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What Do My North Carolina Child Support Payments Cover?

What Do My North Carolina Child Support Payments Cover?

Parents who pay child support in North Carolina often want to know, “What does my child support cover?” And, as a follow-up question, many wonder, “What should I do if I think the other parent isn’t using child support properly and my child’s essential needs aren’t being met?”

In this article, we’ll break down the basics of North Carolina child support and explain what is covered, what isn’t, and what you can do if you believe the other parent is misusing funds from child support.

The Basics of Child Support in North Carolina

When a marriage ends in North Carolina, or when unmarried people who have kids together break up, both parents have an equal responsibility to provide financial support for the child or children.

If you’re the custodial parent — the parent who gets most or all of the parenting time, also known as physical custody — the court will assume you’re paying child support “by default.” The day-to-day childcare expenses you pay while you have physical custody of the child, like food, clothing, housing costs, and other expenses, serve as your share of basic child support.

If you’re the noncustodial parent (which means your child lives with your ex most of the time), you probably don’t pay these day-to-day expenses, or you pay much less of them. So, the law says you need to make up the difference and pay your fair share to meet your child’s needs. To meet your financial support obligations, you’ll be required to make child support payments, usually through check, electronic payments, or wage-withholding.

A court will determine the exact child support obligations and the structure of the child support payments in your case. Usually, the noncustodial parent pays child support until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever is later, but not beyond age 20.

Child support is a separate issue from alimony, which is also called spousal support. Child support is paid to support a child, while alimony is financial support paid to a former spouse. Money you pay as alimony won’t affect the amount of child support you owe.

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

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What is Covered by Child Support?

Child support payment amounts are based on the noncustodial parent’s income and parenting time. The payments are intended to cover essential needs such as:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Educational expenses, including school supplies, and fees for extracurricular activities
  • Miscellaneous additional expenses

In general, child support payments should go toward reasonable and essential living expenses that support your child’s standard of living. The theory behind child support is that the child should enjoy the same standard of living as if both parents were living together.

The amount of child support paid should include payments for health insurance for the children and work-related childcare expenses. When the court determines the amount of child support, it will calculate expenses based on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines and factor in any payments that either parent is currently making. For example, if the parent who pays child support is paying for health insurance for the child, those health insurance payments will factor into the child support calculations.

To learn more about the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines and find out exactly how courts in our state set child support, read our previous article on the subject, “What You Need to Know About North Carolina Child Support.”

If I’m Paying Child Support, Do I Have to Pay for Other Things, Too?

Generally, the answer is yes. You have to pay for the child’s expenses during the time the child is with you. However, what exactly you have to pay for in addition to child support and expenses when the child is with you will be unique to your case.

If the amount of child support in your case is based on Worksheet A of the Child Support Guidelines, then the child support you pay is supposed to be all that you have to pay the other parent. If your custody arrangement places the child support on Worksheet B of the Guidelines, then both parties are expected to share expenses for the child in a “true sharing” arrangement. This sharing includes items that would go between houses or benefits the child while at both houses. Examples of these types of items include:

  • School lunch payments
  • Haircuts
  • Shoes that go back and forth
  • School expenses
  • Winter coats

Whether you are on Worksheet A or B, you and the other parent may agree between yourselves on payment for things like extracurricular activities or summer camps.

Also, if you resolved your case by agreement with the other parent, you may have included provisions for sharing expenses for the child. Usually, the parent who has to travel for visitation is responsible for the travel expenses. However, sometimes travel expenses may be included in the child support calculation as an extraordinary expense.

What Can I Do if My Ex Is Misusing Child Support?

The parent who pays child support rarely gets any say in how the other parent spends the money. However, if you have concerns that your ex is spending the money on drugs or alcohol, or if you believe they’re neglecting the needs of the child, there may be grounds to modify the custody arrangement and then recalculate your child support.

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

Contact Myers Law Firm for Help with Child Support in Charlotte, North Carolina

At Myers Law Firm, our family law attorneys are here to support you and fight for your rights during a divorce and any related legal matters, like child custody and child support. If the other parent owes child support and refuses to pay, we can help you hold them accountable without violating any existing court orders.

If you need help with a child support issue in Charlotte or anywhere in Mecklenburg County, schedule your initial consultation by filling out our quick online contact form or calling our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889).

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

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What Are Intentional Tort Cases?

When most people think of personal injury cases, they think of car accidents, motorcycle crashes, and other types of injuries caused by another person’s negligence. But if someone intentionally hurt you, the law says you deserve the same legal help and compensation as someone who was harmed by an accident.

If someone’s intentional actions hurt you physically, emotionally, or through other means, you have legal options. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be eligible to file an intentional tort claim.

What Is a Tort?

“Tort” is a legal term that means a wrongful action (or, sometimes, a failure to act) that causes harm to another person. However, not just any type of wrongful act amounts to a tort; the act must be a civil wrong under the law.

For example, being rude to someone is an act most people would consider wrong, but it’s not a tort because there’s no law against rudeness — which means you can’t file an insurance claim or lawsuit over it. However, punching someone in the face is a tort because there are laws against physical battery.

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Understanding Different Types of Intentional Tort Cases

Intentional tort cases happen when one person harms another on purpose. These cases are different than other types of personal injury cases, which mainly deal with how reckless or negligent actions caused a victim harm. In intentional tort cases, someone deliberately hurt you or a loved one.

Types of acts that may lead to intentional torts cases include:

  • Assault and battery
  • Wrongful imprisonment
  • Trespassing
  • False imprisonment
  • Fraud, deceit, or false statement
  • Defamation
  • Conversion (taking or using someone’s property without their consent)
  • Severe emotional distress

 

How Intentional Tort Cases Differ From Criminal Prosecution

Many people don’t understand the difference between civil cases and criminal cases. When someone commits a criminal action that harms you, the state will prosecute that person to punish them for their actions. The process of criminal prosecution may give you a sense of closure and justice if it succeeds, but it won’t necessarily provide you any financial compensation to help recover from your injuries — unless the court also orders restitution. And even if restitution is ordered, you may not get full compensation. To ensure full compensation, you’ll need to pursue a civil case against the person who hurt you.

Intentional tort claims are a type of civil claim, so they can provide financial compensation for injuries. One mistake many victims make is waiting until the criminal trial is over to pursue their intentional tort case. Not only does this delay the civil legal process, but it can also cause the statute of limitations to expire for your civil case. The criminal and civil cases for an intentional tort can and often do unfold at the same time, so there’s no reason to wait to contact an attorney and get the civil case moving.

The Biggest Consideration in Intentional Tort Civil Claims

The point of filing a civil claim for an intentional tort is to seek money damages that will compensate you for your injuries. Before you file a claim, you need to make sure the potential defendant has money or assets to pay a judgment. Unfortunately, insurance coverage rarely applies to intentional torts. So, you don’t want to pursue a civil claim and spend lots of time and money, only to get a result that’s worthless — and if there’s no insurance coverage and the defendant has no money or assets, that’s exactly what will happen. To avoid wasting your time, you should work with an experienced attorney who can investigate the claim and look for assets or potential insurance coverage.

Domestic Violence Is a Type of Intentional Tort That’s All Too Common

Domestic violence cases exist at the intersection of family law and intentional tort cases. Many domestic violence cases involve intentional torts like assault, wrongful imprisonment, and severe emotional distress. If you and your family have been suffering because of someone else’s abusive behavior, you need an attorney on your side who can help you put your life back together, get justice, and find peace. This process may include filing for a domestic violence protective order, taking urgent measures to make sure your children are safe, and initiating the divorce process and related legal claims.

At Myers Law Firm, we have years of experience handling intentional tort and family law cases, and we’ve successfully secured compensation and justice for victims of domestic violence. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you are in trouble and need help.

RELATED: What Is Negligence? Here’s a Definition You Can Understand

Did Someone Intentionally Harm You in Charlotte, North Carolina? Don’t Wait to Contact Myers Law Firm

At Myers Law Firm, we take our responsibility to represent injured victims seriously. If you were victimized and need help finding justice and closure, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our experienced team of personal injury lawyers and family law attorneys has decades of experience helping victims like you fight back and recover.

To schedule your initial consultation with an attorney from the Myers Law Firm team, fill out our quick online contact form or call us at 888-376-2889. 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.

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What’s the Difference Between Separation and Divorce in North Carolina?

The misconception that separation and divorce are the same is all too common. In fact, separation and divorce are two different things, and they serve different purposes.

In this post, we’ll go over the differences between divorce and separation in North Carolina, and we’ll provide insight about how the two events affect you, your relationship, and your family.

Separation Is Part of the North Carolina Divorce Process

Every marriage is different, and so there’s no one right way to address differences, take time away, or end a marriage. While divorce is the way to end the legal bond between two people, separation is the first step that can lead to many possible results, including divorce, indefinite separation, or reconciliation.

Defining Separation

Some states have legal separation, which is a legal filing in which a married couple formalizes a separation without dissolving their marriage. In North Carolina, there’s no official document or any other formal process for a married couple to become “legally separated”. You and your ex are only separated if you’re living apart and at least one of you intends to leave the marriage permanently. If one of you moves out of the marital home with the intent of leaving the marriage, you can mark the date of separation on your calendar, and that’s enough.

North Carolina couples must remain separated continuously for one year before they can file for divorce. If you get back together and resume the marital relationship but then realize it was a mistake, you have to start the one-year clock over again. However, isolated “hook-ups” do not automatically restart the clock, even if you and your ex engaged in sexual intercourse.

Initiating a separation is simple, but it also opens the door for couples to begin dealing with the issues of custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. This is where the real conflict comes into play.

Defining Divorce

Separation in North Carolina requires couples to live separate and apart for one year. However, separation does not affect your marital status. Unless your marriage was not legally valid and you can get an annulment (which is rare in North Carolina), divorce is the only way to permanently dissolve your marriage and go back to being a single person for legal purposes.

Technically, filing for divorce is a simple process. All you need to do is file a lawsuit with the court and go through the process, which takes about 50–60 days after the other party is served with the lawsuit. In the end, you get a judgment of divorce, and your marriage is over.

Issues Related to Separation

Although obtaining the judgment of divorce is simple, all the issues that will come up as a result of the separation can get very complicated. These are the major legal issues that go along with dissolving a marriage: property division (equitable distribution), child custody, child support, and spousal support (alimony). The legal process of resolving these divorce-related claims is where all the conflict actually happens. In contentious cases, these issues may not be finalized until after the divorce is final.

Remember this, because it’s important: You do not have to be separated for one year in order to resolve claims for child custody, child support, spousal support, or property division. You can resolve them at any time during the one-year separation period, and you can even use a separation agreement to resolve them before you actually separate (so long as you separate within 30 days of creating the agreement). We’ll talk more about separation agreements in the following section.

To learn more about the process of filing for and finalizing an absolute divorce in North Carolina, read our blog article about this subject.

RELATED: How to Obtain an Absolute Divorce in Mecklenburg County

What is a Separation Agreement in North Carolina?

A separation agreement is a legal contract between you and your spouse that resolves the legal issues we discussed earlier (child custody, child support, property division, spousal support). There’s no law in North Carolina that requires you to get a separation agreement, and a court will not issue one for you. Only you and your spouse can create the agreement, and both of you need to be on board.

If you and your spouse can agree on the terms, your separation agreement can resolve any or all of the major legal issues surrounding your divorce. Your agreement won’t be valid unless both parties sign the document in front of a notary, who will notarize the signatures.

You can also put your agreement into a document called a consent order. This is an agreement that is signed by you and your ex and then by a judge. There are different reasons for doing a separation agreement versus a consent order, and we’ll talk about these differences in a future blog article.

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Do I Need a Divorce Attorney If I’m Separated?

If you’re separated or planning to leave the marriage, it’s never too early to start getting legal advice from an experienced family law attorney. Divorce can be a complicated, confusing, and stressful process, especially if you try to go through it without a lawyer.

Not only can a divorce lawyer take all the paperwork and legal preparation off your plate and make sure your rights are protected, but they will also attend to important details you may miss. As an example, some couples forget about various insurance accounts or retirement funds, which often name beneficiaries. If these accounts don’t get included in property division, it can be a mess to figure out what to do with them after a divorce finalizes.

Certain situations also demand the help of an attorney for the health and safety of the family. If you have a partner who is abusive or unstable, a lawyer can get the authorities involved and get court orders that protect you and your children.

No matter what your situation looks like, hiring a lawyer will most likely save you money in the long run unless you have a very simple, uncontested divorce. Make sure to choose an attorney who has experience handling divorce cases, and feel free to meet with multiple lawyers and search for someone who gives you confidence and makes you feel at ease. Your divorce may be a long process, and having the right advocate by your side can make all the difference.

Contact Myers Law Firm If You Need Help with a Divorce or Family Law Matter in Charlotte, North Carolina

At Myers Law Firm, we understand that the end of a marriage is never an easy time for either spouse, so we approach every 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, and property division. We’re here if you need help. To get in touch with us, call our offices at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form 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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Here’s What You Should Expect in a Personal Injury Deposition

Out of all the various phases and procedures involved in a personal injury lawsuit, being deposed is the one that tends to give injury victims the most anxiety. However, an effective, well-prepared, and thorough deposition is necessary and crucial to the success of your case. The key to relieving your anxiety over a deposition and the key to ensuring that your deposition goes smoothly are one and the same: preparation.

What Is a Deposition?

A deposition is when the other party’s attorney questions you about the facts, details, and circumstances of your case in order to gather information. This happens at a specified date, time, and place, which you’ll know in advance. Depositions generally take place in an attorney’s office, not in a courtroom. Your attorney, the other party’s attorney, and a court reporter (also known as a stenographer) are all allowed to be present.

The person giving the deposition (you) is called the deponent. You are under oath while you’re being deposed, and you’re required to answer questions truthfully and to the best of your ability. The court reporter will record everything that is said and happens during your deposition. In general, what you say during your deposition testimony can be used in court later — assuming your case doesn’t settle before going to trial.

A typical deposition occurs after a lawsuit is filed, but prior to a trial. This is part of the discovery phase of your case. You’ll know when you need to submit to a deposition because the defendant’s attorney will ask you to do so by way of a notice of deposition, which is a type of legal request. If you’re the plaintiff in the lawsuit, the defense does not need to get a subpoena or court order to request your deposition — they only need to give you notice.

Once you’ve received a notice of deposition, your participation is mandatory. Depositions are a critical part of the discovery process, so you’ll have to attend the deposition and answer the other attorney’s questions if you want your case to continue. Generally, we will work with the other attorney to set a time and date that is agreeable to everyone.

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Why Is a Deposition Important?

Your deposition is important to your case because it’s usually your first opportunity to give on-the-record testimony and share your side of what happened. A deposition creates a written record of a witness’ testimony that can be used later to impeach testimony in trial. This might happen if, for example, the testimony of a witness during trial is different from what is said at the deposition. Third-party witnesses to the accident can also be subpoenaed to give a deposition, although their deposition will be separate from yours.

Besides establishing the facts and circumstances of your case in your own words, your deposition provides an opportunity for the attorneys from both sides to evaluate strengths and weaknesses in the case and get an idea of how you would testify in the event of a trial.

What Can You Expect From a Deposition?

If you’ve seen a lot of courtroom dramas on television, you might be expecting a deposition to look more like an inquisition, with the opposing attorney pounding on the table and shouting questions at you, accusing you of lying at every turn.

RELATED: Why Contributory Negligence Matters For Your Personal Injury Case

In real life, depositions in civil lawsuits rarely look anything like this. The deposing attorney in your case will most likely be polite, professional, and maybe even a little friendly — after all, they want you to open up and reveal as much information as possible, not shut down out of fear or frustration. Usually, the deposition won’t even happen in a courtroom; instead, it will probably take place in a conference room.

Depositions generally follow similar formats. Usually, the attorney for the other side (the opposing counsel) will ask you a series of questions, and your answers will get recorded in a deposition transcript. Although your attorney can’t feed you answers during a deposition, you can work with your attorney to anticipate and prepare for the defense attorney’s deposition questions. Those questions, which are called interrogatories, will generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • General personal information: This can include questions about who you are and your background, like your name, contact information, familial makeup, occupation, etc.
  • Prior physical condition: During a personal injury deposition, the other party’s attorney will want to know what your health was like before your injury. For example, if you hurt your right shoulder, the attorney might ask if you are right- or left-handed, or if you had prior injuries to your arm, shoulder, or back that might have contributed to your accident or the resulting injuries.This part of the deposition can become especially important if your injury involves cognitive symptoms, as many brain injuries do. If you suffered a concussion or other brain injury, your injury isn’t necessarily visible to the naked eye, so it’s important to paint a vivid picture of what your health was like before the accident. Regardless of the type of injury you’ve suffered, though, the way you answer these questions will establish what your life and health were like before the accident and create a point of comparison for your after-injury state.
  • Accident information: The defense attorney will want you to record how the accident happened in your words and in as much detail as possible. You can expect them to ask questions like: How did the accident occur? What was your initial reaction to it? Who was there to witness it? What was the weather like? What was your mental state? Did you converse with anyone during or immediately after the accident? What was said during those conversations?To get ready for these questions, you should thoroughly prepare this part of your testimony with help from your lawyer. If you don’t practice, it can be very easy to get turned around during the course of your story and lose your train of thought, or to omit important details. Remember, you’re under oath during your deposition, so be very specific about what you remember, and be honest if there are things you don’t remember clearly.
  • Injury description: You will need to give a detailed account of your injuries. How were you injured? Where were you treated? Were you treated by your primary care physician or an emergency room doctor? Were you admitted into the hospital? Did you have surgery? What was your follow-up care like? Did you follow the doctor’s advice? Do you have ongoing care such as physical or occupational therapy? The details of your injury are very important, as they will support your later answers about how the injury has affected your physical, mental, emotional, and financial well-being
  • Life after the accident: This is your opportunity to testify about how your life has changed for the worse since the accident. You will be able to paint a narrative of how your life today differs from the lifestyle you previously enjoyed and the future you had planned, including any limitations you’ve experienced, costs you’ve incurred, and emotional pain you’ve suffered as a result of your accident.

Throughout the pre-deposition preparation and the deposition itself, your attorney will be your most important ally and source of advice. Besides preparing you for the defense attorney’s questions, advising you about how to frame your answers, and providing a supportive presence during your deposition, your lawyer can also come to your defense and object if the defense attorney’s questions or conduct are out of line in some way.

The entire deposition process falls under a set of legal rules called the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Your attorney should know these rules well enough to make sure the other side follows them and to speak up in case of a violation.

Deposition Details: How to Conduct Yourself

A personal injury deposition is one of those times where it’s easy to become self-conscious about everything you do. When you know a lawyer is going to depose you and record your testimony, every word choice, gesture, and action suddenly seems very significant, and the stress can cause injured victims to feel like they don’t know how to act or what to say.

To help alleviate that stress, here are a few basic tips for how to conduct yourself during a deposition.

  • Be professional and polite. Arrive to the deposition well-dressed, well-groomed and on time, and avoid trying to make small talk or jokes to “break the ice.” When the defense attorney begins to ask you questions, provide clear, concise, and straightforward answers to the best of your ability, making sure to ask clarifying questions if there’s some aspect of the question that you don’t understand.
  • Stick to the facts. The format of your deposition is question-and-answer, and it’s the defense attorney’s obligation to bring out your testimony through questions, so don’t feel the need to anticipate what they might want to know or provide extra detail they haven’t asked about. Instead, simply answer the question you’ve been asked in a clear and straightforward manner and then wait for the next question. Everything you say will be recorded, so be sure to speak clearly and loud enough so your words will be recorded accurately.
  • Don’t rush. This is an important part of your case, so you will want to be sure and take your time so you can give the most thoughtful, truthful answers possible. Let the attorney finish his or her question before you start to answer. You can even pause for a moment before beginning your answer, giving yourself time to collect your thoughts and creating the opportunity for your attorney to object as needed. Try to remain calm, even if the other party’s attorney tries to ask you confusing or unclear questions in order to trip you up. It’s important to remain even-keeled.
  • Be honest. You’re under oath, so you need to answer the defense attorney’s questions honestly; failing to do so could have serious consequences. Part of being honest, though, is telling the truth about what you’re not sure of — “I don’t recall” or “I am unsure” are perfectly good answers for questions you don’t have an answer to. You do not want to be caught making a false statement, even if it’s unintentional, as this could seriously harm your case.
  • Be prepared. Preparation is extremely important for a deposition. Work with your attorney to prepare for the deposition and take this preparation time seriously. Ask your attorney to role-play a deposition with you so you can practice giving calm, factual answers that are free of opinion or emotional appeal. This is very important to practice since you’ll be speaking about a subject that may bring up intense emotions and memories.

With proper practice and guidance from your attorney, a personal injury deposition doesn’t need to be a nerve-racking experience. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to “go it alone” and represent yourself in a personal injury case, the deposition could be the point where you realize you’re in over your head. If you’re facing the prospect of a personal injury deposition and you haven’t hired an attorney yet, now might be the time to ask whether you really want to go up against the defense’s legal team without anyone on your side.

Myers Law Firm: Your Personal Injury Advocates

At Myers Law Firm, we understand the stress, anger, and confusion that often accompany a senseless injury. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we can help. When you choose us to represent you, we’ll act as your advocate and use our years of personal injury experience and our extensive knowledge of the local courts to fight relentlessly on your behalf.

Call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with us. 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.

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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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Common North Carolina Child Support Issues and How to Resolve Them

Navigating child support issues with your ex is rarely easy. And even when separated parents prioritize their children and minimize unnecessary conflict, child support cases can still get contentious. Common sticking points include insufficient payments, confusion around what to do when the non-custodial parent’s situation changes, or what happens if the other parent refuses to pay.

In this blog, we’ll outline a few of the trickiest child support issues and offer tips for how to resolve them.

What if My Ex Is Refusing to Pay Child Support or Keeps Falling Behind?

Financial problems often create conflict between parents, and when you put those issues in the context of a divorce with children involved, things can get downright messy. Knowing how to handle issues when they arise is one way to protect yourself, your ex, and your children.

Here are some of the most common challenges we’ve handled in North Carolina child support cases.

The Non-Custodial Parent Refuses to Pay Until They Can See the Kids

Custody (parenting time) and child support payments are different aspects of parenting after a divorce; parents can’t use one aspect as a bargaining chip for another. The non-custodial parent shouldn’t withhold financial support to strong-arm the other parent into letting them spend time with the kids. Likewise, the custodial parent should never withhold the children until the other parent pays child support.

If your ex is threatening to withhold payments because they’re unhappy with the custody or parenting time arrangement, contact your attorney. They can help you understand your options in this uncomfortable situation and step in when you can’t resolve the matter with your ex. The most common solution involves filing a motion for contempt, but other options are available, such as obtaining a judgment or license revocation.

The Non-Custodial Parent Isn’t Paying the Full Child Support Amount

You may need to change your child support agreement for any number of reasons. If the paying parent’s situation has changed and they can’t pay as much as they normally would for child support, they can attempt to modify their child support agreement.

However, this process is complex and requires more than just a verbal agreement. Whether there needs to be an increase or decrease in payments for whatever reason, you and your ex must go through the courts to legally modify the agreement. Otherwise, you could get in trouble later if one parent claims you violated the written order, and saying you had a verbal agreement with the other parent probably won’t help you.

An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the process of submitting a modification for your child support order and getting a judge to approve the modification.

The Non-Custodial Parent Falls Behind on Payments or Won’t Pay at All

Many separated parents choose to have child support payments taken directly from their paychecks, like taxes. Automatic withdrawal, known as wage-withholding, is a great option for diligent parents who want to avoid partial or late child support payments.

If the other parent doesn’t have automatic withdrawal set up and they fall behind or say they won’t pay, you can file a motion with the court to require wage-withholding. However, you may be able to resolve the conflict without going to court, especially if you work with an experienced, empathetic divorce attorney. Your attorney should be able to communicate with your ex and make them understand what will happen if they continue to violate the court’s child support order.

RELATED: If My Ex Owes Child Support, Can I Stop Them From Seeing Our Kids?

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A Family Law Attorney Can Help Resolve Child Support Issues

When your ex fights your reasonable request for child support or violates a court order, it can leave you frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed. And when the solution is complex, like filing for a child support order or modification with the courts, it can be very difficult to resolve the issue on your own.

If you find yourself in one of these tough situations, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side who can guide you through the process and help make sure your children have the financial support they need to survive. When you work with an experienced and empathetic attorney, they can also provide emotional support, organizational assistance, and in-depth knowledge of North Carolina law and court procedures.

Myers Law Firm: Helping Parents in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County Collect Child Support

At Myers Law Firm, our family law attorneys are here to support you and fight for your rights during the challenges of a divorce and the accompanying legal matters like child custody and child support. If the other parent owes child support and refuses to pay, we can help you hold them accountable without violating any existing court orders.

For more information on how our family law attorneys can help you, schedule your initial consultation by filling out our convenient online contact form or calling our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889).

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

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Motorcycle Fatalities Trend

There’s no better feeling than hitting the open road on your motorcycle and taking in the beautiful North Carolina scenery as the wind gushes past you on a beautiful day.

Unfortunately, this adventure is becoming more dangerous. New research suggests that motorcyclists are at more risk than ever of being hurt or killed while riding in North Carolina. In fact, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), motorcyclist fatalities rose by 21% between 2017 and 2018.

In this blog, we explore this dangerous trend in motorcycle fatalities and explain what you can do to protect yourself on the road.

Motorcycling in North Carolina Is Riskier Than Ever

In 2018, 176 motorcyclists died on North Carolina roads. Some experts argue that an increase in ridership is to blame for the rise in North Carolina motorcycle crashes, but another critical factor is driver distraction. In 2018, distracted driving in some form was cited as a contributing factor in 4,523 crashes statewide. When asked about the cause of their accident, drivers who hit motorcyclists cited “not seeing them” as the most common reason for their negligence.

Motorcycles are smaller than cars, and when drivers are paying attention to their cell phone, radio, or cheeseburger rather than the road, it’s all too easy for a wreck to happen. Drivers can merge into a motorcycle rider, collide with them in an intersection, or sideswipe them when passing — all because the driver’s eyes aren’t on the road.

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Tips for Motorcyclists to Stay Safe on North Carolina Roads

According to the NCDOT, the majority of motorcycle crashes happen during warmer months. The period between May and September is especially dangerous. And as spring and summer approach, more riders than ever will be on North Carolina roads.

But don’t hang up your helmet just because there’s more traffic on the road during this beautiful time of year. Instead, learn how to protect yourself and others.

  • Be sure to double check intersections and slow as you approach. One of the most common motorcycle crashes occurs when cars turning left fail to check for other vehicles and collide with them.
  • Avoid splitting lanes whenever possible. Lane splitting (navigating your bike between lanes of traffic) isn’t illegal in North Carolina, but it is still extremely dangerous.
  • Always wear a motorcycle helmet and appropriate safety gear. In North Carolina, all riders and passengers must wear helmets, and we strongly recommend that bikers wear appropriate clothing, shoes, and protective gear.
  • Understand your legal rights on the road. Motorcycles are vehicles too, and motorcyclists are afforded the same rights and responsibilities as any other driver. When you understand the law and your rights, you can protect yourself with confidence.

RELATED: These 4 Factors Will Affect Your North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Case

Motorcycle Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility

Unfortunately, even the safest motorcycle riders who take every precaution can still fall victim to other drivers’ negligent actions. If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle crash because of another motorists’ irresponsible or reckless behavior, you could be eligible to receive compensation.

Contact an experienced North Carolina motorcycle crash attorney today to get a better understanding of your unique situation.

Myers Law Firm: Fighting for Motorcycle Crash Victims in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

If you or someone you love has been hurt while riding a motorcycle in the Charlotte area, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. At Myers Law Firm, safety is our top priority. When people like you get hurt in circumstances beyond their control, we fight to get them the justice they deserve.

If you have questions about your legal options or your case, please reach out today to schedule your free consultation. During our discussion, we’ll listen to your story and provide advice about your next steps and what to expect.

To schedule your free consultation, please fill out our easy online contact form or call us at 888-376-2889. We look forward to hearing from you!

References

Kennedy, K. (2019, June 18). NCDOT: Motorcycle fatalities rose 21 percent in 2018. CBS 17. Retrieved from https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/ncdot-motorcycle-fatalities-rose-21-percent-in-2018/

North Carolina Department of Transportation. (2018). North Carolina 2018 traffic crash facts. North Carolina: North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved from https://connect.ncdot.gov/business/DMV/CrashFactsDocuments/2018%20Crash%20Facts.pdf

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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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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Insurance Companies

Insurance companies are for-profit companies that have a vested interest in denying personal injury claims, and many of them have gotten quite good at it. At Myers Law Firm, we’ve represented accident victims for decades, and we’ve dealt with all the tactics and strategies that insurance companies tend to use time and again when defending cases.

In this article, we’ll share some of the knowledge we’ve gained and outline the most common ways that insurance companies try to deny or devalue claims from injured victims in North Carolina.

Shifting the Blame to You

North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, which means an accident victim cannot receive damages if his or her own negligence contributed to the accident. This means that in our state, if a court finds you are even 1 percent at fault for the accident that injured you, you can’t receive compensation for your injuries.

RELATED ARTICLE: Why Contributory Negligence Matters for Your Personal Injury Case

What this means in practice is that the other driver’s insurance company will often try to convince you that your claim has no value because your actions played some role in the accident. However, just because they tell you that you were at fault and deny your claim doesn’t give them the final word. It simply means that you need to get a lawyer who can evaluate your case and help you examine your legal options to get fair compensation for your injuries.

If the insurance company denies your claim for a minor mistake you made, contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. An experienced injury lawyer should be able to evaluate the facts of your case, examine how the law applies, and create a strategy that addresses the insurance company’s contributory negligence defense.

Focusing on a Pre-Existing Medical Condition

Most personal injury claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. This means that you must show that not only did the other party do something reckless or irresponsible but also that their irresponsible actions caused your injuries. One way that insurance companies often try to dispute personal injury claims is by capitalizing on the second requirement and arguing that the victim’s injury was pre-existing rather than caused by the negligent party.

RELATED ARTICLE: Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Personal Injury Claims?

For example, suppose you were stopped at a red light when another car suddenly rear-ended you. In the past, you had occasionally complained of back pain to your doctor and visited a chiropractor for relief. A post-accident MRI shows new degenerative changes in your spine along with a disc herniation (which is where the gel-like inside of a spinal disc pushes through its fibrous exterior, causing pain and nerve damage).

Next, the insurance company combs through your medical records prior to the wreck and looks for any little thing they can blame your injuries on besides the collision. It doesn’t matter that you’ve had no health problems or injury issues for a long time prior to the wreck. The insurance company denies your claim, arguing that your herniated disc was present before the injury.

So how can you respond to this argument? Unfortunately, proving that an injury didn’t exist before a crash or that a crash made an injury worse can be a tricky and complex process. The best option is to work with an experienced lawyer who can carefully assess your medical records, collaborate with credible expert witnesses, and apply North Carolina’s laws to the facts of your case.

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Questioning Your Credibility

After suffering injuries in a wreck and filing a claim, you might feel like you’re the one on trial. Insurance adjusters will scrutinize your motives and credibility, tracking your whereabouts and looking at your social media feeds to find anything they can use against you. If they find inconsistencies in your information — even ones that have innocent explanations — they’ll most likely deny your claim or use that information to offer you a low settlement amount.

It’s always in your best interest to give the insurance company and your doctors honest and accurate information. However, even if you’re being truthful, the insurance company can spin your activities and statements to seem like you have ulterior motives. (That’s why we always recommend that injured victims consult an attorney before they have any post-crash contact with the other driver’s insurance company.)

RELATED ARTICLE: 4 Ways Social Media Can Ruin Your Car Accident Lawsuit

Thankfully, a skilled personal injury lawyer should be able to uncover all the relevant evidence so they can help clarify your situation and rebuild your credibility after such a defense. Your lawyer should be able to analyze the facts, point out weaknesses in the surveillance and other data, and help paint a truthful and accurate picture of your situation.

Searching for Procedural Mistakes

Unless you’re familiar with North Carolina civil law procedures, it’s easy to make mistakes that can reduce or eliminate your damages. North Carolina, like all states, has a strict set of rules that you must follow when you file a lawsuit. They include:

  • Statutes of limitations: The law creates strict filing deadlines for most types of claims. The statute of limitations for North Carolina negligence claims is typically three years (two years for wrongful death claims).
  • Jurisdiction and venue issues: You must file your lawsuit in a court that has the legal authority to hear your claim.
  • Insufficient pleadings: In your complaint, you must properly allege a legal claim against the correct parties.

The courts can dismiss your claim due to a single mistake in any of these areas, resulting in your case being delayed or you permanently losing your right to compensation.

Rather than risk losing your claim on a technicality, it’s almost always in your best interest to consult an attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you comply with North Carolina’s litigation processes and avoid costly errors.

Pressuring You to Settle Before You Contact a Lawyer

Sometimes, the insurance adjuster will offer you a settlement and then try to convince you that hiring a personal injury lawyer isn’t worth the expense and effort. Instead, they will say, you should just take the money they offer you and move on with your life.

However, when you negotiate and accept a settlement without help from a skilled injury lawyer, you can miss important claims and undervalue your damages. There’s a very good chance that when you take a settlement offer from the insurance company without talking to a lawyer first, you’ll end up accepting too little and discovering later that your settlement doesn’t cover the full long-term costs of your injuries.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Do I Know if the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer Is Fair?

Unlike the insurance adjuster, your personal injury lawyer should always have your best interests in mind and strongly advocate on your behalf. At Myers Law Firm, we help our clients calculate their damages accurately and educate them about their legal rights. And when you work with us, you won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless you make a financial recovery.

Myers Law Firm: We Fight for Accident Victims in North Carolina

If someone’s negligence caused injuries to you or a loved one, contact Myers Law Firm for a free, no-risk consultation. We advocate for accident victims in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, demanding justice and fair compensation for their injuries. To schedule an appointment, either call us at 704-376-3000 or complete our online 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

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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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Four Important Factors That Could Significantly Impact the Outcome of Your Motorcycle Accident Case

Motorcycles offer riders a sense of freedom and adventure that’s hard to find anywhere else. Unfortunately, that freedom comes at a price: motorcycles provide very little protection during a collision.

If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries during a motorcycle accident and someone else’s negligent behavior caused the crash, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. However, motorcycle cases are complex, and there are lots of factors that can affect the value of your claim. Read on to learn about four important factors that could significantly impact the outcome of your motorcycle accident case.

1. The Amount of Insurance Coverage Will Impact Your Ability to Get Compensation

North Carolina is a fault-based state. In other words, the law in our state says that a negligent driver is financially responsible for the injuries he or she causes in an auto accident. If you are a motorcycle driver or rider and you get hit by a negligent driver, your injuries are likely to be much more severe than if you were in a car.

For this reason, motorcycle riders and all other vehicle owners in North Carolina must carry a minimum amount of motor vehicle insurance. All motor vehicles, including motorcycles, must have coverage of at least:

  • $30,000 per person for bodily injury claims, up to $60,000 per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage claims
  • $30,000 per person in uninsured bodily injury coverage, up to $60,000 per accident
  • $25,000 for uninsured property damage claims

While many drivers opt for higher policy limits, about 6.5% of North Carolina drivers are completely uninsured, and many more carry only the minimum coverage.

RELATED ARTICLE: Follow This Free Car Accident Checklist to Help Your Injury Lawsuit

If you’re injured in a serious motorcycle accident, your damages can quickly exceed the minimum coverage limits mandated by North Carolina law. For example, a spinal surgery such as a fusion or laminectomy can easily cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that doesn’t even include the costs of post-surgical physical therapy and pain management.

When a negligent driver doesn’t have sufficient insurance to pay for your lost income, medical bills, and other damages, your uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage should cover your injuries, up to your policy limits. Because of the prevalence of uninsured and underinsured drivers in North Carolina, we encourage all drivers to purchase a motorcycle or auto insurance policy with UM/UIM limits that are above the state minimum.

2. You’ll Need Strong Evidence Supporting Your Claims

The amount of the recovery for your motorcycle accident claim will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding the crash. Because insurance companies are for-profit companies, they look for any reason they can find to dispute motorcycle claims and make unreasonably low settlement offers. You’ll need compelling evidence to fight back against these tactics.

RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Surprising Facts About Motorcycle Accidents

You should always treat your motorcycle claim as if it’s going to trial. This means compiling all the evidence that tells the story of how you got hurt and your subsequent medical treatment, including:

  • Medical records that document your injuries, treatment, and functional limitations
  • Estimates of your need for future medical treatment
  • Witness statements
  • Accident reports, crash investigation data, and accident reconstructions
  • Lost income calculations
  • Engineering assessments of defective car and motorcycle parts
  • Documentation of how your quality of life changed after the crash

It’s also important to understand the weaknesses in your claim. For example, North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. You might lose your right to compensation if your own actions, such as failing to observe traffic laws, contributed to your injuries. This is why it’s especially important to work with an experienced attorney who can anticipate a contributory negligence defense and fight back with convincing evidence.

3. You Must File a Timely Claim

No matter how strong your claim is, it’s worthless once the statute of limitations expires. A statute of limitations is a filing deadline established by state law. If you file after the statute of limitations, the court will automatically reject your claim. In North Carolina, you typically must file your motorcycle accident claims within three years of the crash or within two years if the crash resulted in death.

However, you should never wait until the last minute to file a claim. Before a personal injury lawyer files a motorcycle accident claim, he or she must carefully investigate the facts, compile evidence, and assess the value of your claims. This isn’t a quick and easy process.

If you wait too long, you might struggle to find an experienced lawyer who will take your case. You also might lose valuable evidence as memories fade and records are destroyed. For all these reasons, you should consult with a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after a crash.

4. An Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Increase Your Chances of Getting a Fair Settlement

Insurance companies deny claims and make low-ball offers to victims to increase their own profits. Even though the claims adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company might seem friendly and concerned, he or she is actively looking for reasons to dispute or devalue your claim. And when accident victims handle their own motorcycle claims, it’s easy for them to make mistakes.

Your claim requires a careful analysis of the facts, medical records, and legal issues surrounding the crash and your injuries. At Myers Law Firm, we believe that crash victims should focus on their recovery and let an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer handle the intricacies of their claims. We guide our clients through every step of the litigation process with the goal of maximizing their recovery and supporting them as they heal from the injuries and trauma they’ve suffered.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Do I Know if the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer Is Fair?

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Myers Law Firm: Fighting for Motorcycle Accident Victims in Charlotte and Throughout Mecklenburg County

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed after a motorcycle accident. If you or a loved one are struggling after a serious crash, contact the experienced lawyers at Myers Law Firm. We provide our clients with compassionate advice and aggressive representation, and we handle all personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis, so you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we help you get financial compensation for your injuries. To schedule your free initial consultation today, fill out our easy online contact form or call us at 888-376-2889.

References

Facts and statistics: Uninsured drivers. (n.d.). Insurance Information Institute. Retrieved from https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists

Wolters Kluwer Health. (2015, September 1). Big differences in U.S. healthcare costs for fixing back pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150901121052.htm

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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Social Media as Evidence During Divorce Case

Most people know that potential employers might check out their Facebook posts before a job interview, but they never consider that their spouse’s lawyer might go through their social media accounts for evidence during a divorce case. But that’s exactly what happens during contentious divorces, and if the wrong information comes out during a search of your Facebook posts or other social media content, it could seriously harm your divorce case.

How Social Media Posts Can Hurt Your Divorce Case

Divorce attorneys regularly search social media accounts for evidence they can use to argue in favor of their clients. In some cases, they use formal legal discovery techniques to do so, but often, the information they’re looking for is simply available to anyone.

Social media posts can be deceptive when taken out of context. For example, imagine you’re trying to argue against your spouse’s claim for spousal support and the defense attorney suddenly procures a picture from Facebook that shows you on an expensive cruise. Never mind that it was a one-time trip that you spent years saving for. It could still sway the judge’s opinion and undermine your arguments that you can’t afford the spousal support your ex is asking for.

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How Should I Handle Social Media Use During My Divorce?

We know it isn’t easy, but the best solution is just to stay off social media as much as possible during your divorce. Social media might provide a way to blow off steam, get support from friends, and take your mind off the stress of your divorce case. But you need to weigh those benefits against the harm that your social posts could do to your case.

RELATED: Answers to 10 FAQs About North Carolina Divorce

Ask yourself: Is it really worth it to get supportive comments on a post deriding your ex-spouse if it means a worse outcome in your child custody case? Is it worth showing off photos of you having fun with a new friend if it means having those photos brought up in court as evidence that you had an affair — even if nothing of the sort actually happened?

If you decide that you can’t stay off social media entirely, you can at least follow a few guidelines to reduce the chance that something you post could be used against you in court later.

  1. Don’t assume your privacy settings will protect your posts.
    Courts have repeatedly ruled that social media users don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they post content online, regardless of how they configure their privacy settings. You should assume that everything you post will be available to your spouse’s attorneys, no matter how you set up your account.
  2. Assume your spouse can see everything you post, even if you’re no longer friends online.
    Changing your privacy settings and unfriending or unfollowing your spouse can limit their exposure to the content you post, but all it takes is one mutual friend or acquaintance clicking “share” for your ex to see anything you post.
  3. Don’t post anything while you’re angry or frustrated.
    We don’t use our best judgment when we’re angry. Give yourself time to cool down before you log in to social media and post about something that’s upsetting you. Consider how your post would reflect on your character if someone read it back to you in front of a judge or if your children saw it.

What if I’ve Already Posted Something I Regret on Facebook?

If you’re reading this article and regretting posts you’ve already made on social media, do not go back and delete those posts! The judge in your case could view this as tampering with evidence, especially if the attorneys for the other side have already started going through your social media content or made discovery requests for access to it. And the consequences for this can be serious.

Instead, contact an experienced divorce attorney for help. If you have a divorce case in Mecklenburg County, our attorneys at Myers Law Firm are happy to review the posts you’re concerned about and answer any questions you might have about how to proceed.

Contact Myers Law Firm for Help With Divorce and Other Family Law Matters in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

If you are considering filing for divorce or if you are going through a divorce already, the experienced attorneys 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 divorce process. While we pride ourselves on our ability to get results efficiently through communication and negotiation, our first priority is always to protect your rights and fight for your best interests.

To schedule your initial consultation today, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or fill out our quick and easy online contact form.

References

DiBianca, M. (2014, January). Discovery and preservation of social media evidence. Business Law Today. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2014/01/02_dibianca.html

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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Auto Accidents Involving Pedestrians

Auto accidents that involve pedestrians are a serious and all-too-common problem in North Carolina, and when these collisions occur, they usually result in severe injuries that lead to enormous medical bills and other costs for the pedestrian involved. 

So, when injured pedestrian victims face these massive costs, who pays for them? In this article, we’ll answer that question and explore some of the options available to help pedestrian auto accident victims get financial compensation for their injuries. 

What Do I Need to Successfully File a Claim Against the Driver Who Hit Me? 

To receive financial compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury claim, you’ll need to show that the driver who hit you did so because they were negligent. 

“Negligence” in a court of law isn’t the same as the everyday sense of the word. An average person might say they were being “negligent” if they forgot to pay a credit card bill on time or let a pot boil over on the stove, but the legal concept of negligence is more complicated and specific (like most things that involve the court system). 

Under North Carolina Law, you have to prove four things to show that the other driver was being negligent: 

  • The driver owed you a duty to keep you from harm. (This might sound lofty, but it’s usually simple to prove. Drivers who take to the road generally have an inherent duty to drive safely and avoid causing harm to others.) 
  • The driver acted in a way that violated their duty. 
  • The driver’s actions led to your injuries. 
  • You sustained ”damages” such as physical, mental, or emotional injury, economic losses (medical bills, lost wages, etc.), and/or pain and suffering. 

If you can successfully show that the other driver was negligent in their actions, then North Carolina law allows you to recover damages to compensate you for any or all of the following: 

  • Medical bills 
  • Lost wages 
  • Other expenses (in-home care, home renovations to accommodate the limitations from your injuries, etc.) 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Punitive damages (damages intended to punish the defendant for extremely reckless or malicious behavior, which are usually only available in extraordinary circumstances) 

Unfortunately, North Carolina is one of a handful of states that applies a legal rule called “pure contributory negligence.” It is very unfair toward injured victims. Essentially, this rule says that if the defense in your case can successfully argue that you were even slightly at fault for your injuries, you aren’t allowed to receive any compensation. 

RELATED: These Tips Can Reduce Pedestrian Accidents in Charlotte

To successfully get compensated for your medical bills and other losses, then, you’ll need to prove that the driver who hit you was completely at fault for the collision. 

To learn more about pure contributory negligence, how it can affect your personal injury claim, and how an attorney can help when the defense tries to take advantage of this rule, read our previous blog article on this subject. 

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Understanding Insurance Coverage for Pedestrian Accidents

The court can order the driver who hit you to pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, but if they’re an average person, they won’t have that kind of money. That’s why insurance coverage plays an extremely important role in personal injury claims. 

Generally, insurance coverage will be your main source of compensation after a pedestrian accident, and the limits of any relevant policies will effectively determine how much of the total damages you can recover. The most effective way for you to receive compensation is to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the insurer denies your claim or refuses to pay you fair compensation for your injuries (which is very likely), you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer and explore whether it’s in your best interests to file a lawsuit and try to force the insurance company to pay you fairly. 

What If I Was Hit by an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver?

But what happens if you were hit by a driver who’s carrying an insurance policy with very low limits, or who isn’t carrying auto insurance at all? Even though the law requires every driver to carry some amount of auto insurance, some people will always risk the consequences and drive uninsured. In fact, recent research from the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute shows that almost one in seven drivers in the U.S. has no car insurance whatsoever. 

This disturbing fact is exactly why uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage exists. UM/UIM coverage is a special type of insurance coverage that can kick in and provide compensation when the at-fault driver’s coverage limits aren’t high enough to pay for all the damages in your case or when the at-fault driver doesn’t have any insurance at all. 

Understandably, you might think that underinsured motorist coverage only applies when you’re driving a car. But UM/UIM coverage can help compensate you for any injuries that are caused by an at-fault uninsured or underinsured driver — even if you were on foot or riding a bike at the time of the crash. 

This is one of the many reasons why we recommend that most drivers carry additional UM/UIM coverage beyond North Carolina’s state-mandated minimum coverage limit of $30,000. 

Contact Myers Law Firm if You’ve Been Injured in a North Carolina Pedestrian Accident 

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, Myers Law Firm is here to help. We fight for and support injured victims through difficult times, and we’ll use our resources, legal experience, and knowledge of the local courts to advocate 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 an experienced personal injury lawyer from Myers Law Firm. We’ll use this time to listen to your story, learn about your case, and inform you about your legal options so you can go forward with confidence. 

References 

Facts and statistics: Uninsured motorists. (2017, August 1). Insurance Information Institute. Retrieved from https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists 

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.

Schedule Your Consultation Now!

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Diminution in Value Claim

When a negligent driver causes a motor vehicle collision by wrecking another car, the innocent victims suffer many losses. One of these losses is a loss suffered by the owner of the vehicle: the loss in the value of the automobile. This claim is called a diminution in value claim and North Carolina law allows for compensation for the loss. For newer cars especially, these claims can be important. The negligent driver’s insurance company is not going to remind the owner/victim about this claim, so it must be brought to their attention.

 

What is the Claim?

The purpose of the claim is to replace what the car owner has lost. Under North Carolina law, the measure of damages in a diminution in value claim is the difference between the fair market value of the car immediately before the collision and the fair market value of the car immediately after the collision. The fair market value is determined by what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller.

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Why is This Necessary?

The rationale for the claim is that if there were two vehicles that were exactly the same in all respects (make, model, year, mileage, etc.), and one of the vehicles had been involved in a collision and repaired and the other had not, then a willing buyer is going to pay more for the car that has not been involved in the collision. Furthermore, under North Carolina law, if a car has been involved in a collision and repaired, and the cost of the repairs exceeds 25% of the fair market value at the time of the collision, then the owner must disclose the damage to a potential buyer or be subject to criminal penalties. This law only applies to cars that are five model years or less old. In addition to this criminal penalty, in my opinion if a seller of a car is asked by the potential buyer about prior damage and the seller commits fraud, then there could be civil penalties as well.

How is Fair Market Value Determined?

The fair market value should be determined by comparing the value of similar vehicles in the area with the current vehicle. This can be done through estimate websites (kbb.com or nada.com) or by talking with car dealerships about what value they would put on a car like the damaged car (without the damage of course) and the value they would put on the car with the damage. Sometimes, however, it will be necessary to employ an expert to do the comparisons and provide an opinion.

Under North Carolina law (N.C.G.S. 20-279.21(d1)), there is a designated procedure for an owner and an insurance company to request an arbitration-like procedure before going all the way to a trial. Under this procedure, the insurance company and the owner each hire an expert appraiser to determine the diminution in value suffered by the owner. These two experts get together and try to agree with each other. (This rarely happens because of the low value given to the claim by the insurance company expert due to the insurance company experts wanting to keep working for the insurance companies.) If they cannot agree, then the two experts appoint an umpire. The umpire reviews the basis for the opinions found by the two experts and either picks one or determines a value in between the two. The umpire cannot go above or below the two appraiser values. If either party is not happy with this procedure, they can then proceed to trial by notifying the other within 15 days.

 

Conclusion

When a negligent driver causes a collision, it is important that the innocent victims receive full compensation for all of the losses that are suffered. The diminution in value claim is often overlooked, but could be important to the owner of a vehicle. Insurance companies often give very low values for these claims, so it is important to be aware of the ability to hire an expert and to use the arbitration procedure allowed by North Carolina law before proceeding to trial.

References

Definitions, Article 1, Chapter 50, N.C. General Statutes. § 50-16.1A. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/BySection/Chapter_50/GS_50-16.1A.pdf

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

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