Common Questions About Car Accident Personal Injury Claims In North Carolina
At Northstate Auto Law, I’m committed to providing the answers you need after a devastating car crash. I’m Rodney Caudill, a Wilkesboro-based lawyer with decades of experience in insurance and personal injury. I can use that experience to help you pursue compensation.
Read on for answers to common questions about car crash claims.
How long after my car wreck in North Carolina do I have to file a personal injury claim?
There are two things to keep in mind when considering filing a personal injury claim after a car wreck in North Carolina.
- You have three years from the date of the crash to reach a settlement or file a claim.
- If you don’t file a claim as soon as possible, insurance companies may use your delay to allege that you were injured by some other event unrelated to the crash
You also want to consult with an attorney before giving any statements to the insurance company or filing a claim so that you understand your rights and the responsibilities of the insurance company.
If I was partially at fault for my car accident, can I still file a personal injury claim for my injuries?
Yes, you can still file a personal injury claim for your injuries even if you were partially at fault for your car accident. However, the rule of contributory negligence comes in, and it’s a very complex rule of law. Due to the complexity of contributory negligence, you should consult with an attorney before filing your claim.
The rule of contributory negligence is what I call a bright line law. It’s something that you really have to analyze based on the facts of each case, as determined is applicable.
If I was hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver in North Carolina, do I have a chance of recovering financially from my injuries?
If you’re struck by a vehicle that doesn’t have insurance, you can file a claim back on the uninsured motorist portion of your own insurance policy. In order to file this claim, there has to be an actual contact with a vehicle of an unknown driver.
At that point, your insurance company would come in and act as if it was the insurance that was on the unknown driver’s vehicle.
An underinsured motorist claim is where the adverse party’s insurance is insufficient to cover the damages that you suffered. At that point, if you have actual coverage, your insurance would come in and attempt to make up the difference for the other party’s lack of insurance.
What information does an attorney need from the client when reviewing their case?
The main thing that an attorney will need from the client when reviewing their case is to meet them and have a discussion about the facts of the case. Following that discussion, I can then carry on my investigation and get a copy of the crash report and other relevant documents. All it takes to get started, though, is a conversation.
What evidence is important to preserve at the scene of the accident?
If you have the presence of mind at the scene of the crash site, one of the most important things you can do is obtain photographs. You’ll want to take photographs of:
- Damages to both vehicles
- Skid marks
- Any visible injuries sustained
- Damage to any city property, such as poles, barriers, etc.
As soon as possible, write down your best recollection of the event while it’s still fresh in your mind. A person’s memory starts to fade and then their recollection might change. So, having a written account of the facts within 24 hours is actually really helpful.
If the insurance adjuster asked me to record a statement, should I do it?
The only time you should speak to an insurance adjuster is if you have consulted with your attorney and been advised on what to say. It’s important to keep in mind that the insurance adjuster’s job is to prevent you from receiving full compensation. They will use anything you say against you to that end.
Is it required in North Carolina to give a statement to the insurance adjuster?
No, you aren’t required to give a statement. There is no state law or regulation that compels somebody to give a recorded statement. The insurance companies will make it sound like there is, but there’s not.
What are the risks of having any contact with the at-fault party’s insurance?
In North Carolina, there is the concept of contributory negligence. The at-fault insurance company is going to ask you a lot of questions in a way that can often end up making you say something you hadn’t intended to say, which could cause you a lot of problems in your case. Insurance adjusters’ entire job, which they do every day, is to make you feel comfortable talking to them so that you’ll say something they can use against you in your claim.
At what point should the injured person hire a personal injury attorney?
If you were in a severe crash or you were injured, you should contact an attorney as quickly as possible to discuss the facts of your case. The decision to hire an attorney should be made only after they consult with the attorney and make sure that they feel comfortable working with them.
Should I wait until the insurance company declines my claim or settlement to hire legal counsel?
Waiting for a denial of your claim or even a settlement offer is a mistake. Once the insurance company has extended an offer or denied a claim, it’s harder to get the most favorable outcome. The more you believe that there’s no possibility of them denying your claim, the more important it actually becomes to have an attorney on your side to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
What if the other driver was at fault? Do I still need to hire a personal injury attorney?
You should always consult with an attorney before agreeing to any settlement if you suffered injuries from a car crash. You can benefit from professional advice on what the valuation of your claim is and what rights you have going forward. If the car crash resulted solely in property damage or damage to the vehicle, it really doesn’t do any harm for you to go ahead and settle after consulting a lawyer.