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About Reid Acree

Mr. Acree is a board-certified specialist in workers’ compensation law. Over 90% of his practice involves handling work-related injuries and occupational diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.  He has been practicing law for over 29 years. He is dedicated to representing injured and sick workers that have not necessarily been treated fairly by their employers and the insurance carriers.  His experience lends itself to providing compassionate, effective representation.  

Background

Mr. Acree was born near Raleigh, North Carolina but grew up in the Roanoke Valley of Virginia.  He attended Wake Forest University and graduated cum laude in 1982 with a degree in economics.  (As it turned out, an economics major is great preparation for explaining complex legal matters through a “cost/benefit” analysis).  Mr. Acree played football as a walk-on offensive guard during his freshman year. When he did not play after his freshman year, he obtained numerous jobs, working as much as 35 hours per week while taking a full course load.  Upon graduating in four years, he was admitted to law school at Wake Forest.  However, he chose to work for a while and returned to Wake Forest School of Law four years later. He graduated from Wake Forest School of Law in 1989. While there, he was an elected member of the Law Review, Moot Court Board and the Honor Council.

After graduating from law school, Mr. Acree worked in Atlanta and Raleigh, primarily in the areas of products liability defense, workers’ compensation defense and management employment law.  About 10 years into his defense practice, Mr. Acree had a complete change of heart and began to ONLY represent injured workers. Specifically, he was representing an insurance carrier in an unfortunate case where the injured worker would likely lose his leg.  He saved the insurance company a lot of money at mediation but a brief pre-mediation encounter with the claimant changed his life.  While on the way to the mediation area, Mr. Acree said hello to the claimant’s five -year old son.  The little boy would not speak to him.  The claimant bent down and told his son: “when someone is speaking to you, you need to look them in the eye and say hello.” Mr. Acree realized that that was the same man that he would later “defeat” in mediation.  He decided from that point forward, he could not represent large insurance carriers and employers, lest his legal career would never make a difference to people.  He soon changed to a plaintiff’s practice where he has been professionally and spiritually fulfilled ever since. Mr. Acree believes that he can make a real difference in the lives of folks who are hurting. 

Focus on Occupational Diseases

For almost 20 years, Mr. Acree focused his plaintiff’s practice on occupational diseases such as asbestosis, cancers and mesothelioma. He routinely receives occupational disease referrals from other North Carolina and national attorneys.  He works with firms in Texas, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio regarding the handling of their North Carolina asbestos disease claims.  He has handled over 3,500 North Carolina asbestos disease cases.  Some of his more meaningful results have been:

  • winning the first colon cancer claim in North Carolina due to asbestos exposure. (Jesse Bill Childress v. Fluor Daniel).  
  • obtaining for a widow $241,000 in attendant care benefits for her care of her husband, sick with asbestos-related lung cancer. (James Leroy Wallace v. Becon).
  • obtaining an asbestos-lung cancer settlement of $500,000 after successfully winning the case at trial.  (Spry v. Norandal).
  • negotiating and settling dozens of asbestos-disease cases in excess of $200,000 (not easy to do since there is no “pain and suffering” paid in workers’ compensation cases).
  • negotiating and settling a client’s occupational asthma claim caused by 37 years of exposure to chicken feces.

Work on Injury Claims

As the frequency of asbestos-disease claims have waned, more of Mr. Acree’s practice has involved work – related injuries.  Now, about 50% of his caseload involves injury – related claims.  Such examples include injuries to the spine, arms, fingers, shoulders, hips, legs, knees and feet.  Some examples of his successes include:

  • Successfully tried and won a claim on behalf of a manufacturing worker with incomplete paraplegia where the employer was trying to set aside the acceptance of the claim due to fraud. The claim, which was litigated for three years, was subsequently settled for a value to the client in excess of $1.3 million.
  • increasing the value of a non-surgical neck injury claim from a $900 offer to $85,000. Mr. Acree is especially proud of that case since the claimant’s weekly “workers’ compensation pay rate” was only $90. (Interestingly, the worker had complained that her employer would not let her take a bathroom break. Mr. Acree read in the paper that that same employer had successfully been sued in another state for refusing to allow employees to go to the restroom. Mr. Acree presented the workers’ compensation adjuster with a copy of that newspaper article and thus, increased the overall value of the workers’ compensation claim to $85,000).    That recovery allowed the claimant to move out of her car and into an apartment. About eight years later, Mr. Acree successfully represented that same claimant in her Social Security disability claim.
  • increasing the value of a single-surgery knee injury claim from the offer of $31,000 to $135,000.
  • increasing the value of a “ratings only” cervical spine case from $35,000 to $105,000, when it became apparent that the hospital employer wanted to fire the nurse.
  • successfully blocking a “settlement offer” of $31,000 that had been sent to the Industrial Commission for approval and later negotiating the claim to a value of $75,000.
  • Successfully negotiating an annuity in a lifetime benefits claim which would pay the worker significantly greater weekly wages than he had been receiving under workers’ compensation (even after the attorney’s fee was considered).

Settlement vs. Trial

As Mr. Acree has become more experienced, more and more cases tend to settle in mediation.  However, if it is not in the best interest of the claimant to settle the case, Mr. Acree has no problem going to court. He has approximately 110 reported decisions at the North Carolina Industrial Commission and North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Social Security Disability Claims

When Mr. Acree started his own firm in 2003, he began handling Social Security disability claims.  He had been representing injured workers in the workers’ compensation arena and logically thought that he knew how to prove disability, albeit in a different venue.  He found that his experience in handling workers’ compensation claims allowed him to successfully handle Social Security disability claims.  When Mr. Acree began attending legal education seminars on Social Security disability, he was amused when many of the attorneys appeared hung up on “this rule or that rule” for proving disability.  Mr. Acree mentioned that his success rate was good because, as a workers’ compensation attorney, he understood what it means to be disabled and how to prove that.  Mr. Acree has handled approximately 400 Social Security disability claims.

Mediation

Mr.  Acree is certified by the State Bar’s Dispute Resolution Commission as a superior court mediator.  He is frequently called on to help the parties resolve complex claims including those for occupational disease.  His experience as both a defense attorney and a plaintiff’s attorney is invaluable in communicating with “both sides.” 

Professional Organizations and Licensure

  • State Bar of North Carolina
  • North Carolina Bar Association (“NCBA”)
  • State Bar of South Carolina
  • State Bar of Georgia (inactive)
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • Board Certified as a workers’ compensation law specialist by the North Carolina State Bar (less than 3.7% of the attorneys in North Carolina are board certified) 
  • Certified as a superior court mediator by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission
  • North Carolina Advocates for Justice, sustaining member (“NCAJ” is the plaintiff’s advocacy group in North Carolina)
  • Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group (“WILG”) (national organization for attorneys representing injured workers)
  • National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (“NOSSCR”)
  • Workers’ Compensation Section Council of NCBA (former member)
  • Education Law Section Council of NCBA (former member)
  • External field counsel for the North Carolina Association of Educators (“NCAE”)
  • State Bar of North Carolina Lawyer Assistance Program, board member (also a LAP volunteer)
  • Lawyer Assistance Program Foundation, ex officio board member
  • Frequent speaker at continuing legal education seminars on issues related to workers’ compensation and the Lawyer Assistance Program

Community Service

  • Elizabeth Hanford Dole Chapter of the American Red Cross, former board member and board chair
  • Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary, Salisbury, North Carolina, former board member
  • Shelter Guardians of Salisbury, North Carolina, advisory counsel
  • Rowan Salisbury Community Action Agency /Head Start, former advising attorney
  • North Hills Christian School, former board member
  • Salisbury Academy, current trustee
  • First National Bank, Advisory Board

Interests

  • Wake Forest Demon Deacon sports. Go Deacs!
  • Bicycling
  • reading (all the time)
  • traveling
  • helping animals

Personal Mottos and Sayings

  • My job is to educate you and make you the most educated consumer possible about your case.
  • It’s not my case, its “YOUR CASE!”
  • I will explain things to you as if I am standing at the pearly gates and am answering questions to get into heaven.  I will tell you the truth.
  • I want to pass “the grocery store test.”  What is the grocery store test?  After my representation of you has ended and you see me at the grocery store, do you come toward me or do you go away from me?  I want you to come toward me.
  • BBB Sample, Inc. BBB Business Review
  • Click to visit the NOSSCR web site