NCAJ Leaders’ Forum Firm HensonFuerst, P.A. Launches GoFundMe Page for Disabled Veteran Client Losing His Home

Willard Swinson, born and raised in Clinton, NC, a college graduate with a degree in history and political science, and an Air Force Veteran, suffered a devastating and life-altering fall in 2006, which left him a quadriplegic. After several years in rehabilitation hospitals, he returned to his Clinton, NC home, now wheelchair bound.

The roof of the home began to leak.  Willard had plumbing and roofing repairs done, but the roof still required additional repair, so it was partially covered with a tarp.   Willard survives on veterans’ benefits and social security disability benefits. While he was trying to figure out how he could pay for the roof repairs on his limited income, the City of Clinton instructed him to vacate his home for code violations.

Not knowing he could fight this, he moved out of his own home and moved into the first place he could find:  subsidized housing for the elderly for which he must pay rent, straining his very limited disability income.

Shortly thereafter, Hurricane Matthew struck, leaving Willard’s home beyond repair.

Willard has tried repeatedly to get his home repaired.  He attended all City Council meetings to defend his home. In 2017, the City sought to demolish the home, at Willard’s expense.

HensonFuerst, P.A. learned of Willard’s dilemma, wanted to help him save his home (the only asset he owns debt free), and began representing him on a pro-bono basis.

Unable to stop Willard’s home from being condemned, the firm is currently working with him, the City of Clinton, and the community around him to raise funds to build another home on the site — one that is wheelchair accessible.    Todd Belisle at The Centers, an NCAJ sponsor and financial supporter, has also joined the effort, providing work for him pro-bono.

The NC Advocates for Justice is proud of the work of HensonFuerst, P.A. and The Centers and their dedication to the mission to protect people’s rights.

Click below to learn more about Mr. Willard Swinson, who has inspired the folks at HensonFuerst, P.A.:

https://www.gofundme.com/help-rebuild-the-swinson-home

Please consider donating today to move a veteran back into a safe home, his own home, on his own land!

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Don’t Put Danger Under the Tree: Toys to Avoid This Christmas

If you are shopping for a Christmas gift for a child this holiday season, remember that safety should be a top priority. While toys may appear to be safe, some are not properly labeled or tested and may pose serious health risks.

Fortunately, watchdog groups like the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) have taken the time to research the most popular toys this year. They recently released their “Trouble in Toyland” report, warning consumers about potentially dangerous toys and other gifts for kids.

Over the past three decades, U.S. PIRG reports have led to more than 150 recalls of potentially dangerous toys, and its public awareness campaigns have helped lawmakers and consumers alike realize the dangers of these defective products. For 2017, the group’s attention focused on the newest and biggest threats that these products pose to children today, including:

  • Data-Collecting Toys – Toys that pose a serious risk to children according to data privacy laws
  • Choking Hazards
  • Lead Poisoning Threats

Because consumer watchdog groups continue to find issues with products marketed for and to children, the public and government agencies need to remain vigilant when it comes to ensuring that children are not harmed by unsafe or defective toys.

Some of the dangerous toys identified by the U.S. PIRG report include:

  • My Friend Cayla Doll – Several consumer groups have lodged complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over concerns that this Internet-connected “smart toy” may violate children’s data privacy laws.
  • Fidget Spinners – Two models of popular fidget spinners were shown to contain excessive amounts of lead. Because the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does not consider fidget spinners to be “children’s products,” they are not regulated under federal lead standards for children’s products.
  • Balloons and Games – Two very different products both pose serious choking hazards to children.

One of the primary concerns of the watchdog groups is misleading or inaccurate warning labels. Parents, relatives, or friends may not be aware of the dangers of these products when purchasing them for the children on their Christmas list, and serious injuries or death may occur.

Because of the very real dangers, it is our responsibility as consumers to protect ourselves and the children in our lives from the threats posed by hazardous products. While it may be impossible to identify every dangerous toy on your list, here are a few helpful guidelines when shopping for a child this Christmas:

  • Do Your Research – Make sure to research each toy on your list this year. Many different groups and publications like the S. PIRG, Good Housekeeping, Time Magazine, and others release lists of the most unsafe children’s products each year.
  • Read the Labels – While some labels may be misleading, the majority of manufacturers try to list the potential hazards right on the box. Most toys will have a clear age-range indication displayed on the packaging.
  • Use Common Sense – When buying a toy for a child, it is important to assess the product’s safety yourself before purchasing it. If it seems poorly manufactured or has small pieces, you may consider selecting a different gift. A good rule of thumb when it comes to assessing choking hazards, specifically, is if a toy can fit inside of a toilet paper roll, it is too small and can easily become lodged in a child’s throat.

Despite your best efforts to be an informed consumer and purchase safe presents for children, it is still possible that a defective toy or other children’s product could result in serious harm to a loved one.

As consumers, we have a right to expect that the products we purchase are safe for use, especially when it comes to children. If a product is hazardous or if it is not accurately labeled and is sold to unsuspecting consumers, the injured parties and their loved ones may be eligible to take legal action as a result. If a child is harmed by a defective product, the manufacturer and every party in the distribution chain could be held liable for the injuries.

Get Legal Help for Injuries Caused by Dangerous Toys

At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP, our experienced product liability attorneys have helped many injured victims of defective products recover the full and fair compensation that they may deserve. If your child has been injured by a defective or dangerous toy or other children’s product, please do not hesitate to contact our team today to schedule your free case evaluation. Our firm represents victims throughout the region, including in Asheville, Franklin, Waynesville, North Carolina and Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Since 1979, Grimes Teich Anderson LLP has represented the injured and disabled.  The attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson are leaders in Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina in representing clients in personal injury matters, workers compensation claims, Social Security disability claims, and employment law matters and veterans’ law.  Grimes Teich Anderson has an active litigation practice with multiple trial tested attorneys, including Henry Teich, a North Carolina Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist.   For more information, visit http://www.gtalaw.net.

NC Expunction Laws Give New Hope to Countless Thousands of North Carolinians

Effective December 1, 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly has implemented the broadest and possibly most important changes to existing North Carolina expunction laws to date. Senate Bill 445 passed the North Carolina Senate by a 47-2 vote and the House by a 103-2 vote. This bill contains numerous changes, but there are two MASSIVE changes in particular that this post is meant to highlight. If you are interested in an expunction and believe you meet these criteria or are close, you should contact us immediately at 336-574-2788!

NCGS 15A-146

Perhaps the most important change made by the legislature is under the expunction statute for dismissed charges or findings of not guilty. For years petitioners were limited to a single expunction under this statute, meaning you could only expunge one charge or one group of charges; however, under the new law petitioners can now receive unlimited expunctions of dismissed charges or not guilty charges, SO LONG AS THEY HAD NOT PREVIOUSLY BEEN CONVICTED OF A FELONY. The implications of this change are MASSIVE. If you have dismissed charges on your record you would like expunged, even if you have already previously had other dismissed charges expunged, you will now be eligible for further expunctions as of December 1, 2017!

NCGS 15A-145.5

The second most important change made by the legislature is under the expunction statute for convictions. While the legislature did not change the criteria as to what convictions may be expunged (limited to “non-violent” felonies and misdemeanors as defined by the statute) and the requirement that the individual not have any other misdemeanor or felony convictions other than those sought to be expunged, the legislature has reduced the waiting period from 15 years to only 10 years for eligible felony convictions and only 5 years for eligible misdemeanors.

As always, we will keep you updated of changes in North Carolina expunction laws. We have handled hundreds if not thousands of expunctions and are widely recognized for our abilities in this area. We would be happy to help you determine if you are eligible for an expunction and if so, to assist you in cleaning up your past records. If you think you are potentially eligible for an expunction, give us a call at 336-574-2788.

The Clifford Division of Clifford Clendenin & O’Hale, LLP (Clifford & Harris, PLLC as of January 1, 2018) is located in Greensboro, North Carolina and practices almost exclusively in State and Federal Criminal Defense. The Firm consists of Attorneys Locke T. Clifford, Andrew C. Clifford and Daniel A. Harris. All three are regularly included in SuperLawyers and Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite and represent several generations of excellence and a legacy of success. The firm handles all levels Felonies and Misdemeanors, DWIs, Traffic tickets, Expungements, Juvenile charges, DMV hearings, and much more. To learn more, visit http://www.NotGuiltyNC.com.

Negligent Homeowners — Trick or Treat…

Negligent homeowners beware: it’s Halloween and you’re getting visitors. North Carolina premises liability law governs whether you will be held liability for injuries sustained on your property. With Halloween just around the corner, you’ll no doubt be getting lots of guests to your property, whether you like it or not. Most of these guests are small children who will be running through the dark of night toward your front door in hopes of scoring lots of candy. But what happens if they trip and fall along the way?

The Basics of Premises Liability Law in NC

Property owners have a duty to keep their property safe. Negligent homeowners will pay the price for failing to do so, as the rules of negligence in personal injury extend not only to retail property owners, but also to homeowners. In some instances there are conditions which are dangerous or potentially dangerous. If the property owner can not remedy those conditions, there is at the very least a duty to warn your visitors and guests of the dangerous conditions, especially if it’s reasonable to expect visitors.

In addition to the potential for a trick-or-treater falling on your property, you should also beware that Halloween is a time where the family dog may not be so fond of visitors dressed in strange costumes. It’s reasonable to expect dog bites and injuries related to dog attacks to increase during Halloween, and the property owner or dog owner can be held liable for the attack, especially if the dog has a documented history of such behavior.

Am I A Negligent Homeowner?

Each claim against a negligent homeowner in a personal injury matter essentially requires that the components of Negligence are satisfied in order for the plaintiff to successfully prove their case. Those elements are:

  • The homeowner owed a duty to the injured party
  • The duty was breached
  • The breach of that duty gave rise to the injury in question
  • There were damages resulting directly from the injury

There are numerous instances where a homeowner may in fact be negligent; however, if there are no damages resulting from that negligence, there is no claim to be pursued by the other party. For example, a homeowner who fails to maintain his walkway may have breached his duty to his guest. If that guest trips and falls because of this failure to maintain the walkway, the guest is well on their way to having a negligence claim against the property owner. However, consider that in some instances the trip and fall victim lands softly in the grass, gets up, wipes the grass stains off of their pants, and realizes they are not injured. In this case, there is no viable claim for recovery under the principle of Negligence, as the fourth prong of Negligence has not been met: there are no damages (other than a bruised ego from falling in front of friends).

How Long Do I Have To File A Lawsuit?

As with most negligence claims, you have three years from the date of the accident to settle the claim or file a lawsuit. This is known as the statute of limitations. This three-year time frame gives the injured party enough time to realize the full extent of their injuries. It also gives the injured party enough time to receive treatment for those injuries and obtain representation (i.e. get a personal injury lawyer) so that they may recover from the negligent homeowner.

Call A Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or someone you know was injured at a private residence or in a retail location, call us today for a free case evaluation. You can reach us at 704.749.7747. Or, you can click HERE to request a phone call from an attorney. We hope you’ll choose to Recover With Us.

This post was authored by The Layton Law Firm, a Personal Injury and Consumer Bankruptcy firm in Charlotte, NC.  The Personal Injury work the firm handles ranges from minor traffic accidents and slip and fall cases, to wrongful death and medical malpractice cases. The Bankruptcy work the firm handles is all consumer-related and is a Federal law practice focused on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings for individuals.  Chris Layton, J.D. is the founder of The Layton Law Firm. He holds a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Maryland at College Park and a J.D. from Wake Forest University. For more, visit thelaytonlawfirm.com/.

Avoiding Scams While Receiving SSD Benefits

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits were created to help support those who suffer from physical or mental disabilities and are unable to work. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous scammers take advantage of those in need by stealing these benefits.

To avoid becoming the victim of a Social Security Disability scam, it is important to protect your personal information and remain wary of callers who claim to work for the Social Security Administration (SSA) and are asking for your Social Security number or account information. If you suspect that your payments have been stolen, it is important to contact an experienced Social Security Disability attorney who can advise you.

Obtaining Personal Information by Phone

There are, unfortunately, a variety of common scams that target those who receive disability benefits. In most cases, these scams involve someone impersonating a Social Security employee in order to obtain the recipient’s personal information.

For example, perpetrators often call recipients on the phone and pose as agents in order to “verify” the person’s personal information. This includes not only Social Security numbers, but also bank information and birth dates. Once the scammer has this information, he or she may contact the SSA posing as the victim and attempt to change the person’s direct deposit information. In this way, scammers are able to collect thousands of dollars in benefits that rightfully belong to others.

Victims may not even realize that they have been taken advantage of until they have missed numerous payments.

Another phone-based scam targets those who are applying to the Social Security Administration for benefits. In this scheme, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the scammer calls a person and offers to help them complete the disability benefits application process.

However, the victim is told that before the application can be submitted, he or she must provide identifying information, including a Social Security number or bank account number. Social Security Disability recipients are urged to be wary of those calling and purporting to be representatives of the SSA. You should not provide personal information or bank account information over the phone to anyone who you do not know. The Social Security Administration does not call and request sensitive account information over the phone.

Reimbursing the SSA

Sometimes, the SSA miscalculates an individual’s benefits and legitimately overpays those who are receiving disability compensation. Once the SSA realizes the mistake, the administration will send the benefits’ recipient a letter. The SSA often requires the recipients to return a portion of the funds. This is usually done by making deductions from future payments or by having the recipient send a check.

Unfortunately, many SSD recipients don’t know this and when they receive calls from someone purporting to be the SSA, they often send prepaid debit cards upon request to the scammer.

Recipients should be wary of any person who claims to be an employee of the SSA who requests repayment in this manner. Legitimate members of the agency will only require repayment through check or through deductions.

Online Account Scams

Recently, the SSA began using My Social Security Account, which is an online account system that was created to give recipients of disability benefits easy, online access to their Social Security information.

Users may check their earnings records, change their electronic payment methods, check benefit information, and receive an estimate of future benefits. Unfortunately, scammers have begun creating these online accounts for people who do not have one, after which they attempt to change the victim’s direct deposit information so that the disability payment is sent to their own account.

To help combat this type of Social Security disability scam, the SSA suggests that all disability payment recipients register for an account, even if they don’t plan to use it because if someone already has an account, a scammer’s attempt to create one would fail and the account holder’s personal information would remain protected.

Fraudulent emails, designed to look like they are from the SSA, are another common method of identity theft and Social Security disability fraud.

Many of these emails are written by scammers who ask the recipient to update his or her personal information in order to continue receiving benefits. These emails usually include a link to an official-looking website where victims are directed to provide their Social Security numbers and banking information.

This information is then used to collect the person’s benefits or to steal other assets.

Recipients should consider reviewing their online Social Security accounts to keep an eye on the status of their disability benefits and to review their statements. Those who find any discrepancies can contact the SSA before losing more benefits or assets to a scammer.

Text Messages

Scammers do not restrict their methods of contacting potential victims to computers and phone calls. In fact, the SSA has begun receiving a number of reports revealing that scammers have been sending text messages to disability recipients.

The texts direct the recipient to call a certain telephone number where they will receive information about their benefits, a pending claim, or a hearing. The victims are asked to provide personal information, which can be used to steal benefits.

To avoid becoming a victim of a disability benefit texting scam, remember to never provide personal information over the phone or by text message. The SSA never sends unsolicited text messages about disability applications or benefits. If you receive a call requesting information, it is almost definitely a scam.

Social Security representatives may contact you about an application for benefits or call to remind you about a hearing date. But they will never send text messages and won’t ask for personal identifiers.

Call Today to Talk with a Social Security Disability Attorney

If you have received a phone call, text message, or email from someone purporting to be from the SSA, do not hesitate to call your local Social Security office and report the communication to the authorities if the individuals requested personal information. Even people who use the utmost care to protect their information can fall prey to identity theft.

If you have questions about seeking Social Security Disability benefits, please contact us at Hardison & Cochran. Our legal team has the experience and resources to offer guidance about your SSD claim.

This post was authored by NCAJ Leaders Forum member Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law.    The firm’s focus on making things happen and putting the client first has proved successful. From the original office located in Dunn, North Carolina the firm has grown to add offices in Raleigh, Greensboro, Fayetteville, Southern Pines, Durham and Wilmington.

Tips To Prevent Five Common Cycling Injuries

Everything you do in life has risks, and bicycling is no exception. Each year in the United States, more than 500,000 people end up in emergency rooms due to bicycle-related injuries. At Henson Fuerst, bicycle accident law firm, we’ve handled hundreds of cases involving cyclists who were seriously injured on the road.The most common bicycle-related injury we see is head injury, including concussion. A concussion is a form of brain injury, and its effects can range from mild to life-altering. Of all of the trauma related injuries (broken bones, road rash and dislocations), head trauma is the only one that we can prevent – not totally, but significantly. Simply wear a helmet when riding.

Thomas Henson of Henson Fuerst law firm is an avid cyclist and he writes a monthly article for Endurance Magazine. Thomas has seen what these injuries can do to cyclist. His article is informative to all those out there who enjoy cycling – whether you do it for fun or to get some daily exercise, these injuries can happen at anytime.

The article touches on how to prevent the the 5 most common cycling injuries, including:

  • Head Trauma Injuries
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Ulnar Neuropathy
  • Saddle Sores
  • Knee Problems

To read more about how you can prevent these injuries, check out Thomas’ article in this months Endurance Magazine. You can view his article on pg. 10!

If you or a loved one has suffered from serious injuries in a Bicycle Accident that was not your fault, call Henson Fuerst at (866) 677-0420. When you call, you will receive a FREE, confidential consultation with one of our experienced North Carolina Bike Accident attorneys.

At Henson Fuerst, we will investigate every detail of your bike accident at no cost to you and fight hard to protect your rights. You can trust Henson Fuerst to handle every detail of your case so you can focus on your recovery. You will never pay an attorney’s fee up front, and you owe us nothing until we recover for you.

HensonFuerst, PA is a multidisciplinary firm dedicated to protecting the rights of victims in North Carolina.  Established in 1976, the firm exclusively represents those injured as a result of catastrophic personal injury, tractor trailer accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers’ compensation, social security disability, mass torts, defective products, and land condemnation.  For more information, visit www.lawmed.com.

Accidents involving a common carrier

Most Cary residents have been on a bus, in a taxi or on a plane. These transportation options are all considered “common carriers”. But what are common carriers and what duty do they have to their passengers?

A common carrier is an entity whose business is to move people from one location to another for a fee. These can include buses, trains, boats, planes or taxis. If a passenger is injured on one of these vehicles, the company may be liable. Most transportation companies have to follow government regulations when offering their services to the public. They are required to have the highest degree of safety for their passengers. A carrier can be held liable for injuries sustained by a passenger if they failed to follow an established regulation or did not exercise with care and diligence.

If a person is injured on a carrier, there are a number of things they need to prove in order to hold the carrier at fault. First, they need to show that the carrier owed the passenger a duty and that they breached that duty. In addition, the breach of duty then caused the passenger’s injury and if that breach of duty did not occur then the passenger would not have been injured. Finally, the passenger needs to show that they suffered damages in the form of an injury, emotional distress, loss of wages, etc.

If a person believes they were injured on a common carrier as the result of negligence of the carrier, they may want to speak with a legal professional skilled in personal injury. An attorney has the legal expertise necessary to understand what is needed to prove their client’s case. There are many sources of evidence a passenger may use to prove their case. Evidence may include witness reports, expert witness testimony, inspection reports, and videos or pictures. An attorney can gather this evidence and help ensure their client receives the compensation they deserve.

Source: injury.findlaw.com, “What is a common carrier?,” accessed on July 15, 2017

This post was authored by The Law Offices of John M. McCabe, P.A. in Cary, North Carolina ~  Dependable & Aggressive Lawyers Serving All Of North Carolina.   Since 1994, injury victims in the Raleigh area have been able to count on The Law Offices of John M. McCabe, P.A. to pursue the compensation and benefits they deserve in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases.  Whether you were injured in a car accident, on-the-job accident, dog bite, or as a result of a defective product, they will go to bat for the outcome you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney from their firm, please call  919-899-9852 or toll free at 877-320-1851. Their firm has been given the highest ratings for their legal skills and ethics, including being named a Super Lawyer, one of the Best Lawyers in America and one of the top trial lawyers in North Carolina.