Law Office of Matthew B. Smith, P.A. | Attorney Located in Monroe NC | 704-283-6116
 
questions about the law

General

Do you accept payment arrangements?

  • Yes. I understand that retaining an attorney can be quite expensive. I will work with you to get the results you need. I am always open to discussing reasonable payment plans.

Traffic

Can I represent myself?

  • Yes. You have the right to represent yourself. However, I do not recommend it. There are many things that can go wrong when you try to help yourself. My knowledge and service will usually pay for itself by reducing or eliminating court costs and fines and insurance premium increases.

Should I just pay my citation?

  • No. Paying your citation at the courthouse, online or by mail is the same as pleading guilty. Paying your citation can have serious consequences.

Will I have to appear in court if I hire you?

  • Probably not. In most cases I can handle your matter without you ever appearing in court. You will sign a Waiver of Appearance form authorizing me to plead you guilty to your charge or “any lesser-included offense”. While I have the authority to plead you guilty to the original offense, I will not do so. But I must have the ability to do this in order for you to avoid appearing in court.

Will my insurance increase if you represent me?

  • Probably not, depending on your driver record and the severity of the offense identified in your citation. Most traffic offenses can be reduced to “non-moving violations”, with no effect on your driver license or insurance.

I was involved in an accident, and the officer gave me a citation. What do I do now?

  • The most common charges for a driver involved in an accident are Failure to Reduce Speed, Failure to Yield and Unsafe Movement. You should notify your insurance carrier immediately that you have been involved in an accident. You pay premiums to your insurance carrier to insure you and help you in the event you have an accident. If your carrier decides to accept liability for the accident, they will normally compensate the other individuals involved in the accident for their losses. Ask them for a “court letter”. With this court letter, the District Attorney’s office will normally dismiss the traffic charge.

DWI

How soon should I contact an attorney after being arrested for DWI?

  • Immediately! The sooner you have me involved, the better off you are. There are some deadlines of which you should be aware. I can help.

I refused to submit to a Chemical Analysis of my blood and I received a letter from the DMV saying my license was being suspended. What do I do?

  • Contact me immediately. The DMV can suspend your license for up to 12 months for refusing to submit to a Chemical Analysis. There are many defenses available to you to prevent this suspension, but time is critical. You will normally receive the notification from the DMV within two weeks of the refusal. You have a right to a hearing, but you must request one prior to the effective date of the suspension. This is usually within 10 days of the notice. If you miss your deadline to request the hearing, the suspension is effective immediately and cannot be appealed because you have waived your rights! In most cases you will not be eligible for ANY privilege to drive for at least six months.

The magistrate/officer took my license after I was arrested. Can I drive?

  • In North Carolina, if you register a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher (.04 if operating a commercial vehicle) or refuse to submit to a chemical analysis, the DMV will suspend your license for 30 days. This is called Civil Revocation. Do Not Drive. If you do, it is considered Driving While License Revoked, which can carry serious consequences including active jail time. Your privilege to drive is suspended for 30 days. After 30 days have elapsed, you can pay $100 to the cashier at the courthouse and your privilege to drive is fully restored pending resolution of the DWI charge. The court cashier should have your actual license in their possession depending on what county you are charged in.

Is there a way to have my privilege to drive restored before 30 days?

  • Yes. You may qualify for a Pretrial Limited Driving Privilege. This will allow you to drive in certain circumstances. You must always wait 10 days from the date of revocation before you are eligible. You will sometimes hear this referred to as a “20-day privilege", because it allows you 20 days of driving privilege before full restoration.

I was convicted of DWI and the judge ordered me to complete Substance Abuse Counseling. Do I have to complete counseling?

  • Yes. While any judge’s order must be obeyed, the order to complete S.A. Counseling carries even further requirements. In North Carolina, a DWI conviction suspends your privilege to drive for a minimum of 12 months. Your privilege is indefinitely suspended until the Department of Health and Human Services in Raleigh receives a completed Form 508 from your treatment facility. This form will be provided to DHHS by your treatment facility when you have completed all requirements.

Driving While License Revoked / Driver License Restoration

I was told by DMV that if I pay an outstanding citation, I will be eligible for my license. Should I just pay that citation

  • ABSOLUTELY NOT! This is probably the worst thing you can do. When you fail to properly dispose of your citation, the DMV indefinitely suspends your license. The DMV will tell you what tickets you need to resolve to clear the suspension. However, they do not tell you that the manner in which you resolve the citations or the order in which you resolve them is important. Your license could be suspended again if you do not resolve your citations in a specific manner and order. Disposing of a citation improperly can be a moving violation during a period of suspension. The first moving violation during a period of suspension will cause a one-year suspension; the second offense will cause a two-year suspension; and a third offense can result in permanent revocation of your driver license.

I have tickets in multiple counties or multiple states which have resulted in suspension of my driver license. Can you help me?

  • Yes. I have multiple contacts throughout North Carolina and surrounding states to help me restore your license. If you retain me, I will identify everything that needs to be cleared. I will then contact anyone necessary to assist me and determine the cost of restoring your license. In most cases, I will handle all contact with other attorneys so you only have to speak with me.

My license is PERMANENTLY revoked by the DMV. Can you help me?

  • Yes. In most cases a permanent revocation is not truly permanent. Procedures exist that allow you to regain your driving privilege, either through court orders, limited driving privileges or DMV hearings. I have successfully restored the driver licenses of many individuals who were considered “permanently” revoked.

Personal Injury

Do I need to pay anything up front?

  • No. With all personal injury matters, my fee is paid from any proceeds I am able to recover for you. If I am not successful in obtaining compensation for your injuries, you do not owe me any fee.

Can I handle my auto accident claim without a lawyer?

  • You may be able to handle your auto accident claim without an attorney, but it will be much more difficult. I have experience dealing with insurance adjusters and insurance companies. Settlements reached with an attorney’s assistance are generally more substantial than settlements reached without an experienced attorney.

Should I see a doctor after an accident even if I am not in pain?

  • Yes. In many cases, the effects of a motor vehicle collision may not be felt until after the collision. See a doctor as soon as possible. Keep a record of how you feel and what the doctor tells you. Always follow the doctor’s orders.

My car was seriously damaged in the collision, but I cannot get relief from the insurance company of the person who hit me. What should I do?

  • In many cases you can contact your own insurance company to help you with the property damage portion of your claim. Always contact your own insurance company after any accident. Your carrier may provide you with alternate transportation and repair or replace your vehicle. Your insurance company can pursue its own claim to recover its costs against the negligent party through a process called subrogation.

What is MedPay?

  • Medical Payments coverage is an optional coverage feature of your insurance policy. Most people do not even know they have it. It is typically offered in increments of $1,000.00 to $5,000.00. You can receive coverage that is much higher. It is relatively inexpensive. The cost is usually $20.00 per year per $1,000.00 in coverage. It will pay you or anyone injured as your passenger without regard to fault. You would submit medical bills to your carrier up to the amount of coverage. If retained to represent you in your personal injury matter, I will do this for you at NO COST TO YOU. If you do not have or do not know if you have MedPay, contact your agent and add it to your policy. It is one of the least known but most valuable features of insurance coverage.

The insurance adjuster for the person who hit me keeps calling me. Do I have to talk to them?

  • No. You do not have to talk to the insurance adjuster. Many times they will record your statement. If you do not want to talk to the adjuster and you are represented by me or another attorney, politely tell the adjuster that you are represented by an attorney and direct them to only contact your attorney in the future.

Should I wait for the insurance company of the negligent party to pay for my medical bills before going to the doctor?

  • No. You should immediately see the doctor if you are injured. You can use your own health insurance to pay the doctor and then make a claim against the negligent party’s insurance. The negligent party does not get to benefit from the fact that you have your own health insurance.

Worker's Compensation

What is workers' compensation?

  • Workers' compensation is a state-mandated insurance program required for employers with three or more employees. Its purpose is compensation of employees who are injured or become ill because of work-related incidents. Workers' compensation pays for medical costs and lost wages resulting from the work-related injury or illness. In order for an employee to benefit from workers' compensation, they are not permitted to sue their employer for negligence.

What injuries are covered under workers' compensation?

  • Nearly all work-related injuries are covered under workers' compensation, regardless of who caused the injury. Also, if you are injured and would like to receive workers' compensation, you do not have to prove that your employer was negligent or responsible for your injury or illness.

What injuries are not covered by workers’ compensation?

  • If your injury is self-inflicted, caused by a crime you were committing, or caused by your conduct that violates company policy, workers' compensation may not cover the resulting costs or lost wages.

What happens if my spouse dies as a result of a work-related accident?

  • If your spouse dies as a result of a work-related accident, you may be able to recover benefits or other compensation through the workers' compensation program. Also, surviving children under the age of 18 may also receive benefits from workers' compensation. If you have been injured as a result of a work-related accident, contact me today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Google+ Facebook