North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, it is important to understand your legal rights in the state where the accident took place. In North Carolina, fault rules apply to auto accidents. This means a car accident victim always has the right to make a claim against the driver responsible for causing the accident. The at-fault driver has to pay compensation, called damages, which are typically paid by his or her liability automobile insurance policy.
Compensation in car accident cases can be significant. The CDC reports car accident cost $1.5 billion in North Carolina each year, including $18 million in spending on medical expenses. Crash victims and their families know that the financial losses can be staggering and the emotional losses impossible to measure.
At Auger & Auger, our experienced North Carolina car accident attorneys know how much is at stake when you’ve been involved in a car wreck. We’ll put our combined 35 years of litigation experience to work to make sure you are fully compensated for all of your crash losses.
How We Help in Auto Accident Cases in North Carolina
To recover compensation for car crash injuries from another driver, you have to show the other driver was at fault. When making your claim, consider whether the driver broke any safety rules. If so, that driver can be considered automatically liable for an accident that resulted from his or her violation.
A driver may also be considered at fault for an auto accident if he or she behaved more carelessly than any reasonable driver would have. Resolving the liability issues is essential to assessing whether you can make an auto accident claim.
An experienced North Carolina car accident lawyer at Auger & Auger can help you gather the evidence you need to prove who was to blame for your wreck. The sooner you contact us, the stronger the case we can build for you and the better your chances of getting the money you deserve. You should also learn what to do after a car accident so you can be prepared in case you are ever involved in a crash.
Proving Driver Negligence in North Carolina
In North Carolina, it’s often not enough to prove that the other driver in the accident was at fault. According to state law, you need to also prove that your own negligence didn’t contribute to the accident. If it’s found that you made a mistake or failed to take a necessary action, even a small one, you may not recover damages from the other driver.
To obtain damages, you must prove that the other driver had a duty of care, they breached the duty, the breach led to injury, and the injury caused damages. Drivers have the basic duty of care to maintain control of their vehicle, pay attention, and follow the rules of the road. The key to recovering damages in a North Carolina court is to show that the other driver breached their duty of care and that it led directly to the accident.
The best thing you can do after an accident to help prove a breach of duty of care is to gather detailed evidence. This may include photographs and videos from the scene of the accident, statements from witnesses and drivers, police reports, medical bills, and more. If you need help collecting evidence and determining if it’s relevant to your case, your attorney can guide you through the process.
North Carolina Seat Belt Laws and Car Seat Laws
It’s mandatory in North Carolina for all drivers and passengers to wear their seat belts at all times. If passengers are under the age of 16, it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure seat belts are securely fastened. For passengers over 16 years old, citations for not wearing seat belts are given to the violators themselves.
However, if you weren’t wearing your seatbelt at the time of your accident and the other driver was at fault, you aren’t excluded from receiving damages. What’s important is what caused the crash to happen in the first place.
Airbags can cause significant damage to kids, especially if they’re not properly secured in a child’s car seat or booster seat. In North Carolina, children under 8 years old and under 80 pounds are required to use a child safety seat or booster seat. Regardless of whether you are found to be negligent, children riding with you at the time of the accident may be able to collect a settlement for medical bills or other damages incurred (such as emotional suffering).
Types of Vehicle Accidents in North Carolina
Vehicle accidents can happen any time, anywhere and to anyone. Some of the most common types of vehicle accidents include:
- Head-On Collisions
- Tailgating and Chain Reaction Car Accidents
- Rear-End Collisions
- Intersection Collisions
- Bicycles Hit By Cars
Each different type of auto accident brings with it its own complications and risks. For example, chain reaction auto accidents involve multiple cars so it can be hard to determine which driver was to blame. Hit-and-runs can leave you without a defendant to make a claim against. You could be forced to seek coverage from your own uninsured/underinsured motorist protection, if your policy covers these types of damages. Truck accidents are also very different, as you can discover on our North Carolina truck accident resource page.
A North Carolina car accident lawyer at Auger & Auger will assist you in understanding the complexities of your case. We are always prepared to answer your NC auto accident FAQs and will keep you up-to-date on your case progress.
We will also sit down with you to review your situation at a free no-obligation consultation. We provide personal attention and dedicated representation throughout every step if we represent you.
Compensation from an Auto Accident Claim
The compensation in a car accident case varies depending upon how badly you are hurt. You should be able to recover damages to pay for:
- Medical Treatment
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
You should also recover compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress.
In tragic fatal car wrecks, wrongful death damages are also available to the family.
Damages can be obtained through negotiating a settlement with the insurer or in court. Insurance companies are never on your side and dealing with the insurance company can be very stressful. You should always have a North Carolina car accident attorney looking out for you and negotiating for you.
How to File a Police Report after a Car Accident
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do You Do After a Minor Car Accident?
North Carolina law requires that you report any accident that has resulted in a likely injury, a death, or property damage of $1,000 or more (§ 20-166.1). Even if you think your accident doesn’t qualify, you should still report it in order to have an official police record.
Always seek medical attention after a car accident in North Carolina, even if it seems minor and you don’t feel hurt. You can visit your primary care physician or a nearby urgent care clinic and request a full examination. Describe any symptoms you have, and consent to all tests needed to make a full diagnosis.
Failing to take these steps can affect the outcome of a possible injury claim if it turns out you had a latent injury from the accident. If you failed to take steps to report your accident and address your injury, do so as soon as you can, and then get in touch with a North Carolina car accident lawyer about possible sources of compensation for your injury treatment costs and other damages.
Do Car Insurance Companies Pay Medical Bills Directly?
In most cases, yes. The exact arrangement used will depend on the language of your policy and whether or not you have a current unpaid balance at the medical facility where you received care.
However, realize that you do not necessarily have to consent to allow the care provider to accept direct payment for your injury costs, even if you cannot pay for your treatment at the time it is rendered. Individuals interested in receiving the maximum amount of compensation for their injury damages should request a direct payment, when possible.
Know that your own medical insurance provider will likely have a legal right to obtaining a portion of your settlement if you received liability coverage for your injury treatment yet paid for treatment through your private health insurance.
If you have questions about your legal rights and the best course of action to take to receive compensation for your injury, speak to a North Carolina car accident lawyer near you.
Should You Admit Fault in a Car Accident?
Absolutely not. Never, ever admit fault or confess to a crime. The fact is that “fault,” at least in the legal sense, cannot be officially determined without a civil or criminal trial. In most other cases, one side (usually a liability insurance provider) elects to accept liability for damages caused because of the clear nature of cause-and-effect.
Put simply, don’t do the police or their insurance company’s work for them by assuming fault. Allow your liability insurance provider to determine fault if someone wants to file a claim on your policy. If instead, you elect to assume blame too early, it may turn out later that you weren’t actually at fault because of some technical detail or some piece of information that had not yet been brought to light.
Do be honest with police officers when filing a report or responding to questions at the accident scene. However, reserve your right to avoid self-incrimination by refusing to outright accept blame or confess to any traffic violations you may have committed. Again, the danger is that you may think you were at fault when, in reality, you actually weren’t. Recanting fault later is always more difficult than waiting for an investigation or legal proceeding to be completed.
Where Do I Take My Car After an Accident?
Many insurance policies allow individuals to select where they want their vehicle repaired, even if the insurance representatives imply otherwise. Read the language of your policy closely to determine if you have the right to choose your own repair shop or if you are required to take your vehicle to one chosen by your insurer.
If you are able to choose your own repair shop, choose one that has a reputation for being trustworthy, expedient, and above-all-else known for doing high-quality work. Under most policies, you have the right to a full repair of your vehicle to restore it to its performance and physical appearance before the accident. You are also entitled to replacement parts of equal quality to those that were in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
In the event that you are being pressured by an insurer to take your vehicle to an unreputable shop or are being forced to accept repairs or replacement parts not equivalent to the condition of your vehicle at the time of the accident, you can speak to a North Carolina car accident attorney for guidance.
How Are Medical Bills Paid After a Car Accident?
You have many options for paying your medical bills after a car accident in a situation where you expect coverage for your losses by an at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy. You can elect to pay for the bills under your own health insurance coverage or out-of-pocket. Your health insurance provider will likely be entitled to repayment (subrogation) of any costs they covered that you were later personally reimbursed for. Paying out of pocket means that you are entitled to receive 100% of the settlement value of your policy claim in most cases.
However, many people do not health insurance and cannot afford to pay the costs of treatment themselves. If this is the case, you can often make an arrangement to delay payment or pay in installments with the care provider.
Be careful about signing agreements to delay payment when the care provider knows you may have a car accident claim coming your way. Always review such agreements carefully. Often, they may limit your rights to pursue further compensation, and they may also force you to turn over your claim to the hospital or provider rather than obtaining it directly.
If you are unable to pay your medical bills and are worried about signing agreements or making a claim on someone’s liability auto insurance, speak to a car accident lawyer near you as soon as possible.
Getting Help from a Car Accident Attorney in North Carolina
At Auger & Auger, our North Carolina car accident attorneys pride themselves on providing dedicated, personalized legal representation to clients in auto accident cases. Since 1995, we have built our firm on representing the rights of injured victims. We have recovered millions in damages for our clients and we will work to get you the money you deserve.
When you contact Auger & Auger, your case will be evaluated by one of our lawyers. Appointments can be scheduled for evenings or even weekends. If you are unable to come to one of our conveniently located offices, we can meet you at your doctor’s office, your job, or your home. Give us a call today to schedule your free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.