1 WHAT NOW? THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW FOLLOWING AN ACCIDENT Provided complimentary by Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban FREE CONSULTATIONS 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. WE LL COME TO YOU - DAY OR NIGHT WEEKDAY OR WEEKEND. Let Us Take Care of You and Your Injury Claim HELP-24/7 ( ) MORE THAN 150 YEARS COMBINED LEGAL EXPERIENCE
2 Information that will help you in the coming weeks When you ve been involved in an accident, the investigating officer identified the drivers and obtained insurance information. The officer completed an accident report, which was filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles. We include this in most packages. You are the claimant. You may have a claim for personal injuries and property damage. After an accident, the other driver s insurance company will open a claim file. The adjuster should contact you about your property damage and your injuries. The adjuster works for the insurance company. His responsibility is to save the insurance company money. He has absolutely no obligation to you. Insurance adjusters are trained to earn your trust. Their guidance is to tell claimants they don t need an attorney. Keep in mind, an adjuster settles hundreds of claims a year. You may only settle 2 or 3 claims in a lifetime. Adjusters may tell you, the lawyer will get all the money and the case will take forever to be resolved. That s not true. Your lawyer will not get all the money. Most law firms, including ours, charge one third of the recovery for personal injuries as a fee. If we got all the money, we wouldn t have any clients. If we don t recover a settlement for you, you pay us no attorney fees. There is some truth that cases can take time to be resolved. However, this is in your best interest. TOLL FREE: HELP-24/7 ( )
3 Our team will make sure you know the extent of your injuries before you settle your claim. This Takes Time. Many insurance companies want to quickly settle your claim when all of your injuries may not be known. If you accept a quick settlement, you are doing yourself a disservice. You may find months later, that you need further medical treatment or have permanent injuries that were not noticeable after the accident. Then what will you do? If you ve already accepted the insurance company s settlement, you ll have to pay for these expenses out of your own pocket. Your health insurance, if billed by health care facilities, may require reimbursement from your claim. The real reason adjusters don t want you to seek legal advice is because claimants who hire lawyers generally receive two to four times more money than claimants who settle directly with the insurance company. The insurance industry s own research backs this up. Now you can understand why adjusters don t want you to know what is contained in these pages. Three reasons to seek legal advice 1. Your claim s value.personal injury claims can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disability and other aspects. 2. The complicated nature of personal injury and traffic laws in North Carolina. We have a law called contributory negligence. Under this law, if the injured person is slightly at fault in the accident, he or she can t recover anything. The adjuster handling your claim knows about this law and he will look for reasons to pay you nothing. We advise you not to talk to an adjuster without first consulting with a lawyer. Most importantly don t let the adjuster record your statement without a lawyer present. Any recorded statements can and will be used against you. 3. Your claim may involve legal issues about Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist coverage. You need sound legal advice to make the right decisions. Many times there are additional insurance coverages that will help you receive a just settlement. Also, you may need to consider medical payment coverage which may be on your own automobile policy in the amounts of 500, 1,000, 2,000 or more dollars. This coverage has nothing to do with the liability aspect of your claim but is medical expense insurance that you ve paid for and are entitled to receive. Our firm makes sure you use these benefits.
4 Seek a Doctor s Care You must also seek medical attention in a timely manner. Any delay in seeing a doctor may be seen by an adjuster as proof that you aren t hurt and cause the insurance company to reduce their evaluation of your claim. You need to give your doctor a complete and accurate account of what happened. Be precise and honest. Tell the doctor about all of your injuries, not just the major ones. It s important that all of this information is in your medical records. If those injuries are not recorded until later, the insurance company will question whether you suffered them during the accident. There are other things you can do to help your claim. We suggest that you keep a diary. In it, describe your pain, explaining the progress of your treatment and recovery. Your notes should include important dates such as the first day you can dress yourself without help or the first day you return to work after the accident. Next, keep receipts for every item or service you pay for as a result of the accident. These receipts will help to document the value of your claim. Other Important Facts We suggest that you act in a timely manner. Soon after the accident, someone needs to identify and interview witnesses and the investigating officer. Our firm has our own investigators who have many years of experience investigating accidents. They contact the investigating officers as soon as possible after the accident to ensure no details are forgotten. We urge pictures be taken of your vehicle, both inside and out, to show the damage. Our firm s investigators take pictures of the scene of the accident. Be sure to take pictures of any bodily injuries you suffered as soon as possible to prove that you are indeed hurt. Again, we caution you not to rush into any settlement. Insurance adjusters want to settle each case quickly, usually too quickly for your benefit. TOLL FREE: HELP-24/7 ( )
5 Remember Now more than ever you need professional and experienced legal advice. Let s suggest some important points to consider when choosing a lawyer. First, you need someone you can trust. Second, you need an attorney that makes you feel comfortable because you will be sharing personal information about your work and medical history. Third, you want an attorney who is accessible to you. If you are having trouble reaching a lawyer now, you may have more difficulty reaching him once he is handling your case. When talking to a lawyer or firm, ask how many cases they ve tried in court. That s a good sign of their experience. We approach every case as if it s headed for court. By preparing each case as if it s going to trial, we have more negotiating power with the insurance company. Property Damage If your car was damaged in the accident, you ll have a property damage claim against the responsible insurance company. If it can be repaired, the insurance company will be responsible for paying for the repairs as well as a comparable rental vehicle. The responsible insurance company should pay for each day you can not drive your damaged vehicle. Even if you borrow a car from a family member or friend, you could still be compensated for the cost of a rental car. Another point under property damage is loss of value. If the damage to your vehicle exceeds 25% of its total value, you are required to disclose this information when you sell or trade your car. However, with the inception of CarFax, your vehicle damage is now permanently tied to its history. Your car s value decreases even if it is repaired perfectly. This makes your vehicle worth less after the repairs than prior to the accident. As a result you will have a diminished value claim.
6 Please Be Aware Within days of your accident, insurance adjusters often knock on your door. They may ask you to accept a check and sign a release in return for the check. Remember, cashing or depositing any check from the insurance company may be a binding release of all claims. They may promise to keep your medical bills open for a year. Read the release forms carefully. You will probably notice the phrase Reasonable medical expenses There s the catch. The insurance company decides what s reasonable not you or your doctor. Don t sign anything and here s why. People who have been in an accident sometimes learn weeks or months after the accident that they need surgery or have permanent injuries. If you ve already signed a release, you may have given up your rights to recover for your injuries. We Have Offices in North Carolina and Virginia Our firm is well-known for working with Personal Injury cases. With over 150 years combined legal experience, we can serve your needs with our group efforts. We have offices in North Carolina and Virginia. If you are unable to travel to us, we will come to you. We handle a variety of cases. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation, answer your questions, or see if we can be of help to you during this difficult time. We wish you a fast and complete recovery. DONALD W. MARCARI Don first gained national prominence when his exploits as a young defense attorney in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps became the basis for the motion picture A Few Good Men. For the past 28 years, Don has been using that same tenacious principle fighting for the rights of injured people throughout Virginia and North Carolina. An experienced and well known trial attorney, Don has been selected to the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association Board of Governors and maintains an active role in the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. TOLL FREE: HELP-24/7 ( )
7 DAVID S. RUSSOTTO Dave earned his undergraduate degree at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and received his law degree from Wake Forest University. His legal career began as a trial and defense counsel in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. Since 1987, Dave has been in private practice representing clients in various types of personal injury cases. He maintains an active membership in the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. As a resident of Eastern North Carolina, Dave is involved in numerous community organizations which the law firm donates both its time and financial resources. DAVID W. SPENCER A North Carolina native, David was born and raised on the Outer Banks. David earned his undergraduate degree at North Carolina State and his law degree from Campbell University. He has been in private practice for more than 18 years and is our managing partner for the firm s Raleigh office. Always on the cutting edge of trial practice, David has handled more than 3000 personal injury cases and prides himself on being an active member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice and the North Carolina Bar Associations. R. BRAD BALABAN As an attorney licensed in North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., Brad has represented personal injury clients in cases throughout the Mid-Atlantic states. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and the Pennsylvania State University - Dickinson School of Law. Brad began his legal career as an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of NW North Carolina, fighting for the rights of those who could not otherwise afford legal representation. He has been honored by the National Order of Barristers for his work in trial advocacy.
8 Areas of Practice Marcari Russotto Spencer & Balaban, P.C. Auto Accidents Serious Injury Wrongful Death Boating Accidents Traumatic Brain Injury Head & Spinal Injury Motorcycle Accidents Pedestrian Accidents Tractor Trailer Accidents Products Liability Premise Liability Animal Attacks Workers Compensation Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Accidents caused by Drunk Drivers Medical Malpractice Pharmaceutical Litigation Veterans Benefits Claims Office Locations ASHEVILLE 37 Haywood St Asheville, NC CHARLOTTE Brixham Hill Ave Charlotte, NC CHESAPEAKE 501 Baylor Ct Chesapeake, VA DURHAM 5003 Southpark Dr Durham, NC ELIZABETH CITY 303 E Main St Elizabeth City, NC FAYETTEVILLE 225 Ray Ave Fayetteville, NC GREENSBORO 5009 High Point Rd Greensboro, NC GREENVILLE 222 Cotanche St Greenville, NC JACKSONVILLE 201 New Bridge St Jacksonville, NC NEWPORT NEWS Warwick Blvd Newport News, VA RALEIGH 6801 Pleasant Pines Dr Raleigh, NC WILMINGTON 2018 Eastwood Rd Wilmington, NC WINSTON-SALEM 3590 Yadkinville Rd Winston-Salem, NC