whether they’re believable or not.
Typically, the most obvious expert witness is the doctor that’s treating you. A doctor that’s treating you can be a fact witness because they know when you came to see them and what they observed. A doctor that’s treating you can give opinions based on their medical training, going to medical school, their experience in practicing, and the fact that they have treated you as a patient and may have done some research about your particular medical condition. A judge will listen to their qualifications, and then make a ruling that, yes, we’re going to allow this doctor to give opinions about the case in addition to giving facts about the case.
There are other types of expert witnesses. You have expert witnesses that reconstruct collisions, how something happened on the open highway. They are engineers. Those engineers have to demonstrate qualifications that show that their opinions would be reliable to go before a jury. You can have expert witnesses that are vocational counselors, and those expert witnesses can show that they have the qualifications to develop opinions about how your injuries will impact your ability to return to work. You can have an expert witness that hasn’t really gone to school, but they have so much experience that the court deems them reliable enough to give opinions. This could be someone who spent all their life training horses, or it could be someone who has received training and experience with cars and doing mechanical work but never went to any type of two- or three-year training to do mechanical work; they just have sufficient experience with certain types of mechanical problems that enable them, in the judge’s opinion, to give certain opinion evidence about certain mechanical issues.
Recently someone called me up from North Carolina about their personal injury case. They’d been seriously hurt and been through a lot, and they didn’t want to have to go through a jury trial. On the other hand, they didn’t want to just cave in and give away things that they shouldn’t have to give away because they were hurt by somebody who was reckless. This is what I told them.
We understand that you’re torn, but in order to make certain that you don’t basically give your case away, you’re going to have to do some work, even though we’re going to plan to try to settle your case, if at all possible, for a settlement that makes it all worthwhile. The way we do that is we plan for the worst, and then we hope for the best. We do that knowing that if we can get you a reasonable settlement that you would be happy with, we are going to take it. We don’t let the other side— the insurance company or the corporation that hurt you— see us sweat, however. We prepare the case for trial, and we let them know that they’re not going to be able to ambush you at trial.
Once we see that they realize that they know they can’t ambush you, we can try to settle your case, but we have to set it up. We can’t just give away our power and say we’re willing to settle this case because we just don’t want to go through anymore. We know and our office understands that you don’t want to go through anymore. What we have to do, however, is keep that amongst ourselves. We have to set things up so that they understand they can’t ambush us, so that you can get a settlement that you can live with and not have to just settle at any cost. If you settle at any cost, you could regret it for the rest of your life, because you only have once chance.
Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
Recently, someone called me from North Carolina and wanted to know if their personal injury case was going to have to go to trial. This question is a complicated question, but I’m going to make it simple.
When you have a case and it involves a serious injury, you need to prepare your case to go to trial. Some of the best ways, maybe the best way, to not have to go to trial is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The way you do that with a personal injury is you choose an attorney that knows how to prepare your case for trial and is willing to do the hard work to prepare your case for trial because that’s preparing for the worst.
If you are prepared to go to trial, the insurance company, the corporation that you’re having to sue, they see that you’re willing to go to trial, you’re going to be prepared, and they’re not going to be able to ambush you because you have an attorney and you yourself are committed to being prepared. When they see that, they start thinking, “Hmm, maybe we don’t really want to risk going to trial in this case. They seem very prepared. They seem confident, but they’re not overconfident, and they’re willing to work. Maybe we don’t want to try this case. Maybe we need to settle this case and go to the next case, where that person doesn’t seem as prepared to go to trial, and maybe we can save money on that case and forget about risking losing a lot of money on this case.”
That’s how a trial works in a personal injury case. You prepare for the worst by preparing for trial, and then, if you’re prepared for the worst, maybe the best will happen. The best would be a really, really good settlement that doesn’t require you to have to go to trial. Call our office. That’s the way we approach cases, and we believe it’s the best way to approach cases. We want to help you, with our experience, so that you can get a great result in your case.
Timeline for a Personal Injury Case
Recently someone called me who had a personal injury case in North Carolina, and they were still treating with their doctor; they even needed another surgery. They were under a lot of financial pressure because they hadn’t been able to work, and they wanted to know when they could settle their case and, if they couldn’t settle their case, how long it would take to settle their case.
When you are bringing a case for personal injuries, the reason the law allows you to bring a case is to make you whole from the damage that occurred when you were injured. A lot of times the damage that you sustained can’t truly be assessed until the doctors finish their part of the case. For example, if you settle your workers’ comp case before you even know what the doctors are going to recommend, you may find out that you’ve settled too soon. Your doctor may need to do more surgeries or more medical treatments, for example. We all know what that means – more medical bills and more pain and suffering. Your case depends on your medical treatment. Your case can’t really be ready for settlement or filed until your medical treatment is completed.
In addition, an attorney that’s going to take your case before a jury needs to do a lot of homework with the case. One of the things the attorney might need to do is to put your case in front of a focus group to get a sense of how other people that might be on a jury look at your case. Sometimes, they need to do it several times. This can take time because some of the information that needs to go before the focus group won’t be available until the doctors finish what they’re going to do.
These kinds of things are considerations that go into when a case can be settled, if a case can be settled, and also explain, at times, why cases can take so long. In the long run, though, if you settle too soon, you may be selling yourself short. Call our office. We’ll be glad to evaluate your case, determine what needs to be done, and answer your questions. Maybe we can help your case develop so that it settles sooner rather than later. Preparing a case is the best way to get a case settled in the long run. Call our office. We’re here to help.
Choosing a Personal Injury Attorney
Recently I had a client from North Carolina that called me and was trying to determine how to choose a personal injury attorney. This particular client had been very seriously injured. Their whole life had been turned upside down. I explained to this client there was three things they need to consider in selecting a personal injury attorney. First, they needed to hire a personal injury attorney that understands serious injuries, how medical doctors work, and how to explain that to the client in simple terms so that they can understand how the legal part of the case and the medical part of the case interact with each other.
The second thing that someone like this would need to consider is how committed that attorney is to taking their case to trial. That person needs an attorney that knows how to prepare their case to go to trial and is willing to put on a case, pick a jury, and fight for them in court, even if it means staying in court for a week or two in order to get a verdict that reflects the type of injuries that they have sustained.
The third thing someone needs to consider is what kind of work that attorney will do so that maybe you don’t have to go to court. If you want to avoid having to go through a trial, then you actually have to prepare to go to trial, because defendants only pay settlements to claimants and their attorneys that they know will go to trial. If they don’t think that your attorney will take a case to trial, they’re not going to offer the kind of money that is needed to reflect the type of injuries and the way your life has been turned upside down. They’re not willing to pay the type of money to reflect all the dangers that somebody caused the community when they injured you and it put at risk a lot of other people, including maybe people in your family.
If you don’t really want to have to go to court, then you need to have an attorney that’s willing to go to court. So, there’s three things: you need to have an attorney that understands the true nature of your very serious injuries, you need to have an attorney that will actually try the case, and you need to have an attorney that will prepare to try the case or, if you decide you can get what you need, try to settle your case. You’re not going to be able to settle your case if you’re not prepared to try your case and get the kind of settlement that you really want. Those are the three criteria I would look for in selecting a personal injury attorney.
Call Our Richmond County, NC Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been severely hurt in an incident involving a negligent party please call Richmond County, NC personal injury lawyer H Bright Lindler today for a consultation. Don’t hesitate. Get your life back. We know how to help.