In a 50/50 fault accident, can I get any settlement at all?
Herb: Maybe, but in North Carolina, it is very difficult. The other insurance company is not going to voluntarily pay if it is contributory negligence, so you will be required to go to trial to prove your case. You need a unanimous jury of 12 people to find the other person 100% at fault. This is a very difficult burden to overcome.
Difficult, but not impossible. Under the Last Clear Chance doctrine, if you can prove that you placed yourself in a position of peril, but the other person had the last clear chance to avoid the accident, you may be able to succeed. For example, if you are crossing the road, there are no cars, you walked into the road, and all of a sudden you notice a car coming. You stop and you can’t go either direction. You have no way of getting out of the place of peril that you placed yourself in. That car doesn’t have the right to run you over. But if you dash out in front of a car, you’re probably at fault because the motorist didn’t have time to react. But if they had enough time to react, and there was enough separation, and you could not withdraw yourself from that place of peril even though you were negligent, their (behavior) will erase (your) contributory negligence.
Even if you are partially at fault, you may have optional medical payments coverage on your auto insurance policy to pay your bills. Medical payments coverage will pay your bills, whether you’re at fault or not. In North Carolina you can purchase optional medical payments coverage. If you have it, it will pay your bills up to a certain amount. Even if your health insurance pays, it will give you extra money to cover the deductibles and co-pays. Generally, its $1,000.00 to $2,000.00, but we’ve seen clients with $10,000.00 or $20,000.00 of medical coverage.
We give potential clients advice even if we think that they are partially at fault and we cannot help them. We always take the time to explain their options, even if we cannot help.
Should clients get a second or third opinion from an attorney?
Herb: After speaking with a potential client and determining that we will be unable to help them, we always recommend that they seek the advice from 2-3 other attorneys.
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