“A Tradition of Providing
Legal Advice & Representation Since 1973”

You’ve heard the saying before: no one likes lawyers until they need them.  It’s true.  We aren’t the most popular bunch of folks, unfortunately, but when people find themselves needing legal representation, attorneys are there to help.  It seems our lives are flooded with legal advertisements these days.  Attorneys are on our tv’s, on billboards, sending you solicitations in the mail, on the radio, and all over the web.  So do you know how to select the right lawyer for you and for your case? Below we will detail questions you should ask when choosing an attorney for your personal injury claim.

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American-Pit-Bull-TerrierAs the pit bull population and popularity of the breed increases, unfortunately so do the number of bites these dogs inflict.   And it’s not just pit bulls,  other breeds are also responsible for inflicting serious, sometimes deadly bites.  However, pit bulls have become extremely popular, and because of that popularity, more of them are ending up in the hands of irresponsible owners OR are rescued from those irresponsible owners.  Dogs who lack proper training, proper socialization, or that suffer mistreatment/abuse are far more likely to end up aggressive.  In the first 5 months of 2013 (2014 stats not available yet), 13 Americans died from dog maulings. Indeed, just today news outlets are reporting that a 4 year old Louisiana girl and her mother were attacked by the family pit bull. Sadly, the little girl did not survive.  What can you do to keep your family safe from a dog attack? And what should you do if you have been attacked by a dog?

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Cruise ShipWe generally do not discuss many legal issues dealing with cruise ships.  However, a tragic story occurred off the North Carolina coast this week that provides some interesting legal questions that we thought we would cover in today’s blog entry.  If you haven’t caught the story, a Norwegian Cruise Ship – the Breakaway – was approximately 40 miles off the North Carolina coast (35 nautical miles from Morehead City) when two young boys, ages 4 and 6, were found unresponsive in the adult pool.  The 4,000 passenger ship is based in New York and was on its way to Florida.

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ID-100138995Very sad news out of Pitt County this week.  A father and son traveling in a Honda Civic were attempting to turn left into the Walmart Express parking lot off Highway 102 West when their vehicle was rear-ended by a Ford Expedition, reportedly also carrying a father and son, at approximately 55 MPH.  Justin Mozingo was driving the Civic with his father, Kenneth Earl Mozingo, riding as his passenger.  Unfortunately, Kenneth Mozingo was killed in the accident.  Justin Mozingo was also injured, but it reportedly recovering and in good condition. The driver of the Ford SUV, Omar Ridhi El-Shaer, has been charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, careless and reckless driving and failure to reduce speed.

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Lawyers.  They’re expensive.  Many times following a car accident or other accident resulting in personal injury, potential clients wonder how they can afford a North Carolina personal injury lawyer.  Indeed, sometimes victims of personal injuries do not contact a lawyer for fear that they will have to pay an expensive retainer fee, high hourly rates, or high costs in order to pursue their claim.  This is not the case, and our experienced Greenville, NC personal injury lawyers, Wilmington, NC personal injury lawyers, and Morehead City personal injury lawyers will actually handle your case without you paying a dime.

When client’s first come into our office, we do things a little differently than other law offices.  One, we don’t have an “intake specialist” on our staff.  You don’t meet with a non-lawyer to discuss your case.  You meet with a lawyer; sometimes you meet with both our lawyers.  These lawyers will be with you from the very beginning of your case to the very end.  When you have your initial attorney meeting, we will gather all information about your claim.  We will discuss whether you have a claim, and if so, what are the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.   We try to be very realistic with our clients and potential clients about what they can expect should they pursue their case.  We will then make a decision together as to whether you want to work with our firm to handle your claim. When you decide to hire our firm to handle your personal injury claim, you pay nothing.  That’s right – no money now; no money later for attorney’s fees.  We handle personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, meaning we take a percentage of any money we recover for you, either through settlement, arbitration award, or court judgment.  Our standard contingency fee is 1/3 of the settlement.  We do not raise that amount if we are unable to settle your case and have to take it to court like many law firms do.  We truly believe that once we commit to handle your case, as long as your case continues to have merit, we will pursue it all the way.

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file000200676345Last week, an EF2 tornado ripped through Carteret County, North Carolina just miles away from our Morehead City office.  The tornado ripped through the city with wind speeds up to 125 miles per hour.  It’s destruction spanned over 5 miles long and 150-200 yards wide.  Thankfully, only minor injuries were reported, but the storm caused significant property damage, some estimates totaling $6.5 million.

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SONY DSCIt has often been said that driving while sleepy is just as dangerous as driving while drunk.  Studies conducted in other countries have determined that someone who has been awake 24 hours performs at the same level as someone with a .10 blood alcohol level.  Indeed, being overly tired will affect a drivers’ ability to make decisions, slows reaction time, and leads to inattention by drivers.  Despite these scary deterrents to driving while tired, truck drivers and other over the road commercial drivers make their money by the mile and driving long hours is a way of life.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is hoping to change the negative effects caused by truck driver fatigue by implementing new rules that went into effect in July 2013.

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Coco PumpkinFew days are exciting for children as Halloween.  Yes, Christmas ranks up there, but Christmas doesn’t dictate elaborate costumes and massive amounts of candy.  Kids LOVE Halloween – and to be honest, most adults love it as well.  While the dangers that come with Halloween may seem to be mostly of the supernatural kind, our personal injury lawyers have yet to see a case in their nearly 50 years of experience involving ghosts or goblins.  There are, however, plenty of REAL dangers that lead to real injuries and real cases.  Claims can range from pedestrian accidents, to products liability, to premises liability.  By following these tips, you can help to ensure that you and your family and friends stay safe this Halloween.

1. Carry a flashlight when outside. 

A flashlight when trick or treating can serve two purposes.  The first is to warn motorist and drivers that you are on the road. The second is to illuminate your walking path so that if there are defects in the sidewalk or debris in the roadway, it will not be a tripping hazard.  This is particularly important with kids whose costumes may restrict their sight line to the ground or which may give them some difficulty when walking.  The more light to show others of your position and to show you where you are walking, the better.

2. Put reflective tape on your kid’s costumes if they are not easily seen at night. 

This goes to the spirit of number 1 – always make sure your kids are as visible as possible when out trick or treating.  Although drivers should be alert and aware to look out for pedestrians, unfortunately, accidents happen when drivers cannot see children or when they are distracted or impaired by alcohol and strike pedestrians.  The more lighting, the better.

3. Have kids remove a mask when walking and only put it on to approach the door to trick or treat. 

Kids need to be able to see where they are walking.  This will help them prevent trip and falls on uneven surfaces and will allow them to be better able to see cars and traffic.

4. Make sure you child can walk in his or her costume; trim the bottom if necessary. 

Children will likely do a lot of walking on Halloween. It’s important that their costume not trip them to where they could fall and hurt themselves or potentially fall into traffic.

5. Never let a child go out trick or treating alone.  

Safety in numbers here – make sure kids are in a group and escorted by a parent or guardian.

6. Remind children to never go into a stranger’s house or car. 

Stranger danger – your kids cannot hear this message enough.  Even if the stranger has candy – it’s a no, every time.  Your kids cannot hear this message enough, especially with the excitement surrounding Halloween.

7. Inspect candy prior to your kids’ eating it. 

Your kids should only eat candy that is sealed and will not present a choking hazard for them.

8. Do not leave open candles anywhere where they may contact a child or a costume.

Many costumes are highly flammable.  With candles in jack-o-lanterns and scattered on porches, it is extremely important to make sure open flames are no where near costumes.  A child’s costume catching on fire can lead to severe burn injuries that can be extremely painful and lead to severe scarring.  Fires and costumes don’t mix. Be careful as both a homeowner and as the parent of a trick or treater to make sure costumes and open flames do not come in contact.


This one should be obvious, but Halloween is a big, big party night for many people.  If you want to go out and celebrate, fine.  But please, do not get behind the wheel of a car.  The risks are far too many! If you are injured by a drunk driver, you can recover punitive damages intended solely to punish the drunk driver.

10.  Keep pets indoors

Yes, even a nice dog can scare a child.  Keep your pets indoors and away from children if they bark or jump. Dogs can get anxious with a lot of unusual activity and fear can lead a normally docile, sweet dog to get nervous and even sometimes aggressive leading to a dog bite or a dog jumping up on visitors knocking someone to the ground.

The attorneys at Rouse & Gasch wish everyone a fun, safe, and happy Halloween! If you do sustain personal injuries on Halloween in a car accident, pedestrian accident, premises liability claim, or products liability claim, and need a personal injury lawyer, contact our attorneys to see if we can help.

*Special thanks to attorney Deedee Gasch’s french bulldog, Coco (the firm’s unofficial mascot) for being our photo this week! Extra dog biscuit for her!

ID-100188693The news in Wilmington, North Carolina, has been abuzz lately with news of an actor’s arrest for DUI.  Actor Christopher McDonald,who played Shooter McGavin in the movie “Happy Gilmore” with Adam Sandler, was arrested in Wilmington after visiting a Wrightsville Beach bar.  He allegedly blew a .15 and was booked into jail. McDonald was in Wilmington working on the movie Squeeze which is in pre-production.  Thankfully, McDonald was apprehended without incident and did not cause an accident.  Unfortunately, however, many of our clients are involved in accidents with drunk drivers, which lead to serious injuries.   If a drunk driver causes an accident, victims of the crash may be entitled to punitive damages.

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When potential clients come into our office and tell us that they have been injured in an accident, one of the first questions we ask is, “do you have med pay coverage?”.  Occasionally, someone knows whether they do or not, but more often than not, we get a puzzled look and the potential client tells us that he has no idea what we are talking about.  Only then does one realize the importance of this type of coverage.  Because it is not required in North Carolina, we find many people do not have it and are not sure what it even is or when it applies.  This article will explore the basics of the different types of insurance coverage available in North Carolina auto insurance policies, what they pay for, who is covered and whether you are required to purchase it as a North Carolina driver.

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