Legal Myths: Do You Have Good Advice?

From time to time, I read or hear people pass along incorrect information on legal issues.  The person

providing the information usually means well but that may not be good enough.  And it surely does

not help when the information turns out to be dead wrong and the recipient of the advice loses out.

Here are a few common legal myths that should be shed once and for all….we can hope….


MYTH:  There is a three day “cooling off” or cancellation period on all contracts.

The general rule is that a contract is final once it is signed. North Carolina law allows some limited

exceptions to this rule such as in the case of a door-to-door sale, a health club membership,

and membership contracts for multi-level marketing groups. You should assume every

contract you sign will be final so read it thoroughly and ask all questions

before signing.


MYTH: If you are rearended in a vehicle crash, the other driver is automatically at fault

If you slammed on brakes, you may be held contributorily negligent for the collision which could

mean a reduction or elimination of your claim. Also, if the offending driver had a medical

emergency, he may be deemed not liable. While most rear-end collisions

will be deemed the fault of the other driver, the facts of each case are important.


MYTH: If I win my case, my attorney fees will be paid by the other party.

The United States rule is that each party bears his or her own attorney fees

unless there is a specific law or legally permissible contract provision that states otherwise.

Only certain types of cases in North Carolina qualify you to recover attorney fees if you win

(ex: small personal injury cases, motor vehicle repair claims). Placing an attorney fees provision in

a contract is usually a good idea as it can often serve as leverage to resolve some disputes

without litigation.


MYTH: Paying the traffic ticket is always the best option.

 No, no, and NO! You really need to know what you are doing when you pay the ticket

because payment equals pleading guilty. Paying a ticket may result in a revocation of your

drivers’ license. Why not talk to a lawyer before making a final decision about how to handle

that traffic ticket?


MYTH: We don’t need a contract; a handshake is sufficient.

Don’t fall for this trap. Get those promises in writing and signed by the other party. If a

mechanic fixes your car and says you have a warranty on the repairs and parts, get it in

 writing. If you have a parttime business, the smart business move is to protect

yourself and have your clients sign contracts. This can protect you if an issue arises

about services or goods you provided. 


If you have questions about a legal situation do not rely on the advice of well-meaning

family and friends.  You should consult a legal professional and have the right

information upon which to base a decision how to proceed.  For a free consultation

about your legal matter contact Attorney John O’Neal of the O’Neal Law Office.





  1. Donna Crozier

    John, as a paralegal, I have interviewed many potential clients who have been sorely misinformed about the law by well-meaning friends and family, sometimes to the point where that misinformation has harmed their case, or made it more difficult to handle. If people are seeking free advice, why not contact a law firm, where in most cases, they will be given a free consultation.

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