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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Archive for August, 2019

Labor Day Weekend 2019

Friday, August 30th, 2019

Labor Day 2019 in Southeastern North Carolina is expected to be a busy and dangerous holiday.  Being the holiday weekend that traditionally wraps up the summer season, travelers are anxious to get their last beach trip of the year started, and Star News reported yesterday that nearly one-third more fatal accidents occur on Labor Day weekend than a typical three-day period.  In 2017 alone, 354 fatal car accidents occurred during the Labor Day weekend across the United States, leaving 374 people dead.

The Wilmington Police Department (WPD) has handled over 100 crashes per Labor Day weekend for the past 3 years, with none of those ending in fatalities.  However, DWI-related stops have become more frequent each year and in 2018 alone, WPD responded to 13 DWI-related incidents in the Wilmington area.  A larger and more widespread police presence will be on duty for the holiday weekend, so drivers should continue to be cautious, use turn signals, follow the speed limits, remove distractions like texting, and never drink and drive.  More people on the road simply means more opportunities for car wrecks, and it only takes a moment of distraction to cause a life-altering accident.

In addition to an already-expected increase in traffic, with Hurricane Dorian expected to hit land in Florida early next week, there is concern that evacuees from Florida could cause more traffic congestion on I-95, and some may head our way to escape the torment of the storm.

As well as opportunities for more car accidents, plenty of families will be celebrating this Labor Day weekend, and drinking alcohol is part of many of the events.  In the revelry many people will be charged with alcohol related crimes including open container, driving while impaired or driving under the influence (DWI/DUI), fake ID or counterfeit identification, underage drinking, and aiding and abetting these and other crimes.

If you or a loved one is seriously injured in an accident, as a result of someone else’s fault or negligence, we can help you get maximum compensation, meaning money damages, for your pain and suffering, medical bills,, and lost wages.

If you are charged with any type of crime in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington NC in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, call Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation about what we can do for you. In many cases, we are able to negotiate with the charging officer and the district attorney’s office to have a defendant perform volunteer service in order to have the charges dismissed.  Sometimes, that volunteer service can be served on the beach picking up trash, and helping keep our beautiful beaches clean, including Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Topsail Beach, Wilmington Beach, and Kure Beach.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal

Your Personal Injury Claim and Rule 414

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Ever since Rule 414 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence, now known as the controversial “billed versus paid” law, was amended in October of 2011, personal injury victims who are covered by health insurance can now only prove damages for the amount that was actually paid, not what was billed.  This may seem logical at first, but considering how insurance companies will negotiate lower payments to medical providers, this can cause insured victims to lose a major portion of what they could have claimed for damages.

A relevant part of text from Rule 414 reads:

“Evidence offered to prove past medical expenses shall be limited to evidence of the amounts actually paid to satisfy the bills that have been satisfied, regardless of the source of payment, and evidence of the amounts actually necessary to satisfy the bills that have been incurred but not yet satisfied.”

In other words, if you have $15,000.00 in medical bills, but your insurance company only paid $7,000.00 to the provider at a discounted rate, you, as a personal injury victim, can only submit proof of the $7,000.00 that was actually paid.

Compare this situation to someone that does not have health insurance – they had the same $15,000.00 in medical bills, but since they do not have coverage, they can submit the full $15,000.00 for damages.  This not only causes the person with health insurance to seem like they have lesser injuries, but it also helps the person with no insurance to recover more in damages.  If you also consider the amount of money the insured victim has paid to date for their insurance premiums that will not be brought up as evidence, Rule 414 can absolutely cause issues when it comes time for court.

This law, among the others that affect personal injury victims, are muddying the waters and making it more difficult than ever for an injury victim to recover their full amount of damages owed.  To some jurors and judges, a dollar amount that is submitted for evidence is how they decide the fairness of the damages, and that can be heavily diluted with the imposition of Rule 414.  That is one of the many reasons that hiring an experienced personal injury attorney will be the best option.

If you or someone you know and care about has been injured, or killed, in a car accident or tractor trailer accident, or is the victim of a wrongful death in North Carolina, contact Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal


Cape Fear Crossing Project Postponed

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

The planning and design for the Cape Fear Crossing Project has been postponed indefinitely, as of August 13, 2019.

The Cape Fear Crossing would involve a 9.5 mile stretch of road and bridge that would help alleviate traffic congestion to and from the Port of Wilmington.  The cost of the bridge would be approximately $1 Billion, with 80% federal funding, and the other 20% coming from the State of North Carolina.  The Cape Fear Crossing would also impact neighborhoods on either side of the Cape Fear River, including Brunswick Forest and Mallory Creek.

The draft of the State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) was released this month, which revealed that the Cape Fear Crossing did not score high enough on the plan to receive sufficient funds to continue moving forward with planning and design.

One deadline to pick a preferred roadway (out of six) set for June of this year was pushed back initially, because of the volume of input at a public hearing held in April of this year, where about 650 people attended at North Brunswick High School to voice their opinions on the new bridge.

To be reconsidered for funding in the future, the project will need to be submitted by the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.  The NCDOT will be releasing the next draft STIP in February 2022.  However, even if the project gets reentered by then, work would not actually begin until 2032 or even later.

When travelling back and forth between Brunswick and New Hanover Counties, be aware of other drivers, as well as construction hazards and emergency vehicles.  Pay attention, abide by the NC laws, and stay safe, especially as we head into this next school season.

However, should you or someone you know get injured in an accident, or receive a citation for a traffic violation in Southeastern North Carolina, in or around Wilmington, NC, in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, or Pender County, contact Collins Law Firm at 910-793-9000 for a confidential consultation.

By Karen M. Thompson, Paralegal