Car Accidents and Personal Injury – Most Important Legal Terms to Know

    Common legal terms

    During the course of a lawsuit, you may encounter unfamiliar legal terminology.  Below is compiled list of terms to be help you understand information you may come across during your case:

    Affidavit – A formal written statement declared under oath.

    Arbitration – A non-judicial legal procedure that happens outside of the courts where parties dispute in front of a neutral party.

    Complaint – A legal document filed in court that initiates a civil lawsuit.  The complaint states the plaintiffs’ allegations against the defendant and their prayers for relief.

    Contingency Fee – Rather than an hourly or fixed fee, a contingency fee is paid to a personal injury attorney when he is successful in making a recovery on behalf of this client. The lawyer receives a percentage of the verdict or settlement amount.  If the lawyer is unsuccessful in making any recovery for the client, there is no fee charged to the client.

    Defendant – The party that a lawsuit is brought against.

    Damages - Technically, any damage caused to life and property in a car accident needs to be aptly compensated by the erring party. This also includes medical expenses, loss of wages, and intangible damages such as emotional turmoil. Punitive damages at times are also included.

    Deposition – Oral testimony taken under oath in which one party presents questions to the other party or relevant witnesses.

    Discovery – The investigation that takes place before a lawsuit goes to trial. Interrogation reports, testimonials of eye witnesses come under this category. These are essential to prove the offending party’s guilt or your innocence.

    Docket – The calendar of actions to be heard by a court in a certain period of time.

    Evidence – Information to support or prove a case.

    Expert Witness – A witness who lends their expertise in a given field to testimony in support of a party’s case.

    Evidence – Information to support or prove a case.

    Pain and sufferings – An element of non-economic damages to which the plaintiff is entitled if injuries as the result of the wrongdoings of another.

    Proximate cause – Also termed as a legal cause or cause at law, proximate cause is the main reason for the injury. Since we are talking about car accidents here, invariably the proximate cause for the injury for which the damages are to be paid is the result of an automotive accident.

    Personal injury – In personal injury claims, it is not only the bodily harm your car accident lawyer should talk about. As a result of the car accident, you and your family are undergoing extreme emotional strain and you need to become compensated for that too. It is not always about breaking even, you should receive monetary compensation that exceeds the cost of just the car damage. How about the emotional toll? How does this impact your professional career?  

    Plaintiff – The party that initiates a lawsuit against the defendant.

    Power of Attorney – A document that gives someone legal authority to act on a other person’s behalf.

    Product Liability – Product is the area of personal injury law that focuses on dangerous and defective products.  Manufacturers are held responsible for any damages or injuries caused by their defective products.

    Punitive damages – Damages awarded to punish a party who committed a wrongful act rather than to compensate an injured party for actual damages.

    Slip and Fall Injuries – A person may be entitled to compensation if he or she falls and suffers an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence.

    Statute of limitations – Whenever an automobile accident occurs, it is mandatory that you should file a report with police and proceed towards making a personal injury claim. The lawsuit needs to be filed within a specific period. The period may differ for each state. This period in legal parlance is termed the statute of limitations.

     Summary Judgment – The judge’s decision that resolves a lawsuit in favor of one of the parties as a matter of law before a full trial.

    Summons – A legal document prepared by the plaintiff and issued by a court that informs the defendant that they have been sued.

    Tort – Negligent or wrongful conduct by one person that causes an injury to another for which an action for damages be brought.

    Witness – A person who testified under oath during legal proceedings including depositions, offering for their first hand experiences or expert opinion.

    Workers’ Compensation – Compensation for an injury obtained while performing one’s job.

    Wrongful death – A wrongful death action is a type of lawsuit brought on behalf of the surviving family or beneficiaries of a person who died through the fault or negligence of another.

    Wrongful Death of Passenger in Speeding Truck

    Truck accidents are more complicated than ordinary traffic accidents due to the large size and heavy weight of most eighteen wheelers and their loads.  Fact is, driver liability regulations and third party lawsuits differ from state to state. Personal injury attorneys like Wayne Hardee have more inside industry knowledge to investigate the intricate entities of a truck case, i.e. The driver, the owners of the truck and the load involved, etc.

    Auto accidents caused due to trucks or trailers can be catastrophic for the victims. The foremost reason is the size of the truck and the weight of its load. According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, tractor trailer accidents result in fatalities 98 percent of the time. A mid-sized car can easily be completely damaged or totaled if the vehicle is hit by a raging 18-wheeler or one just abiding by the speed limit. Injuries caused by these accidents are severe, debilitating and often permanent.  The most common type of accidents is truck rollovers; when a truck literally rolls over as a result of the driver’s loss of control.

    Truck accidents also are common since truck drivers drive for long hours and are tired and can become distracted. Last but not the least, freight trucks are managed by trucking companies, and the fleet operators are well aware of the complications that may arise out of an 18-wheeler accident. . They have been around this block before; they know the process most likely far better than you. This precisely is the reason why you will need a truck accident/personal injury attorney.  These cases are complex. As with any personal injury, do not sign any paper work with the opposing insurance company or trucking company unless specifically authorized by them. Trucking company’s insurance will often try to get people to settle quickly; it’s best to talk with your truck accident/personal injury lawyer t cover all aspects of your case:  medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and economic issues as well.

    Trucking companies must train and supervise their drivers.  Additionally, they are required to monitor driver logs, address any complaints made against their drivers, properly load trucks and guard against driver fatigue.  Unfortunately, not all companies abide by these trucking responsibilities; as a result accidents happen.

    If you have injuries from a truck accident, let Wayne Hardee help you through the complex issues that arise with a track trailer wreck!


    The 4 Most Common Car Accident Injuries

    What Determines Your Injuries?

    Car accidents can do more damage than simply putting your car in the shop. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2.3 million Americans were injured in car accidents in 2014. The good news is that with increased safety awareness and major advances in vehicle technology and design, those numbers are gradually decreasing. The bad news, of course, is that even ONE accident can cause serious injuries.

    There are a number of factors that can impact the type and severity of your injuries, including whether you are

    Wearing a seatbelt (hint: If not, your injuries are much more likely to be severe!)
    Hit from the front, rear, or side of the car
    Driving at a higher or lower speed
    Facing forward in the car or facing another direction, leaning over, or lying down in the seat

    If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident, the attorneys at Wayne Hardee cannot overstate the importance of getting medical attention as soon as possible, even if you initially feel fine. Why? While you might not be experiencing an obvious injury like a broken leg, you may have internal injuries or head trauma that won’t show symptoms for several days - but could be doing serious harm in the meantime.

    Common Injuries

    Because every car accident is different, no two injuries will be exactly alike. But there are some injuries that people commonly experience after being in a car wreck:

    1. Whiplash is one of the most common injuries resulting from a car accident. Whiplash occurs when your head and neck are suddenly jerked back and forth (like the cracking of a whip...hence the name). It most often occurs in rear-end collisions. Symptoms include neck pain, stiffness, and headaches. Most of those symptoms resolve over time, but may require medication, therapy, or chiropractic work. A smaller number will suffer from chronic neck problems and pain afterward. Other, more serious possible neck injuries include disc injury and cervical radiculopathy (irritated nerves).

    2. Concussions are another well-known car wreck injury and is usually caused by hitting your head on part of the car, like the steering wheel or window, giving your brain a “jolt” that can actually cause it to move in your skull.They’ve received recent attention for being more serious than previously thought, with doctors seeing long-term consequences in athletes who experience concussions more often than the average person. A concussion is actually classified as a mild traumatic brain injury. If you or someone you love has been involved in a car wreck, watch for signs of a concussion: confusion, slurred speech, nausea or vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, or memory loss, to name a few.

          A doctor will be able to diagnose a concussion if you seek medical attention after your accident.

    1. Back Injuries - Your spine is divided into three different sections: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae. With all of the discs, muscles, tendons and nerves in your spinal area, a back injury may be very painful. In a car wreck, back injuries can range from strained muscles or dislocated discs to serious spinal cord trauma. In many cases, chiropractic work or physical therapy can relieve pain and help realign your spine, but some injuries may require surgery to restore mobility. You should never ignore back pain after being in an accident.

    2. Leg and Knee Injuries - Most people think of upper body injuries when discussing car wrecks, but your legs and knees are also at risk. This is usually results when a passenger hits their knees or legs on the dashboard, or when part of the car is smashed inward. The knee area, with its ligaments and tendons, is especially prone to injury. Other possible injuries include fractures, broken bones, or cuts and bruises.

    Chiropractic Care

    If you have “soft tissue” injuries, and not broken bones or open wounds, then you should consider seeing a chiropractor for treatment. Chiropractors are health care professionals who treat musculoskeletal injuries, particularly neck, back and spine issues. While they cannot prescribe medication, they can treat your injuries with a variety of adjustments, manipulations and massage. If you were injured in a car accident where you were not at fault, your chiropractic visits could be covered as part of your personal injury settlement.

    Location Tagging: The Smartphone Feature You Need to Enable

    What if I told you that your smartphone can be one of your most important assets if you’re involved in a car accident? You may be thinking, “Aren’t you the one who’s always telling me not to text while driving? Isn’t this a little contradictory?” Well - yes, I still firmly maintain that there is never a good reason to use your phone while you are driving. However, if you’ve been in a car wreck and have helped ensure that everyone involved is safe, it’s time to pull out your cell phone.

    Gathering Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
    In the aftermath of a crash, there’s often a lot of “he said, she said.” There may be as many versions of what happened as there are people at the scene: you, the other driver, eyewitnesses, the police officer who responds to the wreck, etc. And while witness statements will be important evidence if you choose to pursue a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the accident, there’s another piece of evidence that can prove even more valuable: photos. Photos can present facts and give context to the accident in a way that an eyewitness account cannot.

    Smartphone Features: Location Tagging for Photos
    Before you begin documenting the scene of the car accident, you’ll want to be sure that Location Tagging is enabled for your camera app. You probably know that every time you take a picture on your phone, it’s tagged with digital information, called metadata, that includes the time and date the photo is taken. This timestamp adds a layer of authenticity to your accident photos; it proves that you took the photos on the day and time of the accident.

    With constantly advancing technology, however, now you can take it one step further: you can prove that the photos were taken at the place of the accident. This is thanks to Location Services, which uses a combination of GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspots, and cell tower locations to determine your locations. While this is the technology that allows you to use Google Maps to find your friend’s house or a new restaurant, it also can tag your photo with the latitude and longitude coordinates where it was taken.

    Step-By-Step: Enable Your Camera's Location Services 
    Some phone providers have Location Services enabled automatically, but others do not. It’s a simple process to turn on this feature.

    If you have an iPhone:

    • Open the Settings app
    • Scroll down to the Privacy option
    • Select Camera, and under Allow Location Access, select While Using App

    If you have an Android:

    • Open the Camera app
    • Swipe from left to right on the screen
    • Tap the Settings icon
    • Toggle the Save Location button to On

    Take a wide variety of photos: wide shots of the entire scene, close-up pictures of damage to vehicles, multiple angles, and surrounding street signs or intersection lights. Many people are not comfortable leaving those location settings turned on at all times; that’s understandable. You can enable this setting before taking pictures of the accident scene and then disable it when you’re done. 

    Get a Free Consultation from an North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
    Now that you have photos, what should you do with them? If you've been injured in a car wreck in North Carolina, a local personal injury lawyer can help. The attorneys at Wayne Hardee Law are ready to answer your questions - your no-obligation consultation is always free. Call today at 1-252-238-4040 to get started. Wayne Hardee will be on your side throughout the entire process of filing a personal injury claim. 

    National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

    While the 20th century witnessed America’s great love affair with the car, in this century her object of affection has become the cell phone. While there are an estimated 150 million cars on U.S. roads, the country is believed to have about 330 million cell phones. Like oil and water, the incidence of car accidents suggests that the two do not mix well.

    Different Tactics

    The month of April has been designated National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It is an initiative aimed at deterring motorists from using cell phones while driving, an act that accounts for a staggering 1.6 million car crashes or roughly 28 percent of all auto accidents in the country. These are directly caused by people texting or using handheld or hands-free cell phones while driving. The April initiative is a joint effort by the National Safety Council and FocusDriven – Advocates for Cell-Free Driving. Both organizations urge drivers to stop using cell phones while driving during April and beyond. Drivers are encouraged to put their cell phones in the glove compartments or trunk or their car and turn them off to avoid having to battle the temptation of answering a ringing phone, e-mail, or text message. Drivers are urged to change their existing voicemail greeting to warn callers that they might be driving, hence, that is why they are not picking up.

    Remain Focused

    Many drivers view driving, especially in known environments, as a simple, routine task which calls for minimal attention. In fact quite the reverse is true and you are required to be fully focused whenever you are behind the wheel to avoid an auto accident. If you are stuck in traffic though, going 3mph, if you must use your cell phone, then that is a different matter entirely.

    A Consummate Professional

    Nonetheless, car accidents do occur, a statistic that is vastly increased by cell phone users while driving. If you are ever involved in an automobile accident you should immediately contact an auto accident lawyer. There could be implications relating to personal injury to yourself, your passengers, or those in the other vehicle. These could have far-reaching consequences which you might not be aware of. A car accident lawyer like Wayne Hardee knows precisely what the stakes are and is best placed to protect your interests.



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