Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and why should I think about having it?

    These two types of coverage protect you from injuries in cases where the other driver was either underinsured or uninsured. In North Carolina, and many other states, uninsured and underinsured car insurance coverage is mandatory but the amounts that you maintain on your policy are optional over the minimal coverage.

    Underinsured motorist coverage pays for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages when you or your passengers are hurt in an accident caused by a driver with auto insurance coverage too small to pay the bills. Your insurer will make up the difference between the negligent driver’s coverage and the maximum of your own policy.

    Uninsured motorist coverage operates the same way, except that instead of making up the difference between the negligent driver’s coverage and your own policy limits, your insurance company will be responsible for all of your bills. 




  • What Are Three Factors Common in Car Accidents

    Car accidents are complex events, often involving multiple factors that act as contributing causes. In investigating your claim, our N.C. car accident attorney will thoroughly review witness statements, traffic videotape monitoring, the accident scene, and police reports, gathering the evidence needed to show the other driver was to blame. While the following are three common factors that make crashes and collisions more likely to occur, the fact is it is still generally the other driver’s reckless or negligent behavior that is ultimately to blame.

    1. Adverse Weather Conditions

    The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) reports that of the close to six million car accidents that occur each year in the United States, nearly a quarter involve rain, fog, icy roads, heavy winds, and other adverse weather conditions. While North Carolina may not get the snow and frequent freezing temperatures other areas deal with during the winter months, rain and wet conditions can be even more dangerous.

    Wet roads decrease tire traction and increase the amount of time needed to stop your vehicle, while fog or even a slight rain can impact a driver’s visibility. Drivers are encouraged to slow down when the weather is inclement, as speeding or driving too fast for conditions makes motor vehicle accidents more likely to occur.

    2. Road Construction

    Based on statistics collected by the Department of Transportation, the FHA reports that road construction-related car accidents occur roughly once every five minutes, resulting in close to 26,000 injuries and over 600 deaths each year. While road workers face significant risks, the majority of those injured or killed in these accidents are drivers and their passengers.

    Anyone who has driven through construction in Kitty Hawk or the surrounding areas knows how dangerous reduced speeds, changing lanes, and sudden stops can be, particularly if you are not paying attention. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accidents that occur in construction zones, and distracted driving is often the underlying factor.

    3. Heavy Traffic Conditions

    North Carolina drivers are no strangers to traffic tie-ups. Sitting in congestion on your way to or from work or when out on the weekends can easily get on your nerves. Instead of taking deep breathes, listening to music, and taking other steps to remain calm, some drivers end up letting their impatience and irritation get the best of them.

    Aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating, failure to yield, and laying on your horn, do nothing other than to make the situation tenser and increase your car accident risks. Sideswipe accidents and rear-end collisions are common in these scenarios, and while drivers may not be going fast, serious injuries can still result.

    Let a Carolinas Car Accident Attorney Help

    If you have been injured in a car accident, not only to you have to deal with the physical and emotional effects of the accident, but you are likely dealing with the financial consequences, as well. Injured victims often have high medical bills as a result of the treatments their injuries require. Depending on how serious those injuries are, recovery typically includes staying out of work until the injuries have healed. This means no weekly paycheck for many victims.

    If the crash was caused by another party who behaved recklessly or negligently, North Carolina allows victims to take legal action in order to be financially compensated for all of these financial expenses. Victims can also pursue damages for losses that are not economic, such as pain and suffering, scarring emotional anguish, and more.

    If you would like to discuss your situation, contact our office to speak with a seasoned North Carolina accident attorney. Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn has been advocating for accident victims for more than three decades and will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve.




  • Protecting Yourself Against Injuries in Large Crowds

    Anytime large groups of people are assembled together, whether inside auditoriums or sports arenas or outdoors at festivals or public street events, there is the chance for conditions that make personal injuries more likely to occur. Space may be at a premium, unexpected accidents can occur, and fights can break out, causing pandemonium and chaos. Knowing what to do and how to handle yourself in a crowd can help to ensure your safety. Follow these tips to protect yourself and others who are with you. 

    If you do become injured, you may be entitled to financial compensation for any losses your injuries have caused. Contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to meet with one of our Virginia personal injury attorneys to find out what legal options you may have to pursue for damages.

    Preparing Yourself for Crowded Events

    Pushing, shoving, and being crushed between objects or under people are all concerns in large crowds, as are slips, trips and falls and injuries due to dangerous conditions such as fires, electrical problems, adverse weather conditions, and acts of violence by others. Places where these types of issues may occur include sporting events, concerts, street festivals, and social or political protests.

    Consider the circumstances surrounding the event you are attending in advance, the venue at which it will be held, and the ways you can prevent being caught up in the types of situations that make accidents and injuries more likely to happen. Common types of injuries suffered at these events include:

    • Soft tissue injuries due to slips and falls
    • Broken bones and dislocated joints
    • Severe cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds
    • Serious burns and heat stroke or dehydration
    • Crushing injuries, causing damage to limbs and body organs
    • Back and neck injuries, such as slipped or herniated discs
    • Head injuries, including concussion and traumatic brain injuries

    What to Do at an Event

    Facility owners and event coordinators or hosts do have an obligation to ensure the safety of guests and attendees and should take the necessary precautions to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring. For example, many organizations advise their event planners to take the following actions:

    • Identify the type of crowd the event is likely to attract, what their needs might be and the specific behaviors which could be an issue
    • Have easily identifiable volunteers and security to assist with crowd control and any problems that do arise
    • Make sure the facility is large enough and has the necessary accommodations
    • Make sure to have an evacuation plan in place

    Protect yourself when you go to an event by making note of the exits and entrances and avoid places that are roped off or otherwise prohibited. If it is an outdoor event, make sure to take plenty of water and sunscreen. If you get an anxious feeling and notice the behavior of the crowd changing, play it safe, and move to a location where you can make a quick escape.

    Contact a Virginia Injury Attorney

    If you or a family member has been injured at an event where there were large crowds, contact a seasoned Virginia premises liability attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Even if it is not entirely clear who is the at-fault party, a Va. injury attorney will be able to determine which party or parties are liable. At Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, our injury attorneys have successfully represented numerous accident victims and have the legal expertise to handle these complex cases with positive results. Call 800-752-0042 for a free case evaluation.




  • How Do I Protect My Rights to Compensation in a Car Accident Claim?

    Car crashes are jarring, sudden, and expected events. The mere fact of being involved in a car accident, regardless of how severe, is enough to cause anyone to be disoriented or confused. Unfortunately, what you do and say in the minutes, hours, and days after your collision can make a major difference in getting the compensation needed to recover from your injuries.

    What to Do After a Car Accident in North Carolina

    Even a minor car accident can result in major injuries and property damages, and there are steps you need to take to protect yourself. The California Department of Insurance (DOI) urges motorists to do the following:

    • Stop immediately at the scene, being careful to avoid blocking traffic if possible.
    • Notify the state police or the local law enforcement agency.
    • Call 911 if anyone is injured at the scene.
    • Exchange personal contact information with other drivers, along with your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance numbers.
    • Get the names and contact information for any potential witnesses at the scene.
    • Use your cell phone to take photos of where the accident occurred and the damage to your vehicle.

    Even if you suspect your injuries are minor, seek medical treatment right away. There are many serious and potentially debilitating conditions that have symptoms that can take days or even weeks to appear. Failing to get medical care and to follow your doctor's instructions in regard to treatment and work or activity restrictions could jeopardize your rights to compensation.

    Dealing with Insurance Companies

    It is important to notify your insurance company as soon as possible after your accident, even if you were not at fault. In most cases, your insurer will work with you to settle your claim. If another driver is at fault, compensation will be sought through their insurance company.

    For most people, dealing with insurance companies can seem like a complicated process. You will likely be contacted by an insurance representative, seeking to get your version of events. While most people tend to think the insurance company is on their side, the fact is they are a for-profit business, and one of the ways they make money is by not paying out claims. Ways they may accomplish this include:

    • Disputing your version of events
    • Claiming you were partially at fault
    • Downplaying the extent of your injuries
    • Underestimating future treatment costs
    • Undervaluing your property damages

    Let a North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Help You

    Before making any statements, signing any documents, or accepting a settlement, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn first. We can arrange a consultation with one of our dedicated North Carolina car accident attorneys, who can advise you on the best course of action to get the total amount you are entitled to. You have one chance to get the compensation you need for the damages you suffered.

    If the crash was caused by another party who behaved recklessly or negligently, North Carolina allows victims to take legal action in order to be financially compensated for all of these financial expenses. Victims can also pursue damages for losses that are not economic, such as pain and suffering, scarring emotional anguish, and more.

    Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and more.

    Our legal team has successfully advocated for many clients who suffered brain injuries in obtaining the financial compensation they deserved for their injuries, including a record-setting mild brain injury verdict for $60 million, which was settled while on appeal. Call or contact our office online today to get the professional legal representation you need.




  • What Should I Do Right After Slipping, Falling and Suffering an Injury?

    Seek medical care whenever you suffer a serious injury.

    This is not legal advice (which we’re not allowed to offer in a blog post, anyway). Nothing is more important than your health and well-being. Attend to yourself before you give a thought to potentially holding a negligent business or homeowner accountable for creating the situation in which you slipped, fell and got hurt.

    Second, do not assume you are fine just because you don’t see blood or feel as if bones were broken. Slips and falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among adults, and the most serious symptoms of a concussion may not manifest until hours or days after a blow to the head.

    Yes, a concussion is a TBI. Symptoms may linger for years. Go to an emergency room or see your doctor if you slammed your head into a wall or on the floor. Rapid diagnosis and quick treatment of a TBI can make a huge difference in short- and long-term outcomes.




    Figure Out Why You Slipped and Fell

    You will not know if you have grounds to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit until you know with a fair degree of certainty that you were not merely being clumsy or inattentive. You don’t need to become a detective or forensic scientist, but you should collect some facts to confirm your suspicion that you were put in danger unnecessarily.

    Here a few suggestions for how you might go about doing that. Consulting with an attorney who has successfully advised and represented other slip and fall victims could provide more specific guidance.

    Only when your health allows, report the slip and fall to the manager at the business or the homeowner where you fell. Ask the person if they knew of any unsafe conditions or slip and fall hazards at the time that you got hurt. Keep notes of the conversations and write down the name and contact information of anyone you speak with about the incident. Your personal injury attorney may want to follow up with them.

    Also be sure to take pictures of the spot where you fell, and make sure to capture as much of the space as possible (floor, walls, stairs, ceiling, windows, etc.). Even if you slipped on ice or water that is no longer present when you return, detailed photos can tell a story about why a hazard formed and was not mitigated.

    Keep all these interactions calm and cordial. At the same time, it won’t hurt to ask probing question about previous accidents like yours and whether records exist about structural or maintenance problems.

    Last, speak with witnesses. You experienced the accident and resulting pain. The people who saw you slip and fall can paint a much fuller picture of the circumstances. Ask friends and family who were there what they noticed before and after the accident. Try to speak with business staff or other houseguests. Again, take notes.

    Evidence that a business manager or homeowner knew that an injury risk existed and failed to fix the problem provides very strong grounds for pursuing a slip and fall injury case. The other information can be used to substantiate negligence and to prove that the accident could have been prevented.


  • How Does the Type of Car Accident You Are in Impact Injuries?

    Car accidents occur in a variety of situations, and they can be attributed to any number of causes. In many cases, it is the reckless driving of other motorists that are to blame, and the specific type of behavior can dictate the type of crash and the extent of the injuries you suffer. The following provides insight into the kinds of car accidents that occur, the behaviors responsible for them, and the injuries you could suffer.

    Common Types of Car Accident Collisions

    According to the Insurance Information Institutes, more than six million car accidents occur each year in the United States. These result in serious injuries for nearly two million drivers and their passengers, while proving fatal for over 32,000 others. Among the most common types of crashes reported include:

    • Front end collisions: These can occur when a driver hits a telephone pole or tree, as well as when they swerve from their own lane, causing them to collide with others on the road.
    • Side impact collisions: Otherwise known as ‘T-bone’ accidents, these occur when one driver directly crashes into the side of the other. They often occur in intersections and when making turns.
    • Rear-end collisions: These tend to occur in high traffic conditions, when one driver hits into the rear end of the vehicle in front of them.

    Car Accident Injuries Based on the Type of Crash

    Risky driving behaviors put all motorists at risk and make certain types of car accidents more likely. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the following outlines the most common causes. It also lists the types of collisions they are often responsible for and common injuries that can occur as a result:

    • Disregarding traffic signs and signals: Running red lights or stop signs increases the risk of side-impact collisions, which can result in soft tissue injuries, broken bones, severe lacerations, and back, neck, or head injuries.
    • Aggressive driving: Behaviors such as tailgating and failure to yield can result in rear-end collisions, increasing your risks for whiplash, broken bones, and head injuries.
    • Distracted driving: Using cell phones, texting, or engaging in any activity that distracts you from the task of driving increases the likelihood of all types of accidents and injuries.
    • Speeding: Going over the speed limit or driving too fast for conditions also increases your general car accident risks. The higher the rate of speed, the greater potential for fatal injuries, such as crushing injuries that result in internal bleeding, and head or spinal cord injuries that can be fatal.

    Contact Us Today for Assistance

    If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of another party’s negligent or reckless actions, contact a Virginia personal injury attorney from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn. It is critical to remember that Virginia has placed a statute of limitation on how long victims have to file a claim for damages against those responsible for their injuries, so do not delay. Failure to file before that legal deadline could mean you lose any chance of ever filing your claim or getting justice against the person responsible for you or your loved one’s injuries.

    Contact our office today at 800-752-0042 to set up a free and confidential case evaluation with one of our dedicated Virginia accident attorneys. You may be entitled to financial compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, scarring, and disfigurement. Call our office to find out how we can help.



  • What do the terms "defective product" and "product liability" mean in the legal world?

    A "defective product" is one that causes injury or damage to an individual as a result of a flaw or deficiency in the product such as labeling, construction, or how the product was used. The manufacturer of the product that caused the injury, in addition to the individuals involved in the chain of commerce, are liable for injuries caused by these defective products.

     "Product liability" claims are cases dealing with injury or damage stemming from defective products that run from the apparent (i.e. a car sold with faulty air bags, a mislabeled product or drug that causes injury) to the innocuous (i.e. side effects from an improperly tested prescription drug).




  • Tailgating and Rear-End Crashes

    While every state has rules of the road that drivers are required to obey, the truth is that there are many drivers on the road that feel some of these rules do not apply to them. Violating these traffic rules often leads to serious car accidents that leave victims suffering painful injuries.

    One of the most common traffic violations is tailgating. According to Virginia Traffic Code §46.2-816, a vehicle is not allowed to follow another vehicle “more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time.”

    The law does take into consideration whether or not the vehicles are in congested traffic with limited space between vehicles. In these situations, the law does realize that it is not feasible for a driver to stay well-behind the vehicle that is in front of it.

    What Type of Crashes Can Occur Because of Tailgating?

    When a driver follows too closely to the vehicle in front of them, they increase the risk of crashing into that car if the driver in that vehicle has to suddenly hit their brakes to stop. The most common type of car accident that occurs when a driver is guilty of tailgating is a rear-end collision. The extent of the injuries a victim suffers in a rear-end crash often depends on the speed the vehicles were traveling, however, even a low speed rear-end crash can result in serious injuries, including:

    • Brain injuries
    • Head injuries
    • Neck injuries
    • Paralysis
    • Whiplash
    • Broken bones

    Any driver who is a victim of a rear-end crash caused by the other driver tailgating should document all the information they can following the crash. The more evidence you can gather, the more successful you will be at obtaining whatever financial compensation you may be entitled to under the law.

    Even if a victim does not think they have been injured immediately following the accident, they should still seek out medical attention right away. Many rear-end crash injuries have delayed symptoms and a victim may not even realize they have been injured for days or even weeks after the crash. This delay in medical attention could ultimately give the insurance company ammunition to try to deny your claim.

    It is also important to have your vehicle checked by a mechanic following the accident, even if there is no visible damage to the vehicle. There can be damage to the vehicle that is not visible that can end up causing serious issues, including another severe accident. Some of the damage that an owner may not be aware of includes undercarriage damage, issues with correct body alignment of the vehicle that can affect steering, bumper damage, and damage to the backlights of the vehicle.

    Let a Virginia Injury Attorney Help

    If you have suffered an injury caused by the negligent or reckless behavior of another driver in a rear-end crash, contact a Virginia car accident attorney from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to discuss what your legal options may be. Victims can be compensated for the medical expenses, lost income from being unable to work, pain and suffering, and emotional anguish.

    If they are left with long-term and permanent disability, they may also be entitled to financial compensation for the losses this disability has caused, including loss of future income if they are unable to work or return to their profession, future medical expenses, and the overall negative impact the injury has had on their quality of life.

    Our personal injury attorneys have successfully represented many clients who were forced to deal with painful injuries and long recoveries due to another person’s negligence. Contact our office today at 800-752-0042 to schedule a free case evaluation.



  • How to Recognize an Aggressive Driver

    Most of us have been in traffic situations where an incident occurs – maybe another driver cuts you off and jumps into your lane right in front of you, causing you to have to hit your brakes quickly – that has left us feeling aggravated or frustrated over the other driver’s action. In fact, incidents like these are so common that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that approximately 80 percent of people have experienced anger or aggression while driving at least once.

    Road rage often leads up to serious car crashes that leave victims injured or dead. This is why knowing how to handle road rage, as well as recognize it in other drivers, is critical to staying safe on the roads.

    Defining Road Rage

    Road rage is defined as any aggressive or violent action or behavior that is triggered by the acts or behavior of another driver. In many cases, the offending driver’s anger is not really a result of the other driver’s actions, but is a build-up of anger and frustration over something else they are dealing with in their life. Some of the more common examples of road rage we see hear at our Virginia car accident firm includes:

    • A driver yells at another driver
    • A driver makes angry gestures or blares their horn at another driver
    • A driver pulls their vehicle over in order to confront another driver
    • A driver slams their vehicle into another person’s car
    • A driver runs another driver off the road
    • A driver brandishes or uses a weapon against another driver

    What Should You Do if You Encounter an Aggressive Driver?

    Many situations of road rage began as aggressive driving that escalated. Knowing what the signs are of an aggressive driver can help you identify a vehicle you need to stay away from in order to avoid a crash. Some of the actions of an aggressive driver include:

    • Brake checking (hitting brakes off and on for no reason)
    • Cutting other vehicles off
    • Failure to use turn signals
    • Flashing their headlights
    • Honking their horn
    • Speeding
    • Tailgating
    • Verbal insults at other drivers

    If you are traveling near a driver who exhibits any of the above behaviors, it is important to not engage in any retaliatory behaviors against them, no matter how frustrating you may find their actions. Instead, take the following steps:

    • Keep at a good distance from the other vehicle. If the driver is trying to pass you, let them pass. Change lanes or reduce your speed in order to put distance between your vehicle and theirs.
    • If the driver is trying to get your attention by yelling, swearing, or other action, ignore them. Do not react or engage with them. Do not even make eye contact with them. Any reaction on your part could result in a dangerous escalation of the situation.
    • Make a mental note of the vehicle and the driver. Try to get the vehicle plate number if you can do so safely. If you believe the driver is a danger to other vehicles on the road, report the information to the police.

    Let a Virginia Car Crash Attorney Advocate for You

    Unfortunately, even if you abide by the above information you may still end up in a road rage crash. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by an aggressive driver, contact a seasoned Virginia car accident attorney to find out what legal action you may be able to pursue against the other driver for your pain and loss. Contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to find out what legal recourse you may have.

    Our Va. personal injury law firm has successfully represented many clients who have been injured in aggressive driving crashes and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation and find out how we can help.



  • How to Address Emotional Trauma from a Car Accident?

    While there is much discussion about physical injuries from a car accident, there is not a lot of information about the emotional trauma that many people deal with when they have been in a crash. Many people who have been in car accidents – especially serious ones – experience some type of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress syndrome after the crash. For example, it is not uncommon for a person to become filled with anxiety or even fear every time they have to get back behind the wheel or even as a passenger.

    If you have been in a crash and are experiencing symptoms of emotional trauma, contact a Virginia car accident attorney to find out what type of legal recourse you may have.

    What are the symptoms of emotional trauma?

    Every car accident victim who experiences mental or emotional trauma differently. While some vehicles may experience symptoms immediately following the event, other victims often develop trauma over time. One of the most common emotional issues that car accident victims suffer is PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD include:

    • Emotional numbness
    • Feeling on edge
    • Feeling out of place
    • Feelings of anxiety or hopelessness
    • Flashbacks
    • Inability to relax
    • Inability to sleep
    • Recurrent nightmares
    • Sudden outbursts of anger

    Who will develop PTSD after a crash?

    While anyone can develop PTSD after experiencing a car accident, the following factors may make someone more at risk for developing the disorder:

    • The victim has a history of prior trauma
    • The victim has prior issues with psychological adjustment
    • There is a family history of psychopathology
    • The victim has a perceived life threat to themselves or others
    • The victim does not have the social support following the accident
    • The victim has high levels of emotion (fear, guilt, helplessness, shame) during or immediately following the accident

    What type of treatment can help a victim suffering from PTSD?

    Any victim dealing with PTSD should seek the assistance of a licensed therapist who has experience working with people who have PTSD. Their primary care physician should be able to provide a recommendation.

    It is also important that victims try to maintain their regular routine as much as possible, although this may be difficult if a victim has also suffered serious physical injuries in the car accident. Normal routines help alleviate emotional stress. If the physical and/or emotional injuries negatively impact the victim’s daily life, they may also be entitled to financial compensation in any car accident claim or lawsuit that may be filed against the at-fault party or parties.

    Victims should also seek out legal counsel to help with any car accident claims. It is important for victim to document all of their physical and/or emotional symptoms, treatments, and expenses both before you are able to speak with an attorney and continuing while he or she is working on your case. All of this information can be used as evidence to help prove the damages the victim has suffered because of the accident.

    Contact a Virginia Personal Injury Attorney for Assistance

    If you have been injured in an accident caused by another party, contact a Virginia car accident attorney to find out what legal options you may have. Not only may you be entitled to medical expenses and loss of income, but you may also be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, and any scarring or disfigurement your injuries may leave.

    The legal team from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn has been advocating for injured clients since 1985 and will do all we can to ensure you receive the best possible outcome under the circumstances of your case. If you would like to meet with one of our skilled Va. car accident attorneys to find out how we can help, call us today at 800-752-0042 for a free case evaluation.