If you have been involved in a North Carolina car accident you may be entitled to recover monetary damages for your injuries. It is important to understand your rights as an accident victim and the process involved in filing a personal injury claim. As experienced North Carolina car accident attorneys, there are some questions that we are asked by accident victims more frequently than others.
In order to help you gain a better understanding of car accidents in North Carolina, we've answered some of the most important ones here. For more information, do not hesitate to contact the car accident attorneys at Caulder & Valentine today.
Do I Need an Attorney If I've Been in a North Carolina Car Accident?
While you may be able to recover some money on your own, the chances of maximizing the amount of money you are awarded will increase when you hire an attorney. Car accident claims can be very complicated and are best handled by an attorney who understands the applicable law and procedures. If you're going up against an insurance company, you can bet that they will be represented by an attorney themselves. These companies are excellent at manipulating a stressful situation and limiting the amount of money you receive. When you hire an attorney, you take away the insurance company's advantage.
What Are Some Common Car Accident Injuries?
If you are involved in a North Carolina car accident you may be at risk of suffering the following commonly-reported injuries.
- Broken bones and fractures
- Vision and hearing loss
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
- Amputated limbs
What Causes Car Accidents in North Carolina?
According to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, speeding is the leading cause of car accidents and car accident fatalities in the state. Other frequently cited causes of North Carolina car accidents include the following.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Improper lane change
- Distracted driving
- Failing to yield and merge
- Failure to signal
- Driver inattention
- Improper passing
- Disregarding traffic signals
- Aggressive driving
- Limited visibility
- Defective vehicles
Can I Leave the Scene of a Car Accident?
Do not leave the scene of a car accident until you have helped injured victims, reported the incident, exchanged personal information, and spoken with the police. Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in property damage or personal injury prematurely can result in criminal charges for a hit and run.
What Should I Do Immediately After an Accident?
When you are involved in a North Carolina car accident, it is important to take the following steps. These will help to keep you safe and support any future personal injury claim you decide to pursue.
- Get medical help immediately.
- Report the accident to police and exchange personal information with others as soon as you can.
- Gather evidence (e.g., take photographs, write down your memory of the event).
- Avoid conversations with other party's insurance company until you've spoken with an attorney.
- Contact an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney for help.
When Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim After a Car Accident?
North Carolina law requires that all personal injury lawsuits are filed within three years of the date of your car accident. If you do not file a claim before the statute of limitations expires, you will be prohibited from recovering the money you deserve. You can make sure that your legal claim is filed on time by reaching out to a North Carolina car accident attorney immediately after your crash.
Can I Recover Damages If I Am Partially At-Fault?
No. North Carolina law follows the rule of pure contributory negligence. This means that if you are even slightly responsible for your accident you will be prohibited from recovering damages. Insurance companies will aggressively investigate your accident in an effort to find evidence that you contributed to the crash in some way. It will be important to speak with an attorney immediately to counter any arguments of fault.
Should I Try to Negotiate With an Insurance Company?
You may find that an at-fault party's insurance company approaches you with a settlement offer in the days after your accident. If your accident caused significant injuries you may be faced with expensive medical bills and forced to miss time at work, putting you in a difficult financial situation. This may make any early settlement offers extremely attractive. While accepting this offer up-front may give you temporary financial relief, it will likely do more harm in the long run. This initial offer will not be enough to cover the full extent of your injuries. Wait until you have consulted with an attorney to negotiate with insurance companies. Better yet, direct insurance companies to speak directly with your attorney.
What Compensation Can I Recover?
North Carolina law permits injured car accident victims to recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages help to make up for the out-of-pocket financial costs you have had because of an accident. These may include medical bills, rehabilitation, property damage, and lost wages. Non-economic damages compensate you for injuries that are harder to value. These may include pain and suffering, anxiety and depression, and loss of consortium.
What if the Other Driver Didn't Have Insurance?
If you are involved in a collision with a driver who does not have insurance it can be difficult to recover the compensation you need. You have two main options when this happens. First, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver and demand that they personally compensate you from their own assets. However, if a driver does not pay for insurance, they may not have the resources to pay any damages that you are awarded. Second, you can file a claim with your own insurance company to collect Uninsured Motorist Coverage benefits. You are legally required to carry this supplemental insurance for situations just like this.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
Most North Carolina car accident attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis. This basically means that they will not be paid unless they win your case. When you are awarded a monetary settlement or award your attorney will be compensated with a percentage of that amount. While each attorney will have a slightly different fee structure, most fees range between 25 and 40 percent.
Have you been injured in a North Carolina car accident? Contact Caulder & Valentine to learn about your rights as an accident victim. If another person was responsible for your accident, you may be entitled to monetary damages. Our car accidents attorneys will fight to make sure that you are fairly compensated for your injuries. We offer our services on a contingency fee basis, so you do not have to worry about paying us until we win your case. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.