Our Charlotte car accident lawyers know that consideration of attorneys fees is an important one to those who have been injured. We usually explain, first of all, that our services are offered on a contingency fee basis, meaning if we don’t win, you don’t pay attorney’s fees. If we do win, the fee will not be a surprise. It will be a set percentage of the overall damage award decided at the outset of the case. gavel21

However, there are some situations in which attorney’s fees may be paid by the other side. The are two basic approaches to the recovery of attorneys fees: The English Rule and the American Rule. The English Rule says the losing side pays both parties’ attorney fees. The American Rule holds that each party pays his or her own attorney’s fees, regardless of how the case ends. North Carolina follows a modified American Rule. It holds that while each party generally pays his or her own attorney fees – except under certain circumstances. Those can include personal injury claims where recovery is less than $10,000, claims that are unsupported by fact or law or claims in which a reasonable settlement offer is refused (Rule 68).

Anytime a lawyer can work out a situation wherein the other side pays the fees, they’re going to do it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a given, and each case is different.  Continue reading

It’s not uncommon for people to suffer injury and sue someone in connection for that injury. It’s also not uncommon for people to go into debt and file for bankruptcy to get out of that debt. However, when people who are in debt are also party to a personal injury lawsuit, this is where things can get complicated.

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If you are the plaintiff in a personal injury action, understand that a bankruptcy filing by the at-fault driver or other defendants will likely result in an automatic “stay,” which means no further action can be taken until the bankruptcy is settled or unless the bankruptcy court gives you the green light to continue. It’s possible that personal injury liability may be discharged in a bankruptcy, although federal law does prohibit individuals from discharging debts that are incurred in personal injury lawsuits stemming from drunk driving. Conversely, personal injury claims of a debtor have to be listed as a property interest, though they usually are exempted from the bankruptcy estate and remain the debtor’s property. These cases must be deftly handled by an experienced car accident attorney.

In the recent case of Morton v. Schlotzhauer, the Maryland Court of Appeals (the highest court in that state) was asked to determine whether a car accident plaintiff had standing to continue with her complaint, given that the at-fault driver had already been through a bankruptcy. A big reason she was given the green light was because she first went through the bankruptcy court and was granted her request to re-open and re-vest her claim as of the filing of the bankruptcy petition.  Continue reading

Earlier this year, a former Anderson University assistant baseball coach pleaded guilty to driving drunk and killing three young people and seriously injuring a fourth. He’s serving an 18-year prison term.beers

Now, the mother of the lone survivor – now 13-years-old and suffering from permanent, debilitating brain injuries, is suing two of the bars that allegedly served that driver at least 13 beers and 1 shot of liquor over the span of just a few hours that night. The young girl who survived was initially believed to have been killed, but when a first-on-scene police officer – also a trained paramedic – noted a faint pulse, he performed an emergency tracheotomy on the girl. She suffered severe damage to her spinal cord resulting in paralysis, plus a fractured neck and brain damage.

The DUI dram shop lawsuit alleges the two bars at which that driver drank – Hooters and The Bench – should have refused to serve him, or else called him a taxi or Uber so he would not have attempted to drive after leaving. Records showed he was given at least one free shot of liquor at The Bench. At Hooters, the driver reportedly had conversations with the manager and also flirted with/ hugged a waitress, meaning workers were close enough to the man to know that he was impaired. That should have been their queue to stop serving him alcohol. Continue reading

Just one week shy of the start of high school football, North Mecklenburg High School was struck with profound tragedy. funeralflowers

A 14-year-old junior varsity cheerleader was killed and a 17-year-old senior football player was seriously injured in a car accident in Huntersville, about 20 minutes north of Charlotte. The crash was reportedly a head-on collision that occurred just after 5 p.m. at the intersection of Beatties Ford and McCoy Roads. Authorities say Enjoneah Reel was killed on impact while Kalvin McCollum, a college football prospect, was severely injured and rushed from the scene to a local hospital to undergo surgery.

Investigators haven’t been forthcoming with details of the crash, including who was driving, who was in the opposite vehicle and which vehicle may have crossed the center line. The department did say one car was traveling northbound and ran off the road, striking another vehicle that was traveling southbound. The vehicles made impact on the front passenger side.  Continue reading

An Alaskan woman will get a second chance at her car accident lawsuit, even after a jury decided the case against her in a previous trial. That’s because the Alaskan Supreme Court ruled the trial court should not have dismissed her earlier claim against another defendant, the man who was reportedly driving the car at the time of the crash. accidents

Under the relation-back rule, plaintiff’s amended claim against the purported driver in Sellers v. Kurdilla was not time-barred and should have been allowed to proceed.

The relation-back rule, for those unfamiliar, holds that whenever a claim or defense asserted in an amended pleading arose out of the conduct, transaction or occurrence that was set forth or attempted to be set forth in the original pleadings, the amendment relates back to the date of the original pleadings. It’s a rule that is followed at the federal level (in Rule 15(c)) and in most states (also codified as Rule 15(c) in the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure).  Continue reading

In any Charlotte car accident case, it’s not enough to prove the other driver was at-fault. The injured person – or plaintiff – also needs to show they suffered damages as a result of that crash. This is rarely as straightforward as it sounds. It’s not a matter of simply producing medical bills. One needs to show the injuries they suffered were clearly caused by the crash – and not something else – and that the injuries are as severe as claimed. Further, any estimation of future damages or losses takes a careful accounting of a person’s expected future earnings, quality of life, health of personal relationships and more. sad2

In the recent case of Christ v. Schwartz, a couple appealed a verdict in which jurors assigned 100 percent of the blame on the other driver – yet awarded $0 in damages to plaintiff. The major flaws in plaintiff’s case had to do with:

  • Lack of credibility;
  • Lack of corroboration.

Jurors did not believe plaintiff suffered the injuries she said she did – or if she did, that they were not caused by the crash. This was true even though they fully agreed the other motorist was fully responsible for the wreck.   Continue reading

Shredded tires. Random boxes. A sofa. All of these are things that were cited as having been the catalyst for car accidents across the country, per a new AAA safety report on roadside debris. highway02

Unfortunately, these occurrences are startlingly frequent. The agency reported there were more than 200,000 road debris-related crashes resulting in tens of thousands of injuries and some 500 deaths over the last four years.

From 2011 to 2014, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports nearly 40,000 people suffered injuries in these accidents. More than one-third of those that ended in fatality involved a driver who swerved in order to avoid striking the debris. In other cases, vehicles struck the debris and in turn set off a chain-reaction of crashes.  Continue reading

A teenager and her father have been named defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a very recent fatal motorcycle crash in New Jersey. driver1

According to The Daily Record, the 47-year-old motorcyclist, married for 27 years, died within minutes of being struck on Route 15 in the city of Jefferson. The teen was reportedly attempting to cross the road shortly after 5 p.m., but she entered the roadway at the same time the motorcyclist was passing.

The girl has not as of this writing been charged with any criminal offense, although she was issued a summons for unsafe lane change. She was also cited for having three other teens in the vehicle at the time of the crash, which is a violation of the state’s graduated driver’s license program. Additionally, there was no red decal her vehicle’s license plate to indicate she was a teenage driver, a requirement of Kyleigh’s Law. New Jersey is the only state to have a law requiring teenage driver decals, with the goal of making young drivers readily identifiable to police. This law additionally sets a curfew of 11 p.m. for those driving with a learner’s permit, it limits the amount of passengers who can ride in a car with a teen driver and bars motorists from the use of handheld electronic devices.

Whether distraction played a role in the death of Richard Mark Bianculli Sr. remains to be seen. What we do know is that this driver had three teen passengers in the vehicle at a time when she was restricted to just one passenger (let alone youthful passengers) unless she had a parent or guardian in the vehicle, which was not the case. Because she was driving her father’s vehicle, he may be found vicariously liable solely for that reason. However, he might be found directly negligent for failing to ensure the decals were on the vehicle and failing to properly supervise his daughter in limiting the number of passengers in the car. It is alleged he negligently entrusted the vehicle to his daughter, knowing she was going to be in violation of state law.  Continue reading

In most South Carolina car accident lawsuits, the case will involve the filing of a complaint by the plaintiff, followed by an answer from the defendant(s). Then there is usually a discovery process in which both sides gather information and evidence, including witness statements through depositions and expert witness testimony. From there, the settlement negotiations are likely to begin. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement agreement, the case will then go to trial. Most cases are settled before trial.caraccident4

There is a small chance, however, that the court could enter a default judgment. This is a binding judgment that can be entered on behalf of either party and is based on some failure to take action by that party. Most often, it occurs as a judgment in favor of the car accident victim when the defendant doesn’t respond to the summons or fails to appear in court. This can save the plaintiff the expense of having to endure the trial, while still resulting in a favorable outcome. But don’t get your hopes up: The court system does not favor default judgments. Courts have long held that the best way to resolve disputes is to give both parties a fair chance to resolve the issue head-to-head. If one party isn’t there to represent themselves, they are at a clear disadvantage.

Still, courts do occasionally issue default judgments when a fair chance to respond has been given and is ignored. This was what the trial court in the recent case of Tucker v. Williams held when it awarded $3.3 million in damages to a car accident victim and her husband in a default judgment after the defense failed to participate in the proceedings. However, the Mississippi Supreme Court recently overturned that default judgment for abuse of discretion. This does not necessarily mean the plaintiff has lost, but rather that the defense should be given another opportunity to defend himself at trial. Continue reading

Authorities in Garner, North Carolina say a young woman caused a four-vehicle wreck on a recent afternoon because she was texting and driving.iphone

Reports are it was about 2:45 p.m. and the woman was swerving about the road, according to witnesses. This set off a four-vehicle collision that resulted in multiple injuries to the alleged at-fault driver, including a broken leg. No other injuries were reported, but her car was totaled. Officers say she will likely be charged with reckless driving and texting while driving, a violation of N.C.G.S. 20-137.4A.

The Wake County incident occurred not far from where another texting-and-driving crash happened earlier this year. That case proved fatal for a 53-year-old mother, whose husband and 16-year-old daughter were critically injured. In that case, a 42-year-old man who was allegedly texting and driving when he struck the victims’ vehicle as it was stopped on the shoulder, where husband and wife were trading off driving duties in the middle of a long road trip. ABC-11 reports the texting driver failed to reduce his speed and struck the van from behind.  Continue reading

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