North Carolina Car Accident Claim FAQs
When you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, it’s natural that you’d have many questions about what to do in the aftermath and if you should file a claim. The personal injury lawyers at the Whitley Law Firm have provided the answers to our most frequently asked questions here so you can get the information you need to make informed decisions.
Read our car accident claim FAQs to learn more about your rights and legal options in North Carolina. We are also available 24/7 to schedule a free consultation if you have any additional questions that aren’t answered here.
North Carolina Car Accident Claims: Get Answers to Your Questions
After a Car Accident
What Should I Do After a Vehicle Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, what you do afterward can help protect the value of your settlement if you decide to file a claim later on. If your injuries are serious, you may be unable to take any steps to preserve evidence. However, if you are able, you should follow these steps or ask someone else to do this for you:
- Call 911 if anyone is seriously injured.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with any other drivers who were involved.
- Collect the contact information of any witnesses and consider videotaping witness statements.
- Take pictures and videos of the site of the wreck, including pictures of damage to the vehicles and any visible injuries.
- Report the car accident to your car insurance company.
- Contact a North Carolina car accident lawyer for legal help.
The sooner you take these steps, the more evidence you will be able to preserve, and the sooner we will be able to get to work on building a strong claim for your compensation.
When Should I See a Doctor After a Car Accident?
If you feel any discomfort after an accident, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Some symptoms are masked by adrenaline or worsen quickly. A doctor will identify any injuries and create a treatment plan for you. Getting medical care will also create a medical record you may need for evidence later on. If you don’t have your injuries treated right away, it may be used against you by lowering your settlement or denying it altogether.
Am I Required to Call the Police After a Car Wreck?
In North Carolina, you are required to file a car accident report if the wreck you were involved in resulted in injuries, death, or property damage of at least $1,000. This will create an official accident report that your personal injury attorney will use as evidence in your claim. The police report will contain information like what the officer believed happened and who they thought was at fault.
Should I Move My Car After an Accident?
If it is dangerous to leave your car where it is, you will need to move it if possible. For example, if it’s blocking a lane on the freeway. However, be sure to take pictures and videos of the scene before any vehicles are moved. These photos should show any damage to the vehicle, any skid marks or debris, the location of your car, and any other details you can capture.
Damages and Compensation
What Types of Compensation Can I Get After a Car Accident?
Not every car accident case will be eligible for the same types of compensation, as each accident case is unique. However, in general, these are some of the common damages you may be able to claim:
- Your current and future medical costs
- The cost of vehicle replacement or repair
- Your missed wages, income, and bonuses
- The cost of emergency medical transportation
- Pain and suffering
Your North Carolina car accident attorney can tell you which damages you are eligible to claim in your car accident case. Be sure to save all documentation associated with your accident to give it to your lawyer for review. We will need it to help prove your case.
How Much Is My Car Accident Claim Worth?
How much your car crash case is worth depends on several factors, including:
- How severe your injuries are, e.g., a traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury typically comes with more damages than a broken arm does
- The long-term effect of your injuries, e.g., if your injury will cause permanent disability, you will have higher damages than an injury that heals in a few months
- Your profession
- Your age
- The pain and suffering you endure
Your attorney will thoroughly document and calculate all applicable damages, consider all mitigating factors, and then fight for your fair recovery through assertive negotiation or litigation.
How Much Will the Insurance Company Pay for Pain and Suffering?
How much the at-fault party’s insurance company will pay for your pain and suffering compensation will be based on several factors. These include the severity of your injuries and how much medical care you required and will require in the future. It also depends on the type of method the insurer uses to determine the value.
Our team can help you determine what you might recover. In general, however, the more severe your injuries and the more medical treatment you will require, the greater the pain and suffering compensation.
Will I Be Able to Recover My Lost Wages If I Can’t Work After a Car Accident?
Yes, you can recover lost wages as part of your damages if you are unable to work due to your injuries. Some points to keep in mind about recovering lost wages include:
- Any income you lost from missed days at work due to medical appointments, recovery time, etc. can be recouped. Wage verification and doctor notes help prove these losses.
- If injuries result in long-term or permanent inability to return to your occupation, we can fight for compensation for loss of future earnings. Vocational experts may assess any impacts to your earning capacity.
- Damages should cover both your lost salary itself as well as any benefits tied to your employment like health insurance, retirement contributions, bonuses, employer-paid tuition, and more.
- If you are self-employed, you can recover your lost business income, but you may need accounting documentation to substantiate your losses.
- Your attorney can retain economic experts to precisely calculate your losses and project your future lost wages, incorporating growth factors like promotions.
Your missed wages can add up quickly, so don’t hesitate to discuss your complete lost income situation with your car accident lawyer so we can pursue fair restitution.
If a Drunk Driver Caused My Accident, Can I File a Claim Against the Bar That Served the Driver in NC?
It may be possible to file a legal claim against the bar, restaurant or event venue that over-served alcohol to the drunk driver who caused your auto accident injuries in North Carolina.
North Carolina recognizes “dram shop liability” laws that allow third-party claims against establishments that negligently served intoxicated people who later cause DUI accidents. To succeed, you must substantiate that the establishment served alcohol to a noticeably intoxicated patron (or minor)whose impaired state contributed to your crash.
What Can I Do If the Other Driver Didn’t Have Any Insurance Coverage?
If the other driver was uninsured when they caused your accident injuries, there are still options you can pursue. These include filing a claim with your own insurance under uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, going after their employer if they were operating a company vehicle, and determining if any other third parties may also be liable.
How Do You Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Claim?
There are several methods car accident attorneys in North Carolina use to calculate appropriate pain and suffering damages in car accident cases. Some factors that are taken into consideration include your need for future care, medical expert assessments, any scarring or disfigurement, and any PTSD, anxiety, or emotional trauma you have suffered.
Dealing With Insurance
Should I Talk With the Other Driver’s Insurance Company?
It is generally not advisable to discuss details of your accident with the other driver’s insurance company before first consulting your own attorney. The insurance company will seek information to minimize payouts, not help you. What you say can be used against your claim, because you may unknowingly make legally damaging statements or accept an unfair offer.
Our team can coach you through any questions the other party’s insurer may ask you. This will help protect your case.
Should I Accept an Insurance Company’s Offer After a Car Accident?
It’s generally not advisable to accept an insurance company’s initial settlement offer after a car accident. Early offers tend to undervalue the long-term damages and full scope of losses associated with your injuries, and if you accept quickly, you won’t have any leverage to negotiate for any additional compensation.
Also, if you accept before you are sure what your long-term prognosis will be, you may end up with medical bills that go beyond the scope of your settlement – leaving you holding the bills with no way to pay.
Timelines and Time Limits
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit for Compensation After a Car Accident?
According to G.S. §1-52, North Carolina’s statute of limitations is three years. That means you have three years from the date of the accident to file a car accident lawsuit. There are certain limited exceptions to this rule. Your car accident lawyer can tell you if any of these exceptions apply to your case, but in general, the sooner you contact us, the better.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Fatal Car Accident in NC?
According to NC General Statutes § 1-53(4), in North Carolina, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a loved one in a vehicle collision is generally two years from the date of death.
Simply submitting a claim to an insurance company does not meet the filing requirement – you must file a lawsuit in court. Failing to do so within the time limit takes away your leverage in negotiations.
How Long Will it Take to Settle My Car Accident Claim?
It could take anywhere from several months to several years to settle your North Carolina car accident claim. How long your claim will take will be based on factors like the duration of your medical treatment, the strength of your evidence, your percentage of fault, and whether or not the at-fault party’s insurance company is cooperative during the settlement process.
Settlements and Court Awards
How Does the Car Accident Claim Settlement Process Work?
Here is a typical overview of how the car accident claim settlement process works:
- Your lawyer gathers medical records, accident details, witness statements, police reports, and other evidence to prove your case.
- Your attorney sends a demand letter to the insurance company requesting damages for your injuries, losses, and the pain and suffering you incurred.
- The insurer makes an initial settlement offer, which is usually lower than full value. Negotiations continue.
- Additional negotiation happens as your attorney provides documentation substantiating the demand.
- Independent medical exams or expert testimony may be used to validate your injury claim.
- If you and the insurer reach an agreement on your settlement amount, you will sign a release accepting the settlement.
- The insurer issues the settlement check, which will be payable to both you and your attorney jointly.
- Your lawyer disburses the funds after deducting expenses and our fee percentage.
- If negotiations fail, your attorney files a personal injury lawsuit to continue pursuing your claim in court.
Will My Car Accident Case End in a Settlement or Go to Trial?
Most car accident claims typically end in a settlement, because it is usually in both parties’ best interests to avoid court when possible. We use aggressive negotiation tactics to get the highest possible settlement in your case. However, when negotiations fail, we aren’t afraid to take your case forward for a trial in the North Carolina courts.
Fault Laws and Liability
Is North Carolina a No-Fault State for Auto Accidents?
No, North Carolina uses a fault-based “contributory negligence” system for determining liability and compensation after a motor vehicle accident. That means drivers who contribute to causing an accident can be held financially responsible for harms and losses. If you were partially at fault, you cannot recover compensation for your injuries.
This law makes it very important to hire an attorney to protect your case.
How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident in NC?
Fault is determined after a North Carolina car accident through an investigation and negotiation process looking at factors like:
- Police report – Officers document contributing circumstances and may provide a diagram mapping out the collision.
- Eyewitness accounts – Independent witnesses provide third-party testimonies attributing fault.
- Skid marks, debris fields, damages – Physical evidence helps reconstruct how the crash occurred and which vehicle impacted where.
- Traffic violations – Citations for running a red light, speeding, or other traffic violations indicate negligence.
- Road conditions – Poor maintenance or lack of appropriate signage can establish government liability.
- Driver histories – Previous violations support patterns of negligence.
- Expert analysis – Accident reconstructionists use physics and engineering to opine on fault.
- Medical records – The bodily injuries sustained can help prove impact dynamics and force.
After thoroughly documenting available evidence, insurance claims negotiators and legal counsel apply North Carolina negligence law to assign percentages of fault to the involved drivers. If litigation becomes necessary, a judge or jury makes the ultimate determination.
Can I File a Claim in NC If I Was Partially Responsible for an Auto Accident?
No. This is why it is so important to get help from a lawyer. An accident attorney can build a case establishing that the other party(s) is solely responsible for your accident and injuries.
What Happens If I Think I Was at Fault for a Car Accident?
If you believe you were at fault in a car accident, do not make any statements that admit fault. Even if you believe you were responsible, there may be other factors that contributed to the wreck that you aren’t aware of. For example, you could have had a faulty tire or repair. You should contact a car accident lawyer in North Carolina to determine fault in your case.
The Claims Process
How Do I File an Auto Accident Claim Against Another Driver?
Here is a basic overview of how to file an auto accident claim against the at-fault driver:
- Document the incident: Take photos of damage, get contact details of parties involved, obtain a police report, and locate eyewitnesses.
- Seek medical attention: Thoroughly evaluate all injuries sustained and follow treatment recommendations. Keep your records.
- Notify your insurer: Inform your insurance company of the accident even if you are not filing a claim with them at this stage.
- Calculate your losses: Add up costs like property damage, medical bills, and lost income. Factor in your future costs.
- Hire an attorney: Retain an experienced car accident lawyer to handle the claim process professionally.
- Send a demand letter: Your lawyer will send a letter to the at-fault driver’s insurer demanding compensation for your damages.
- Negotiate your claim: Your attorney will continue negotiations, providing evidence to obtain a fair settlement.
- File lawsuit if needed: If the insurer refuses adequate compensation, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
With legal guidance, the claims process is more manageable. Let your car accident attorney handle the legwork while you focus on your recovery.
Do I Need a North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer After an Auto Accident?
While not legally required, hiring a car accident attorney in North Carolina can protect your interests after a crash. We level the playing field and ensure the insurance company is treating you fairly. Let us take care of the details so you can focus on moving forward from your injuries.
How Much Will I Have to Pay a Lawyer Who Handles My Car Accident Case?
Personal injury lawyers who handle car accident cases work on contingency, meaning you pay nothing up front. Our fee is a percentage of the final settlement amount if your case is successful. If there is no settlement or award, there is no fee owed.
Beyond the percentage fee, accident lawyers also get reimbursed from the settlement for any case expenses like court filings fees or hiring experts. Any remaining settlement amount after fees and expenses goes to you.
How Do I Get Paid If I Win My Car Accident Case?
After reaching a car accident settlement or winning a court judgment, you’ll have a defined compensation amount established. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will issue a check for that total payable to both you and your attorney jointly. Your lawyer will deposit the check into a trust account.
After your attorney pays any legal fees, they will pay any medical bills, health insurance liens, or other outstanding accident-related debts you have. Then the remaining sum of the settlement after all deductions will be distributed to you directly.
Get More Answers to Your Questions About Car Accident Claims in North Carolina
Do you still need answers to your questions? Reach out to Whitley Law Firm for help. We want you to feel comfortable and empowered throughout the car accident claims process, so please do not hesitate to come to us with your questions and concerns.