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Is Mediation a Good Idea in Divorce? Assessing the Pros and Cons

Divorce Mediation

After years of struggling, you and your spouse decide to end your marriage. But you’re still on fairly good terms with each other, and you don’t want a long, drawn-out process that will cost you time, money, and sanity.

If this situation seems familiar to you, mediation may be a good option. Divorce proceedings can be extremely painful and contentious even when the split is amicable, and couples have the best of intentions. Divorcing spouses that can commit to taking a collaborative approach to their separation often have better financial and emotional outcomes than those who do not.

In this blog article, we’ll review how the divorce mediation process works in North Carolina and explain some of the advantages and downsides. Keep reading to learn more or contact one of our North Carolina divorce attorneys to schedule a consultation.

How Does Divorce Mediation Work? What Can I Expect?

Mediation is a process that helps divorcing couples reach a fair and equitable resolution through collaboration and compromise with the assistance of an experienced mediator.

This process offers couples a confidential alternative to a litigated case, where the process becomes very public and the judge’s orders may not seem fair to either spouse.

Here are the basic steps:

  • Selecting an attorney. When couples separate, even if they seem to be on good terms, they should both seek independent legal advice prior to the mediation. While they may have agreed to resolve their issues through mediation, their legal positions are adverse to each other. A mediator should not give legal advice to either party. Each party needs to understand the law surrounding their legal issues and their options.
  • Information gathering. Prior to the mediation session, you’ll need to work with your attorney to put together the information necessary for an effective mediation. This will require exchanging financial documents about your assets—tax returns, bank statements, property details, debts, etc., with your spouse and their attorney.
  • Selecting a mediator. You should work with your lawyer to determine options for mediators that would be a good fit for your case. The mediators differ in experience, cost, availability, and demeanor.
  • Joint mediation session. Once the attorneys have exchanged the necessary information and agreed on the mediator, the mediation session occurs. Mediations usually start in the morning and can go into the night. If necessary, the mediation can be paused and resumed at a later date. During the mediation, the parties/attorneys are split into separate rooms and the mediator goes back and forth with settlement offers to try to get an agreement. Ideally, the issues are narrowed as various points can be agreed upon.
  • Memorandum of understanding. If mediation sessions result in mutual agreement on the settlement terms, the mediator or one of the attorneys may write up a short summary of the terms. However, the terms are not final yet.
  • Finalized divorce agreement. After the mediation, one of the attorneys will prepare the formal settlement document and discuss it with their client. The draft document will be sent to the other attorney for review and approval. Once the settlement documents are final, they are signed and notarized or signed and submitted to the court for signature by a judge.

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When you’re facing the uncertainty of divorce, it can be hard to understand your legal options and know which one is right for you. This is especially true when you are trying to balance protecting your rights and property versus avoiding an expensive, drawn-out, bitter divorce.

Even during divorces that are less than friendly, mediation can still be an effective way to move forward. The key to a successful mediation is that both spouses show up ready to listen, communicate, and compromise.

Generally, mediation is the best option to resolve cases because it avoids the drawn-out and costly court process.

Potential Benefits of Divorce Mediation

Some of the main benefits of mediation include:

  • Affordability. Mediation is usually much cheaper than going through a litigated case in court. Usually, each spouse pays for half the cost of the mediator.
  • Confidentiality. Court proceedings are public, but everything that happens in mediation remains confidential. Even if mediation sessions fail and the divorcing parties end up in court anyway, no one can reveal what you or your spouse said in mediation sessions.
  • Preserving relationships. If children are involved in the separation, you’ll probably have to maintain a relationship with your spouse for a long time. No matter how you feel about your spouse, it will be better for both you and your children if you keep that relationship civil and constructive. Mediation can spare both parties the conflict and emotional pain that comes with lengthy court proceedings, which can leave you with a better foundation for a positive relationship with your ex.
  • Known outcome. With mediation, you and your spouse decide the terms of the separation. The mediator does not make any decisions— only the parties. While the parties may not be happy about the outcome, they have worked to get an arrangement in place that they both agree they can live with. When the decision is placed in the hands of a judge, the parties lose all control over the outcome.

RELATED: 8 New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthier Divorce

When Is Divorce Mediation Not Recommended?

Divorce mediation isn’t for everyone.

If your relationship with your spouse involves domestic violence or abuse (physical, emotional, or financial), mediation may not be a reasonable option. Many domestic violence and abuse situations involve emotional manipulation by the abuser, and victims can risk even further abuse if they open themselves up to their abusive ex via mediation.

Also, remember that mediation is non-binding, and the mediator can only offer suggestions and proposals—they do not make any decisions. If your spouse is never going to agree to anything that is remotely reasonable, you may want to save the money that would be spent on mediation and proceed to court.

Facing Divorce in North Carolina? Call Myers Law Firm

If you or someone you love is facing divorce, separating through mediation with the support of a divorce lawyer may be a good option. At Myers Law Firm, we support our clients through each step of the divorce process and explore every option to get them the best outcome we can.

If you have questions about your divorce case, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll meet with you in a confidential consultation and help you understand your rights and options.

To schedule your consultation with an attorney from Myers Law Firm, please call (888) 376-2889 or fill out our quick online contact form.

We look forward to hearing from you!

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

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Who Makes Medical Decisions When Parents Have 50-50 Joint Custody?

For parents with joint legal custody of children, there are a lot of parenting decisions that need to be made. Co-parenting can be tough, even in amicable divorces. When parents are not on the same page but share 50-50 custody, medical decisions can be a big source of conflict.

As a general rule, if decisions about the child’s medical care are not covered in the child custody order or parenting agreement, then parents should discuss the options and come to an agreement together. This is sometimes easier said than done.

If you and your ex-spouse cannot come to an agreement, there are different routes you can take to legally make a decision. It may be wise to talk to an experienced child custody lawyer so that you understand all the options fully, or if you are concerned your child is in danger.

In the event of an emergency, when the child is physically in your care, you have the right to make medical decisions that are in the child’s best interests. You need to let the other parent know as soon as possible.

Legal Custody Vs. Physical Custody

There are two different types of child custody in cases involving separated parents: legal and physical custody.

Physical custody refers to a parent’s right to care for a child who is physically present. For example, a child may spend weekends with one parent per the physical custody arrangement. This can be shared custody or a primary/secondary arrangement.

Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make major decisions about the child’s welfare. This means making decisions about education, health care, and other activities that are in the child’s best interests.

In general, North Carolina courts prefer to award final decision-making authority for legal custody to one parent in order to reduce conflicts that could be detrimental to the child. However, joint legal custody is still recognized as an option for parents when determining a custody arrangement.

Unless one parent has sole legal custody, co-parents are usually required to at least attempt to agree on major decisions. If a joint decision cannot be reached, the judge may say that one parent makes all major decisions, or that one parent may make the decisions about things like education, and the other parent make the decisions about medical care. Joint legal custody can look different based on what the judge believes is best for the child based on the family’s circumstances.

RELATED: What’s the Difference Between Joint Custody and Shared Custody?

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When Parents Cannot Agree on Medical Decisions

Two parents sitting facing away from each other

Some parents use custody of the child as a bargaining chip, and therefore do not make good decisions when medical issues come up. These cases can be very difficult for joint custody arrangements, because high conflict situations do not often lead to easy solutions.

For example: particularly post-pandemic, vaccine hesitancy is on the rise, which means an increase in cases of disagreement about child vaccinations. If you don’t see eye to eye and neither one of you is willing to budge, who decides what to do?

How to Resolve the Dispute Outside of the Court System

If you don’t have sole custody, and your child custody agreement doesn’t outline how decisions should be made, then you and the other parent need to decide how to handle medical decisions. For parents with joint custody, here are the different ways you can decide medical procedures and medical treatment:

  • Choose one parent to have final decision-making on all medical decisions.
  • Choose one parent to make the decisions for certain categories, and the other parent makes the decisions in the other categories.
  • Submit the issue to mediation. This means using a third party, objective mediator who works to get the parents to come to an agreement. The mediator cannot make any decisions, but must instead rely on an agreement being reached.
  • Submit the issue to arbitration. Arbitration is different from mediation in that the arbitrator makes the decision after both sides present evidence in an informal court-like setting. This option avoids taking the matter to court.

Mediation and arbitration can take weeks or possibly even months, but is still usually quicker than getting into court.

If you wish to avoid the court system, but cannot wait to come to a decision, it may help to have both parents sit down with the doctor to explain the medical treatment. A medical professional can explain the benefits, risks, and alternatives without introducing bias based on bitterness between ex-spouses. They can give you their professional opinion on the best option for the child’s life.

When A Court Order is Needed

There are times where you cannot avoid court. Perhaps your ex-spouse has gotten involved in conspiracy theories, or maybe some personal trauma has led them to start avoiding the medical system altogether. When you can no longer agree, or you are concerned that your child’s care is no longer safe with your co-parent, you can request the court modify your custodial arrangements.

If there has been a significant change in circumstances, or the child is in danger, these are both reasons the court may consider changing a legal custody order. A licensed attorney with experience in shared legal custody can help evaluate when the court will update your child custody case.

The court may grant sole legal custody for one parent if they feel that the other parent cannot be trusted to make appropriate decisions. Sole custody can be granted specifically for medical decisions if one co-parent is generally trustworthy in other categories.

RELATED: 5 Reasons a Judge Will Change a Child Custody Order

Contact Myers Law Firm for Help With Shared Child Custody Medical Decisions

If the parties cannot agree on a major medical decision and there is a not a method in the custody arrangement to resolve the dispute, it can create a tinderbox situation. Families endure anger, stress, fear, and more. At Myers Law Firm, we understand how difficult this experience can be, and how you can feel concerned for your child and helpless to get them the care you believe is right. We want to help you put your child’s health first, whether that means keeping your original custody order or requesting a new one.

Since every custody case is different, it’s impossible to say what may be your best option without knowing the relevant factors in your situation. That’s why we offer a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. Please call 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or complete our online contact form to get started today.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Same-Sex Divorce Can Be Complicated

Same-sex marriages have been legal in North Carolina since October 2014, and legal in every state since the US Supreme Court ruling 2015. Unfortunately, having your same-sex marriage recognized as legal doesn’t always translate to receiving equal or fair treatment, and some same-sex couples are running into unique problems while seeking a divorce. One point of contention: how to determine when the marriage began, and how that affects property division.

Same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships first started becoming legal at the turn of the 21st century, but at that time it was on a state-by-state basis. Many same-sex couples lived in domestic partnerships, cohabitation arrangements, or marriages that took place in other states before their state began recognizing and performing same-sex marriages.

While North Carolina law applies the same set of rules for marriage, separation, and divorce for any couple regardless of sex or gender, people in same-sex marriages may be more likely to encounter certain complications. If you are considering a same-sex divorce, there are some things you should know.

Does Long-Term Cohabitation Matter When Same-Sex Couples Divorce?

Following the legalization of same-sex marriage in North Carolina, some of the most memorable and heartwarming stories that circulated in the media came from gay couples who had been in long-term domestic partnerships for decades. These relationships were only lacking the legal sanction of a marriage certificate.

But what happens when such couples later decide to get divorced? The reality is that gay couples face the same challenges as opposite-sex couples when it comes to navigating difficulties in their finances, family structure, and personal lives. Do same-sex spouses, if they decide they need to separate, receive consideration under the law for the years of domestic partnership during which they had no legal option to marry?

The short answer is that, in North Carolina, a family court will consider a same-sex couple’s marriage to begin on the date they were legally married— regardless of any period of cohabitation leading up to that point. This means that for a same-sex divorce, couples should prepare for the court to consider the actual date they were married as the date they began to accumulate marital property.

It’s worth noting that the same rules apply to opposite-sex couples who lived together for a long time before getting married.

RELATED: How Does Separate Property Become Marital Property?

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Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions

A same-sex couple preparing a meal and smiling at each other

Many same-sex couples entered into a domestic partnership or civil union because they were unable to marry, and these legal partnerships provided some of the state benefits of being married. When gay marriage became legal, some states automatically converted civil unions into marriages, but others didn’t. The result is that if you got married while you were still domestic partners with another party, you may be in two legally binding relationships and will need to dissolve both.

Same-sex couples in North Carolina may wonder whether they could have a common law marriage if they lived together and acted as a married couple for a long enough period of time. The simple answer is “no;” North Carolina isn’t a common law marriage state, although it will recognize common law marriages that were established in other states.

Spousal Support in Same-Sex Divorces

In a North Carolina divorce, spousal support (which is called postseparation support when it’s temporary and alimony when it’s long-term) is financial support paid by a supporting spouse to a dependent spouse after separation. One of the factors a judge will look at when ruling on alimony is the length of the marriage.

For heterosexual couples, determining when a marriage began is easy. In North Carolina, however, same-sex marriage wasn’t legal until 2014, which complicates things for couples who got married out of state before 2014 but are now trying to get a same-sex divorce. The court should recognize the date of the marriage as the beginning of the marriage, even if it took place out of state, when it comes to spousal support.

However, if you had a domestic partnership or civil union, that may not qualify for the same status as a marriage. In that instance, if you get divorced, you may not receive spousal support for the time before you were officially married.

Child Custody Battles in a Same-Sex Divorce

A same-sex couple enjoying family time with two children in their living room

One big difference from opposite-sex marriages is child custody. A same-sex couple may have to deal with different legal needs during a child custody dispute. There are some cases where one spouse may be the biological parent, and the other spouse may have adopted the child to become the legal parent. In other cases both parents become legal parents through adoption.

The bigger problems arise in the divorce process when the non-biological parent is not a legal parent.

RELATED: What Are the Grounds for Full Custody of a Child in North Carolina?

What Happens When Both Parties Are Legal Parents?

The nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage now means that for married couples, courts should handle child custody disputes and child support arrangements for legal parents in the same way as opposite-sex parents.

Same-sex parents can gain full parental rights by legally adopting a child. In North Carolina, this can only happen when the parties have married and the non-biological parent(s) adopts the child.

For same-sex couples who have married and the non-biological parent has adopted the child separate, both parents have equal rights to pursue custody.

Of course, just like between opposite-sex couples, your custody case will not be simple. Judges consider many different factors as they decide what child custody arrangement would serve the child’s best interests, and the resulting legal cases can be very complex and time-consuming. Likewise, child support considerations can also be complicated, just as with heterosexual couples who split up.

RELATED: What You Need to Know About North Carolina Child Support

What if Only One Party Is a Legal Parent?

If only one of you is the child’s legal parent, things suddenly become a lot more complicated and uncertain. In general, if you’re not a legal parent to a child, you won’t have any legal rights as a parent, including the right to seek physical or legal custody of the child. You also may not be able to seek visitation rights, and you usually won’t have any financial obligation to support the child, either.

Parents have a constitutionally-protected right to the control of their children, which prevents third parties from being able to seek custody from a parent or parents. However, this constitutionally-protected right can be overcome if a third party shows that the parent (1) is unfit, (2) has neglected the child, or (3) has acted inconsistently with their constitutionally-protected status.

For custody cases involving same-sex divorce, the “acted inconsistent with their constitutionally protected status” is the factor that is used the most. One way that a parent acts inconsistent with their protected status is by voluntarily creating a relationship with a third party that is “in the nature of” a parent-child relationship (in other words, by allowing everyone involved to act as though the third party is the child’s actual parent).

In at least one legal case since the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, the parties had lived together for 20 months after the birth of the child. The court held that living together for that long as a family would be sufficient to show the legal parent acted inconsistent with their protected status.

Other Considerations for Same-Sex Couples

LGBTQ+ couples may want to know how federal law and state statutes in North Carolina will affect them in a divorce or other family law matter. Here are some of the most important things to note:

  • Any same-sex couple in North Carolina should understand that when it comes to marital property, our state is an equitable distribution state (as opposed to a community property state). This means that the court will divide the couple’s assets “equitably” (which is not necessarily the same thing as “equally”) based on a number of different legal considerations. In general, equitable distribution states allow the judge in a family law case wide latitude to decide who gets what.
  • Same-sex couples who marry and then break up need to divorce if they want to finalize the end of their marriage. This may seem obvious, but prior to 2015, some gay couples could have faced a situation where they married in a state that allowed same-sex marriage and then moved to a state that didn’t recognize the validity of the marriage, thus making it difficult to obtain a divorce. Spouses need to understand that, absent a formal divorce, they are still legally married, and any assets or property that they accrued prior to separation is still part of the marital estate in the eyes of North Carolina law.

These are just a few of the issues that same-sex couples now have to navigate when it comes to family law; all of the different legal considerations that could come into play during a divorce or other family law matter are too numerous to list here. In general, if you’re in a same-sex relationship and are facing divorce, it’s critical that you consult with an experienced family law attorney who can explain your legal rights and options — and who can advocate for you based on an extensive knowledge of the law.

RELATED: Is Everything Split 50/50 in a Divorce in North Carolina?

Myers Law Firm Is Here to Help with Your Family Law Issues

At Myers Law Firm, we understand that the end of a marriage is never an easy time for either spouse, so we approach every family law case with compassion and understanding to search for solutions. While we excel at respectful negotiation and will work to find common ground with the other side, we are ready to stand up in court and fight for your rights with an aggressive approach if that’s what it takes.

The attorneys at Myers Law Firm have experience handling all of the major family law issues that surround the end of a marriage, including alimony, child custody, child support, property division, and divorce. We’re here if you need help. To get in touch with us, call our offices at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or fill out the contact form on our website.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Personal Injury Claims and Settlements?

Many discussions about personal injury claims start with the assumption that the victim was in a state of flawless health before their car accident.

In real life, however, this is rarely true. Most people deal with all sorts of health conditions—some major and some minor. So what impact do pre-existing conditions have on personal injury settlements and the compensation victims receive?

The answer: it depends. A pre-existing condition shouldn’t prevent you from seeking compensation. However, it’s important to establish your health status both before and after the crash in order to show how the accident made your symptoms worse.

This isn’t always easy to do, and unfortunately, insurance companies often take advantage. Pre-existing conditions are often used as an excuse to deny or reduce the value of legitimate claims.

Pre-Existing Conditions: The General Rule

In general, the victim in a personal injury case can only recover compensation for injuries, medical conditions, or symptoms that are directly caused by the accident. If you had an existing injury or medical condition that wasn’t affected by the crash, you aren’t entitled to compensation for it.

You are, however, entitled to receive compensation for pre-existing conditions to the degree that the accident made them worse. This is known as exacerbation or aggravation of pre-existing conditions. You may be able to receive compensation not only for physical ailments and injuries, but also mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

The importance of determining the severity of a pre-existing condition both before and after an accident means that, in any personal injury case, the injured party will inevitably face questions about their past injuries or health conditions. Your attorney will try to establish the degree to which the accident worsened any conditions or injuries you had beforehand, while the insurance company will usually try to blame everything on any pre-existing problem they can find—no matter how minor or unrelated.

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Common Pre-Existing Injuries That Are Aggravated by Car Accidents

A person standing with their hands on their back indicating pain or strain

The sudden, blunt force of an auto accident often puts extreme stress on areas of the body including the spine, neck, and head. If you have a pre-existing injury in one of those areas, a motor vehicle accident can easily exacerbate the problem.

Some of the most common pre-existing injuries aggravated by car crashes include:

  • Prior head injuries such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI): If you’ve already experienced a TBI, you are more susceptible to future TBIs. Subsequent brain injuries are often more severe and sometimes lead to permanent damage.
  • Back and spinal cord injuries: A common pre-existing injury such as a herniated disc in your back can be aggravated or re-injured even in a small fender-bender.
  • Neck pain: Whiplash, or neck strain due to rapid head movement, is a common injury following a rear-end car accident. If you have any pre-existing injury to the neck or upper spine, a car accident is almost certain to make it worse.

If you have been seen by a medical professional for any of these injuries, those records and medical bills may be relevant to your car accident claim. A pre-existing condition like those listed above can cause additional trauma in the event of a car crash, and your personal injury claim will need to show how the accident made your condition worse.

RELATED: How Much Compensation Do You Get for a Brain Injury After a Car Accident?

Will My Pre-Existing Condition Affect My Car Accident Claim?

If a car accident aggravated your pre-existing condition, settlement negotiations with the insurance company will likely be complicated.

That said, you should never feel discouraged from pursuing compensation for your injuries just because of a pre-existing condition. In many cases, an injury victim who has received regular medical treatment will have an easier time producing concrete evidence of their medical history compared to someone who hasn’t seen a doctor in 10 years.

The compensation you may be eligible to receive for the aggravation of a pre-existing condition will depend on establishing the severity of that condition and how it affected your life before the accident. Fair compensation for a personal injury claim should include:

  • Medical expenses: When looking at treatment for a pre-existing condition, any treatment costs, consultations with medical experts, therapists, surgeries, etc. related to your accident should be covered if they are above and beyond what you had already expected to pay. For instance, if you are already in physical therapy, your bills would only be covered if you required extra physical therapy appointments.
  • Lost wages: if you missed work due to the accident or any medical appointments related to the accident, that monetary loss should be compensated with your claim.
  • Pain and suffering: You may seek compensation for lost quality of life. With a pre-existing injury, this will only be relevant to the extent that your quality of life was changed by the accident.
  • Property damage: This includes damage to your car in the event of an accident, and even personal belongings in the car.

Sometimes accident injuries can be more difficult to prove when you have a pre-existing condition. However, the injuries you suffer as an accident victim deserve fair treatment from the insurance company. You should not be afraid to seek out compensation for injuries following a car accident.

RELATED: Car Accident Lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina

3 Tips for A Stronger Personal Injury Claim With A Pre-Existing Condition

The insurance company is looking to pay out as little as possible. This means the insurance company will search through your medical records for any possible evidence that of a pre-existing condition to blame for your injuries.

Here are a few tips to help you make your case as strong as possible:

  1. Hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you. They will go over your medical history, including any information about pre-existing conditions, at the beginning of the case. Their experience in negotiating with insurance companies can be invaluable.
  2. Be honest with your attorney. Let your attorney decide how to handle any information that might seem to complicate your claim rather than keeping such details to yourself. Failing to disclose a previous injury could damage your credibility, jeopardize your claim, and even expose you to legal action if the defense finds out about your omission.
  3. Provide as many medical records as you can. Any documentation to show your health condition prior to the accident can be used to prove how things changed as a result of the accident. Even something as small as an existing injury involving knee pain can be affected by a car crash. While you may not have seen a doctor for lesser pre-existing injuries, physical therapy records can be enough to show how the car accident changed your injuries.

“The Eggshell Skull Rule” or “Take Your Victim as You Find Him”

One important legal concept has a rather unusual name: It’s often called the “eggshell skull rule.” It’s also known under a few other names, including the “take your victim as you find him or her” rule. In general, this rule applies to all personal injury cases, and it states that the relative frailty of the injury victim is not a valid defense against an insurance claim.

The rule’s name comes from an imaginary case that illustrates the core concept. Imagine a person who injured someone else, unaware that the victim’s skull was as thin as an eggshell. Such a condition would leave that person extremely susceptible to injury. According to the “eggshell skull rule,” the defendant is liable for all damages that stem from their wrongful actions, even though they had no idea about the victim’s condition and even though that condition played a role in the severity of the resulting injuries.

To use a few more specific examples, a person with a history of concussions might suffer a debilitating TBI in a crash that might not have caused a brain injury in a typical adult. Or, a person with osteoporosis might be at greater risk of severe bone fractures. According to the eggshell skull rule, the at-fault party can’t use the victim’s frailty to get out of paying for their damages.

The most important takeaway from this rule is that no victim should hesitate to contact an attorney if they were injured due to someone else’s negligence, regardless of the state of their health before the accident.

Contact Myers Law Firm If You've Been Injured

If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligent actions, Myers Law Firm is here to help with aggressive, dedicated legal advocacy. We understand how your prior injury can affect your case, and we have extensive experience with cases where a defendant’s insurance company tries to avoid paying claims. When you choose us to represent you, we’ll put our years of experience and familiarity with local courts to work for you, and we’ll fight relentlessly on your behalf until your case reaches a resolution.

Call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out the contact form on our website to schedule your free consultation with our car accident lawyers. We will use this time to get to know you, learn about your case, and inform you about your legal options so you can go forward with confidence.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

Schedule Your Consultation Now!

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Common Causes of Truck Accidents in North Carolina

Large truck crashes can be especially devastating and deadly. According to 2021 data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, accidents involving a semi-truck are more than three times as likely to result in at least one fatality than crashes only involving passenger vehicles. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a semi-truck accident, you know first-hand how this can be a life-altering experience.

But that’s not the only major difference between truck accidents and other types of motor vehicle crashes. Truck cases are often complicated and may have involve multiple negligent parties, such as the truck driver, the trucking company they work for, or even equipment manufacturers, cargo loaders, maintenance professionals, and more.

In order to get fair and full compensation for your injuries, you’ll need to prove what really happened, and identify all the relevant contributing factors. But the insurance company representing the trucking company won’t make it easy for you. An experienced lawyer can make a huge difference to your case. If you’ve been involved in a collision with a large truck, Myers Law Firm is dedicated to helping you recover the financial compensation you deserve.

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

The cause of an accident is critical to determining liability. Due to North Carolina’s “contributory negligence” law (more on that below), liability in a truck accident can be the reason you get the fair compensation you deserve, or you get nothing. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to prove that you were not at fault—not even a little bit.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released a study of Large Truck Crash Causation, which determined that the top ten factors in crashes involving large trucks are as follows:

  1. Brake problems
  2. Traffic flow interruption (such as congestion from a previous crash)
  3. Prescription drug use
  4. Traveling too fast for conditions
  5. Unfamiliarity with the roadway
  6. Roadway problems
  7. Required to stop before a crash (such as a stoplight or crosswalk)
  8. Over-the-counter drug use
  9. Inadequate surveillance (this refers to truck drivers not looking around for potential hazards and/or distracted driving)
  10. Driver fatigue

Most of these factors are due to truck drivers being negligent, but brake problems are the responsibility of the entity who maintains the truck. That can be an owner-operator, or it could be the trucking company.

As you can imagine, a passenger vehicle is likely to sustain significant damage if a large truck plows into them because of braking problems. These can be fatal crashes, and they can cause severe injuries for the passenger car drivers. Getting fair compensation for these truck accident cases is a matter of liability, or proving who is responsible.

RELATED: How Are Truck Accidents Different From Car Accidents?

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Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident?

A forklift unloading a truck

Determining liability for truck accidents can be a complicated process, since there are often multiple factors. It can also make a big difference in compensation for truck accident injuries, because truck drivers and trucking companies may have different insurance policy limits. If your medical costs exceed the policy limit of one negligent party, proving that another party also has liability can provide you with additional compensation for the damages you’ve suffered.

Since truck accidents involving passenger vehicles often cause serious injuries, it’s important to complete a full investigation into the causes of truck accidents. This investigation may reveal several responsible parties, including the truck driver, the trucking company, the parts manufacturer, the loader, and more.

For example, the loader may not have received adequate training, which caused them to load delivery trucks with all the weight on one side. Poor cargo loading creates imbalanced tractor trailers, which are now at higher risk of an accident. All it takes is a moment of distracted driving, and someone’s life is changed forever.

In this example, you can easily see that the loading company bears fault for inadequate training and the driver is responsible for not paying attention. The investigation may also show that the trucking company is responsible for poor vehicle maintenance that contributed to the accident.

Proving liability for complicated truck accidents can be extremely challenging. Because of North Carolina’s strict law about contributory negligence, if you were even 1% at fault for the accident, you are not entitled to any compensation, even when the truck driver was 99% at fault for your serious injuries.

RELATED: Why Contributory Negligence Matters for Your North Carolina Personal Injury Case

How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?

Carriers are going to be extremely protective of any information regarding their commercial trucks or commercial truck drivers. Insurance companies know all they have to do is prove that the other drivers were a tiny bit responsible for the truck accidents. If you are trying to make a wrongful death claim, you may only have the truck driver’s statement about what happened, because your loved one is deceased.

If you feel like a small fish in a big sea, you need to talk to a truck accident attorney. A lawyer has the tools and knowledge to dig deep into the facts of the investigation, from procuring records and statements, to surveillance footage, drug usage, and more. An experienced attorney will know where to look for additional sources of insurance coverage if your lawsuit exceeds the limits of one policy, and they will help you hold the responsible parties accountable.

If you’ve been in an accident with a commercial vehicle, it’s very important to talk to a lawyer right away. They will immediately start to collect evidence before it disappears. For example, trucking companies are only required to maintain hours of service logbooks on trucks and drivers for a limited time. Once that time is up, they can legally destroy them—unless you or your attorney have already sent them a letter to preserve evidence or filed a lawsuit.

Other pieces of evidence like witnesses and surveillance footage can also disappear if you don’t act quickly, so the sooner that evidence can be preserved, the better.

Call Myers Law Firm for a Free Consultation

In the event of a collision between commercial trucks and passenger cars, the trucks have the advantage in height, weight, and safety. If you’ve been involved in one of these truck accidents, you may have suffered spinal cord injuries, internal injuries, or worse. These can lead to life-long pain and suffering, and leave you with insurmountable medical debt.

At Myers Law, we understand how stressful it can be to stand up to the insurance companies when you are trying to recover from your injuries. We will compassionately take on the insurance companies on your behalf, giving you the freedom to focus on rest and recovery.

For a free consultation, call us at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form. We can help you understand what your options are, and how we can help.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Business Owners and Divorce

Getting divorced is usually challenging and stressful, even if the separation is an amicable one. And it becomes even more complicated for business owners.

If you own a limited liability company (LLC), you are probably wondering how those business assets are treated during your divorce proceedings.

Between understanding what property is subject to division and protecting your assets, there are numerous legal issues to consider when spouses separate in North Carolina. Fortunately, there are measures business owners can take to protect their business in the event of a divorce.

Keep reading to learn more about your options.

What is a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?

A woman reviewing business paperwork for an LLC

An LLC is a type of business designation used to protect your business and give you more control. For a family business, multiple people may be owners, or “members.” The portion each person owns is their membership interest. This ownership interest counts as personal property in the event of a divorce, unless some measures are taken to protect it as non-marital property.

A single-member LLC is a popular way to file a business. However, personal and business assets can seem like a gray area, since an owner is personally responsible for the business’s taxes and debts.

Families can create LLCs to ensure the family business is easily passed down to the next generation. A Family Limited Partnership offers protections for generational wealth, including a method to shield inheritances from taxes.

Let us help you.


How Is an LLC Treated in a Divorce?

The answer depends on when the LLC was formed, whether there are divorce protections in the LLC operating agreement, and each spouse’s interest in the company.

If your spouse has any membership interest, or even if they contributed to the LLC in any way, the interest in the LLC can be deemed marital property and therefore be subject to North Carolina’s equitable distribution state laws. This means the property, or the business interests, must be divided fairly between the spouses.

A fair division might depend on how much membership interest each spouse has. Some businesses are not easily divided. The divorce court may see fit for one spouse to buy out the other spouse’s ownership interest. In other cases, it may be possible to negotiate for one spouse to keep the LLC marital property in exchange for another valuable asset, like the house.

RELATED: Navigating a High-Asset Divorce in North Carolina: What You Need to Know

Protect Your Business in Advance

A person on the phone and taking notes

The best way to protect your business is to take proactive measures before you get married. No one expects to get divorced when they commit to marriage, but small business owners should consider taking steps to protect their LLCs before they become marital assets.

  • Build Your Business Ownership Strategically

As you launch your business, consider building in provisions that protect the company, such as in the LLC’s operating agreement. Creating an LLC (limited liability corporation) or C-corporation allows business owners to title real estate and property to the business. While your interest in the business may be marital property, creating a formal structure helps prevent individual assets owned by the business from being subject to division in the divorce settlement.

  • Sign a Prenuptial Agreement

Creating a prenuptial agreement might seem cold at first glance. However, this binding contract is an effective way to protect property acquired prior to the marriage. This agreement, which gets signed before the wedding, outlines what happens to property, businesses, assets, and income if the couple separates or divorces. A prenuptial agreement is especially useful if both spouses are entitled to LLC ownership, together or separately.

RELATED: How Do Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Affect Divorce?

It's Not Too Late to Protect Your Business

If you’re a small business owner in North Carolina, you can still protect your business even if it is currently considered marital property.

  • Understand Separate vs. Marital Property

As estates are separated, it’s important to understand what property is considered individually held and what is shared. Any property that was acquired or grown during the marriage—including a business—is generally considered a marital asset even though it is only in the name of one party. Other marital assets include retirement account contributions made during the marriage, savings accounts, or the family car and home. All marital assets and debts are subject to division. North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which means that divorce courts start with a 50/50 marital property division. However, you can still make arguments during negotiations and in court for an unequal division.

Separate property includes property owned prior to the marriage, one spouse’s inheritance received during the marriage, a business started before the marriage, or a business interest that is protected by an operating agreement ahead of time.

  • Create a Postnup

If you need to protect your small business but you didn’t implement protective legal measures before getting married, a postnuptial agreement is a good option. Like a prenup, a postnup is a signed agreement between spouses, but this type of agreement is signed after the marriage. A postnuptial agreement is a notarized document that can designate assets as separate property or outline how they are divided in the event of a divorce, including LLC membership interest. Creating a postnup with the help of an experienced divorce attorney is a good option for those interested in protecting their business after they’re married.

RELATED: How Do You Divide a 401(k) in a Divorce?

If the Divorce Process Has Already Begun

Closeup of separately clasped hands of a couple sitting across from each other at a table

If you are already in the divorce process and have a small business like an LLC that is subject to division, you must have a value to assign to the business.

  • Obtain a Valuation for the Business

A business valuation determines the value of the business for property division purposes. As estates are divided during a divorce, knowing the value of the business (if they are considered marital property) is a critical factor for the division process. Businesses can be evaluated based on the value of tangible (savings, inventory, or equipment) and intangible assets (client relationships). The sum of any liabilities (loans, payroll, or anything else the business may owe) are subtracted from the value of the assets to determine the total value. The divorce court must receive a business valuation to include the business in the division of marital assets. Contacting a family law attorney who has experience working with small business owners minimizes the time, risk, and stress involved in the settlement agreement. They’ll know how to handle other members, co-owners, or your spouse’s contribution with the help of financial experts.

Hire a Lawyer—Whether You've Prepared or Not

Divorce can be emotional and messy. Having an experienced attorney on your side who understands the complexity of running a small business can make a difficult situation less challenging. A good lawyer can guide you through the valuation process, creating a postnuptial agreement, and property division, among other complicated aspects of your divorce case.

If you’re an LLC business owner in Mecklenburg County facing a divorce, Myers Law Firm is here to support you. We’re experienced, compassionate divorce lawyers with a proven track record, ready to advocate on your behalf. To schedule your initial consultation with one of our attorneys, please call our Charlotte office at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or contact us using our online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Answers to the Top FAQs About North Carolina Divorce

If you’re considering filing for divorce, you may not know where or how to begin. To help you navigate this unfamiliar and intimidating situation, we’ve compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions about divorce in North Carolina.

The claims for custody, child support, equitable distribution, and alimony are separate from the claim for divorce, which only results in severing your marriage. This is very important! The claims for equitable distribution and alimony must be settled or filed in court prior to the granting of the divorce.

Note that divorce laws vary from state to state. You should not assume the answers in this FAQ apply to your situation if you live in a state other than North Carolina.

What are the requirements to file for divorce in North Carolina?

To file for divorce in North Carolina, the couple must have been separated for one year, and one party must have resided in North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing.

In North Carolina, you must live in separate homes and at least one party must have the intent to no longer be in the marital relationship. Sleeping in separate beds and refraining from sexual contact does not meet the state’s definition of “separate and apart.”

LEARN MORE: What’s the Process Behind Serving Divorce Papers?

What is the residency requirement to file for divorce in North Carolina?

At least one spouse must have resided in North Carolina for six months before either spouse can file for divorce in the state.

Do I need to file legal paperwork to separate from my spouse?

A man reviewing legal paperwork

No. There’s no paperwork requirement for a legal separation in North Carolina. If you move into a separate residence and at least one spouse intends to remain separated permanently, then you and your spouse are legally separated.

North Carolina does recognize separation agreements. A separation agreement is a private contract between married individuals that is intended to resolve most or all of the issues surrounding separation by mutual agreement, such as property division, custody, spousal support, and child support. A comprehensive separation agreement, in which both parties fully agree on the full terms of separation, is the best option to avoid a potentially messy and costly court case.

However, as mentioned above, separation agreements are not required in order to be considered legally separated or to get a divorce. They have many advantages, but it’s not always possible for separating spouses to come to an agreement between themselves.

LEARN MORE: Separation Agreements in North Carolina: What You Need to Know

I just got served with divorce papers – what should I do?

The best thing you can do to protect your rights and assets is to contact an experienced divorce attorney and get personalized legal advice right away.

LEARN MORE: What to Do When Your Spouse Serves Divorce Papers

What if I want a divorce, but my spouse doesn’t?

You don’t need consent from the other spouse to file divorce papers in North Carolina. If you have lived separate and apart for one year and if one of you has lived in North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing, you can petition for divorce. You do, however, have to properly serve the other spouse with the divorce papers.

LEARN MORE: What Happens When One Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce in North Carolina?

How do I file for divorce?

A closeup of paperwork and a hand holding a pen to sign with it

The person filing must fill out a Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, a Civil Summons, and a Complaint for Absolute Divorce. (Mecklenburg County residents can download a copy from the Self-Help Center of Mecklenburg County; these forms may not be accepted in other North Carolina courts).

Afterward, you’ll need to file these forms with the Clerk of Court’s office in your county. Remember to keep copies of every form for your own records.

LEARN MORE: How to Obtain an Absolute Divorce in Mecklenburg County

How much will the divorce process cost?

You can determine the costs for filing the above forms on the North Carolina Courts website or by calling your county’s Clerk of Court office.

However, beyond these filing fees, additional costs are difficult to estimate. For example, you may incur costs for serving the other party, filing additional documents with the courts, and petitioning to have your name legally changed.

LEARN MORE: 9 Ways to Save on Legal Fees During a Divorce

How long will the divorce process take?

The length of time until a judge grants your divorce is difficult to estimate. Once you file the Absolute Divorce Complaint, the papers must be served on the other party. The other party then has 30 days to respond, and they can receive an additional 30 days upon request.

If you and your spouse don’t agree on some of the issues, such as the date of separation, then you may have to get a hearing where you go in front of a judge, which could delay the process.

If you and your spouse agree on the divorce, we can prepare the necessary paperwork for you. In this scenario, the process usually takes 50 to 60 days.

LEARN MORE: What Are Temporary and Permanent Orders in a Divorce?

What legal issues will I need to address during my divorce case?

The claim for divorce is only one of five possible claims that arise out of a separation. The other four issues are: alimony/spousal support, equitable distribution (the division of marital property), child custody, and child support. Not all of these other claims will necessarily apply to your situation.

Do all the issues have to be resolved before my divorce is granted?

No. These are separate legal issues that can be filed with the court and heard by a judge or resolved by agreement at any time after separation. You do not have to wait the one-year period to deal with those claims.

However, your legal claims for alimony and equitable distribution must be filed with the court (not necessarily resolved) or settled before the divorce is granted. Claims for child custody or child support can be filed at any time.

How is child custody determined?

A mother embracing her child

Parents and courts can determine physical and legal child custody in a number of ways after the separation, including:

  • A mutual agreement between the parties that is not filed with the court
  • A mutual agreement signed by a judge and filed with the court (known as a “consent order”)
  • A decision made by a judge in the course of a lawsuit

When an initial custody decision must be made by a judge, it is their responsibility to determine what is in a child’s best interests and how to translate that into a custody order. North Carolina law creates no presumption between parents, so the process should not be biased toward either spouse at the outset.

LEARN MORE: 7 Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Child Custody Case

How is child support calculated?

Child support in North Carolina is determined in one of two ways. The most common way is that the court will establish child support based on an official set of state guidelines called the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines.

Child support under the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines is based on several factors:

  • The parents’ gross monthly income
  • Any daycare or childcare expenses paid by the parents
  • Health insurance premiums paid by either parent
  • “Extraordinary expenses” paid on behalf of a child, which can include things like expenses for visitation-related travel or private school tuition

The guidelines provide a mathematical formula based on all these factors to calculate an amount that the law considers a reasonable amount of child support.

However, judges in North Carolina do have leeway to depart from these guidelines and set a different amount for child support. Usually, this happens because one spouse provides evidence to show that the amount calculated by the guidelines is not a reasonable amount of support based on the unique facts of the case.

LEARN MORE: What To Do When The Other Parent Won’t Pay Child Support

How can I stop paying child support?

When child support has been ordered and you are the supporting parent, you must pay on time and in full. Not paying court-ordered child support can lead to wage garnishment, fines, felony charges, and prison time.

The only way you can stop paying the full amount of child support is to successfully file a motion with the court to modify or end child support payments. This is true even if your child turns 18, gets married, or otherwise experiences a life change that would end child support.

LEARN MORE: When and How Can I Modify Child Support in North Carolina?

What is the equitable distribution process and how does it work?

Equitable distribution is the legal method for property division that’s used by North Carolina courts. Based on the equitable distribution theory, a judge begins with the presumption that a 50-50 division of property is most fair. From that starting point, it’s up to either spouse to provide evidence and arguments that demonstrate that they deserve more than a 50 percent share.

LEARN MORE: 5 Common Questions About Property Division During a Divorce

Can I get (or will I have to pay) alimony?

In North Carolina, alimony (also known as post-separation support or spousal support) is determined by the courts, and it isn’t applicable in all cases. If you feel you are entitled to spousal support, you should contact an attorney. An experienced attorney should be able to help you compile the necessary paperwork to prove that you were a dependent spouse or to prove that you were a victim of marital misconduct—both factors that can play a role in whether a court determines alimony is appropriate in your case.

LEARN MORE: Who Gets Alimony in North Carolina and Why?

How is spousal support (alimony) calculated?

When North Carolina judges award alimony, the amount varies from case to case based on a wide range of factors. Some of those factors can include:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • Each spouse’s income and earnings capacity
  • Each spouse’s age and their current physical, mental, and emotional state
  • Whether there has been marital misconduct such as abuse or infidelity
  • The standard of living for both spouses during the marriage
  • The property each spouse brought to the marriage
  • Either spouse’s contributions as a homemaker
  • Contributions that either spouse made to the other’s education, training, or professional advancement
  • The education level of each spouse and their ability to obtain further education or training that they may need to support themselves

LEARN MORE: How Does Alimony Work in North Carolina?

What is the impact of marital misconduct on divorce?

North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, so there does not need to be any marital misconduct for one spouse to initiate a separation and then file for divorce. However, marital misconduct such as cheating and abuse can affect the legal issues related to divorce.

Specifically, marital misconduct could affect alimony if the supporting spouse (the spouse who pays) is the one who committed the misconduct, and it can also affect child custody if the misconduct had a significant negative effect on your child’s wellbeing. Marital misconduct generally does not affect property division during a divorce.

LEARN MORE: The Role of Marital Misconduct in North Carolina Divorce Cases

Do I have to go to court to get a divorce?

Not necessarily. If you and your spouse agree on the divorce, we can handle the divorce claim without you having to go to court. 

With regard to the other issues which may apply in your situation (alimony, equitable distribution, child custody, child support), if you and your spouse settle these claims outside of court, then you will not need to appear in court to resolve those issues either. If, however, there are disputes that you can’t resolve through compromise, then you will have to go to court.

Is my divorce a high-asset divorce?

A high-asset divorce is one that involves a significant total value in assets. Usually, spouses in a high-asset divorce have total household incomes upwards of $250,000 per year. The spouses may also have high-value assets such as:

  • Real estate holdings, sometimes including multiple homes
  • Multiple cars or other vehicles
  • Family-held or jointly owned businesses
  • Retirement and investment accounts
  • Inheritance/trust interest
  • Expensive/unique collections such as valuable artwork and jewelry

LEARN MORE: Navigating a High-Asset Divorce in North Carolina

Do I have to hire a lawyer?

Two people having a meeting with lawyers

You can get divorced in North Carolina without hiring or even speaking with a lawyer. However, talking with an experienced divorce attorney before you begin the divorce process may be in your best interest. North Carolina divorce laws are complex and not always easy to understand.

An attorney can listen to the facts of your situation and should be able to give you expert, practical advice about your legal rights and options. They can also argue on your behalf in court, and they may be able to draw from their knowledge of the law to highlight important information that could affect the outcome of your case. Sometimes, this information might be a detail or event that a person with no legal training would have a hard time recognizing as important or even relevant.

If you are seeking alimony or wish to make any other claims, an attorney should ensure that these claims are properly addressed. Once your divorce is granted, you cannot make further claims for alimony or equitable distribution, so it’s important that you handle these matters carefully and thoroughly during the divorce process. Additionally, if you and your spouse disagree on child support or the division of marital property, an attorney can help you craft a separation agreement and mediate on your behalf.

LEARN MORE: Considering a DIY Divorce? Read This First

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Contact Myers Law Firm, a Trusted Source in Family Law for Clients in Mecklenburg County

If you are considering filing for divorce or if you are going through a divorce, the professionals at Myers Law Firm are here to help. From determining child custody to dividing personal property, our team of professionals is prepared to answer any questions you may have and guide you through every step of the process. While we pride ourselves in handling divorce issues peaceably and efficiently, we are dedicated first and foremost to protecting and advocating for your rights.

To schedule your initial consultation with an experienced family law attorney, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or contact us online using our online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

Schedule Your Consultation Now!

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What to Do if You’re Injured in an Uber Accident in North Carolina

This September will mark 10 years since Uber first arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in that time Uber and other rideshare companies have become an increasingly popular way to get around.

Unfortunately, that also means Uber accidents have become a frequent occurrence—not only because there are so many rideshare vehicles on the road, but also because drivers are incentivized to complete fares as quickly as possible. This can lead to unsafe driving practices.

If you have been injured in an Uber accident in North Carolina, it is important to understand your legal rights and how to best pursue an Uber accident claim.

Steps to Take After an Uber Accident

A closeup of a cell phone being used to photograph damage from a car accident involving an uber

Whenever you’re involved in any auto accident—whether a rideshare company is involved or not—there are a few basic steps you should take if you are able to do so safely. These include:

  • Make sure you and everyone involved in the crash are safe.
  • Seek emergency medical treatment if necessary. Accept on-site medical evaluation if offered.
  • Call the police, notify them of the accident and request a police report.
  • Exchange name, contact, license plate, and insurance info with any involved drivers.
  • Get contact information from any eyewitnesses.
  • Document as much as you can by taking photos and writing down details. This includes crash damage, injuries, road debris, skid marks, weather, time of day, the general scene, etc.
  • Follow up with a doctor as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms, even minor ones. They could get worse later.
  • Contact an Uber accident lawyer for a free consultation.

RELATED POST: 5 Critical Steps After a Car Accident (myerslegal.com)

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Understanding North Carolina’s Uber Accident Laws and Regulations

Required Insurance Coverage for Uber Drivers

In North Carolina, all personal vehicle owners must carry a minimum of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in coverage for any injury or death they cause.

If an Uber driver causes an accident, but they are not currently working (the Uber app isn’t open on their phone, and they aren’t waiting for, driving to, or transporting a passenger), only their personal auto insurance policy applies. In practice this usually means the state minimum liability coverage mentioned above, although it could be more if the driver purchased more.

However, in North Carolina, Uber also provides additional liability coverage for drivers who are engaged in work activities, if the driver’s own coverage doesn’t meet the minimum criteria:

  • $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, if the driver’s app is open but they are only waiting for a fare. (In other words, they haven’t accepted a job yet.)
  • $1 million in total injury coverage from the moment the driver accepts a fare (i.e., driving to pick them up) to the moment the fare is dropped off at their destination.

The same levels of coverage apply for Uber delivery drivers—the only difference being that they’re transporting goods rather than passengers.

The good news is that, if you are injured by an Uber driver who has accepted a job (whether that’s yours or someone else’s), you’ll have access to a larger pool of insurance coverage than you would likely have available for a typical passenger vehicle accident. However, Uber accident cases are frequently complicated, and insurance companies will aggressively defend cases, particularly for large claims.

Other Uber Safety Regulations

Uber and other rideshare companies, known in the North Carolina law as “transportation network companies,” are also subject to additional legal regulations. These include:

  • Obtaining appropriate permits
  • Performing background checks on drivers and their vehicles (including driving history, vehicle registration, insurance information, and criminal records).
  • Re-performing background checks on all drivers at least every five years
  • Ensuring rideshare vehicles are inspected annually
  • Maintaining records of all rideshares provided for at least one year
  • Maintaining complete records of all drivers, including name and address

If an investigation reveals that Uber failed to meet its legal obligations, you may have an additional liability claim against the company. However, even when all these regulations are followed, it is not a guarantee that every Uber driver will drive safely and responsibly.

Statute of Limitations

After any North Carolina car accident, injury victims have a three-year time limit to settle an injury claim or file a personal injury lawsuit. This is called the Statute of Limitations.

Although that seems like a lot of time, if you think you may end up needing to file a lawsuit, it’s best to speak with an attorney and begin working on your case as soon as possible.

If you don’t take steps to preserve evidence soon, it may not be available later. Furthermore, it will take time to heal from your injuries, collect and analyze crash evidence and medical bills, and go through multiple rounds of negotiation with the insurance company, and if necessary prepare to sue. The earlier you and your attorney begin this work, the more likely it will result in a good outcome.

Compensation After an Uber Accident

As with any other personal injury, victims of Uber accidents in North Carolina have the right to pursue compensation for the losses they’ve suffered as a result of the crash.

This includes things like:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Other financial costs made necessary as a result of the crash (childcare services, domestic services, transportation costs, vocational training, etc.)
  • Non-financial losses such as physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, disfigurement, etc.

Calculating a fair settlement amount after a crash is not a simple task, particularly if your injuries are severe. Estimating just the future financial costs alone may require input from doctors, medical specialists, life care planners, and other experts. Determining what’s “fair” compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering is even more subjective.

In most cases, unless your accident was a minor one, working with an experienced car accident attorney is the best way to defend your rights and obtain a fair recovery.

RELATED POST: How Are Typical Car Accident Settlement Amounts Determined? – Myers Law Firm (myerslegal.com)

How an Experienced Uber Accident Attorney Can Help

A person consulting with a legal professional after a car accident with an uber vehicle

Uber accidents are often complex, and a personal injury attorney with experience handling Uber accident claims can help you navigate those complexities and defend your rights.

Specific ways an attorney can help include:

  • Establishing fault. North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, meaning that if the Uber driver’s insurance company can show that an injury victim is even 1% at fault for the accident, they cannot obtain financial compensation. This is an extremely high standard, and insurance companies can take advantage of unprepared clients to negate valid claims. Your attorney can help you clearly establish who was at fault and defend your right to compensation.
  • Identifying all applicable insurance coverage. If necessary, your lawyer can help you obtain the records that will show whether the Uber driver had their app open or had accepted a fare, what level of liability coverage applies to your situation, and whether there are other pools of insurance available (such as through your own underinsured motorist coverage).
  • Calculating damages. Your attorney will gather medical records, talk to expert witnesses, and talk to your family and friends. They will compile evidence that supports a truly fair settlement demand and help you get the compensation you’re entitled to.
  • Dealing with the insurance company. Your attorney can handle all the negotiations with the insurance company and advocate for your best interests. They can also advise you about whether the settlement amount the insurance company is offering is fair, and should be prepared to file lawsuit for you if that’s the only way to get the compensation you deserve.
  • Getting you the care you need. An attorney’s job is not limited to legal matters. A great attorney can help ensure you get the medical attention you need, see the right specialists, and focus on your health and recovery.

Contact Myers Law Firm Today

If you or someone has been hurt in a rideshare accident, contact Myers Law Firm today for a free case review with a personal injury lawyer. Our team knows how to handle Uber car accident claims. We’ll give you honest advice about your insurance claim, whether we think you have a case, and whether we believe we can help you.

To request your free consultation, just call (888) 376-2889 or complete our simple online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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The Role of Marital Misconduct in North Carolina Divorce Cases

Divorces don’t happen for no reason. Sometimes spouses simply grow apart, but other times one spouse commits an act – like cheating – that causes the breakdown of the marriage.

Marital misconduct can have an impact on how a North Carolina divorce is settled or decided by a judge, but the impact is generally more limited than most people think. Keep reading to learn how marital misconduct might affect your divorce case, whether your spouse committed marital misconduct or whether you’ve been accused of marital misconduct yourself.

What Is Marital Misconduct?

A couple at odds sitting with folded arms. In the foreground lies paperwork and wedding rings

The North Carolina law on alimony specifically defines behavior that is considered marital misconduct. The definition includes any of the following acts that occur during the marriage and before or on the date of separation:

  • Illicit sexual behavior (in other words, cheating and affairs) that occurred before or on the date the spouses separated
  • Committing a criminal act that causes involuntary separation of the spouses (usually by going to jail or prison)
  • Abandonment
  • Kicking the other spouse out of the marital home without a reasonable justification (known as malicious turning out-of-doors)
  • Cruel or barbarous treatment that endangers the other spouse’s life
  • Indignities that made the other spouse’s intolerable and their life burdensome
  • Reckless spending of the income of either party, or the destruction, waste, or hiding of assets
  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs that made the other spouse’s condition intolerable and their life burdensome
  • Willful failure to provide necessary subsistence (such as money, food, and shelter) according to one’s means and condition, which rendered the other spouse’s condition intolerable and their life burdensome