Frequently Asked Questions

You ask questions, we give you answers.

We answer a wide variety of questions that we receive from prospective clients, associates and fellow attorneys in this Frequently Asked Questions page.

We try and provide detailed responses rather than just answering yes or no to your questions. We hope this FAQ section provides you with some information about your rights and options.

At Shipman & Wright, we pride ourselves in devoting sufficient time and energy to each of our clients to thoroughly educate and explain their claim in the legal process.

Understanding Damages

Understanding Damages- is it worth filing a lawsuit?

Compensatory damages (sometimes called general damages) are monetary damages awarded to an injured or wronged individual or business to put them in the position they would have been had the wrong not occurred. It is important to note that the definition does not include getting money from a defendant to penalize them or provide the plaintiff with an advantageous outcome but simply put to make the injured party whole again. There are opportunities for punitive damages or recovery of attorney’s fees to deter bad behavior by the offending party, but these are relatively rare and generally upon the discretion of the judge overseeing the lawsuit, and have been rarely awarded in any substantial amounts in North Carolina Courts.

Another form of damages that may be present in a breach of contract action are liquidated damages if they were outlined in the subject contract and are a reasonable expectation of damages actually caused by the breach. Punitive damages may be awarded if the court finds that the defendant’s actions resulting in the injury or loss were reckless or malicious. As a form of punitive damages certain statutes, such as under the NC Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act, allow the possible recovery of double or even triple (“treble”) damages, or attorneys’ fees to the winning party, where there was irreprehensible conduct on the part of the defendant. Statutory opportunities for the recovery of attorneys’ fees for a successful plaintiff provide great impetus for an attorney to take on and pursue a matter. It could be helpful to consult with an attorney to discover if there may be an opportunity for statutory punitive damages or the recovery of attorneys’ fees for any claims in a potential matter.

For more information, see this link. and please contact Shipman & Wright today if we can help you with any of your legal issues.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit in a civil lawsuit that is brought by one person or a few people on behalf of a larger group of people who have suffered similar harm or have a similar claim. Class actions can be brought in either federal or state courts, though a recent federal law, the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, makes it easier for defendants to move class action lawsuits from state to federal courts.

For more information, see this link. and please contact Shipman & Wright today if we can help you with any of your legal issues.

Is it legal for my employer to keystroke me without my knowledge?

Yes, employers have this right. Some states require employers to notify employees about monitoring. North Carolina is not one of those states.

According to the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), an employer-provided computer system is the property of the employer. Therefore, employers that provide you with a computer system and Internet access are free to monitor almost everything that you do with the computer and Internet access with which you have been provided. This is especially true when an employer gives you a written policy regarding the monitoring of your computer use». (‘Social Networking & Computer Privacy’ by Workplace Fairness)

For more information, see this link. and please contact Shipman & Wright today if we can help you with any of your legal issues.

Is sending someone a lewd gag gift by a mail order service illegal?

This is probably not a good idea. You are also evoking the Jurisdiction of the Federal Government. So, it would be ok if the person you are pranking knows you, and you are identified as a friend of this person. But if you do not identify yourself, and this person decides that this is a threat, rather than a joke, you may be in some trouble.

For more information, read here. Please contact Shipman & Wright today if we can help you with any of your legal issues.

Road Debris

Individuals who suffer injury or property damage, such as vehicles damaged because of a pothole or mailbox knocked down as a result of a snow plow, can file a tort claim to request reimbursement for damages.

For more information, read the NC Department of Transportation’s website here. Please contact Shipman & Wright today if we can help you with any of your legal issues.

Worker’s Compensation

Is a North Carolina Business Required to Carry Workers Compensation? What Can I do if injured at work and they do not carry it?

The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act requires that all businesses that employ three or more employees, including those operating as corporations, sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, and partnerships, obtain workers’ compensation insurance or qualify as self-insured employers for purposes of paying workers’ compensation benefits to their employees.

Penalties for Employers who do not may face the following:

1) Face stiff financial penalties;
2) Be charged with a misdemeanor;
3) Be charged with a felony; and
4) Be imprisoned.

Read more here. Please contact Shipman & Wright today if we can help you with any of your legal issues.

At-Will Employment

How At-Will Employment Works

At will employment has two main purposes:

It allows employees and employers to work together without long term contracts or promises from either party. If an employee doesn’t like a job or gets a better opportunity elsewhere, they are free to leave. If an employer wants to change wages, benefits, or let someone go, they can do so freely as well.

It can be a defense for employers in a wrongful termination lawsuit. Most employers hope never to have to defend themselves in court over terminating an employee. The best employers have good documentation when they fire someone, such as performance reviews kept in the employee’s personnel file.

Bottom Line

There are so many exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine, that it’s in an employer’s best interest to follow sound HR practices, including stating that “employment is at will” in all employee documentation. Employers should document involuntary terminations with a valid rationale so that they’re prepared in advance to defend themselves against a wrongful termination lawsuit, should one be filed.

For more information, read here. If we can help, call us.

How to deal with a neighbor’s bad curb appeal

Purple paint. Peeling siding. Junk. Trash. Unkempt lawns.

When a house on your block commits the sin of bad curb appeal, sometimes it’s just an eyesore. Other times, it can be hazardous, impacting your quality of life. A yard piled with junk or littered with trash might attract rats, for example. Worst of all, if you’re trying to refinance your mortgage or sell your home, your neighbor’s ugly property can cost you time and money.

If your own property is pristine, its appraisal value still will suffer if even one other home on your block looks bad. Your house probably will sit on the market longer and sell for less. If you have to act, you have plenty of options, from playing nice to going to court. Here are 8 ways to restore visual harmony — and your home’s value.

For more information, read here. If we can help, call us.

Injury To Me While Allegedly Resisting Arrest

Injury To Me While Allegedly Resisting Arrest: Building a Case to Sue the Police: Difficult But Not Impossible

It is common to want to sue the police after unpleasant contact or friction, especially when the conflict resulted in an arrest that seemed unwarranted, unfair, or downright abusive. Suing the police is complicated, though, even when you have been a victim of some kind of police misconduct and are absolutely innocent with regard to your arrest. Suing the police for abuse or other violations can be an arduous task not only because of the time and expense involved but also due to certain legal protections that apply to police. However, it is possible to successfully sue the police by becoming aware of the law’s allowances and limitations, carefully building a solid case, and staying the course.

For more information, read here.

Boundary Disputes With a Neighbor

Encountering a boundary dispute with an adjacent neighbor is a fairly common issue for landowners. There are many ways a boundary dispute can arise. Sometimes, deed descriptions are inaccurate and have been this way for a long time. Sometimes, though the neighbors all agree that the legal description is correct, one neighbor has been occupying a portion of the land for long enough to claim ownership of it, under a theory of “adverse possession.”

First, make sure you have a full understanding of the cause and nature of the dispute. You will need to get a professional analysis of whether you are encroaching on your neighbors’ property or vice versa and find out how long the encroachment has gone on, how much land is being encroached upon, and whether permission was ever given to encroach. For more information, read here.

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