It’s no secret or surprise that distracted driving is a major issue on North Carolina’s roads. In 2018 alone, there were 123 deaths in the state attributed to distracted driving. While there are any number of reasons why a driver can get distracted, such as eating, looking at scenery or even dealing with kids in the car, no reason is more common — or dangerous — than cell phone use.
On average, it takes about five seconds to read a text. In that time, your car will travel about 100 yards if you’re driving at 55 miles per hour. To put it in perspective, you’re driving blind for about the length of a football field. Because of that, cell phone use caused about 1.5 million collisions across the country in 2017.
North Carolina does have certain laws on the books prohibiting specific uses of cell phones while driving. But many lawmakers and residents don’t think these laws are tough enough. There is a new law being considered that would make it illegal to use any handheld devices while driving.
At Auger & Auger, we appreciate this effort by the North Carolina legislature. We greatly appreciate any steps taken to reduce the number of wrecks on the state’s roads. But if you are involved in a collision, our Charlotte car accident lawyers are here to help you. Call us at (800) 559-5741 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
Under current law, most drivers can still hold their phones to talk while they’re driving. The exceptions are drivers under 18 years old, as well as commercial vehicle drivers. However, no driver is allowed to “manually enter multiple letters or text” while driving. This includes texting, emailing, sending instant messages or any other kind of text input.
For most drivers, the penalty for texting and driving is a $100 fine, plus the costs of court. There are no license points assessed, and it’s unlawful for insurance companies to increase your premiums because of this violation. For bus drivers caught texting and driving, a violation of this law carries a Class 2 misdemeanor charge and a fine of no less than $100.
Like many states in recent years, North Carolina legislators are considering making it illegal to hold your phone at all while you’re driving. This would include texting, holding your phone to make phone calls, taking photos or videos, or otherwise using your phone in a way that requires you to hold it.
In addition, this law would make cell phone use while driving a primary offense. That means drivers could be pulled over just for phone usage. Under current law, illegal cell phone use is a secondary offense, meaning there must be another reason, with cell phone usage being added on to the ticket.
The bill would still allow for hands-free usage, such as making a call on speaker when your phone is mounted. Because of this fact, some legislators don’t believe the bill would truly be effective.
“The problem is the conversation. Are we as a legislature willing to legislate no phone calls while you’re driving? And if we’re not willing to do that, then we’re not going to solve the problem,” said Republican Representative Michael Speciale from Craven County. He is voting against the bill.
Others point to the success that other states, especially Georgia, have had since passing similar bills. Since the passing of the bill in Georgia, typing on phones while driving has dropped 22%. In addition, traffic fatalities dropped 16% within two years of a similar law being passed.
While the new law is still being debated in the North Carolina House and Senate, texting and driving will continue to be a major issue on our roads. If you are involved in a car wreck with a distracted driver, you have legal rights. Contact a Charlotte car accident lawyer at Auger and Auger today for a free consultation by calling (800) 559-5741 or filling out our convenient online contact form.
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.
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.
After a car accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, your first step should be to make sure everyone is safe and try to move off the road if possible. Then, call 9-1-1 and specifically ask for an ambulance.
When the police come, they may take a statement from you and any other drivers involved. Meanwhile, paramedics can evaluate your injuries and let you know if you need to go to the hospital. If they say you do, don’t disagree — get the treatment you need.
As experienced Charlotte car accident attorneys, we’ve spoken to many injured people that did not receive any medical care after their accident. If an injured person does not get any medical care after they are injured in a car accident, they are not only hurting themselves physically, but they are also hurting the value of their potential injury case. If you are injured in an accident you should get medical care.
Knowing the ins and outs of getting medical treatment after a car wreck in North Carolina can help you recover from your injuries, and help you get the compensation you deserve.
As we mentioned before, you should seek medical attention at the scene of the car wreck. Even an initial evaluation by a paramedic can provide valuable information regarding your wellbeing. They may realize that you have serious injuries, and they may tell you that you need to go to the emergency room. Follow their advice.
If you can, document your injuries and pain. Take photos of any visible injuries with your smartphone and make notes of any symptoms or pain you’re experiencing. This can not only help your doctor but can also be invaluable to your Charlotte car accident lawyer if you decide to pursue your potential injury case.
Every car accident and every injury case is different, so the answer will depend on your specific situation. Many times, though, the answer is yes. Paramedics who arrive at the scene of the accident have a limited set of tools to use to evaluate your injuries. As such, they may not be able to determine underlying or undiagnosed injuries you sustained in the wreck. And with your adrenaline pumping after the accident, you may not realize you have these injuries, either.
It’s important to seek medical attention within 72 hours after the wreck, especially if you feel dizziness, numbness, pain or other symptoms. If you wait more than 72 hours, you are not only putting your health at risk, but you are also potentially damaging your personal injury claim. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will decide to make an issue of it.
What’s more, many insurance companies now use software algorithms to determine how much money your injury is worth. One of the factors in this software is whether you sought medical attention within days of the accident. Their programs will certainly use a treatment gap to discount the value of your injury case.
There are instances where you may not be able to get to a doctor within that time frame, because of bad weather or if your injury is during the holidays. Your attorney can certainly notate those issues, but the insurance company may still challenge your lack of medical care soon after an accident, regardless of what valid excuse you may have. The bottom line is this: Don’t wait too long after your accident to get medical treatment!
When you get to the doctor or the hospital, be sure to provide identifying information, as well as your symptoms. You should also provide your health insurance information. While this is par for the course whenever you go to the doctor, it’s especially important to remember after a car accident. Too often, patients will provide their auto insurance information (or police report information that includes auto insurance information), hoping it will cover their medical bills.
While the other person’s auto insurance will often (eventually) cover the medical bills, it will generally not be a situation where they pay each bill individually as they come due. If your accident lawyer can resolve your case, they will use your medical bills as one of the factors used to evaluate the potential value of your case. If there is a settlement from the auto insurance company, your providers, your health insurance company (if applicable) and you (for co-pays, prescriptions, etc.) will get paid from your settlement. We encourage all of our clients to use their health insurance and to follow through with providers to make sure that all of their medical bills are filed with their own health insurance company.
Ever case is different. Lawyers don’t practice medicine and can’t diagnose your injuries. When it comes to seeking medical attention, you have options and you are ultimately responsible for figuring out the type(s) of medical care that you may need. Only you know how you feel. Different injuries may require different types of medical practices. For instance, some of our clients receive treatments from their orthopedists while other clients treat with specialists for their concussions or other injuries.
If you were seriously injured, most likely you would already have been seen by a doctor at a hospital or urgent care. From there, it all depends on your injuries. If appropriate, many clients will visit their regular general practitioner after they have been in a car accident. Clients know that their regular doctors already have their information and medical history on file. They know that their own doctors may be able to prescribe a treatment regimen to help their injuries heal, all under their careful supervision. In some cases, they may refer the client to a physical therapist or to some other specialist for treatment and or additional diagnostics.
If you can’t get an appointment with your doctor or you don’t have one, you have other options. Some injured clients may go to an urgent care for some of the same medical care that their own regular doctor would have been able to provide if they were able to get in with them. Many urgent care facilities can provide x-rays or referrals for other types of diagnostics or care by other doctors/specialists. Just because an urgent care often treats people with colds, viruses or minor sprains, don’t assume that they can’t help you after your car accident.
Others may choose to visit a chiropractor if they have injuries that a chiropractor can address. A chiropractor will evaluate you and speak to you about how chiropractic care may be able to help you with your various injuries. After an initial consultation that may include x-rays, the chiropractor may put together a treatment plan that may include adjustments to your neck and spine and other therapies geared towards nerve stimulation. It is common to see the chiropractor multiple times per week when you first start treating with them.
After a car accident, you could potentially wait weeks or months for the automobile insurance company to send you compensation for your medical bills. Even with the help of an experienced accident attorney, the process of getting the compensation you deserve is generally not fast because your attorneys cannot resolve your injury case with the insurance company before you finish receiving your medical treatment. That takes time! Unfortunately, as you continue to recover and get medical care, those medical bills may pile up.
There are a few different options you can choose from when it comes to paying your medical bills:
You probably don’t want to use your own car insurance policy to pay for your medical bills if you didn’t cause the accident. However, in some cases you may have coverage that you bought for this very situation. If you purchased medical payment insurance (Medpay), you should go ahead and use it. After all, this is exactly what you purchased the coverage for, and it can have a big impact on the final amount of the compensation that you receive when your case is resolved.
Medpay is extra insurance coverage that is available to you and your passengers if there is a car accident that results in injuries. It is only for medical bills. If you have elected to purchase Medpay (it is not required) the amount that you added to your policy will be there for you to use to pay towards your medical bills regardless of who caused the accident. Also, remember that your passengers can use it as well.
Medpay is not required and the amount that you can purchase depends on what your insurance company can offer you. We have seen Medpay policies as small as $500 and as large as $25,000.00 but $1,000 to $2,000 in coverage is very common. Your attorneys and your medical providers can assist you with making your Medpay claim if you have Medpay coverage. Depending on the amount of Medpay you have and the amount of your medical bills, Medpay may not be enough to cover everything. Thankfully there may be other options.
This is a common option for paying for medical treatment after a car wreck. Filing with your own health insurance company may have an immediate effect on the amount of money that you have to pay towards your medical bills before you resolve your case. You will still be responsible for copays, deductibles, and other expenses, but in general, your health insurance will cover any bills that are covered by your policy (for instance, alternative treatments like acupuncture may not be covered). This not only applies to private insurance policies but also Medicare and Medicaid.
It is very likely that you will be required to reimburse your health insurance provider for these treatments after you get a settlement. In cases of clients that have their medical treatment paid by Medicare there is also a significant amount of time that goes into making sure that Medicare has been paid the amount that it is owed to them. It is important to remember that in most cases you cannot have your medical bills paid for by your health insurance and also walk away with compensation from the other person’s insurance company in a form of a settlement that is significantly based on the amount and costs of the medical care that you received. Again, every situation is different, and it is always a good idea to speak to your injury lawyer about how your health insurance will affect your settlement.
This is obviously the least desirable option, but it’s one you may need to consider if you don’t have Medpay coverage and/or health insurance. However, you may be able to negotiate a hold or payment plan on your medical bills until a settlement has been reached, which means your bills won’t go to collections. It is very important that you keep in contact with the providers regarding your outstanding medical bills. Speaking to them about a payment plan may be a great way of working something out with them temporarily until your lawyer resolves your case and settles your medical bills with your providers.
With medical bills, lost wages, car damage and more, being in a car wreck can become quite expensive. You may be left waiting for months for a settlement check, and even that may not completely cover you. That’s why we always recommend talking to our North Carolina car accident attorneys after a wreck and before you talk to the insurance company!
At Auger & Auger, we always offer free case evaluations. During our initial conversation, we’ll discuss your accident and injuries. We will also try to address any questions that we may be able to answer. We want to see how we can help you! Call us today at (800) 559-5741 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.
If you have been involved in a car crash, you may have someone recommend to you that you seek the services of an experienced car accident attorney who can help you with your case. The typical reason is that a non-lawyer may not be capable of assessing all of the types of damages / compensation that they may be able to recover from the other driver’s insurance company following their car accident.
Without knowledge of North Carolina car accident law, an individual may unknowingly accept a far lower settlement ask for less than they may be entitled to under the law. In fact some injured people may not even pursue an injury claim at all because they may not know that they can! Some people avoid fighting with the other driver’s insurance company over their settlement, believing that the amount of money that they have been offered by an insurance company is fair. Others hold tight to the feeling that they aren’t “the type of person” to sue someone. The truth of the matter is that insurance companies aren’t out for a car accident injury victim’s best interests and utilizing a car accident lawyer and the Court (if necessary) doesn’t make you anything other than a person that wants to protect their rights!
Working with North Carolina car accident lawyers can allow you to be informed of how much your case may be worth. Your lawyers can also assemble the facts and evidence necessary to prove your case and its legal value.
To help you get oriented as to how much your case and injury claim might be worth, take a look at the following categories of car accident damages available to North Carolina car accident victims.
Medical expenses are among the most immediate and quantifiable damages victims can recover after their serious car accident. The average person understands that if someone else was responsible for causing the accident that injured them, they are eligible to recover their reasonable and necessary healthcare costs.
What they may not know is how to accurately and thoroughly document these expenses so that they can recover nearly every penny they spent on their own healthcare. Even if their own private medical insurance provided the initial coverage for their treatments, they still have the right to seek compensation for those costs. (An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to tell you how your own private health insurance may affect your potential settlement – let them know about your health insurance when you speak to them!)
Additionally, a car accident victim may recover medical expenses, including:
A car accident settlement or award may include should certainly consider past related medical expenses, and it may attempt to predict all future medical expenses as well. For instance, a victim who will need multiple surgeries scheduled in the future may receive compensation in advance based on a projection of how much those surgeries may cost.
Injury victims will likely miss work and other income-earning opportunities. Since this outcome is the result of the accident, that lost income can potentially be recovered as part of an injury claim.
Officially, recovering lost income pertains to the loss of the victim’s time they could spend fulfilling their employment duties, the loss of their ability to perform ordinary work, and a reduced capacity to earn money in general.
Compensation for these losses will account for past, present, and future income potential. To project the possible lost future income, a jury is instructed to account for the injured party’s:
In cases of serious injury, car accident victims may be able to request a monetary amount intended to compensate them for the pain and suffering they experienced as a result of the car accident. This pain and suffering must be directly traced to the negligent actions of the defendant. Individuals wishing to add pain and suffering as part of their settlement will be expected to provide concrete evidence to support their claim. An attorney can often assist individuals with the process of documenting such evidence. This evidence can include information from a pain journal or a list of activities that are difficult or impossible because of the victim’s suffering.
Many car accident injuries are so severe as to cause the victim to permanently lose a limb partially or completely. They may also lose the full capacity of certain bodily functions, such as having an eyesight impairment as the result of retinal damage. Such damages may include the permanent scarring or disfigurement of a visible organ, even if the organ functions normally. Calculating the value of a lost limb is complex and North Carolina does not set forth specific guidelines.
In instances where a major accident injury causes the victim to lose their ability to lead a normal life at home, they may be eligible to receive additional compensation. Such losses may include an inability to:
In some rare instances, permanent damage to a vital organ may shorten the accident victim’s life measurably. They may be able to claim that loss of life as part of their general damages in the same vein as calculating lost future income or lost functioning of a limb.
In the event that an individual dies as a result of car accident injuries directly caused by someone’s negligent actions, the victim’s survivors and the representatives of their estate can file a wrongful death case in North Carolina.
A wrongful death claim will account for all medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and losses of a normal life as above. The final amount requested as compensation may also reflect what the individual may have been able to recover had they survived.
In cases of extreme “gross” negligence, malicious behavior, or behaviors exhibiting a lack of remorse for harmful actions, certain judges and juries may award additional compensation intended to punish the defendant. These awards are rare, but they are intended to add additional punishment to those who commit heinous acts as both a deterrent and a symbolic action of justice.
Punitive damages are awarded in only the most egregious of cases. Punitive damages are capped in almost every state and there are guidelines on who receives these damages after they have been awarded.
The amount that a person may receive after an accident is based upon many factors. A judge will consider the amount of medical expenses the victim has already paid and how much they may have to pay in the future. The judge may also consider the time a victim is required to spend recuperating, whether the victim is able to return to work, and if the victim’s ability to enjoy life has been diminished.
If you have been hurt in an accident, reach out to Auger & Auger Law. An experienced member of injury team can review the details of your case at no cost to you and help you determine the type of damages that may you may be entitled to under the law. You do not have to take the insurance company’s word for it, speak to a lawyer about your options and what you may be entitled to! (855) 971-1114 We answer our phones 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
In terms of overall traffic-related fatalities, Charlotte, North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County ranks first — or last, depending on how you look at it. The most populous county in the state also had the highest number of drunk-driving related fatalities as well as fatal accidents involving occupants who didn’t wear their seatbelts.
These facts were compiled over several years by the state’s Governor’s Highway Safety Program and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The 2018 Highway Safety Plan Report for the state recorded incidents that occurred as recently as 2015. Our Charlotte car accident lawyers want you to be mindful of these statistics and we also want you to be aware of efforts taken by the state to reduce fatal road accidents in Mecklenburg County and throughout North Carolina.
By knowing what’s at stake and how our state intends to fix it, we hope that you will take steps of your own to reduce deadly serious accidents in North Carolina’s biggest city.
According to the 2018 North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program Report, Mecklenburg County ranked at the top of the list of North Carolina counties for overall road fatalities in 2015. The county had 80 overall deaths stemming from motor vehicle crashes that year, beating the #2 county (Wake) by 15.
On the other hand, Mecklenburg happens to be the state’s most populous county. In 2015, census estimates put the entire county, which includes the city of Charlotte, at 1,035,605 people. From that perspective, it makes sense that the county with the most people and likely the most cars on the road would by extension have the highest overall volume of motor vehicle accident fatalities. Looking solely at the county’s rate of car accident deaths per 100,000 people, Mecklenburg has 7.72. This figure means it ranks 90th out of 100 counties.
By comparison, rural counties in North Carolina tend to have a low number of overall road fatalities but a high rate relative to their population. Robeson County, for instance, which includes the cities of Lumberton and Pembroke, had 53 road fatalities in 2015. Compared to its population of 133,375 people, the county had a fatality rate per 100k population of 39.74: over five times the rate of Mecklenburg! Robeson also had the fifth-highest number of overall motor vehicle crash fatalities, making it somewhat of an outlier.
Other, smaller counties had more exaggerated fatal accident rates. Sampson County, with just 63,993 people in 2015, had 25 total road accident deaths, making it #2 in the state by rate.
While one might be able to give context to Mecklenburg’s high accident fatality volume given its high population, but the county has no excuses when it comes to drunk driving and especially seat belt use.
Statistics from the report indicate that between 2011 and 2015 the county had 127 total fatalities in crashes where alcohol-impaired driving was a factor. That figure accounts for nearly 7% of all such fatalities in the state and gives the county a death rate of 1.23 per 10,000 people.
Again, rural areas in the state do tend to have higher rates than that. Hoke County, for instance, accounted for just over 1% of all DUI-related road deaths but had a rate 3.7 times higher than Mecklenburg’s. Robeson again topped the charts with its rate, which was an alarming 4.95.
In this case, even a relative comparison still makes Mecklenburg County and the city of Charlotte far from blameless. DUI-related deaths are entirely avoidable, yet they tend to cause an anguish-inducing amount of fatal accidents per year.
Even more alarming is the fact that Mecklenburg County has had a very poor record of seatbelt use, which directly contributes to the volume and rate of fatal accidents in the region. The report indicated that 44.6% of all road fatalities in the area happened to individuals who were not properly restrained. This figure includes both adults not wearing seatbelts as well as minors who were not given the proper restraints. In total, Mecklenburg saw 90 such fatalities between 2011 and 2015, accounting for just under 5% of the state’s total.
The purpose of the state’s highway safety report was not just to scare individuals into making smart decisions — although that was certainly part of it. Alongside these grim statistics comes a ray of hope in the form of action-oriented programs designed to improve road safety and prevent avoidable deaths.
For example, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will continue its DWI task force project for the fifth straight year. The program aims to reduce alcohol-related fatalities, traffic crashes and injuries through both enforcement and education efforts. This task force includes seven dedicated officers who cooperate with other local offices to set up DWI checkpoints during peak hours at night, on weekends, and during holidays.
Mecklenburg County has also participated in concerted efforts to improve proper restraint use. 2016 data from the seat belt survey indicates an observed seat belt use rate of 92.7% in Charlotte and the county at large.
Drivers can help with these efforts — and reduce their risk of being part of a fatal crash — by practicing smart, safe driving techniques. Always use a seat belt, never drive impaired, and obey all road laws including posted speed limits.
Every accident can be serious, but the dangers are increased when drivers engage in reckless behavior such as DWI. Even the most careful driver may suddenly find themselves the victim in a life-changing accident.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident — remember that you have the right to get legal representation to assist you with your injury claim. You could be eligible for not just medical bill reimbursement but also compensation for your lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
You can contact our Charlotte car accident lawyers today if you have any questions or want to find out how you can have someone fighting for your rights as soon as possible. Get in touch, and we will try our best to answer your questions and see how we may be able to help. Your first call starts our initial case evaluation process. Call us today! Our phones are answered 24 hours per day, 7 days a week! (855) 971-1114
Evidence is the backbone of any injury case, and having solid evidence could mean the difference between your claim succeeding or not. While you do have several top priorities after your accident — such as calling the police and seeking medical attention for all hurt parties, including yourself — documenting the accident scene as soon as possible falls right in after those in terms of importance. This evidence typically includes photos, eyewitness testimony, detailed notes, official documents, and anything else that’s relevant.
Our Charlotte car accident attorneys have seen countless cases where solid evidence either strengthened a claim or poked holes in the negligent driver’s defense. Without evidence, negotiating or receiving a judgement in your favor could easily turn into a game of “he said, she said.” With it, you can definitively and confidently point to the truth of the matter. You may also be better equipped to remember crucial facts or details you may have otherwise gotten mixed up.
In short, documenting evidence of your car accident could easily play in your favor in most injury cases. You can use the following tips to help you gather evidence on your own at the scene of your next car accident.
Before you gather evidence after your car accident, you should take some immediate steps to ensure everyone’s health and safety.
Your next order of business is to protect yourself if the other driver decides to speed off.
You should immediately capture a picture of their vehicle and, preferably, a close up picture of their license plate to help with identifying them if necessary.
If they allow you to, you will also want a photo of their driver’s license and insurance policy card. Do not confront the driver if they are being belligerent or simply refuse to present this information to you.
Once you have the other driver’s information, document your injuries. Snap a few quick photos now while the injuries are fresh. Try to have a strong, clear light in all the photos. You can include common objects like a quarter or dollar bill as reference props to give an idea to the size of your bruises or cuts.
Later, you can get some better close-ups of your injuries in proper lighting. You will want to document the condition of things as they develop, such as how the color of a bruise deepens hours after your accident.
After you get at least one photo of all your injuries, you will want to snap photos of the accident.
Try to capture multiple angles and viewpoints. You will want a few wide angles of the entire accident scene so that everyone reviewing the case can have a frame of reference. You can also take a few orienting pictures with road signs or landmarks in the background to verify the accident’s location.
A walking video “tour” of the accident may also help orient people trying to recreate it.
At this point, if your vehicles are functional and you can safely enter them and move them, you should immediately move to a safe, secure location nearby with all the other drivers involved. North Carolina law mandates that you remove vehicles from the main roadway unless they are disabled or you cannot reasonably approach them.
When moving your vehicle, go to the closest location where you feel safe. That may mean the shoulder of the road or a short drive to another location. If one is available, you may wish to find a well-lit area where other people are present.
Ideally, you will have told 911 dispatchers that you intend to move the vehicles if possible and let them know where you will be going.
On the other hand, your vehicles may not be functional or safe at all to approach. For instance, you may have gotten into an accident along a busy freeway with poor visibility. If this is the case, find a safe place for yourself to wait for police and medics.
Regardless of whether you moved the vehicles, your next step is to get a close up photo of all the vehicle damage. Try to capture details like crunched metal, broken glass, or obvious indicators of damage. If your front tire is pushed into the driver’s side fender, for example, get a closeup of that.
If you have a smartphone that you’re snapping photos with, you can switch to video mode to interview any eyewitnesses.
Capture statements that include specific details, like the timing of who hit whom and where it happened. Do not interrupt the witnesses to correct them or attempt to lead their answers in any way. Ask them to tell you their full name and contact information in the video. If they’ll let you, take a photo of their ID.
You will want to take notes of your experience during the accident before you forget important details. You can take notes using a pen and paper or your smartphone’s note-taking function. Or, you could simply record yourself making a statement as you did for eyewitnesses.
At this point, the police may have arrived and begun providing instructions. Or, maybe you have been largely incapacitated because you knew you had a major injury and shouldn’t move.
In either case, you should accept all medical care offered to you. That may include accepting an ambulance ride to the hospital even if you did not initially request one on your emergency call.
Provide complete, accurate, detailed statements to the police officer so they can note them on their report. Remember that the police report may be very helpful in proving the cause of the accident. You are the only person who can tell the police what happened from your perspective and the police report is your opportunity to explain how the accident happened.
A copy of the accident report will be made available to you within a few days or weeks after it is filed. Request several official copies, including some for your Charlotte car accident attorneys.
Likewise, keep a copy of every bit of medical notation or billing information you receive. Keep a running tab of your out-of-pocket costs, too, like copays. You can even track incidental expenses that were only made necessary because you had an injury, such as mileage to and from your doctor visits.
All of these bits of evidence can greatly benefit your personal injury case. Since they are so important, you should make backup copies just in case something happens to your device. Consider saving them to the cloud or emailing yourself the information from your phone.
After an accident, you should consider speaking to an accident lawyer about your potential injury case. Initially an injury lawyer may be able to help you determine if you need their assistance. An injury lawyer is going to want to see your police report (let them pull it for you) and to speak to you about your recollection of the accident and the evidence that you have gathered.
You can reach out to Auger & Auger today to schedule a free case review regarding your accident when you call us or contact us online. With your evidence and your attorneys’ legal expertise, you stand equipped for the fight for compensation relating to your medical bills, lost wages and your pain and suffering. Call Auger & Auger at (855) 969-5730 to find out more about how we may be able to help you!
Busiest Holidays for Road Travel in the United States
Holidays make most of us want to travel, whether it’s to see family or just explore somewhere new. This inclination makes the roads busier and consequently raises our risk of a getting in a serious car accident. Holidays also correspond with a rise of alcohol consumption, and not everyone makes the right decisions to avoid driving while impaired.
These two factors combined can mean that your favorite holidays are dampened by the risks others create on the roads. While we don’t want that to sour your excitement for holiday road travel, but we do want everyone to be aware of the risks so that they can be more careful while traveling.
Our North Carolina car accident lawyers also want you to know that you have the right to representation if you have been in a car accident. A car accident attorney can help you negotiate settlements with insurers and if necessary, represent you in court against negligent drivers and the big insurance companies.
Be safe out there, and be aware of the following 7 most dangerous holidays to travel so that you can exercise caution appropriately.
Christmas has the lowest travel risks of all the major holidays both according to fatal accident rates and drunk driving rates. The period around Christmas has an average of 231 fatal accidents throughout the U.S., although this number can grow or shrink depending on whether the holiday falls near a weekend. In 2014, for instance, a four-day weekend led to a higher-than average 355 fatalities.
However, alcohol tends to play a significant role in car accidents around Christmas, with over a third of all accidents in recent years involving inebriated drivers.
Thanksgiving means a heavy travel schedule for millions of families, and it also corresponds with a rise in drunk driving accidents. The holiday falls on a four-day weekend, raising the relative risks. On average, there are 258 fatal accidents around Thanksgiving, and 35% to 40% of accidents involve alcohol impairment.
Shockingly, New Year’s Eve is far from the worst holiday for car accidents and drunk drivers. The holiday tends to be particularly safe when it falls on a weekend, which is the complete opposite trend compared to the most dangerous holidays to travel by car. Perhaps partygoers tend to make more responsible plans when they don’t have to worry about going to work the following day?
Whatever the reason, New Year’s averages 245 fatal accidents annually, which is lower than an average weekend on the calendar. Even still, 36% to over 50% of these accidents involve alcohol as a factor, which means drivers should be cautious, especially in the wee hours of the morning after the New Year has begun.
Easter offers another curve ball for this list: it has the fourth-highest fatal accident rate and the third-highest average for drunk driving accidents. The combination of warm spring weather and a weekend holiday may be behind this trend, which sees an average of 280 fatal accidents and 37% of accidents involving alcohol.
Independence Day falls right in the middle of the summer, and it’s also a holiday that strongly encourages people to go all out when enjoying themselves. As a result, America’s Birthday also tends to be an extremely dangerous day on the road. On average, there are 307 fatal accidents and high drunk driving accident rates that usually exceed 40%.
The risks of driving on 4th of July grow bigger when the holiday falls on a weekend. For example, in 2014 there were 461 accident-related deaths on July 4th when the holiday created a four-day weekend.
Both of the most-dangerous holidays to travel create three-day weekends and happen during warm weather. Labor Day is the second-worst of these, with an average fatal accident rate of 308.
Last Labor Day was one of the most dangerous on record, with 394 deaths reported as a result of car and truck accidents. Around 40% of people also tend to have excess alcohol in their system when they get in an accident on Labor Day weekend.
Memorial Day is consistently the most dangerous holiday to drive out of the year. The holiday represents the first vacation opportunity of the summer for many, and millions of people are anxious to take trips and enjoy themselves. Congested roads and a higher likelihood of drunk driving combine to make the holiday weekend risky and outright deadly year after year.
On average, there are 312 deaths over Memorial Day weekend, and over 40% of all accidents involve alcohol. In 2015 (the most recent year for which FARS data is available), there were 367 deaths total across the three-day weekend period.
You unfortunately can’t control anyone else on the road, but you can control yourself.
Start by only driving when you are alert, aware, and fully awake. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep and have plenty of food and non-alcoholic drink in your system. Avoid driving if you feel ill or are on any medications that warn you about operating machinery. Definitely do not drive if you have consumed alcohol that has impaired your abilities or put you over the legal limit.
Know your route so that you don’t have to divert your focus to navigation and so you also aren’t caught by surprise by sudden turns.
Obey all speed limit laws. Give other cars a wide berth, especially on highways. Anticipate when others may stop suddenly or come into your lane unexpectedly. Predicting that other drivers might make careless decisions or mistakes is the root of defensive driving techniques.
Finally, know your rights if you are in a car accident. Don’t speak to an insurance company without first speaking to a lawyer. You don’t have to accept an insurer’s first offer or negotiate your accident settlement alone. You do have the option to pursue a personal injury claim and potential lawsuit in order to secure the maximum amount of compensation for your damages after a car accident.
Know that you can trust in North Carolina car accident lawyers to be by your side after a serious car accident. If you have been in a car accident on a holiday or any other day of the year, you can reach out to our knowledgeable team for a free case evaluation.
Enjoy your holidays, drive safe, and know your rights!
You shop for a vehicle with safety in mind. Whether you are looking for a family sedan or a sporty vehicle for yourself, you want to know that you are going to be protected when you travel down the road.
As North Carolina car accident lawyers, we know that people have a lot of faith and expectations when it comes to the safety features in their vehicles. We believe that it is important to point out that the person behind the wheel is still responsible for their safety and that of others on the road no matter what type of safety features any vehicle may have.
Research has shown that it takes more than the installation of safety features in vehicles to prevent serious injuries and deaths in car accidents. If drivers don’t educate themselves on the purpose, working parts, and limitations of these features, they aren’t driving with the necessary knowledge that could save their lives. Here is some information and examples of safety features that every driver should know how to properly operate if they are installed in their car.
Blind Spot Warning
Blind spot warning systems aren’t yet standard or included in the base model package of all vehicles. You may be wondering if the feature is worth the extra money. Here’s the basics: Blind spot warning systems monitor the left and right sides of your vehicle. When sensors detect a vehicle in your blind spot, a visual and auditory warning is triggered and the driver is now aware of the hazard.
If you are purchasing a truck, an SUV or a vehicle with limited visibility and you do a lot of highway driving this is a great feature. Even if you are purchasing a smaller vehicle, or a vehicle with large windows, or you only drive on city or rural roads, there is still value for this safety feature. Blind spot accidents can occur anywhere. This feature can certainly prevent accidents but again, drivers are ultimately responsible and should not solely rely on any safety feature. Lastly, if you have this feature, make sure you know how to use it by consulting your driver’s manual or dealer where the vehicle was purchased.
Forward Collision Warning
A forward collision warning system can warn drivers of an imminent crash, allowing the time to react appropriately. Consumer Reports does recommend that people spend the extra money on this safety feature when they are considering whether to bump up their package.
Imagine the benefit of your vehicle quickly calculating your speed and the speed of the vehicle in front of you and how those speeds relate to a potential impact. This feature allows your car to send you a warning of a potential frontal impact. It is hard to quantify the cost and value associated with something that can prevent you from becoming seriously injured.
Automatic Emergency Braking Systems
These systems don’t act immediately. They will first give you a chance to maneuver your vehicle in such a way to avoid a collision by giving you a warning (this feature is typically coupled with forward collision warning).
If you don’t use the brakes, the system will do the job for you, working to help you avoid a forward collision. When looking at an automatic braking system, ask your dealer if the vehicle utilizes dynamic brake support, crash imminent braking or both. This feature is a great example of the need to understand your safety features. Know what this feature can and cannot do and how to use it!
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Let’s say you are backing up when a car suddenly enters your path. This safety feature will alert you to that vehicle, giving you time to brake and avoid a collision. This is not the same as having a rear-facing camera in your car. This is a warning system that will light your dash or display.
It does not work in angled parking spaces and depending on the technology, it may not work in enclosed spaces. It is not suggested that anyone relies solely on this safety feature. Always check around your vehicle, use your mirrors and look over your shoulder before backing up. Again, this feature is not meant to take the place of checking around your vehicle to make sure it is sage to reverse.
Lane Departure Warning
This feature will let you know that you may be drifting out of your lane. If you couple the lane departure warning safety feature with lane keeping assist, your vehicle will make a small steering or braking correction if you don’t.
Some experts recommend that anyone who is going to spend the money for lane departure warning should only do so if they plan on coupling it with the lane keeping assist. Some systems are sensitive and warn too frequently, causing drivers to mute the alerts. Your money isn’t going to be well spent if a small beeping noise is going to irritate you to the point of silencing it.
Adaptive Cruise Control
If you don’t use cruise control frequently, this feature may not be worth the cost. Here’s what it does: For example, you have your cruise control set and a car merges in front of you and slows down.
This feature allows you to not have to do anything. The system takes over, makes the adjustment and follows the vehicle in front of you at a consistent distance.
You’re Not Alone After a Crash. Speak to a North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Today
There is nothing wrong with shelling out a bit of extra money for the latest safety features if you have that capability. There is something wrong, however, with buying them and having no idea how they work.
If you have safety features on your vehicle, take the time to learn what they are and how they work. You also need to know when you can depend on them and when you can’t. Remember that you are still ultimately the one in control of your vehicle and you are responsible for safety.
It’s also important to note that, the more safety features a car has, the more likely you are to become content and inattentive when driving. Always stay aware; imagine your car has no safety features to protect you when you drive.
If you are in a car accident in Charlotte or anywhere else in the state, you need North Carolina car accident lawyers who are ready to fight for your rights. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation and discover what we can do for you. Our experienced team of accident lawyers will work hard to fight for the compensation that you deserve. (855) 969-5671 is the number you should dial for a free case evaluation to find out how we may be able to help you.