The question of who was at fault for a car accident can have serious consequences. Car accidents in North Carolina have serious consequences in terms of medical treatment for injuries, pain, suffering, and damage to vehicles. In NC, if someone is determined to have been even partially (think 1% out of 100%) at fault (contributory negligence) for the car accident, they will likely be unable to recover against the other party that may have been mostly or almost totally responsible (think 99% out of 100%). Negligence is not always clear cut or based solely on what an accident report says. If you have questions about negligence in an injury car accident it is a good idea to consider speaking to an attorney before speaking to the insurance company.
At Auger & Auger, our personal injury and auto accident law firm is dedicated to helping those who have been harmed in traffic accidents and other types of accidents because of someone else’s negligence. With more than 25 years of legal experience in this field and millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts obtained for our clients, we have the know-how, skills, resources and commitment to help you. We understand the important issues involved in your North Carolina car accident, including the matters of negligence, fault and liability, which are critical in an bodily injury insurance claim.
Let a car accident attorney in Asheville represent your case to pursue a liability claim against the at-fault drivers responsible for your injuries. Below are some of the general thoughts about determining fault and increase your chances of successfully obtaining a settlement or court award.
In the state of North Carolina, a police officer should be called to the scene of any accident that causes injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage. Some attorneys may even advise you that no matter how much damage or how small your injuries may be, it is a best practice to always contact the police after an accident. Having an official record of the accident is extremely helpful in pursuing a claim against the other driver. While at the scene, the officer will gather information from all persons involved as well as any eyewitnesses to the accident. They will also look at physical evidence available at the accident scene, such as weather conditions, tire marks, vehicle debris, or other relevant findings.
The police officer will then file a crash report containing all of the most important information needed to describe the accident. In this report, they may note whether certain drivers made a mistake or had underlying conditions that directly contributed to the accident. For instance, one of the drivers may have been speeding or was under the influence of alcohol at the time the crash happened, causing a crash to occur. Other examples may include failing to yield or disregarding traffic signs.
Police investigators may also look at key details of the accident to determine things like: who hit whom, were traffic signs ignored, was someone likely not paying attention, and more. When a police officer can determine that a certain driver’s mistakes or illegal maneuvers contributed to a crash, they may also at their discretion issue a citation to that driver. This citation is not proof of “fault,” since fault must be determined in a court of law, but it can point to the fact that the driver contributed directly to the accident by way of their actions, presenting them as likely to be considered at fault for the accident, which is information that the driver’s insurance company will take into account when they make a liability determination. Please note that fault is a legal concept that may be determined by a court of law, however many injury cases caused by car accidents do not result in having to go to court. In the majority of cases that we see, an insurance company will usually make a liability determination without having to involve the court.
Many times, a driver will assume fault — either voluntarily or by not contesting a citation they were issued. If their liability insurer agrees that their insured is at fault, then the injured parties can bring forth a personal injury claim against the at fault driver for their resulting damages as opposed to having to go to court and prove the issue of liability. Keep in mind that the issue of liability needs to be resolved prior to any discussion regarding the amount of compensation that someone may be entitled to. Again – speak to an experienced accident lawyer before speaking to the insurance company!
If a driver or their insurer wants to dispute fault or liability, an investigation may be carried out before the matter of fault can be resolved. The results of a police investigation (police report) will likely contribute to the findings of the insurance company’s own private investigation, and the findings will most likely result in an insurance company either accepting or denying fault and liability for the accident damages.
If an insurance company denies liability or if an investigation proves inconclusive or multiple insurance company’s complete investigations that contradict one another, an injured party’s recourse may be limited to filing a lawsuit so that the court can conclusively determine fault. Again, it is important to consult with an attorney about your options in such a situation. Based on the facts and the evidence an attorney will be able to advice you of your chances of success at trial.
North Carolina’s civil procedure laws establish that those at-fault for an incident that causes damages to victims will be liable for all directly-related damages — meaning that the at-fault party must pay for these costs, either out of pocket or through their insurer.
If someone defending against liability says they did not intend to cause the incident, then they could still be held liable if they were negligent. “Negligence,” in this case, refers to a legal principle that shows the defendant acted in a way contrary to how a ‘reasonable person” would, based on their understanding of laws or exercising “ordinary care” to avoid risks.
For instance, a driver who did not check their blind spot before changing lanes, thereby causing an accident, may claim they did not break the law because they checked their mirrors, used their blinker, and acted as a reasonable person might. However, a “reasonable person” would remember that mirrors do not cover their blind spot, so the driver was expected to physically turn their head before assuming the maneuver was safe. In this case, the careless driver could be found to have been negligent and liable for resulting damages.
North Carolina state laws operate under a “contributory negligence” standard. This standard says that anyone who partially contributed to an accident that caused their injury is not eligible to recover any damages from other partially at-fault parties. Even if someone else is 99% responsible for the incident, that 1% of fault contributed by the injury victim is enough to negate their potential to receive a settlement, in most instances.
Because of this statute, many at-fault parties will attempt to shirk liability by claiming that injury victims contributed to the car accident and, thereby, their own injuries. Essentially a defendant, may try to use the contributory negligence defense to avoid paying property and bodily injury claims. If this happens, it is a good idea to speak to an experienced lawyer before assuming that you do not have additional options.
With an experienced attorney’s knowledge of applicable laws and familiarity with the injury claims process, you may be able to overcome the issue of contributory negligence and recover damages.
Give us a call for a free case evaluation because our injury attorneys may be able to help you! Let us review the facts of your case along with your police reports, eyewitness statements, physical evidence, and other important evidence. If you hire our firm, we will manage the contact to the insurance companies, limiting the chances that will you say or do something that unknowingly hurts your case. Call us before you call the insurance company!
Contact a North Carolina car accident lawyer at Auger & Auger today to schedule your free, no obligation case evaluation.
After a car wreck in North Carolina, it is advisable to always make sure that law enforcement is notified so that an accident report can be created. Knowing how to later access these reports is crucial when filing an injury claim against an at-fault driver and their insurance company. If this is your first car accident, you may not know what information to expect from the police report, this post will be helpful to you. Understanding your report is a critical part of putting forth a successful injury claim. Injury victims in Raleigh often work with a car accident attorney to build a compelling claim that has a high chance of success.
As an official record of the accident, a police crash report often provides the foundational evidence needed to reconstruct how and why a crash happened.
Fortunately for parties seeking information on their accident, accident reports are generally made available to anyone involved directly in the crash. Please note that it is important to know which law enforcement agency was involved with investigating and reporting the accident.
Parties can research whether their report is available using the North Carolina State Highway Patrol collision database for accidents investigated by that agency. Parties can also request a certified crash report from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) by phone, by mail, or in person using a standard form. Because so many different jurisdictions are responsible for creating and releasing accident reports, you may need to contact the agency that reported to your accident to find out more about getting a copy of your report. In many cases, the officer will leave you with this information.
A car accident report uses a standardized form to quickly capture data about an accident. This data may also be accompanied by a descriptive narrative of the accident or the responding officer’s encounter at the accident scene.
Learn more about the five most important components of a police report below.
A police crash report will establish the road conditions that existed in the area of the crash at the exact time it happened. Relevant information captured includes:
The next sections of the police report will cover the most important details of the crash in brief. While these forms will not be able to provide a complete narrative for the crash, they will offer a surprising amount of descriptive detail at a glance.
Details captured in these sections include:
After noting important crash information, the police report will document any vehicles, drivers, and other persons involved in the crash. This information includes:
The state of a vehicle after an accident says a lot about how serious the crash was and how it played out in this unique situation. Accordingly, a North Carolina police crash report will note whether:
Additionally, the report will capture what areas of each vehicle involved were damaged, how severe each area of damage was, and the estimated cost of damage.
The final sections of the police crash report will attempt to describe the conditions leading up to the crash as well as the sequence of events that occurred during the crash, including relevant details.
This section will contain the most information on the report, and it will be relied upon heavily by insurers, courts, and car accident lawyers in North Carolina in order to reveal an objective narrative for how and why the crash took place.
Elements described may include:
Finally, the police officer or officers responding may attempt to draw a quick diagram of the crash and write down a narrative of what occurred.
A police report can be a powerful document when proving an injury claim, but it will not always be enough to assert liability or convince insurers to offer a fair settlement.
In these instances, having a car accident attorney in Raleigh or elsewhere in NC or SC can help individuals build a strong case and assemble evidence that backs up both the police report narrative and their own assertions. Your personal injury lawyer can negotiate with insurers, assemble evidence, and form a legal strategy to help you claim rightful damages. Potential compensation you could recover includes money for your medical bills, lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, and more.
If you have been in a car accident in Raleigh or anywhere in North Carolina or South Carolina, do not hesitate to exercise your right to obtain legal representation for your injury claim. Contact us online today or by phone to schedule a free case review.
It is hard to believe that it’s already St. Patrick’s Day! Whether you are Irish or not, we wish everyone a safe and fun St. Patrick’s Day. This year March 17th falls on a Sunday which means that anyone out on St. Patty’s night may reconsider because they have to work on Monday. That being said, anyone out and about on St. Patrick’s Day should still expect a significant amount of people out to celebrate the greenest day of the year. While we wish everyone a safe and happy time, we want to make a reminder that there is never a good day to drink and drive!
Please consider the following if you are going to be celebrating with alcohol on March 17th or any other day of the year:
There is no excuse for drunk driving. There are multiple ways that anyone drinking outside of their home can catch a ride home without having to put their own or someone else’s life at risk. Take a cab, a bus, a train, an Uber, a Lyft or even walk if you can do so safely. Call a friend, call your mom, call anyone but do not get behind the wheel if you have been drinking!
Paying for a ride home is cheaper than paying for a DUI. Besides the many obvious reasons that you should never drink and drive, remember that a DUI and related traffic offenses and car accidents can be expensive! Not only do you have to consider legal fees and fines and citations, but consider that a DUI or DUI car accident can result in a lot of bad scenarios that affect your wallet. If you have a DUI on your record, you could lose your job and future opportunities for employment. Having a DUI on your record if you work in certain fields or aspire to have a certain profession can completely end someone’s lifelong goal of obtaining and keeping a certain job. If that isn’t bad enough how about the fact that having a DUI on your record is certainly going to make an impact on the amount of money that you pay for car insurance, assuming that you ever get your license back.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is stupid. There isn’t much to add to this one. Being drunk or high while you are driving is just plain dumb.
If you are driving under the influence you are playing with people’s lives. Nobody really likes being told what to do by someone else. If you think about it, if you are drinking and driving. you are essentially making safety and possibly life altering decisions for other people that are also driving and walking on the roads while you are driving drunk. You are potentially making a decision for them that may result in their serious injury or death. Nobody has the right to make that choice for anyone else!
Enough lecturing already! We want everyone to have a safe and fun time whenever they go out and especially on a fun day like St. Patty’s day. However as injury lawyers, our Charlotte, NC team of experienced attorneys unfortunately all too often sees the results of drunk driving accidents. We see the injuries and we see the consequences for our clients and for the drunk drivers. Drunk driving accidents are 1oo percent preventable. Just don’t do it – ever!
Our Charlotte, NC Injury team represents accident victims and focuses helping people that have been hurt by the negligence of others. We have been serving our communities for more than 20 years and we do so with pride. If you or anyone you has been hurt by a drunk driver or anyone else, we are happy to talk to see if we can help. It all starts by calling our office or submitting a request for a free case evaluation through our website for us to call you. We are experienced and compassionate lawyers and we fight for our clients every day. Please let us know if we can help!
It’s been a cold, dreary winter this year in Raleigh, and it sometimes seems like warm weather won’t ever be back. But just like all seasons, spring will come — in fact, it’s just around the corner! Before spring arrives, it’s a good idea to plan a few weekend activities for you and the family to make sure you’re getting out and soaking in the sunshine.
One of the best ways the whole family can enjoy the outdoors is with a bike ride. Raleigh is the perfect place for people of all ages to enjoy a bicycle ride, whether they’re 5 for 50.
Here are four of the best places for safe bike riding in Raleigh this spring:
Neuse River Greenway Trail is a beautiful park that offers views of some of the most stunning landscapes in Raleigh. There are 27.5 miles of paved trail, which cuts through woods, wetlands and open fields as it follows the Neuse River.
The Neuse River Greenway Trail is a part of the Capital Area Greenway System and is also a segment of the long-distance Mountain-to-Sea Trail, which runs from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. The wide-paved trail and relatively flat terrain make it a perfect destination for families.
For a shorter circuit, be sure to check out Shelley Lake Park. This park offers two miles of paved trails around the lake. You and your family can enjoy the scenery while you ride your bikes around this generally flat trail.
While you’re at Shelley Lake Park, be sure to check out everything else that’s available. There are basketball courts, playgrounds, and art center and more. It’s a great location to go for a bike ride, have a picnic and enjoy the spring weather!
If you have older kids or are looking for a challenging bike ride for yourself, Durant Nature Preserve is a great choice. There are five miles of trails throughout the park, and some of them are designated for mountain biking. These are dirt trails, so make sure you have the right bike for the job!
If you are bringing younger kids to the Preserve, there are a lot of other activities to enjoy. There is a bird garden, a butterfly garden, a nature play garden and more. You and your kids can learn all about the wildlife in Durant Nature Preserve, then have a picnic at one of the many provided tables!
Since 2009, Raleigh has been creating bicycle lanes throughout the city. Now, there are over 28 miles of bike lanes and shared lane markings throughout the city. There’s even a bike-share program to help locals get around the city! If you have older kids who know how to ride a bike safely, riding through the City of Raleigh is a great weekend activity.
There are tons of things to do in Raleigh that you can enjoy while you’re riding a bike. History, art and science museums can be found all over the city, as are fantastic restaurants. If you are riding with friends or family who are of age, Raleigh has some of the best breweries in the country (just be sure to not ride your bike if you get inebriated). The possibilities are endless!
Despite having an area population nearly a million strong, Raleigh often sits under the radar when it comes to people looking for hip destinations. Fortunately, that’s just the way locals like it! Between being able to grab a craft cocktail without a long wait or knowing the perfect spot for chicken and waffles on a Sunday morning, Raleigh’s citizens enjoy some enticing delicacies all on the down-low.
Area business owners look out for their customers, too, with secret menu options and plenty of TLC given to their atmosphere. However, even the most careful business can neglect customer safety in some ways, resulting in an injury. When this happens, natives know that they can rely on a trustworthy personal injury attorney in Raleigh to represent their case and get them fair compensation for their claim.
To help you enjoy Raleigh like locals do, bookmark these four local hotspots that are sure to wind up in your regular going out routine!
Duck Donuts, 8323 Creedmoor Rd, Raleigh, NC 27613
Duck Donuts may be a franchise, but the intimate atmosphere and the fact that workers know many customers on a first-name basis could easily fool you. This Pennsylvania-based chain has only 69 locations around the U.S., and Raleigh is blessed to be one of them. Donuts are fried and baked from scratch every morning. Inventive flavor options include maple bacon, lemon, strawberry, and the not-so-secret French toast donut.
330 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Housed in a renovated industrial building, Boxcar Bar + Arcade has the charm of a hipster hotspot awash in nostalgia you probably haven’t felt since your six-year-old birthday party. The owners curate a jaw-dropping selection of authentic, original arcade machines that run the gamut from Street Fighter to Guitar Hero. There’s also plenty of classic pinball machines as well as air hockey, skeeball, and a host of vintage consoles. Come for the games, but stay for amazing specials and the wide selection of microbrews.
237 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Don’t let the hip interior and ultra-modern menu designs fool you: Beasley’s Chicken + Honey is anything but fussy! It serves up classic Southern treats at reasonable prices, making it a local’s favorite. Just make sure to get there early for brunch; the line gets long!
327 W Davie St #102, Raleigh, NC 27601
Authentic and inventive, José and Sons has developed a cult following in Raleigh for good reason. The chiccarones and waffles may be a big component of this notoriety, but the menu is also bursting with tons of other inspired latin x Southern fusion ideas. Come for a filling dish and refreshing drink, and then come back week after week because it’s just that good!
These are just four of the most flavorful fun spots in Raleigh you’ll find packed to the gills with locals. There’s also a number of others worth mentioning, including: Fiction Kitchen, Clouds Brewing, Brewery Bhavana, Raleigh Beer Garden, the Pearson Street Pharmacy Cafe, and the institution that is Big Ed’s downtown.
The next time you find yourself wondering where to go in Raleigh, just follow the locals! These outstanding options are popular for a reason, so you really can’t go wrong.
Don’t Drive if you are Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs!
Many North Carolina drivers have the false impression that they can legally drive after taking drugs so long as those drugs were legally prescribed. In fact, North Carolina DWI law dictates that driving under the influence of any “impairing substance” is a crime, and having legal permission to consume that substance is not a reasonable defense.
Driving under the influence of prescription drugs is an extremely common problem, not just in North Carolina, but also in the United States as a whole. A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association found that in 2016, 44% of drivers who died in car accidents were flagged as positive when tested for drugs in autopsy. Roughly 11% of these drivers tested positive for opioids.
Opioids and many other types of prescription drugs can have dangerous side effects on par with (and sometimes worse than) the effects of alcohol or controlled substances. When drivers make the mistake of taking these drugs before getting behind the wheel, they put all North Carolinians at risk.
Victims of car accidents caused by these drivers can receive major injuries and rack up huge medical bills. The unfortunate circumstances surrounding injury accidents often influence the decision to hire a car accident attorney in Charlotte to represent their claims against at fault drivers and their insurers. Experienced injury attorneys are tasked with fighting hard for their clients in order to recover their full compensation that the law provides for injury victims.
You should already know that it is never a good idea to drive if you are under the influence of any drugs, alcohol or other substances that are going to affect how you drive. It is worth noting that the problem of intoxicated driving is still a huge problem! Consider the following facts about prescription drugs and North Carolina law.
Even though North Carolina’s DWI statutes don’t mention prescription drugs specifically, the laws are still quite specific about the fact that a legal prescription doesn’t make it ok to drive under the influence.
North Carolina General Statute § 20-138.1. states that, “a person commits the offense of impaired driving if he drives any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within this State while under the influence of an impairing substance.”
More importantly, the statute goes on to mention a specific “Defense Precluded” clause, which refers to a defense that will automatically be regarded as invalid by the court. The clause states: “The fact that a person charged with violating this section is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug is not a defense to a charge under this section.”
In other words, North Carolina DWI laws make no exception for any prescription drugs that are “capable of impairing a person’s physical or mental faculties.” The fact that they have been legally prescribed does not make any difference, as far as the law is concerned.
If you are driving under the influence — whether the substance was legally acquired or not — you are breaking the law.
Most people tend to think of legal drugs and illegal drugs in separate categories. The thought goes: “As long as I am not over the legal limit for drunk driving or under the influence of illegal drugs, I can’t possibly be too impaired to drive!”
This thought process is an unfortunate result of a lack of information given to the public regarding the dangers of some prescription medications — and many over-the-counter remedies, as well. While many of these products contain warnings, they are usually not given with the same sense of gravity as a bartender worrying about a patron driving home. Perhaps their manufacturers do not want their drugs to be associated with the same kinds of psychoactive or impairing effects that illegal drugs create, but the result is uninformed decision making that leads to driving under the influence.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) cautions people to be aware that a broad range of prescription and over-the-counter medicines can negatively affect drivers’ abilities, including: “prescription drugs for anxiety, some antidepressants, some cold remedies and allergy products, sleeping pills, and pain relievers.”
Side effects to watch out for include drowsiness, blurred vision, delayed reaction times, fainting, or disorientation. Some more serious side effects can dramatically affect coordination or create distorted thought patterns that make driving nearly impossible.
Older adults are particularly at risk for these types of side effects because they may be prescribed multiple medicines, some of which may have unanticipated side interactions with each other. AAA reports that nearly 50% of older adults say they take seven or more medications yet still drive regularly. They go on to caution that medicines with impairing side effects or drug interactions can raise a driver’s risk of an accident by 300%.
To avoid raising your risk of an accident, avoid taking medications that say “Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery” as a warning label. “Heavy Machinery” includes cars.
Also, ask your physician about whether the medication can result in the inability to drive safely. It is also always a good idea to make sure that all of your doctors and your pharmacist knows all of the drugs you are taking because of the risk of unsafe drug interactions if you take multiple prescriptions.
Note that some medications affect different people in different ways, and these effects can also fluctuate based on whether you have eaten, whether you have gained or lost weight recently, and several other variables. You can also develop habits that allow you to take your prescriptions as recommended while following a schedule that makes unsafe driving less likely.
Not every driver knows that they should not drive on prescription medications, but ignorance is no excuse or defense when you break the law.
If you have been injured by a driver who has tested positive for impairing prescriptions or who may have been using them at the time of the accident, you can work with a car accident attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina to build your case. The impaired driver may be liable for your damages, including medical bills, lost income, vehicle repairs, and pain and suffering.
You can speak with a North Carolina car accident attorney during a free case evaluation when you schedule your free case evaluation today by calling 704-364-3361 or our convenient online contact form.