Raleigh Car Accident Lawyer
Car Accident Lawyers Serving North Carolina
At the Whitley Law Firm, we understand that being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, possibly leading to serious injuries, mounting medical bills, extensive damage to your vehicle, and even the inability to work or enjoy time with your family. Car accident claims can be complex and involve numerous parties, from the other driver to insurance agents to defense attorneys. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident caused by another driver or person, our Raleigh car accident lawyers can help protect your rights and seek the compensation you need and deserve.
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Gathering Evidence Following a Car Accident
- Talking to Insurance
- Biggest Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
- Filing a Claim
A person can recover damages for their vehicle, medical expenses, and economic loss including missed time from work or missed business opportunities. They can also recover non-economic damages, which are pain and suffering damages. If they are hit by a drunk driver, they may be entitled to further damages.
The drivers involved in a car accident are most typically responsible for the damages caused, with the at-fault party and their insurer owing compensation to the other party. The at-fault party is likely the person who caused the accident. When a motorist has acted especially negligently or recklessly and has broken the law, he or she may also be held personally responsible.
If your accident involved an uninsured or underinsured driver, your own insurer may have a duty to cover your costs, depending on the terms of your policy. Your auto accident lawyer in Raleigh can negotiate with both your own insurer and that of the other party.
If an accident involves a commercial driver or large truck, the parent company may bear liability, in addition to the insurer and the driver himself.
While there are limits to when a government body may be sued, your Raleigh car accident attorney can analyze the circumstances that led to your injuries and determine which parties may be liable and how to proceed.
Here is an idea of the kinds of insurance-related issues you may run into after a car accident.
An attorney can first determine what damages a person may be entitled to and then ensure that they recover all of them following a car accident. Oftentimes, people who handle car accident cases on their own without an attorney miss certain damages that may be important to them and are allowed in their case.
Additionally, a lawyer can retrieve all medical records and all medical bills documenting injuries sustained in accidents. He or she can seek information from the individual’s employer to determine lost wage information and documents the individual’s pain and suffering damages by asking an individual to keep a journal so that they can understand the impact in that life based on the damages. In serious injuries that are life-altering, the lawyer can find expert opinions about future medical care, economic loss, and any other damages that an individual may be entitled to when they have been seriously hurt in an auto accident.
Common Types of Car Accidents
Our car accident attorneys in Raleigh handle all types of vehicle accidents and related liability, including but not limited to:
- Drunk driver collisions
- Large truck accidents
- Hit-and-run and leaving the scene
- Failed airbags
- Motorcycle crashes
- Head-on collisions
- Rear-end collisions
- Texting and driving
- Failure to yield
Ensuring a Fair and Reasonable Outcome to a Car Accident Case
When filing a claim for damages, the plaintiff should be aware of the various routes they could take to ensure their case is resolved in a favorable manner. One method of doing so is through a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. The settlement process begins as soon as the plaintiff’s attorney gets in contact with the other party informing them of the damages owed to them and their desire to formally file an injury claim. If the insurance company finds the plaintiff to have a valid claim for compensation, they would typically offer a settlement that is usually lower than the initial claim for damages. At this point, both parties could enter into mediation to try to resolve the case that favors both sides. If an agreement cannot be made regarding a settlement, the victim would have no other choice than to take the case to trial.
Consult an Experienced Raleigh Car Accident Attorney
It is important to consult an experienced Raleigh car accident attorney as soon as possible if you have been in a car accident. Your car accident lawyer can advise you regarding obtaining and preserving evidence of the crash, including photos of the scene, witness statements, police reports, and road and weather conditions. Here are some general tips on what to do after an accident.
If you are injured or believe you may be injured, it is best to seek medical treatment immediately to obtain necessary care and to create records of your condition following the accident.
Your personal injury lawyer can then examine your medical records to determine the damages you are owed.
Since North Carolina is one of only a few states that still operates under the so-called contributory negligence rule – which completely bars victims who have contributed even a small portion to causing the accident from receiving compensation – your Raleigh car accident attorney will want to immediately begin investigating in order to counter any accusations that may prevent you from recovering the compensation you deserve.
Raleigh Car Accident FAQs
The statute of limitations for legal actions involving negligence is specified in Section 1-52 of the North Carolina General Statutes. If you have been harmed as a result of someone else’s negligence – including in a car crash – you have 3 years from the date of the accident to bring a claim.Wrongful death claims are governed by a separate statute of limitations. North Carolina General Statute § 1-53 states that claims for “the death of a person caused by the wrongful act, neglect or fault of another” must be brought within 2 years. So, if you lost a loved one in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you have 2 years from the date of their passing to file a lawsuit.
Ideally, you will be able to settle your car accident claim favorably well before the statute of limitations expires. However, this might not be possible if you sustained serious injuries for which you continue to receive treatment (the value of a settlement should be calculated once the injuries are stable). Furthermore, the defendant’s insurance company may drag its feet in resolving your claim – or even deny you compensation altogether.
Should either of these situations arise, it is important to take legal action prior to the approach of the statute of limitations. You will be barred from filing suit after the time limit, and you do not want to miss the opportunity to recover the compensation you deserve.
North Carolina does not impose any caps on the damages a plaintiff can recover for injuries and losses sustained in a car accident. As such, you can and should pursue recovery for all of the economic and non-economic losses you have suffered.
However, drivers in North Carolina are only required to carry $30,000 in liability insurance coverage per person and $60,000 in liability insurance coverage per accident. Many drivers ignore the law and do not carry any liability insurance at all.
For these reasons, it is important to work with a Raleigh car accident lawyer who can do an exhaustive search on your behalf to identify (a) the insurance coverage available to you and (b) the coverage available under the at-fault driver’s policy. Additional insurance coverage may be available if multiple parties are liable for damages, potentially enabling you to recover more in compensation.
North Carolina is a “fault” state. If you are injured in a car accident as a result of another driver’s negligence, the other motorist and his or her insurance company is liable.
Drivers are considered negligent when they breach the “duty of care” they owe to others. The duty of care encompasses all of the obligations that are placed on a driver when operating a motor vehicle, such as obeying the speed limit, leaving a safe distance between other vehicles, etc.
When drivers (a) breach the duty of care through negligence and (b) this breach is the proximate cause of injury to others, they are liable for the damages they have caused. What constitutes negligence depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the car crash.
For example, a motorist who is driving the speed limit on an open road in clear weather is exercising the necessary care. However, if that same motorist is driving at the posted speed limit in inclement weather on a slippery road, this would likely be considered negligence. Were an accident to occur in the latter scenario, the driver going too fast for conditions would probably be found liable for the crash.
Negligence is governed by common law rather than specific statutes. Years of court decisions go into determining what constitutes a deviation from the acceptable standard of care in a given scenario. Ultimately, when a car accident case goes before a jury, it is up to the jurors to decide whether the actions of the defendant rise to the level of negligence.
When it comes to car wrecks, “fault” really means cause. In other words, fault for a car accident is established by determining (a) who caused the crash and (b) how that individual’s actions led to the collision.
Unfortunately, fault for car accidents is often far from clear cut in North Carolina. We are one of only four states in which the archaic, draconian, common law theory of contributory negligence still exists.
North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule bars recovery in personal injury cases where the plaintiff is found to be at fault. To be clear, ANY degree of fault on the part of the plaintiff – no matter how minor – disqualifies the victim from obtaining compensation.
Predictably, this means insurance companies will do anything they can to find you even 1% at fault for causing the collision. If they do, the insurer can deny your claim.
Contributory negligence comes up in every personal injury case we handle. It is imperative to consult an attorney as soon as possible if you are accused of sharing any fault for a car accident.
Although the contributory negligence standard puts plaintiffs at a major disadvantage, it is not impossible to overcome. North Carolina General Statutes § 1-139 requires that the “party asserting the defense of contributory negligence has the burden of proof of such defense.” So, the defendant and/or his insurance company must present evidence of negligence on the part of the plaintiff. In North Carolina, “preponderance of the evidence” (defined by the North Carolina Judicial Branch as “[evidence] as a whole which shows the fact is more likely than not”) is the burden of proof that must be met to prevail in a civil case.
To avoid liability in your car accident claim, the defense must prove that negligence on your part contributed to the accident. Unfortunately, this is not difficult to do; even something as simple as driving slightly over the speed limit, not signaling a turn, etc. could lead to a collision.
However, thorough collection of the evidence and aggressive representation by a car accident attorney can make an enormous difference in countering any contributory negligence arguments raised by the defense.
Bottom line: Don’t give up if the insurance company says that you were partially at fault and denies your claim. Instead, you should speak to a Raleigh car accident lawyer as soon as possible.