February 2017

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The Dreaded “Degeneration” Diagnosis? Not So Fast


Insurance companies love to see “Degenerative Disk Disease” and other similar diagnoses of degeneration in medical records, and they – inaccurately – deny claims based on the fact that they assert the claim is based on a pre-existing or unrelated injury.  Don’t let this deter you from seeking compensation for injuries sustained in an accident where degeneration is present.  You are still entitled to compensation for injuries that are related to the accident, along with any damages for the aggravation or exacerbation of a previous injury.

If you have been diagnosed with degenerative disk disease, your condition makes you vulnerable to increased injury, and, pursuant to the well-established “eggshell skull” doctrine, a negligent person who causes injuries is still responsible for the damages they cause, regardless if you were more susceptible to injury than a person without the condition.

What is disk degeneration? 

Disk degeneration is a normal part of the aging process.  In intervertebral disks, it can cause pain to the point of interfering with daily activities.  For most people, it does not cause a problem.  From a medical standpoint, the disk reduces its ability to act as a shock absorber as a result of becoming dehydrated.

This causes a decrease in the space between the vertebrae and may also cause discs to bulge outward over time. This degeneration makes people more susceptible to accident or injury, thereby requiring less force to do the same damage to the spine than a younger or more able-bodied person. This is known as a prior infirm condition. Disk degeneration also causes a person to be more inclined to disk herniation. Trauma, such as a car collision or a hard fall, is the most common cause of the activation of symptoms caused by degenerative disk disease.

Plaintiffs will often find that insurance companies use degeneration as an excuse to explain away your post-accident pain. They argue that they shouldn’t have to pay to fix a condition that was already there. It is the pain, however, that is the key. If the traumatic event causes the pain to present or increase, even to the point that a surgery is necessary, the law says that you can recover damages.

This can present extremely complex and nuanced issues that require the expertise of a personal injury lawyer Little Rock AR relies on and a team of medical experts.  For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran trial lawyer to deal with issues of exacerbation of pre-existing injuries.


Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Pedestrians Involved in Vehicle Accidents


As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the United States in 2013. Over 150,000 others were treated in emergency rooms. Pedestrians are particularly exposed when hit by a motor vehicle. They don’t have a steel body and frame around them to protect them, and the only crumple zones that they have are their bones and joints. Pedestrians also have no restraint system, and the only thing to cushion the impact is the pavement. Here are some FAQs and answers involving pedestrian accidents.

Can you represent me and sue the driver of the vehicle that hit me?

Yes, a skilled personal injury lawyer Minneapolis MN trusts can sue that driver for your injuries and damages. The most likely cause of action would be negligence. We will need to prove each and every required element of negligence in order for you to be entitled to an award of damages.

What if an immediate family member of mine was killed by a negligent driver?

In the event that an immediate family member was a pedestrian and died in a crash, we can file a wrongful death action. Most wrongful death cases are brought under the law of negligence, so we will still need to prove the elements of negligence to prevail.

Can I collect damages if I was partially at fault?

A person can still collect damages in nearly all states so long as he or she was no more than 50 or 51 percent at fault. In a minority of states a person can still collect damages if he or she was 90 percent at fault. In a smaller minority of states, a person cannot collect damages if any liability at all was attributed to him or her. We will be pleased to discuss any possible issues of comparative negligence with you.

What damages are available in a pedestrian accident case?

Damages consist of both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages might be past and future medical and rehab bills along with past and future lost earnings. Funeral and burial costs are also available in wrongful death cases. Non-economic damages can consist of any permanent disfigurement or disability, pain and suffering, and loss of a normal life.

What happens if the person who hit me had no insurance?

Almost all uninsured motorist insurance covers you and your immediate family members who are residents of your household as pedestrians or bicyclists. If you had uninsured motorist insurance, we can make a damages claim under that. We can also make a claim if the person had insurance but was underinsured.

The driver who hit me drove off. What can I do?

Assuming that you had uninsured motorist insurance, it likely covers you for damages that you suffer as a pedestrian who was hit and injured by a hit-and-run driver. We must first prove contact between you and the hit-and-run vehicle.

What are the common causes of pedestrian accidents?

Driver error like speeding or failing to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian are frequent causes of pedestrian accidents. With the proliferation of cellular and mobile devices, we’re seeing a dramatic rise of pedestrian accidents that are caused by motorists who are distracted while driving.

If you are hit by a motor vehicle, you can expect serious injuries. If the motorist was insured, you can expect his or her insurer to try to shift some or all of the blame onto you. Don’t give an insurer a statement about your injuries or the accident. It will only be used against you in the future. Contact us right away for a free case consultation and evaluation. No legal fees are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Johnston | Martineau PLLP for their insight into personal injury practice.

Your Legal Options After a Motorcycle Accident Injury Turns More Serious


Motorcycle accidents are becoming increasingly common, primarily due to the number of motorcycles that are on the road. According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a motorcycle crash and five times as likely to be seriously injured than those riding in passenger cars, trucks, or SUV’s.

While some motorcycle accident victims suffer minor injuries during a crash, others sustain more serious injuries that will affect them for a lifetime. The following is an overview of how personal injury law works and the options you have available after a serious motorcycle accident injury.

Types of Injuries

Many people who are injured in motorcycle accidents believe their injuries are minor, until things take a turn for the worse. Very often, accident victims are unaware of just how serious their injuries are until they begin to experience complications. The severity of injuries typically depends on the force of impact and the manner in which the motorcyclist was struck. Some of the most common types of injuries motorcyclists sustain include:

  • Broken Bones
  • Crush Injuries
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Closed Head Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Neck Problems
  • Back Injuries
  • Injured Limbs that Require Amputation

Your Legal Options

If your injuries are more severe than your doctor first suspected or if you suffered complications that have serious consequences, you may need to speak with an attorney. An attorney will examine your case and let you know the best way to proceed. If you have a valid claim, one of your legal options is to seek compensation from the at-fault driver through a personal injury lawsuit. Your  motorcycle accident attorney may be able to help you accomplish this by:

  • Investigating the Accident
  • Obtaining Police Reports
  • Speaking With Your Doctors
  • Negotiating With Insurance Companies
  • Filing Court Documents
  • Representing You at Trial


You may be able to obtain a settlement for certain types of damages if your lawsuit is successful or if your attorney can negotiate an out-of-court settlement. Some of the most commonly awarded damages in accident cases include:

  • Unpaid Hospital Bills
  • Doctor Fees
  • Cost of Alternate Transportation
  • Cost of Medical Devices
  • Lost Wages if You Cannot Work
  • Cost of Therapy

If your injuries are significant enough, you may also be awarded a monetary settlement for emotional distress and pain and suffering. Punitive damages may be awarded in cases where the at-fault driver was guilty of gross negligence. These types of damages are typically harsh and designed to discourage the defendant from making the same mistake again.

Hiring an attorney who has trial experience is the best way to increase your chance of obtaining a fair settlement for the injuries you have suffered due to another driver’s negligence. If have suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, contact a personal injury attorney to explore all your legal options

Drug Charges: 3 Common Case Factors



  1. Marijuana in a car
  2. Constructive Possession
  3. First Offenders Programs

Marijuana in a car

We see the vast majority of our North Carolina marijuana possession cases when people have drugs in their car or have been smoking at some point in the car.  When an officer pulls over a motorist for any relatively minor violation of the vehicle code and detects the odor of marijuana emanating from a vehicle, probable cause exists for a warrantless search of the vehicle for marijuana.  So if an officer smells marijuana in your car in North Carolina he or she will very likely search your car for drugs without your consent and without a search warrant.  

Constructive Possession

Possession may be actual or constructive. A defendant has actual possession of contraband if it is on his or her person, the defendant is aware of its presence, and either alone or with others has the power and intent to control its disposition or use. Constructive possession exists when the defendant, while not having actual possession, has the intent and capability to maintain control and dominion over the contraband.  We see issues of constrictive possession where the police will search a home or other place and find drugs.  It’s a bit easier for the State of North Carolina to make a case for constructive possession if they find drugs in someone’s room in a shared home or apartment.  It’s more difficult to make a case for constrictive possession when they find drugs in a shared area or a common area in a home or apartment.  When a defendant has exclusive possession of the place where or item in which the drugs are found, such as a home or a vehicle, this ordinarily is sufficient to establish the requisite intent and capability to maintain control and dominion over the contraband required for constructive possession.  So if drugs are found in a closet in the defendant’s home and the defendant is the sole resident of the home that would constitute sufficient evidence of constructive possession to take the issue to the judge or jury.

First Offenders Programs

Many people charged with minor drug crimes may be eligible for a dismissal of the charge and then an expungement through a first offenders or deferral programs.  For many youthful offenders there are programs where they can take drug classes in exchange for a dismissal of the charges.  While a defendant may have a good case the first offenders programs and deferral programs are generally easy to complete and the end result of a dismissal makes taking a case to trial less desirable when a more certain outcome is available.

If you have been charged with marijuana possession in Wake County, North Carolina you should contact a Raleigh Drug Crimes Lawyer.  An criminal defense lawyer can advise you on whether or not you have a good defense to your case and whether a deferral program or first offenders program may be a good option for the specific facts of your case.