Proving Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident that was NOT Your Fault

If you’ve recently been in a car accident in Durham, NC that was not your fault, and you’ve been injured, you may want to seek compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company. This is called a “third-party claim,” and is best obtained with legal representation to maximize your settlement.  Insurance companies traditionally want to pay as little as possible but should compensate you for your medical expenses, any lost wages as well as some compensation for general “pain and suffering” if you can prove it. With that in mind, today we’ll define pain and suffering, how it is calculated and how you can best prove that you incurred pain and suffering in a car accident that was NOT your fault.

pain and suffering

What is “Pain and Suffering?”

Pain and suffering is a legal term that encompasses a broad range of injuries that a plaintiff may suffer from as a result of an accident. More simply put, it is defined as “the stress you experience from your injuries.” It often includes physical pain, emotional and psychological or mental trauma such as insomnia, fear, depressed mood, grief, worry, anxiety, inconvenience and the loss of the enjoyment of life.

In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff should be able to obtain some amount, for pain and suffering damages in addition to compensation for medical bills and lost wages.

How is pain and suffering calculated?

Pain and suffering are calculated in multiple ways depending on who is doing the calculation. Attorneys and insurance companies tend to use very different approaches. Many attorneys are trained to use two approaches to calculate pain and suffering.

Legal Approach #1:

The first approach attorneys may use is to multiply the plaintiff’s actual damages (medical bills and lost wages) by a certain number, generally between 1 and 5 (depending on the severity of the injury). For example, if a plaintiff incurs $5,000 in medical bills related to a broken arm, he might multiply that by three, and conclude that $15,000 represents a fair amount to demand for pain and suffering.

Legal Approach #2:

Another approach that the plaintiffs’ attorneys might use is the per diem (per-day) method. With this approach, an established amount such as $200.00 is assigned to every day from the day of the accident until the plaintiff reaches maximum recovery.

Insurance Approach

Insurance companies are under no obligation to use either of these legal approaches in calculating pain and suffering. In fact, many insurance companies use computer algorithms to determine the amount offered for pain and suffering. The final amount usually takes into account the type of injury as well as the type of medical treatment sought by the plaintiff.

For example, if the plaintiff sought treatment from a physician, the insurance company will usually consider that treatment to signify a more compensable injury than treatment by a chiropractor. They would also take into account the length of time the individual received treatment. Regardless of whether or not treatment was warranted, if the insurance company believes that treatment was excessive for the type of injury, the insurance company will not include all of the treatment in its calculation of pain and suffering.

Needless to say, calculating pain and suffering gets a bit complicated.

How Can You Prove Pain and Suffering?

Considering that pain and suffering can be calculated in multiple ways, but is ultimately determined by the insurance company, how can it be proven to an insurance adjuster? Documentation. Documentation. Documentation.

Your attorney will do his or her best to prove the extent of an injury and accompanying pain and suffering by providing evidence through documentation such as:

  • Photographs
  • Personal journals recording the victim’s physical and emotional stress since the accident in question
  • Proof of treatment by any mental professionals (necessary where the plaintiff is claiming injuries such as increased anxiety, insomnia, or depression) the victim has seen since the accident

Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a family member has been injured in an accident caused by another person, it is a good idea to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. Kevin E. Jones will tenaciously represent you and work to get you the maximum amount you deserve in Durham, NC. Call (919) 672-8330 for more information, or to set up a free case evaluation.

Need an Attorney on New Year’s Eve in Durham, NC?

Happy New Year’s Eve! Goodbye 2019, hello 2020! Tonight is one of our busiest night’s of the year. Not only are we celebrating the start of a new year, but we find that Durham, North Carolina has a tendency to amp up the need for an attorney. If one of those legal needs is you, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (919) 672-8330.

New Year’s Eve and the wee hours of New Year’s Day are some of the busiest times for legal assistance at our firm for a variety of reasons. For one, many people enjoy welcoming in the new year with celebratory drinks, but not everyone makes the wisest decisions at the end of the night. Secondly, the police department tends to put all hands on deck to provide traffic reinforcement, so you may see additional cops on the roads. In fact, Durham police have already announced that they’ll be looking for four fatal driving maneuvers this holiday, including:

1. New Year’s Eve Drunk Driving

If you plan to drink tonight, please allow yourself some time to sober up, bring a designated driver or call a ride to get you home safely. There are plenty of buses, taxis, Ubers and Lyfts throughout the Durham area, so there should be no excuse for getting home safely. One drink within 90 minutes can leave some people legally impaired (i.e., registering a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or higher).

If you choose to drive yourself home, remember that police checkpoints, visible and hidden, will be all over the road; thus increasing the chances for you to be arrested. This police presence is necessary and appropriate to assure everyone’s safety, but even if you manage not to get caught by the police, it’s really dangerous to drive any motor vehicle after having had more than one drink during a 90 minute period. No “buzz” is worth the risk.

2. New Year’s Eve Distracted Driving

In addition to drunk driving, police will also be looking for distracted drivers. Distracted driving is any kind of driving that takes your eyes of the road, hands off the wheel or mind off the task of driving. New Year’s Eve provides the perfect recipe for all of those situations to occur, especially if you find yourself watching your phone for details on the next party or trying to calm any drunk passengers in the back seat. Distracted driving is an impairment that is just as dangerous as drunk driving.

3. New Year’s Eve Speeding

New Year’s Eve is not necessarily the most unsafe day of the year to drive. In fact, it’s the 5th unsafest day (with Thanksgiving being the unsafest day), but drunk or distracted driving paired with speeding can be a recipe for disaster. Police will be posted all over the city looking for easy targets. Don’t make their job any easier by speeding.

4. New Year’s Eve Seat Belts

Finally, if you’re caught in a traffic stop, police will be making sure that all drivers and passengers are following the law by wearing their seat belts. North Carolina law requires all people in a car (including the back seat!) to be properly buckled up. It’s the law! Be fairly warned, waiting until you see a cop on the side of the road to buckle up is not going to cut it. Cops will be posted around the city noting infractions and then signaling to another officer down the road to pull cars over. Your safest bet is for everyone in your vehicle to wear their seat belt at all times.

While we always encourage you to make safe decisions behind the wheel, we particularly stress safe driving tonight. Beyond being a danger to yourself and others, you’re much more likely to get arrested on New Year’s Eve than any other night of the year. For more information, or to set up a free case evaluation, give us a call and ask for Kevin E. Jones at (919) 672-8330. Happy New Year!

5 Ways to Keep Domestic Violence Out of Your Holidays

While the holidays are often romanticized to be spent with family, gathered around a warm fire, opening gifts and sharing kisses under the mistletoe; the reality looks nothing like a Hallmark movie. The stress of planning get-togethers, buying presents, and the general hustle and bustle of the season can prove to be too much for some people. In fact, according to Durham police, domestic violence calls dramatically increase during the holidays.

Today we’ll discuss five causes of domestic violence and hose to keep it out of your household this Christmas.

domestic violence

1. Emotional Stress

Relationships can be stressful enough on a normal day, but the holidays can be particularly trying. When people are off work and spending more time than usual in close proximity with the “ones they love,” it’s easy for arguments to take hold.

Keep arguments at bay by recognizing when you’re at your breaking point and take time to recharge. Drive the long way home to decompress. Avoid high traffic areas. Go to the gym. And, if you feel stressed, angry, or frustrated, leave the situation and go outside before doing something you’ll regret later. It is nearly impossible to feel compassion and rage at the same time, so do yourself (and your partner) a favor and walk away.  Once the anger subsides, you can return inside to try and express your feelings in a calm, non-confrontational way.

2. Financial Burdens

The additional pressure of buying presents, going on trips and hosting parties can really add up during the holidays and turn normal financial struggles into a pressure cooker.

To keep financial burdens from turning into abusive behaviors, work together with your partner to come up with a holiday budget. More importantly, remember that yelling or getting angry about your financial problems won’t make them go away. Rather, spend some time on financial planning and effective budgeting.

3. Holiday Spirits

We’ve all enjoyed unwinding with a few drinks at the company Christmas party, but when a couple of drinks turns into using alcohol to cope with the stress of the holidays, it can become a treacherous slope. The more alcohol you consume, the less you will be able to control your anger.

If you know that you become an angry drunk, avoid drinking completely this holiday season. You can still attend the holiday parties, but don’t feel pressured to drink in order to have a good time. No time like the present to give sobriety a shot. Furthermore, if you’re already feeling anger, frustration or sadness this season, seek help from a counselor or AA group.

4. Road Rage

Contrary to popular belief, no one let all the idiots loose just as you left your driveway. It just so happens that all of Durham is out shopping for Christmas gifts as the exact same time, which can lead to congested roads and short tempers. If you’re already feeling the holiday pressure, one episode of road rage can drive home with you, leading to domestic violence behaviors.

Don’t let other drivers’ actions or poor driving affect your “holiday spirit.” If you feel yourself getting angry, roll down the window and take in some fresh air, or pull over. Even better, avoid roads that you know will be congested. It may take you a little longer to get home, but it’ll be worth it if you have a better attitude.

5. Lack of Time

No matter how much we all try, the holidays have a way of sneaking up on us and then taking over our schedule. Between work, parties, school, and shopping, it can be tough trying to adjust to holiday schedules. Combine that with a lack of sleep, and your normal stress level can be heightened to new levels of anxiety which can lead to anger and domestic violence.

Make sleep a priority. A lack of sleep increases your ability to get irritated and can cause anger, frustration, and resentment towards the people you love. While it may feel as though you have a lot to do in a very little amount of time, don’t forget to save some time for yourself and your family to make memories for the future.

Domestic violence is one of the major reasons that couples file for divorce. If you are considering filing for divorce in an abusive situation, contact Kevin E. Jones today. We can help get protection orders in place as well as ensure that you remain safe throughout the divorce process.

Avoid Getting a DWI this Thanksgiving Weekend

It’s Thanksgiving week, which means the holidays are officially in full swing. You might have a few days off. You may have big plans to knock out your Christmas shopping list. And for most, you’ll be piling your family in the car to drive to Grandma’s house where the entire family will gather around the dinner table to enjoy recipes that have been handed down from one generation to another.Thanksgiving DWI

Yes – Thanksgiving is all about tradition. Unfortunately, even the best Thanksgiving traditions can go sideways. For example, if you plan to participate in an annual tradition of Blackout Wednesday, you may find yourself experiencing something way worse than a hangover: a DWI charge.

 

With that in mind, we’d like to remind you to stay safe this Thanksgiving, and not to drink and drive. However, if you do end up in trouble, we’re here to help. Call us today at (919) 672-8330 to learn more.

What is Blackout Wednesday?

Blackout Wednesday is the night before Thanksgiving, often celebrated amongst friends and out-of-town family members who may not see each other often, full of pre-holiday parties and binge drinking that can lead to over-intoxication and bad decision-making. Since most people have Thanksgiving Day off, why not “celebrate?” Other names for this unofficial holiday include (Black Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, Wacky Wednesday, Whiskey Wednesday, Big Wednesday and a variety of other names. And while we don’t recommend you go so far as to “blackout” and suffer a form of memory loss due to binge drinking, having a good time in most cases is legal. Until it isn’t.

Studies have shown that Blackout Wednesday is the top drunk driving night of the year in some parts of the country. As such, you may find that the Durham Police Department has increased patrolling of local roads and highways to catch drunk drivers. You may even find sobriety checkpoints and unmarked police cars blending in with the normal traffic to prevent accidents.

Of course, while this additional presence seems noble, it also means that some police officers may employ illegal or unconstitutional methods to make a Thanksgiving DWI arrest. If you are arrested, ask for an attorney right away. If you take steps to protect yourself in the beginning, it will help your case in the long run.

Thanksgiving DWI Statistics

Authorities have known for years that Thanksgiving weekend is among the deadliest weekends of the year, and there are a number of reasons why. For example, cooler temperatures often create weather-related hazards that cause car accidents without the presence of drinking. There are also more drivers on the road and an uptick in the number of heart attacks. However, the biggest cause of death over Thanksgiving is drunk driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2017, there were 23,551 passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes across the nation. Of the fatal accidents, almost half of those were not wearing safety belts, and another 40% involved a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.

What are the Penalties for Drinking and Driving in Durham, NC? 

The best way to stay safe is to avoid driving after consuming alcohol. Period. You’re legally allowed to have a drink on Thanksgiving Eve, but please do so responsibly by doing the following:

  1. Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before your first drink.
  2. Use public transportation, a taxi, rideshare service (such as Uber or Lyft), or your community’s sober ride program to get home safely.
  3. Crash at a friend’s house (within walking distance).

If you do get charged with a DWI this Thanksgiving holiday, the penalties can be stiff. The moment you are arrested, NC’s Civil Revocation Law requires a driver to hand over his or her license when charged with a DWI. For a first-time offender, the suspension will likely be for 30 days, but there are some instances in which limited driving privileges can be granted. Either way, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney to help you determine if you’re eligible for limited driving privileges as well as to help navigate through the license revocation process.

Some of the other typical penalties include:

  • Up to 10 years of jail time
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Lifelong ignition interlock requirement. For repeat offenders, you may be required to install a device in your car that will confirm that you have not had any alcohol (via breathalyzer test) for the car to even turn on.
  • The list goes on…

Being accused of DWI at any time can alter a person’s life, but especially during the holidays. If you are facing alcohol-related charges in Durham, NC, you need someone willing to protect you. Kevin E. Jones has a proven track record of success defending clients against DWI charges. Call (919) 672-8330 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your options.