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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Your Guide to Getting the Best Lawyer for Your Personal Injury Case


Do accidents happen? Of course. But rarely are they unpredictable and unavoidable events, like being struck by lightning.  Most of the time “accidents” are the result of someone’s carelessness or wrongful conduct. Whether it is a road accident, a workplace accident, a medical accident, or worse, when you have been injured or damaged by somebody’s negligence, it’s time to consider legal counsel from HefferonLaw.com.

Why Your Attorney Should Come Into the Picture

For many accident victims, accident-related injuries can be life-changing, in a bad way. Without warning, your health or your life may be endangered. Your financial health may be at risk if you are unable work. Medical expenses can bankrupt you or, at the very least, be a constant struggle. Even menial tasks may be difficult while recuperating.  And after all of that, you may be left with permanent physical limitations.

The moment you or a loved one becomes a victim of personal injury in Charlotte, one of the most basic steps you should take is to find a qualified lawyer to help you understand your situation and assert your rights. It is critical that you work with an experienced personal injury law firm to help you navigate your options as you seek financial recovery. The legal process can be extremely complicated, requiring highly trained and knowledgeable legal professionals to explain your situation and maximize your claim.

Legal Expertise and Experience Matter

You can expect to hear from your family and friends about lawyers who they believe will give you sound representation. But are all lawyers the same? Here are some basic questions you may want to ask before retaining their services:

Does your practice focus on personal injury? Consider only law firms and attorneys whose practice specializes in personal injury cases. Remember that only when you retain a legal professional with specialized skills can you expect ideal results.

How long have you been in this practice? Most people have little experience or information to go by in order to find the right lawyer. But because the outcome of your personal injury case may have a significant impact on your future, it is best to retain lawyers who have had a considerable number of years in practice.

How many similar cases have you handled in the past and what results did you obtain? It’s not enough to find a personal injury lawyer or law firm; it is even more important to find one who has a track record of success with similar cases. While this doesn’t guarantee the same success for you, it is a good way of gauging how well your case will be handled.

Any references from your past clients? You need to be able to find out if their past clients were happy about the firm’s or lawyer’s services. Chances are, you will end up feeling the way they did. Ask your chosen professional for relevant references to your case.

Hefferon & Hefferon: Personal Injury Law Firm with a Sterling Reputation

Be very careful to whom you entrust with your personal injury case. Choose a law firm with a quality reputation for reliable legal representation with a high success rate of obtaining maximum compensation for their clients. Find out more about how the leading Charlotte personal injury attorneys at Hefferon & Hefferon can help you.

For more than 30 years – and with more than 60 years of combined experience – Tom Hefferon and Paul Hefferon have successfully obtained maximum compensation for their clients for such things as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, scarring, permanent injury, and death arising from “accidents” caused by the carelessness or wrongful conduct of others.



Monday, January 18, 2016

North Carolina Roadways A Dangerous Place For Motorcycles


Motorcycle operators run the risk of sustaining serious injuries every time they take to the roadways. It is obvious that lack of protection leaves them susceptible to the perils of a nasty fall or high-impact collision. However, there are preventative measures taken to protect motorcycle operators in North Carolina.

Motorcyclists are required to wear approved safety helmets while operating a motorcycle. The motorcycle headlight (or lights) must be on even during daylight hours to increase visibility to other drivers. There is a statewide restriction on lane splitting (overtaking moving vehicles by riding between or beside them). However, one thing the state cannot protect motorcycle operators from is other drivers.

Driver negligence is a common cause of motorcycle accidents in Charlotte and the surrounding North Carolina communities. Common forms of driver negligence, such as distracted driving, leaves all motor vehicle operators at risk. Texting and driving is illegal in North Carolina, but that does not mean all drivers abide by that law. Any accident lawyer can tell you texting and driving is
illegal in North Carolina, but that does not mean all drivers abide by that law.

The use of a cell phone or hand-held device is permitted to be used by drivers over the age of 18 in North Carolina. This serves as yet another distraction that can put motorcyclists in harm’s way. But motorcycle operators have even more dangers to contend with when they are out on the road.

Less visibility at night leaves them more vulnerable as they could go unnoticed by other drivers. Twisting and winding roads in more rural settings could serve as one more way of motorcycles going unnoticed by other drivers. It’s also not uncommon for a motorcycle to get caught in the blind spot of a driver.

Motorcycles are limited in protection in the event of an accident. Yet, that is no reason to overlook the negligence of other drivers. Careless, aggressive and distracted driving are all forms of negligence. These factors contribute to what is a real and ongoing threat to anyone who takes the road on a motorcycle.

While all drivers need to be alert and aware, motorcycle operators need to be even more cognizant. The continual negligence of other drivers brings about a severe danger. And with so many cars on the roadways, motorcycles are greatly outnumbered.

More than 3,000 motorcycle operators are injured on North Carolina roadways every year. While some of those accidents result in scrapes, burns, and broken bones, others end much worse. Fatality rates increase significantly when a motorcycle is involved in a high-speed collision. One quick Google search will expose long lists of victims who suffered a most unwanted fate because of a motorcycle accident.

Motorcycle related injuries are taken very seriously at Hefferon & Hefferon P.A. One phone call is all you need to make as a Charlotte motorcycle accident attorney is waiting to give you the assistance you need and deserve. Don’t let driver negligence get the best of you. Fight back with the help of an experienced Charlotte motorcycle accident lawyer at Hefferon & Hefferon, PA.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Penalties for BWI in North Carolina

When alcohol is involved, waterways can become just as dangerous as roadways. Boating accidents are on the rise every year. As a result, boat operators who are over the legal limit in North Carolina can be arrested and charged with BWI (Boating While Impaired).
Boating While Intoxicated, boating accident attorney
Woman drinks wine while behind the wheel of a boat.

This is similar to a DWI (Driving While Impaired), although the penalties in North Carolina are not as severe as they are in other states. In many states, operating a boat while impaired constitutes the same penalties a motor vehicle operator would be subjected to for a DWI. Of course, much higher penalties can be involved if there as been injuries or property damage. Consider hiring an accident lawyer or injury attorney when involved these types of cases.

In the state of North Carolina, the driver of a motor vehicle cannot exceed a BAC (Blood Alcohol) level of .08%. The same rule applies to boaters. Nevertheless, boaters will not lose their driver’s license when found guilty of a BWI. However, there are still penalties as it is considered a serious crime.

There are three levels of BUI in North Carolina, which is defined is a class 2 misdemeanor. Level one includes no prior criminal convictions and comes with fines and 1-30 days of community service. Level two and three require more community service and could lead to harsher penalties and higher fines. The two higher levels are generally based on the number of prior convictions.

While these penalties may not be as severe as those that come with a DWI, it is easier for authorities to issue a BWI. An officer or wildlife enforcement official can pretty much stop your boat for any reason at all. It is not like an automobile stop where an officer needs to have probable cause.

A boating stop could occur for something as simple as checking to see if the boat is stocked with the proper amount of life vests. A stop could also take place if a boat is going too fast in a ‘no wake’ zone.

Once on board your vessel, an officer could simply use his sense of smell to suspect the operator of being impaired. Some field sobriety tests would follow and if deemed legally impaired, an arrest would ensue.

It is also may be important to note that North Carolina state parks do not permit alcohol. Water skiing and surfing are also prohibited while over the legal BAC limit in North Carolina.

Alcohol can have more of an effect on boaters since outdoor elements such as the sun and wind could lead to quicker rates of intoxication. Someone drinking the same amount on land will not become impaired as quickly as those on water.

BWI remain one of the main causes for boating accidents in North Carolina. Those accidents can often have disastrous consequences. If you have been victim to a North Carolina boating accident, contact the legal team at Hefferon & Hefferon P.A., Attorneys at Law.

We are equipped with an experienced team of attorneys who can stand by your side and make sure you receive justice. Rely on our Charlotte injury attorneys to help with your boating accident or water recreation injury case.



Resources:
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/statutes/StatutesTOC.pl?Chapter=0075A
http://www.bu.edu/statehouse/2014/02/03/boating-while-intoxicated-loophole-lets-drunken-sailors-boat/

Monday, June 15, 2015

Medical Malpractice Can Be A Lengthy Process

Most people are familiar with the term medical malpractice. It seems simple enough. A health care professional makes a mistake that injures a patient, and the patient receives compensation for that injury. However, it’s far from simple. In North Carolina, there are a number of laws in place that treat medical malpractice lawsuits differently than the typical negligence lawsuit, and that make the process highly complex, expensive, and time consuming.  It is almost impossible to pursue a medical malpractice claim without the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

The very first thing you or your accident attorney must do is obtain all the victim’s medical records, including past records not even related to the treatment in dispute, such as primary care records and pharmacy records. Those records are first reviewed by the attorney to determine if there might be a provable case. If the attorney determines that further investigation is warranted, the records must then be reviewed by a qualified medical expert, usually a physician with experience in the same specialty as the target physician or clinic. Such experts can be hard to find and they charge for their time. This part of the review process can be time-consuming and expensive.

Your expert must be reasonably certain, and willing to so testify in a trial, that the target physician “breached the professional standard of care,” that is, that he or she did something (or failed to do something) that a reasonably prudent skilled professional would not have done (or would have done) in the same or similar circumstances.

North Carolina law also requires that the expert be familiar with the medical standards and practices within communities similar to the community where the malpractice occurred. The theory is that standards in small rural communities and hospitals, with less sophisticated equipment, might be different than in large urban centers with access to cutting edge technology. The reasoning behind this requirement is no longer supported by the facts on the ground. The United States is fortunate to have national accreditation standards so that physicians in small communities have access to the same training, information and technologies as those in large communities. Nevertheless, it remains the law in North Carolina.

Also, because pursuit of a medical malpractice claim can be very expensive, the kind of injury sustained is an important consideration in deciding whether to pursue the claim. The potential settlement or judgment value for minor injuries simply will not support the time, effort, and cost involved in pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If your claim survives this initial and thorough vetting process, your attorney will usually have to file a lawsuit. Very few medical malpractice claims are settled without litigation.  Doctors, hospitals, and clinics don’t like to admit mistakes. Through the litigation process comes the discovery phase. This is where both sides are required to show their evidence to the other side, including documents, records and even deposition testimony of witnesses and experts.

The discovery stage is no short and simple process. It can last years and cost a small fortune. The goal of discovery is to determine whether, when push comes to shove, the plaintiff (you) can prove that the target physician failed to deliver the appropriate standard of care, and whether that failure resulted in an injury to the plaintiff.

If the plaintiff’s attorney, through the discovery process, can convince the target physician’s insurer and defense attorney that they risk an adverse verdict if they proceed to trial, then settlement discussions might follow. Many medical malpractice cases are settled through the negotiation process, but usually only after litigation discovery is complete. However, for a variety of reasons, some medical providers refuse to settle and are willing to take their chances in trial, even when the plaintiff has a strong and winnable case.

If it does not settle, the case would then go to trial before a jury. Medical malpractice trials can last weeks or even months, and the evidence presented is usually highly technical and quite boring to everyone except those with a stake in the outcome. An actual trial would be only a minor fraction of the overall time spent because a medical malpractice claim is almost always a very lengthy, years-long process.

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to medical malpractice, contact Hefferon & Hefferon P.A., Attorneys at Law. You will need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to see your case through to the end.

Resources:

http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/local/new-nc-law-makes-it-harder-patients-sue-malpractic/nPr4C/

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Most Trucking Accident Claims Do Not End Up In Court



When most people think of trucking accident lawsuits, they immediately conjure up images of courtrooms, judges and juries. The reality is that many trucking accident claims do not wind up going that far. Most of these claims are settled outside of a courtroom.

Every year there are more than 400,000 truck accidents in the United States. Most of those cases never make it to court. In multi-vehicle truck accidents, it is usually not the truck driver who sustains the worst injuries. It is often other drivers who get injured, sometimes on a catastrophic level.

accident attorney, car accident lawyer, for commercial truck accident
Multi-vehicle accident requiring a personal injury attorney.
There are lots of reasons truck accidents occur but one of the leading causes is driver fatigue. Drivers are permitted to drive for only so many hours per day and week and are required to keep a daily log. Because profit margins are thin, and because time is money, both to the company and the driver, violations of these rules are rampant, with a wink and a nod from the industry. When discovered, these violations could result in large payouts. It usually takes an attorney and a lawsuit to thoroughly investigate these kinds of issues.

For this reason, it is true that many, if not most commercial truck accidents involving injuries to other drivers will likely lead to a lawsuit against the trucking company. In most cases, both the driver and his trucking company can be held liable for negligent operation of a commercial vehicle, but in order to prove liability, a complete investigation through the legal process is often necessary.

Trucking companies and their insurers often immediately send investigators out to the scene of any accident. Their response time is rapid as these investigators will want to speak with their drivers before the police arrive. Coaching drivers on what to say could prove valuable should a lawsuit ever arise.

It’s also important to note that the investigators are not there to impartially determine the truth as to why the accident occurred. They are there to protect the trucking company, and to avoid, or prepare, for a lawsuit.

Another tactic used by trucking companies is to contact injured victims shortly after a crash and offer a settlement which may seem fair at first, but may be far less than what might be received with competent and experienced personal injury lawyer to conduct a proper investigation and guide the client to an actual fair resolution.

Following any truck accident, an insurance company will quickly begin to protect their driver, their company, and themselves by trying to minimize the liability of their driver and by trying to downplay the injuries to third parties . Insurance companies are not in the business of giving away money, and employ many tried and true strategies designed to pay out as little as possible.

However, when they cannot avoid liability altogether, trucking companies and their insurers may attempt to negotiate a settlement before trial. They can control their risk by negotiating a settlement rather than facing a jury that may be antagonistic to large trucks on the highway, and more sympathetic to the injured victim. Most truck accident claims eventually get settled this way. But if you have been injured in a truck accident, you should not assume a settlement will be offered, or that an offer will be fair. Hiring an accident attorney is highly recommended.

The Charlotte trucking accident attorneys at Hefferon & Hefferon P.A. have over 60 years of combined experience representing people and their families who have been injured or killed as a result of a truck accident in Charlotte and surrounding areas. We are Charlotte truck accident attorneys who are experienced with all the tactics used by trucking companies and their insurers. It’s time you had someone fighting for your rights and that someone can be the Charlotte personal injury attorneys at Hefferon & Hefferon P.A. Learn more at http://www.hefferonlaw.com


Resources

https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Whats_new.aspx


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Auto Accident MYTHS


When an auto accident occurs, there are a lot of assumptions made. The reality is that all auto accidents are different, but there are certain truths that remain through every type of crash. Here’s a look at some of the most popular myths about auto accidents.

Statements are required

The insurance company for the at-fault driver may pester you for a recorded statement. Some may even go as far as to say that your claim will be denied unless you provide a recorded statement. Your claim is not contingent on providing a statement and at Hefferon &Hefferon, P.A., we advise that you respectfully decline to give a statement to the other insurance company until you have consulted with an auto accident attorney. On the other hand, you have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company, and if they ask for a statement, you should cooperate and provide it. You still have the right to consult with an attorney first.


Rear end collisions are always the fault of the trailing driver

This is usually, but not always the case. If a car slams on its brakes without any justifiable reason, or suddenly changes lanes in front of you and then brakes, or stops at night without lights activated, the driver of that car is at fault. Accidents happen as a result of an infinite variety of factual scenarios, and every accident should be thoroughly analyzed by an experienced attorney before accepting fault.

Compensation is guaranteed if someone hits you

In some auto accidents, it may be obvious who is at fault. But it’s not always obvious that an injury resulted. Providing the necessary proof to recover fair compensation can be complex and time-consuming. Insurance companies are skeptical of all claims, and they review each and every claim carefully. They never take anyone’s word for anything, and they don’t pay unless and until they are thoroughly convinced by all the evidence that liability is clear, that damage occurred, and that payment is warranted.

Police reports solve everything 

Just because a police officer wrote down that things happened a certain way does not make it so. Most auto accidents are not witnessed by police officers, who usually arrive at the scene after the collision. Officers then report only what they were told, and they often misunderstand the conflicting accounts of drivers and witnesses. An official police accident report is a beginning, not an end.

You don’t need medical attention after a car crash

Not all injuries from a car accident show up right away. Whiplash, nerve damage and back injuries could take some time to fully set in. Seeking medical attention will provide you with clear evidence that the NC accident caused serious injury. Also, be sure to retain documentation of all medical-related issues and doctor visits.

I have to file an auto accident lawsuit right away 

In North Carolina, injured persons have three years from the date of the accident to settle their claims or file a lawsuit. Nevertheless, you should not wait to begin the claims process by gathering and securing evidence, seeking medical treatment, and seeking legal advice. 


If you have recently been in a motor vehicle accident, let Hefferon & Hefferon P.A., help you through your case. As Charlotte auto accident attorneys, we will dispel any myths you may have about these type of lawsuits and help put together the right strategy for you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Surviving Spouses’ Rights in North Carolina Wrongful Death


When a married person dies as a result of the carelessness of others (called a “wrongful death,”), the surviving spouse should be aware of his or her legal options.

The family of a person who dies a “wrongful death” has a right to recover damages from the responsible parties, whether an individual or a company. Under the NC Wrongful Death Statute, the family may recover compensation for such things as

  • The medical bills related to the death
  • The funeral expenses
  • The pain and suffering of the decedent at leading to his death
  • The value of the decedent’s lifetime net income
  • The value of the services the decedent would have provided to his family
  • Loss of companionship, comfort, guidance and advice of the decedent
  • Punitive damages where the cause of death warrants it (e.g., drunk driver).

North Carolina also has a statute that sets forth guidelines for the allocation of recovered damages between spouses and other family members in a wrongful death claim. Following payment of attorney fees and expenses, funeral expenses, and medical expenses up to $4,500.00, any remaining recovery proceeds must be disbursed between a spouse and other family members as follows:

  • Where there are no children or surviving parents, the spouse is entitled to all net proceeds;
  • Where there is one child, the spouse is entitled to the first $60,000 and the remainder is divided equally between the spouse and the child;
  • When there are two or more children, the spouse is entitled to the first $60,000 and one third of the remaining compensation. The children would then divide the remaining two thirds equally among them.
  • Where there are no children, but the deceased parents are alive, then the spouse is entitled to the first $100,000 and one half the remainder. The other half would be disbursed to the decedent’s surviving parents.

If a married couple was in the middle of a separation or divorce at the time of the wrongful death, it can substantially impact the amount of damages that might be recoverable. Clients and attorneys should also work together to minimize the effect of problems in the marriage on the settlement value of a wrongful death claim, including the decision whether to have a different family member pursue the claim on behalf of the family.

If someone else is responsible for the death of your loved one, it’s time to take action by contacting Hefferon & Hefferon P.A. We are highly experienced in wrongful death claims and litigation, and will make sure not only that every detail is covered, but that you thoroughly understand what is happening as it happens in the case. Call Hefferon & Hefferon, PA. Today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

North Carolina Auto Accidents Increase During Holidays


The winter holidays are meant to be a joyous occasion when people are surrounded by family and friends. But with so many people taking to the road to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, there is a heightened risk of winding up in an auto accident injuries in Charlotte NC.

The leading cause in a high number of accidents is alcohol. With the holidays come more festivities, meaning more opportunities to consume alcoholic beverages. In the state of North Carolina, the legal limit for BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) level among drivers is .08%. For drivers under the age of 21, any percentage of alcohol is prohibited. Commercial drivers are permitted to have a BAC level no higher than .04%. That same level applies to drivers who have a previous DWI on their record.

Not all auto accidents in North Carolina involve alcohol. A growing problem has been the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. Cell phones and hand-held devices contribute to these types of crashes.

Texting while driving is prohibited in North Carolina, although it is not against the law to talk on a cell phone while driving, unless you are under the age of 18, in which case all cell phone use is prohibited. Nonetheless, talking on a phone serves as a distraction to many drivers and also does not permit them to have both hands on the steering wheel.

Other types of distracted driving include eating while driving, paying too much attention to a GPS device, or changing the radio stations. Fatigue is also a form of distracted driving and can be extremely dangerous during the holiday season when people are traveling more frequently.

According to DMV.org, most drivers tend to fall asleep in the time frame between midnight and dawn in addition to early in the afternoon following lunch. The DMV also states that drowsy driver accidents are often more severe than drunk driving accidents in North Carolina.

Rural and urban interstates throughout North Carolina have a maximum speed limit of 70 mph. At those speeds, distracted driving and aggressive driving could be even more dangerous. Various kinds of aggressive driving include tailgating, constantly lane changes, and failure to use a turn signal.

Drivers cannot control what other vehicle operators do, but being aware of all the dangers could aid in avoiding a potential car accident. The North Carolina Department of Transportation reported that auto accidents around the Christmas holidays nearly double the number during other holidays such as Memorial Day and Easter. Ranking right behind Christmas is the Thanksgiving holiday.

Safety is of the utmost importance every day, but it is something drivers should be even more aware of around the holidays. Paying a little extra attention to the road could pay huge dividends when it comes to your safety.

Should you find yourself in a car crash at any time of the year, in Charlotte Hefferon & Hefferon, P.A. can provide you with experienced legal counsel. We will assign you a Charlotte auto accident attorney, who will see you through the entire process. No matter what the magnitude of your auto accident in North Carolina, one of our experienced attorneys can help your case.

References:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Construction Accident Essentials For Victims

Construction accidents are avoidable, and are usually caused by carelessness and failure to follow general safety practices. The end result could leave injured victims out of work, bogged down with high medical bills, enduring months of pain and suffering, and in many instances permanent, debilitating injuries. When a general contractor or subcontractor (or their employees) carelessly cause a construction accident, they will be liable and owe fair compensation to the injured individual.

While injuries in construction accidents differ, the causes generally remain the same. Slip and falls, scaffolding falls, trench collapses and electrical injuries are some of the more common construction accidents. Workers are also frequently hit by falling objects.

Whatever the circumstance may be, it is very important to gather as many witnesses as possible. Obtain written statements from other workers if you can. Pictures are also worth a thousand words, so be sure to take plenty.

When it comes time to take pictures, there are plenty of things to look for. There are safety guidelines that need to be met and should any of these be insufficient, make sure you capture them with a time stamp on your digital camera or cell phone.

Guardrails are required on scaffolding and all scaffolds should be a safe distance from any nearby power lines, preferably ten feet. Toeboards are also required all around any platform or floor that is elevated.

Fall protection is another area that needs to be addressed. Fall arrest systems should be in place to prevent serious slip & fall injuries. On scaffolding that is six feet off the ground or higher, construction companies must maintain dry floors that are also free of any holes.

Protective equipment should also be provided without any cost to the workers on the job site. All workers are required to be trained in regards to all the potential hazards of a specific job. Those who are not fluent in English must also have a means of having this information communicated to them.

If any of those aforementioned guidelines are not followed, it is up to the worker to report the violations in their entirety. The same applies for a trench collapse. Find out what the slope requirements are for the type of soil involved on a job. A slope violation will put workers in jeopardy and hold construction companies accountable. Trench walls also need to have certain slopes to properly ensure worker safety.

Heavy equipment is also responsible for a fair amount of construction accidents each year. Many of them are caused by operators who are not certified to work those types of machines, such as a forklift or crane. Try to validate an operator’s credentials if an injury occurs. Not only could the operator be liable, but the construction company could be as well.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a Charlotte construction accident, contact the professionals at Hefferon & Hefferon, P.A., Attorneys at Law. We will work to uncover every detail in your case and strive to get you the compensation you deserve. When it comes time to find a construction accident injury attorney in Charlotte, Hefferon & Hefferon is the first and last name you need to know.



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