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FAQs

Personal Injury FAQs Q. What is the Most Important Evidence in an Accident Case?

A. (Refer to the $160,000: Dog Bite Case) In a dog-bite case, like car accident and other personal injury cases, the magnitude of the injury is the most important evidence. While medical professionals can testify about injuries persons have sustained, nothing tells the story of an incident better than photographs. While the injured combat veteran only treated a few times after the dog-bite incident and made a full recovery within weeks, the professionals at Arnold & Smith were able to use the photographs taken of the veteran’s post-attack facial injuries to convince the property owner’s insurance company to settle for an amount that was 40-times more than the veteran’s medical bills.

Car Accident FAQs Q. Why are Out-of-court Settlements Valuable?

A. (Refer to the $1.15 Million: Car Accident Case) The young man’s case illustrates why out-of-court settlements are valuable. First, the person who swerved into the young man’s lane and caused the crash was a teenager. He was driving his mother’s car. The teenager’s mother was bankrupt, and her house was in foreclosure. The bottom line is that even if the young man sued the teenager and his mother and won a $3-million judgment, he would never have collected a penny, because the teenager and his mother had no collectible assets.

More importantly, however, Arnold & Smith’s client—the young man—suffered post-traumatic stress after the accident and had trouble speaking about it. He feared having to go to court and having to testify about what happened. Through tough advocacy and out-of-court negotiation with several insurance companies, the professionals at Arnold & Smith were able to recover the full amount of all available insurance coverage, without having to go to court. Needless to say, the client was pleased with the outcome.

Q. How Important is Insurance Coverage in a Personal Injury case?

A. (Refer to the $225,000: Wrongful Death Case) Insurance coverage is one of the most important—and complicated—features of a personal injury case. When at-fault drivers have minimum coverage on their vehicles, injured persons must often look to underinsured motorist coverage from insurance policies that can legally be “stacked” together to accumulate coverage. The laws regarding insurance coverage and “stacking” are extremely complex and ever-changing.

The professionals at Arnold & Smith are on the front lines of the development of insurance coverage, advocating for the most coverage to adequately compensate innocent victims of the conduct of negligent drivers. Aside from maximizing results for individual clients, the reported appellate decisions Arnold & Smith has won on behalf of families have expanded and reinforced the rights and interests of injured persons.

Q. What Happens if my Medical Bills are Paid by Health Insurance?

A. (Refer to the $150,000: Car Accident Case) As in many cases, the young woman’s medical bills far exceeded the amount of available insurance coverage. The man who hit her with his truck had no collectible assets. To make matters worse, the young woman’s medical bills were paid by her health insurer under what is called an “ERISA” plan. When those kinds of health plans pay for a person’s medical treatment after a car crash, the health plans are entitled to be reimbursed. Theoretically, in a case like the young woman’s, where the medical payments made by the health plan—over $200,000—are more than the settlement amount, the health plan can take all of the money.

Fortunately, the professionals at Arnold & Smith were able to negotiate with the young woman’s health plan, convincing the plan to accept less than one-sixth of the amount it sought in reimbursement. This meant that the client—the young woman injured in the crash—walked away with over $60,000 in her pocket—instead of losing everything to her health plan.

Medical liens, ambulance liens, health plan liens, and other liens often attach to any money an injured person may recover after an accident. While the law makes it an injured person’s responsibility to pay these liens, oftentimes injured persons are not aware of this responsibility and do not know how or where to look to find out the claimed lien amounts or how to reduce them. The professionals at Arnold & Smith work with lien holders to reduce and resolve liens and to maximize the recoveries that clients obtain in accident cases.

Q. Can a Passenger’s Intoxication Hurt one’s Case?

A. (Refer to the $150,000: Drunk Driving Accident Case) Mixing alcohol and motor vehicles is a deadly combination. Even when an intoxicated person injured in an accident was not the driver, the person’s intoxication may provide insurance companies with opportunities to argue that the injured person was at fault for one’s own injuries. In one case, a client became drunk at a party. Through the testimony of other witnesses, the client learned that he engaged in rude behavior and eventually passed out. Afterward, his friends carried him outside and loaded him into the backseat of another friend’s vehicle. Later, the friend returned to his vehicle and attempted to drive home, but crashed on the way, killing himself and grievously injuring the client.

The insurance companies involved in the case, through their attorneys, argued that the client should receive nothing, because his own intoxication led to him being loaded into the friend’s vehicle. Or, they argued, the client lied, and he got into his friend’s vehicle to ride home, knowing his friend was drunk.

Through tough advocacy, negotiation, and in-court litigation, the professionals at Arnold & Smith were able to overcome the insurance companies’ arguments and obtain $150,000 on the client’s behalf. The client’s case underscores how alcohol can potentially damage an injured person’s case even where the injured person was not a driver.

Q. Can a Passenger be Held Responsible in an Accident Case?

A. (Refer to the $120,000: Injured Passenger Case) In a pair of cases, intoxicated vehicle owners handed their keys to friends to drive, and their friends crashed their cars, injuring them. The professionals at Arnold & Smith were able to settle the cases for $70,000 and $50,000, respectively, but not without a fight.

In North Carolina, a person who allows someone else to drive one’s car must exercise reasonable care in the choice of a driver. For example, if the person knows the driver speeds, is reckless, or is intoxicated, and hands over the keys anyway, the person will not be able to recover damages if the driver causes an accident. In fact, the person handing over one’s keys may be liable to third parties who are injured by the driver’s negligence.

Where, however, an injured person had no reason to believe a driver was reckless or intoxicated, and the person is subsequently injured in a crash in one’s own vehicle, the person can recover damages from one’s own insurance carrier. It may seem odd, but the person’s own carrier pays for the negligence of the driver the injured person chose.

Workers’ Compensation FAQs

NOTE: Many individuals will qualify for workers’ compensation under North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act. All questions except the first discuss workers’ compensation under this state Act.

Q. What Does Workers’ Comp Do Exactly?

A. The NC Workers’ Compensation Act, adopted in the 1930s, aims to compensate employees who are injured by accidents at work and occupational disease. Workers’ comp aims to make “industry pay for its own wreckage,” in the words of the court. It strikes a balance between employers and their employees.

  • For employers, workers’ comp provides the benefit of reduced liability expenses because it:
    1. Sets full disability compensation rates at two thirds of the employee’s average weekly pay instead of 100 percent
    2. Excludes employee compensation for pain and suffering
    3. Is the “exclusive remedy” for employees. This means an employee cannot usually sue their employer in a personal injury suit for workers’ comp injuries.
  • For employees, workers’ comp provides the following in accepted cases:
    1. Medical care at no cost to the employee
    2. Prompt temporary full or partial disability payments that continue weekly as the case goes on.
      • By contrast, in standard personal injury cases, the insurance company or other defendant does not have to pay for medical bills or lost wages until the case settles or trial concludes.
    3. Permanent disability benefits if applicable
    4. Contributory negligence is eliminated as a defense. North Carolina is one of two states that still use a contributory negligence model in injury cases. This means that if a person’s own actions contributed in any direct amount to their injuries, they cannot sue to recover against the person that caused the majority of the injury. For example, a driver that was found to be 10 percent at fault in a car accident could not recover in damages from the driver who was 90 percent at fault. Eliminating contributory negligence as a defense in workers’ comp means that an employee’s contributory negligence will not be a bar to them receiving workers’ comp benefits.
Q. How Do I Know What Workers’ Compensation Act Applies to Me?

A. If you are injured on the job, in most cases you may be entitled to make a claim for workers’ compensation insurance benefits. Depending on your employer, you may need to file a federal or state claim for workers’ compensation. If you are a veteran, there are further resources available to help you file your claim.

  • Federal employees: The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) gives compensation benefits to civilian employees of the United States federal government who sustain a personal injury or disease related to performing their job duties. The FECA can also provide the payment of benefits to the injured employee’s dependents if the injury or disease results in the employee’ death. The online guide to FECA resources can be found at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/ca-11.htm.
  • Private or state employees in NC: The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act requires almost all employers that regularly employ three or more employees to either carry workers’ compensation insurance or qualify with the North Carolina Department of Insurance as a self-insured employer. The North Carolina Industrial Commission’s online guide to filing a claim under the NC Workers’ Comp Act can be found at http://www.ic.nc.gov/claimants.html.
  • Veterans of the United States Armed Services: The Veterans Health Administration’s National Workers’ Compensation Program provides staff, support and resources to help members and veterans of our nation’s armed services apply for and obtain the workers’ compensation to which they are entitled under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. Although this is the same federal act that applies to other federal workers, the VHA’s Workers’ Comp staff are much more suited to helping individuals file non-civilian claims. Find the VHA’s guide to Workers’ Compensation at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/about/occhealth/workers-compensation.asp.
Q. Why Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

A. If you are not sure whether you have a claim or not: The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are ready to step in to help ensure that you do not miss out on a claim you might not think is covered. Our attorneys handle the stress and worry of dealing with your employer, the insurance company and the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Mr. Arnold is experienced in handling injury claims, having formerly worked as an insurance defense attorney handling injury claims for insurance companies.

  • If your injury is minor and your employer does not dispute your workers’ comp claim: You still may be able to benefit from contacting the dedicated attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC to ensure that your matter is handled efficiently and correctly while avoiding costly mistakes.
  • If your injury is more severe or your employer is refusing to compensate you: Our experienced attorneys are ready to intervene and fight on your behalf. Our attorneys are skilled at preliminary negotiations and mediation, but unafraid to take the fight to the courtroom all the way to trial if necessary to get you the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys will not settle until you are satisfied.
  • If your claim is denied: You still have options. Deserving victims’ claims are often denied, and this is where your attorney will step in to fight for just compensation.
Nursing Home FAQsWrongful Death FAQsSocial Security Disability FAQsDrunk Driving Accidents FAQs
Client Reviews
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Arnold & Smith was great. They are always on time for your case, they really know what they are talking about. They are very good about giving you updates on your case. I highly recommend everyone to use Arnold & Smith as your attorney they will make sure you get the best result possible for your case. By far the best attorney in the area. Austin
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Resonable expectations were set and the results far exceeded them. I was well informed, prepared and supported by Matt and his team. They provided comfort and confidence, as well as a great outcome. I can't possibly describe how grateful I truly am for what they have done for me. Matt was recommended to be by another trusted individual and I believe that was a blessing. Anthony
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I can't say enough great things about Matthew Arnold and his team. I had a very complicated, high-conflict case which took a lot of time and effort on everyone's part, and I feel like my case was given the time and attention it required. Matt Arnold is a great attorney, and I would go as far as saying one of the best in Charlotte, if not the best. Bree is also amazing. Amber