NC Insurance Points

We’ve previously discussed driver’s license points, but we mention that North Carolina actually has two point systems. The other system is insurance points. So how does that system work? While driver’s license points can cause your license to be suspended, insurance points are used to determine your insurance rates. While the effects are different, the point systems are fairly similar.
Points are acquired for various convictions and at-fault accidents. The point values for each offense are as follows:
Manslaughter 12
Prearranged highway racing 12
Lending a car for prearranged hwy racing 12
Hit-and-run resulting in bodily injury/death 12
Driving with blood alcohol level .08 more 12
Driving commercial vehicle blood alcohol .04 more 12
Driving While Impaired 12
Transporting illegal intoxicating liquor for sale 12
Highway racing 10
Lending a car for highway racing 10
Speeding to elude arrest 10
Driving during revocation or suspension of license or registration 8
Aggressive Driving 8
Reckless Driving 4
Hit-and-run resulting in property damage only 4
Passing a stopped school bus 4
Speeding in excess of 75mph when the speed limit is less than 70mph 4
Speeding in excess of 80mph when the speed limit is 70mph or more 4
Driving by a person less than 21 after consuming alcohol or drugs 4
At-fault accident resulting in death or bodily injury in excuse of $1800 or property damage of $3000 or more 3
Illegal passing 2
Following too closely 2
Driving on the wrong side of the road 2
At-fault accident that occurs on or after Jan. 1, 2004, resulting in property damage in excess of $1,800, but less than $3,000** 2
Speeding more than 10mph over the speed limit provided the total speed is in excess of 55 mph, but less than 76 mph 2
Speeding 10 mph or less in excess of speed zone of 55 mph or greater 2
All other moving violations 1
At-fault accident that occurs on or after Jan. 1, 2004, resulting in bodily injury* of $1,800 or less, or property damage in of $1,800 or less** 1
Speeding 10 mph or less in excess of speed limit of less than 55 mph 1

Clearly, you can accrue insurance points from a variety offenses. So what do those points mean for your rate? Your insurance company may raise your rates by percentages based on point accrual. Here are the percentage increases:
1 point – 25%
2 points – 45%
3 points – 60%
4 points – 80%
5 points – 105%
6 points – 130%
7 points – 160%
8 points – 190%
9 points – 225%
10 points – 260%
11 points – 300%
12 points – 340%

Obviously, these increases can be quite expensive. If you’ve been involved in any sort of offense that may carry insurance points, we urge you to contact an attorney who can try to mitigate the effects of the offense.

Can I also protect my children with a protective order?

When you fear someone enough to get a protective order, you may also fear for your children’s safety, as well. Fortunately, the court does understand this and offers protection.

When filing a protective order (using form AOC-CV-303 found here), you must select certain items in order to seek protection for your children. Item (7) on page three (3) gives you a couple of options to protect minor children. Items (d) and (e) prevent the person you are seeking a protective order against from going near your children at day care and/or school. Also, item (a), your residence, protects both you and your children while in your home. Item (12) provides for temporary custody of your children. Please note this is only temporary custody, so you must still file a child custody action to receive permanent custody of your minor children.

If you have filled out form AOC-CV-303 and filed it on your own, we highly recommend you consult an attorney to help protect you and your children’s rights. You will likely have to face the person you are seeking a protective order against in court, and having an attorney on your side who understands the court process can help you.

What’s the deal with Driver’s License Points?

We often hear that getting a speeding ticket will lead to points on ones driver’s license, but what does that actually mean? Hopefully, we can explain how points work in that context.

North Carolina actually utilizes two point systems for certain motor vehicle violations: driver’s license points and insurance points. This particular post will cover driver’s license points.

How does the driver’s license point system work? Convictions for some violations will result in points being added to your driving record. These points are not inconsequential and can have serious consequences. If you accumulate 7 points, you might have to take a $50 Driver Improvement Clinic. Beyond that, if you accumulate 12 points within a 3-year period, your license may be suspended for two months. After having the license reinstated, that 12-point barrier is lowered to 8 points for a suspension—6 months this time. And if you reach a third suspension, your license will be suspended for a year. Clearly, you should seek to have as few points on your record as possible.

Now that you know what happens if you get points, you need to know how you might get them. According to the NC DOT Driver Handbook, 22 separate offenses will warrant points on your record. These offenses and their corresponding point values are as follows:

Passing a stopped school bus: 5
Aggressive driving: 5
Reckless driving: 4
Hit & run, property damage only: 4
Following too closely: 4
Driving on wrong side of road: 4
Illegal passing: 4
Failure to yield right of way to perdestrian pursuant to NCGS 20-158(b)(2)b: 4
Failure to yield right of way to bicycle, motor scooter, or motorcycle: 4
Running through stop sign: 3
Speeding in excess of 55 mph: 3
Failure to yield right of way: 3
Running through red light: 3
No driver license or license expired more than one year: 3
Failure to stop for siren: 3
Driving through safety zone: 3
No liability insurance: 3
Failure to report accident where such report is required: 3
Speeding in a school zone in excess of the posted school zone speed limit: 3
Failure to properly restrain a child in a restraint or seat belt: 2
All other moving violations: 2
Littering pursuant to NCGS 14-399 when the littering involves the use of a motor vehicle: 1

These point values apply for a regular North Carolina driver’s license only—point values for operating a commercial vehicle may differ.

Clearly, it can be very easy to get points on your record. If you’ve received a citation, an attorney may be able to reduce the number of points you incur. Contact or call us today at 252-515-1051 for a free consultation.

Can I sue my Spouse for Abandonment?

Many clients tell us they want to sue their spouse for abandonment after his or her spouse has left without any justification. Being left with a mounting pile bills and no financial help can be extremely stressful and upsetting. However, in North Carolina, there is no cause of action for abandonment.

Despite this, however, abandonment may come into play when you ask for alimony. You must prove three factors: 1) one spouse ended the cohabitation without justification, 2) without the other spouse’s consent, and 3) without renewing cohabitation. Each of these elements must be proved before abandonment can even be considered.

However, abandonment is only one factor the judge may consider in determining alimony. North Carolina General Statute 50-16.3A states the courts “…shall consider all relevant factors, including marital misconduct of either of the spouses…” Marital misconduct does include “…abandonment of either spouse.” (N.C.G.S. 50-16.1A(3)(b)) It is important to note abandonment is only one of all relevant factors for the judge to consider.

Thus, in North Carolina, you may not simply sue your spouse for abandonment. While abandonment can play a role in the amount and duration of alimony, it is only one of many factors which will be considered by the judge. If your spouse has left you and you need to talk to an attorney further regarding divorce, alimony, and property distribution, please contact us at (252) 515-1051 or through our website, and we will be happy to speak with you.

Can my stepchildren inherit from me?

You may be wondering if your stepchildren can inherit from you when you pass. In North Carolina, without a will or adoption, the answer is no. You may have raised your stepchildren and been a parent to them, but the state simply does not see them as your legal heirs. Despite the state’s stance, however, you can proactively take steps to ensure that your stepchildren inherit from you: you can either adopt the child or execute a will which includes the stepchildren as heirs.

Adoption is a long, costly process, and if the biological parent does not consent, the process could become even further complex. Additionally, even after you’ve completed the arduous adoption process, should you die without a will, the state will decide the share your adopted children will receive, not you.

Thus, the only way to ensure that your stepchildren inherit exactly as much as you feel they should is to properly execute a well-drafted will. A will allows your property and assets to be distributed according to your personal wishes, not the state’s predetermined guidelines. Therefore, to be sure your stepchildren and your biological children are taken care of according to your wishes after your passing, we highly recommend contacting an attorney to discuss estate planning.

When is my court date?

Occasionally, we have clients who simply forget what day they have to go to court.  They call us, frantically wondering about the date.  We will gladly inform our clients when they need to be in court, but luckily, the state of North Carolina has a very handy calendaring system readily available to the public.

On the North Carolina Courts page, you can follow the link on the right column for “Court Calendars” to access statewide court dockets. Since the site can sometimes be difficult to navigate, we would be more than happy to give you a little guide that will make you a pro in no time.

Once on the Court Calendars page, just follow these simple steps.

1. Click “Court Calendars” on the left column.
2. To search your name (if you know the county in which you must appear), click “District and Superior Court Query” on the left side.
3. Select the appropriate county.
4. Select whether you are to appear in district court, superior court, or both. Generally, if you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, you will appear in district court, while felonies are heard in superior court.
5. Enter your last name followed by a comma and the first letter (or letters) of your first name. Do not put a space after the comma or the system will not work.
6. Push “Submit Query.”

The results page will give you quite a bit of information. First you will see your name, followed by your date of birth, your court date, the court room in which you are to appear, and finally, the case number. Clicking on the case number will take you to a screen which specifies the charge.

We hope this guide will help you better navigate the sometimes cumbersome North Carolina Courts calendar search system. If you still have trouble, just give us a call or an email, and we’ll be glad to help you figure out when you need to be in court.

Fill-in-the-Blank Legal Docs

By now, we’ve all no doubt seen Robert Shapiro telling us he created LegalZoom to provide high quality legal services at bargain prices. A will for $69, an LLC for $99, a divorce for $299—almost everyone can afford to hire O.J.’s high-profile lawyer, right? Well, no. Not really. When you type in your credit card information and fill in the text boxes to create whatever document you may be purchasing, you aren’t hiring an attorney; rather, you are making a purchase from an online legal documentation service, and this is a very important distinction to make.

In broad terms, a legal documentation service cannot provide the advice, counsel, and personalized service an attorney will dedicate to you. Why? Legal documentation services are simply not allowed to do so. Although such services may be founded by famous (and very skilled) attorneys, they are not law firms, and they are simply not permitted to give legal advice. Only licensed attorneys may do that. In fact, the very first paragraph of LegalZoom’s disclaimer notes that LegalZoom is 1) not a law firm, 2) not your attorney, and 3) not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.

While such services may suffice for a very small minority of individuals whose lives fit the molds necessitated by fill-in-the-blank documents, for many of us, such forms may not be appropriate. Although the conceit of “hiring” someone as adept as Robert Shapiro for such a bargain price is extremely alluring to most, one must remember two adages that ring true more often than not: 1) if something seems too good to be true, it probably is; and 2) you get what you pay for. In this case, while it may seem like you are hiring a great lawyer for a rock-bottom price, the fact remains that you are not. You are simply purchasing a discount document that’s had your information inserted in the appropriate places. And that’s the sum total of your purchase. Your money paid for a piece of paper without any personalized advice, counsel, or attention—services only an attorney is allowed to provide.

Thus, when you consider planning for your future, we highly recommend you seek the advice and counsel of an attorney. Your life and your loved ones are way too important to entrust to fill-in-the-blank legal documents from companies that readily admit they are no substitute for an attorney.

Our very first blog post

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