Most Commons Questions About Car Accident Cases in NC
If you’ve been in a car accident in North Carolina, you may have questions. At Northstate Auto Law, we understand that any car accident can be a frustrating, stressful, and sometimes tragic experience.
It can be especially difficult when you attempt to get the other driver’s insurance company to compensate you for the damage caused by their insured’s negligence.
Questions & Answers About Car Accident Cases
Below, we will answer some of the most common questions about car accident cases in NC, but you should immediately contact an experienced car accident attorney who can answer your questions based on your specific circumstances and who can help you to get full and fair compensation for your injuries.
1. Can you get compensation if the wreck was your fault?
North Carolina is a “contributory negligence state.”
This means that, if you are even 1% at fault in an auto accident, you cannot recover damages from the other driver at trial.
2. How soon should I contact a lawyer after a car wreck?
You should contact Northstate Auto Law immediately after your car wreck - if you are unable to come to our office, we will come to you!
The other driver’s insurance company will most likely attempt to contact you soon after the wreck, and you need to be able to refer them to your attorney.
You also may have questions specific to your case that need to be answered quickly to ensure that you do not make common mistakes that can affect your recovery.
3. Should I try to settle a car wreck claim without a lawyer?
The best course of action is to seek a consultation with an attorney to help protect your rights. The insurance company’s goal is to protect itself and their insured. The insurance company will attempt to take advantage of whatever information you provide. By talking with an experienced car wreck attorney you will get the information you need to determine the best way forward for your situation.
The insurance company will attempt to get you to make a statement, or what is called a recorded interview, that could hurt your case. Many times, they will attempt to get you to sign a release and accept a low settlement offer, or may even deny your claim completely.
4. How do car wreck lawyers get paid?
Car wreck lawyers are paid on a “contingency basis,” which means that we only get paid if we win your case through settlement or trial, and how much we get paid increases based on how much you get paid.
5. When is it too late to get a lawyer for a car accident?
The sooner you hire an attorney the better, especially if you have incurred medical bills. There are Federal and State laws that govern how the medical bills in car wrecks are paid and these laws are very complex. Hiring an attorney early on helps protect your rights. North Carolina has a 3 year Statute of Limitations for most car wrecks, which means that within 3 years of the date of the wreck you must either settle the case or file a lawsuit. However, there are some other time limits, so to be safe call us as soon as possible to discuss your case.
In addition, if you signed the “Release” and cashed the check from the insurance company, chances are that you have settled the case and no other compensation will be paid.
6. Can I get a settlement for a car accident without a lawyer?
In some cases, the insurance company will offer you a settlement without a lawyer - they will most likely be attempting to get you to sign a release and accept a settlement for an amount that may be much less than you are entitled to, however.
Insurance companies don’t make profits by paying claims - in some cases they will attempt to deny or limit your claim unless you have an experienced car wreck lawyer on your side.
7. What is the average settlement for a car accident with injury?
Although we can look at insurance industry statistics to determine what the “average settlement” is for car accidents with injuries, it’s meaningless in the context of your case.
Your settlement will be based on full and fair compensation for the injuries you suffered that were caused by the other driver’s negligence - including your property damage, medical expenses, hospital bills, doctors bills, EMS bills, future medical expenses, long-term care if needed, pain and suffering, and the likelihood of punitive damages being awarded at trial.
8. Can I still be compensated if I was injured but the other driver was uninsured?
If other driver was uninsured, we will locate all possible sources of recovery which may include:
Your policy’s uninsured and underinsured coverage,
The other driver’s assets if any, and
Insurance coverage from any other drivers, individuals, or businesses that may have been liable for the accident.
9. What if I had a pre-existing condition? Can I still be compensated if it made my condition worse?
North Carolina follows the “eggshell plaintiff” or “eggshell skull” rule, that makes a defendant liable for the plaintiff’s injuries even if the plaintiff was more susceptible to the injury due to a pre-existing condition.
Although a defendant is not liable for the pre-existing condition, they are liable for the extent to which they worsened the pre-existing condition.
10. If I was the passenger in a car accident, who's responsible for my injuries?
If you are the passenger in a car accident, the negligent party is responsible for your injuries even if that was the driver of the vehicle that you were in. You may be able to recover damages from:
The driver of the vehicle that you were in,
The driver of another vehicle if they caused the accident,
Any other driver, individual, or business who negligently caused the accident, or
Your own auto insurance or umbrella policy if available.
11. What is the statute of limitations for a car accident claim in NC?
The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in NC, including car accidents, is three years from the date the cause of action was apparent - in most cases, this is the date the auto accident happened.
12. Can someone sue after a car accident is settled?
Once you have settled your case and signed a release of liability, you cannot file a lawsuit based on the same incident. This is why it is important to ensure that you have finished treating or you have an accurate estimate of your future medical expenses before you settle your car accident case.
13. What should I do after being in a car accident?
Immediately after a car accident, you should:
Report the accident to law enforcement and ensure they have accurate facts in their report,
Seek medical attention if needed,
Take photos of the accident scene, vehicles, and injuries,
Write down the names and contact information for all witnesses, and
Contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.
14. What can a car accident attorney do for me?
Your car accident attorney will:
Investigate the crash and gather the evidence you need to establish liability and damages,
Negotiate with the insurance company or their attorneys,
File a lawsuit when necessary, and
Try your case to a jury if the insurance company does not pay full and fair compensation for your injuries.
15. How long will it take to get compensated for my car accident?
Some car accident claims are settled quickly. Some can take years before a settlement or trial, however, and, if the case goes to trial, there is the possibility of appeals that could take additional months or years to resolve.
Insurance companies will delay payment as long as they ca - insurance companies invest their money so their money makes more money for them, and, the longer they wait to pay you, the more profit their company makes.
Insurance defense attorneys, who may be paid by the insurance company at an hourly rate, will sometimes take depositions, engage in written discovery, file motions, and participate in mediation before agreeing to settle a case.
Questions About Car Accident Cases in NC?
If you have been in a car wreck that was caused by someone else’s negligence, your car accident attorney will be able to answer your questions based on the specific circumstances of your car accident case.
Call Northstate Auto Law now at 336-990-0572 or send us a message through our website to talk to an attorney who cares.