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Seat Belt Tickets

Now and then potential clients tell me they got a ticket for not wearing their seat belt and they wonder if there is anything I can do for them.    Unfortunately,  I almost always say no.  Why?  First, by statute, conviction of a seat belt violation does not cause one’s insurance to go up nor does it result in any driver’s license points. N.C.G.S. Section 135-2A(f).  That’s what most folks are interested in, so there is nothing that we’d have to “reduce it to” to keep their insurance from going up.   Second, I have observed over the course of almost 29 years of practicing law that when people plead not guilty to seat belt charges, they are almost always found guilty.  In fact, as I sit here writing this, I cannot remember the last time I saw a judge find someone not guilty in a seat belt case.  I have seen many people found not guilty of more serious cases, such as DWI, but not seat belt violations.

About the only way I can get a seat belt charge dismissed is if the person is charged with something in addition to the seat belt charge. In such a case, the D.A.’s office will sometimes dismiss the seat belt charge if the client will plead guilty to the other charge.

 

“Nine Over”

(Updated 6 February 2014) 

There are several ways to avoid getting insurance points from a traffic ticket.  Besides getting the case reduced to improper equipment, or using a prayer for judgment continued (“PJC”) , there is something called  “nine over.”  What does this mean?  North Carolina’s Safe Driver Incentive Plan, otherwise known as the insurance point system, states how many insurance points a driver gets with each type of conviction.  For example, according to the insurance point chart,  a driver who pleads guilty to driving 58 mph in a 45 mph zone  would receive two (2) insurance points, which would result in a 45% increase in her insurance rates for three years.  However, the same insurance point system has an exception, one that traffic lawyers call “nine over.”  The insurance chart says that a driver will not get any points for:

Speeding 10 mph or less over the posted speed limit; provided all of the following are
true:
• The violation did not occur in a school zone; and
• There is not another moving traffic violation for the experience period (an isolated
Prayer for Judgement Continued (PJC) will not count as a prior conviction for the
purpose of this exception).

So, if  the driver is charged with 58 in a 45, and the ticket is not in a school zone, and she has a clean record for the past three years, then one way to keep her insurance from going up would be to ask the D.A.’s office to reduce the charge to 54 in a 45 (nine mph over the speed limit, or “nine over”), and the driver’s insurance would not increase. (Note: Depending on the circumstances, I might be able to help this person even if she got the ticket in a school zone).

Have a ticket?  Give me a call — Don’t risk losing all those savings you got from changing insurance companies!   919-683-2175.  

What about “occupational diseases?”

Workers’ compensation claims also may be the result of “occupational diseases.” North Carolina’s Act contains a whole list of diseases that are covered at N.C.G.S. Section 97-53. The list includes the “traditional” industrial diseases, such as asbestosis and silicosis and hearing loss, plus a “catch-all” section that includes any disease caused by conditions peculiar to a particular trade or job.

The “catch-all” section specifically excludes the “ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed.” So, that nasty case of the flu you got at work is not likely to be covered — but that case of carpal tunnel syndrome may be!

What is your fee in a workers’ comp case?

My fee in a workers’ compensation claim is 25% of whatever you get, plus whatever expenses I have incurred.  That’s the standard rate. 

You may wonder, “What kind of expenses might there be?”  In a workers comp case, my out-of-pocket expenses are usually pretty low.  Often, the only expenses are the fees that your doctors charge me for copies of your medical records.