It’s about time for all the little ghouls and goblins to make an appearance as we decorate our homes in spooky lights, faux spider webs, and the latest animated mechanical props lying in wait for the little ones to dare approach our front doors.

The origin of what we now call Halloween dates back thousands of years to the ancient Celtic festival of “Samhain”.  The Celts were primarily from what is now Ireland, with a sprinkling of the UK and Northern France.  November 1 was recognized as the beginning of the new year for the Celts.  It marked the end of summer and the end of harvest season and began the long cold winter for the region.  It was believed that the night before the new year represented a point in time when the worlds of the dead and the living could be crossed.  Spooky huh!

The Roman Empire conquered this region allowing Roman rituals to mix somewhat with the Celtic traditions to celebrate the dead late in October.  By the 7th century, Christianity and Pope Gregory III caused All Saints’ Day or All Hallows Day to be celebrated on November 1.  The prevailing belief is that the church was trying to replace the Celtic Festival of the dead with a church-centered holiday.

Some straight facts other than it was hot and this stuff is no joke!! Don’t let the Beer part fool you!! It’s room temperature and you split half a cup with your partner!! Check out below something that we were so honored to be part of again this year!!

Dream on Three and Charlotte’s number 1 Charity event Beers and Burpees!

This year, the goal was to raise $175,000 for Dream on 3, a local wish-granting organization whose mission is: “Making sports dreams come true for children with chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities, or life-altering conditions”.

The Western NC Chapter of A.B.O.T.A. (American Board of Trial Advocates) gathered for an exceptional dinner at Bonterra Restaurant in Charlotte last Thursday evening.

                The dinner included national members from various states and prospective members. Jason Taylor oversees membership for this chapter and organized this event with the help of our own McKenzie Jackson.  Proud to report that another LOJET attorney was in attendance as a prospective member, Mrs. Robyn Buckley.

A.B.O.T.A. is about the preservation of the constitutional right to a jury trial.  Education and protection of our judicial system including our judges.

Car Buying Tips from an Auto Fraud Attorney – Part 1

At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we get multiple calls a day from people who feel they have been defrauded by a car dealership.  As a result, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the most common problems that vehicle buyers deal with.  Below, I’ve laid out a couple of the most common complaints I hear about and some tips that can be used to avoid these issues.

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Problem 1 – Verbal Promises & Representations

You’ve all seen it.  The car swerving ahead of you.  The car drifting into your lane.  The car slamming on brakes at the last minute to avoid the line of stopped traffic.  When you pass by, if you are lucky enough to get by them safely, you see the driver’s head looking straight down at their cell phone actively scrolling their social media or text messages, and ignoring the rest of us on the road.  Not a care in the world except to be intently focused on the latest happenings on social media.

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The most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report that only about 3% of drivers are using cell phone or other electronic devices while driving.  I, for one, do not believe this for a minute.  There is not a day that goes by where I do not see multiple people drifting from their lanes and fully absorbed in their cell phone while driving.  Each day seems to be worse than the previous day.  People are addicted to their Fakebook (you know people are lying about their perfect seeming lives on Facebook, right?) or Instagram accounts.

Cell phone use while driving is dangerous and is considered distracted driving.  Distracted driving accounted for 3166 deaths in 2017 and would appear to be on the rise as we all witness more and more distracted drivers in our daily commutes.  We often perceive distracted driving to be centered around the use of a cell phone while driving, but it can also include eating, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio, or fumbling for other control devices on your dashboard.   In 2017, there were also 599 non-occupants killed in distracted driving crashes which are typically unsuspecting pedestrians, bicyclists, and others just minding their own business.

No two settlements are identical.  But my friend/cousin/neighbor/etc. settled their claim for $$$$ and they were not hurt as bad as I was.  We hear this all the time when it comes to personal injury settlements.  Unfortunately, all I can say in response is “Good for your friend/cousin/neighbor/etc.”  Even within the same vehicle in an accident, there can be different settlement results among the claimants.  That’s because no two people are identical (except identical twins! And even they are going to have some differences—just ask their Mom).

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                Think about it.  Even in a rear-end collision, the occupants of the vehicle are going to be affected differently. *  Those in the back seat may be impacted greater than those in the front seat since they are physically closer to the impact.  Or maybe not.  Maybe the backseat passengers are children who are secured in proper car seats and are more insulated from the impact and were not injured at all, and yet the parents in the front seat sustained soft tissue injuries to their neck and back, or a knee injury from striking the dashboard, or a head injury from striking the steering wheel.  Each of those injuries, or lack thereof, is going to merit a different settlement value.

                However, the nature of the injuries alone do not dictate settlement value.   The amount of settlement bills incurred are also a factor in determining settlement values.  In North Carolina, the amount of bills incurred in an accident has become a veritable playground for insurance companies and hospitals and a minefield for claimants and their attorneys.  This is due to North Carolina General Statute 8C-1-414, commonly referred to as Rule 414.  This is an evidentiary rule stating evidence of medical expenses is limited to the amount “actually paid to satisfy the bills.” Therefore, if the two parents in the above scenario are both employed and each have their own health insurance through their respective employers, and they both go to the same hospital, that hospital may have a difference contract with each health insurance provider.  This can result in the hospital charges that each parent are allowed to claim toward the total bills are different, even if the actual amount of the two hospital bills are the same.  Of course, that would even be assuming they received the same treatment at the hospital.

It goes without saying that you don’t discuss politics or religion if you want to keep from upsetting some folks. So, I am going to briefly discuss both J. I hope you can not only tolerate my comments but go a step further and perhaps rethink your perspective, even if  you disagree with mine.  I want to discuss these issues in the context of the Bill of Rights. I am in the business of helping people, defending and fighting for their rights. All people. I believe in the Bill of Rights with every part of my being. According to the Bill of Rights it does not matter if you are straight or gay, black or white, man or women, republican or democrat or any “one off” from what I have listed.  We all have the same rights recognized and granted to us in the first ten amendments  to the US Constitution.
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Under Amendment 1, we all have the right to believe in whatever religion we choose, including no religion. Each of these are equal, none greater than another. While I am not a huge fan of ORGANIZED religion (of any kind), I respect your right to believe, as well as your right not to. We are also granted the right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. So, say and think what you like, but make sure you stop talking and let others do the same. You are not necessarily right; you are opinionated. Let others give their “2 cents” and if you have an open mind you might learn something. Let the press do their job and be thankful, even if you don’t like their slanted view, that they have a RIGHT to report it. I miss the days of straight forward news reporting instead of the opinionated perspectives we get today, but they are FREE to do it that way. Fortunately, you can get the facts if you change the channel and learn to listen and determine your own opinions. I encourage you to stop regurgitating  the sound bites you hear and get the full story, contemplate it and share “your thoughts” not as truth but as “your thoughts.”   
 
Under Amendment 2, we have the right to own and keep guns. If you don’t like them, don’t buy them. If you like them, buy them and act responsibly. It is this right that in my humble opinion keeps our government and others from suppressing us the citizens even more. I often get concerned about our government infringing on our rights, both parties by the way. My guns are my last line of defense and I will keep them. Thank you.

Picture it:  you’re driving home from a long day at work. You reach an intersection with a green light. But, you’re t-boned by someone that runs the red light while on their cell phone. You have suffered some very severe injuries. You must be extracted from your car by the fire department. You’re flown by helicopter to the nearest trauma center and spend a month in the hospital. Your medical bills when you’re released are more than $150,000. You also have a permanent injury and can’t return to your old job or way of life.accident-on-the-city-road-at-night_t20_neaR6K-300x200

            The liability insurance for the person that caused the accident becomes the first source of your recovery. Each state sets the minimum amount (“minimum limits” in lawyer-speak) each driver must have in order to drive. North Carolina’s minimum limit is $30,000South Carolina’s minimum limit is $25,000.  There are no hard statistics, but (in our experience) the vast majority of drivers carry only the amount required by law. It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out that a minimum limit policy doesn’t go very far in your situation.  This sad scenario is something that we as injury lawyers see far too common. There is no worse feeling than telling an injured person that there is no way to get more money for a client.

            So, how do you avoid being out of money in a serious accident. You need to add a three-letter acronym to your own car insurance:  UIM.  UIM stands for under-insured motorist coverage. It is an optional coverage in both North and South Carolina.  UIM provides coverage to you in the event you’re in an accident in which the at-fault driver (the person that caused the accident) doesn’t have enough insurance to pay your bills. UIM covers you as a driver, not just your vehicle. The more UIM you buy then the greater your protection will be in the event of a catastrophic accident. The law in South Carolina requires an insurance agent to make a “meaningful offer” of UIM coverage. But you should specifically ask for UIM coverage as part of being an informed consumer.

BLUE LIGHTS – EMPTY WALLETS

IF YOU USE A CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING IN NORTH CAROLINA

A bill has been introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly to make it a crime to use your cell phone while driving.  House Bill 144 would outlaw “distracted driving” and impose penalties that increase with subsequent offenses.  Beginning December 1, 2019, the police will have reason to pull over drivers who use their hands to engage in distracted behavior that impairs their operation of a motor vehicle.  The definition includes the use of a handheld mobile telephone or handheld electronic device.  If you receive one of these tickets, then be prepared to spend a pretty penny because the infraction carries a $100 fine in addition to the costs of court which boosts the total cost of a citation to nearly $300.  If you receive a second offense, then the fine goes up as well as carrying insurance points which will also cost you more money.  If you don’t learn a lesson from the previous two tickets, then you can expect a $200 fine, court costs, and 2 insurance points for another offense within 3 years.

The 7th Amendment, is a tool designed by our founding fathers to ensure that the powerful and the weak, the rich and the poor, the politically connected and the unknown are equal in their ability to share their story with a jury.  Making sure these rights are forever retained by the citizens, helps protect us from tyranny.  This changed in the early 80’s when a handful of Supreme Court decisions incorrectly applied the Federal Arbitration Act to consumers and employees instead of leaving it between merchants as it was intended. It was a voluntary way merchants (equal power) could resolve disputes quickly and cheaply without having to go through the court system for contract disputes. The Supreme Court has allowed the Arbitration Act to be applied to individuals and enforced even when state law has voided them. This irrational reasoning was again the foundation of a 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision last year in Epic Systems Case, which allowed enforcement of arbitration clauses preventing employees from banding together to hold employers breaking the law accountable. When Wells Fargo cheated its customers by creating and charging for extra accounts, it protected itself with the forced arbitration clauses consumers did not know they had signed when they opened accounts. You find these forced arbitration clauses in all kinds of unusual places like nursing home agreements, cell phone contracts, banking agreements etc. It protects big business by preventing the harmed individual from having his or her day in court. The arbitration process limits discovery of information does not apply the rules of civil procedure, they frequently require secrecy of the results and are subject to the whim of a private arbitrator without the ability to appeal.

The US House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1423 to repeal mandatory forced arbitration. Call your senator and tell them to support the “Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act”. Every citizen deserves their right, assured to them under the Constitution to have a trial by jury. This is not a Republican versus Democrat or Conservative versus Liberal issue, it is as necessary to protect the right to a trial as it is to protect freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of religion or any other right afforded us by the Constitution. Be heard and fight for what is yours as an American, YOUR RIGHTS.

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