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As winter hits North Carolina, car accidents are going to become more common. Ice and snow have already made the roads slick, causing vehicles to slide on the roads and into other cars. When these incidents happen, it’s important to know how to determine who’s at fault.

As Charlotte car accident lawyers, we’ve seen time and time again drivers make one simple mistake that shifted blame for the wreck: Apologizing or otherwise admitting blame at the scene. This simple mistake can have massive ramifications down the road.

It’s important to understand how North Carolina assigns fault for car accidents, and how you can help prove that you weren’t to blame for the wreck.

North Carolina: A Contributory Negligence State

North Carolina is one of the very few states that follows contributory negligence laws. In a nutshell, this means if you’re even a tiny bit at fault for your car accident or contributed to causing your accident or injury, you won’t be entitled to any compensation from the driver even if they are overwhelmingly at fault.

In comparison, most states follow a type of comparative fault model. This means that, even if you’re partly at fault for your accident, you can still recover damages. For example, say one of your tail lights doesn’t work. You’re at a stoplight at 10 p.m., and you get rear-ended, injuring your back. Because your tail light is out an insurance company may make the argument that you’re 20% at fault for the wreck.  If a judge or jury agrees with them, the overall amount of the recovery for your damages would be reduced by 20% –  because of your own negligence.

If the same scenario happened in North Carolina you would have no legal right to ANY compensation due to North Carolina’s contributory negligence laws.

Proving Negligence in a Car Accident Case

Because North Carolina’s contributory negligence laws are so strict, it’s important to have an experienced personal injury attorney by your side if you’re in a car accident. Together, you and your lawyer can explore the different elements of your injury / negligence claim.

In general, all of the following must be proven to have a successful negligence case:

  1. Causation
  2. Duty of care
  3. Breach of duty
  4. Injury due to the breach of duty
  5. Damages caused by the injury

1. Causation

In North Carolina, there are two types of causation:

  • Cause in fact: This one is straightforward. If your injuries wouldn’t have happened without the other driver’s actions, then their actions, in fact, caused the injuries.
  • Proximate cause: This type of cause explores whether your injuries were a reasonably foreseeable outcome of the accident. The details of proximate cause can be extremely confusing, but cause in fact and proximate cause are often one and the same. Your Charlotte, North Carolina car accident lawyer can go through the nuances of this legal concept and how it relates to your own case.

2. Duty of Care

In general, drivers have a duty to other drivers on the road. This means drivers are expected to be reasonably careful when they encounter anyone on the road, whether that’s another car, a pedestrian or another party.

3. Breach of Duty

This one’s pretty simple. If the other driver didn’t drive carefully in the same way another “reasonable person” would, they’re said to have breached their duty of care.

4. Injuries Caused by a Breach of Duty

In order to prove negligence, you must be able to prove your injuries were caused by the car accident. This is one of the main reasons it’s so important to seek medical treatment within a reasonable amount of time after your accident. Otherwise, the other driver could claim your injuries were not caused by the accident.

5. Damages Caused by the Injury

It’s not enough just to show that you were injured in the wreck. You must have suffered some kind of compensable loss. This could be property damage, medical expenses, lost wages/earning capacity, pain and suffering or other losses. It’s important to keep track of all expenses associated with the wreck to prove this factor.

If All These Factors Aren’t Met…

Proving all of these factors is the easiest way to prove the other driver was negligent in a car accident case. There may be other legal doctrines that your North Carolina car accident lawyer can explore if one or a few of these factors aren’t met. They can explain these doctrines and your other legal options to you.  It is extremely important to meet all of these requirements in addition to showing that the accident was 100% the fault of the other driver. If you come up short in either area, you will not be able to successfully recover against the other driver(s).

Proving You Aren’t at Fault for a Car Accident

As we mentioned earlier, you essentially have to prove you weren’t at fault at all for the car accident to get compensation in a NC accident. Here are some pieces of evidence your lawyer may consider when evaluating your potential injury claim:

Independent Witness Statements

Anyone not in your or the other driver’s vehicle who saw the accident may be an invaluable witness. If you see someone who witnessed the wreck, take down their name and contact information. Provide this information to law enforcement and your car accident lawyer. You lawyer may want to contact them to see if their testimony is helpful to your case.

Photos of the Scene

As soon as you’re out of your car and safe, take as many pictures as you can of the accident. Take photos of:

  • The damage your car and the other vehicle
  • Road conditions
  • Weather conditions
  • Skid marks
  • Traffic control devices in the area
  • Injuries you sustained
  • Any other details you may think are important.

 

It’s always better to have too many photos than not enough!

The Police Report

If police came to the scene of the accident (you should always make sure they do), make sure you get a copy of the police report. We have guides for many cities throughout the Carolinas to help you obtain and read your police report. Also, we are happy to help you get your report if you don’t already have it.

Once you’ve gotten the police report, check it for accuracy. If there are any errors, call the reporting officer and let them know. The officer will make the ultimate decision on whether to revise the report. Remember, the NC Police Report does not determine fault but it can be helpful in determining how an insurance company may react to any potential claims that you submit to them.

Speak to a Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in North Carolina, you have legal options. The experienced attorneys at Auger & Auger can review the details of your case and help you figure out how they may be able to help.  You may be entitled to compensation. Speak to our experienced team to see what options you have. Call (855) 971-1114 or contact our Charlotte car accident lawyers online today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.door

staying safe when shopping during the holidaysThough Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed us by, the holiday shopping season is still in full swing. Whether you’re in Charlotte or elsewhere in the Carolinas this holiday season, remember that a lot of people will be out there on the road and in the stores with you as you look for gifts for your loved ones. With everyone out shopping unfortunately there is an opportunity for more people to be involved in car accidents and other situations where they can get hurt. Our Charlotte, North Carolinas personal injury and accident lawyers are here to help this season if necessary, but it is our most sincere hope that everyone have a safe, happy and wonderful holiday season.

Here are some of the top ways you can stay safe while shopping for the holidays this season in North Carolina.

1. Practice Safe Driving

When you’re out and about this season, drive defensively. Keep your cool, and be proactive on the road. Allow traffic to merge as needed, and don’t speed down the highway or through intersections. You should also keep an eye out for increased pedestrian traffic this season, especially children walking with their parents.

Along the same vein, be predictable when you drive. Don’t swerve in and out of lanes, and make sure you use your turn signal. When you’re driving through parking lots, drive slowly in the proper lane. Be on the lookout for other shoppers returning to their cars and pulling out of parking spaces.

2. Be Safe While Shopping in Stores

Try to stick to shopping during the day. If you have no choice but to shop at night, don’t do so alone. Use the buddy system when you must go to the stores after dark. A thief or other criminal is less likely to strike pairs or groups of people than those walking alone.

Avoid being flashy. Keep your clothes casual and your accessories to a minimum. Don’t be so eye-catching that you make yourself a target. Wear comfortable shoes to avoid slips and falls. As an added benefit, sneakers may give you a longer and more comfortable shopping experience.

Do not carry large amounts of cash. It’s far easier to cancel your credit and debit cards than it is to retrieve cash that is stolen from you. If you must carry cash, don’t put it in your wallet but in your front pants pocket or inside jacket pocket. If someone does lift your wallet, your money will remain safely with you.

Don’t overload yourself with packages. Make several trips to your vehicle if you need to, securing your packages out of sight. Carrying heavy bags for long periods of time can lead to muscle strain. Carrying many packages can also make yourself a target to the bad guys.

Keep an eye open to your surroundings.

It’s not uncommon for shoppers who are concentrating on other things to run into doors, trip over cords or slip on wet floors. Know what is always going on around you . If you feel yourself getting distracted by all that is happening, take a moment to pause and gather your thoughts.

3. Practice Safe Online Shopping Methods

It’s expected that online shopping will account for around $130 billion this holiday season. Chances are, you’ll be part of the online shopping craze. If you’re planning on doing any of your holiday shopping on your computer or phone this year, be sure to keep these safety tips in mind.

Stick to Websites You Know

While Amazon and other massive retailers are the most popular sites for online shopping, there are other boutique sites you may visit. Always make sure you’re shopping on trusted sites. One of the easiest ways you can do so is to look for “https” and the lock symbol at the beginning of the website address.

You may also want to look at online reviews to make sure the online store you’re shopping at is legitimate. Otherwise, you could lose your money or have your identity stolen.

Use a Secure Connection

When you’re shopping online, you’ll obviously need to input your personal information. Make sure you’re doing so on a private connection. Shopping on public Wi-Fi leaves you vulnerable to attacks from hackers. If you’re shopping in public, use a private network at a coffee shop or other establishment. However, the most secure shopping can be done in your own home.

If you do need to do your shopping on a public Wi-Fi network, be sure to use a virtual private network, or VPN. A VPN essentially creates an encrypted private network for you, protecting you from potential attacks.

Watch Out for Scams

During the holiday season, scammers are out in full force. You may think you’re savvy enough to avoid such scams; after all, you know there’s not a Nigerian prince out there waiting to send you a fortune. But scams are a lot more sophisticated than that these days.

Many scams will ask you to reset your password due to fraud or other issues and use a false link to do so. The email will look legitimate, too. If you have even the tiniest doubt about the email, don’t give out any personal information unless you are one-hundred percent sure that the email is from who it purports to be from.

Our Charlotte Accident and Injury Lawyers Want You to Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

Shopping for the holidays is a joyful event. We spend our time thinking about what we will be giving and maybe even what we will be receiving.  Go ahead and have a great time but remember to keep your safety in mind.

When you are injured through no fault of your own in Charlotte or elsewhere in the Carolinas, an experienced attorney may be able to help secure compensation for your injuries. Reach out to our team of experienced Charlotte personal injury attorneys today and speak with a member of our team. We will help you set up an appointment for a free case evaluation so we can talk to you about what options may be available to you.

DISCLAIMER: The listed settlements and client reviews/testimonials do not constitute a promise or guarantee of any particular result in any particular case, as every case is unique. Each case was handled on its own merit, and the outcome of any particular case cannot be predicted by a lawyers or law firms past results. If a recovery by settlement or trial is made, the client will be responsible for cost advanced in addition to attorney fees. Client remains responsible for costs, expenses and disbursements, including medical bills, within the scope of representation. The attorney’s contingency fee percentage will be computed prior to the deduction of expenses from the total recovery.