If you’ve been in a car accident in the State of North Carolina, you’re likely navigating a stressful time. You may be dealing with medical complications, auto repair bills, and a loss of income due to unplanned time away from work.
If your accident was the fault of another driver, then you may have a case to file a lawsuit. While a suit can’t undo the damage that was done, it can help you secure the funds that you need and deserve.
While every car crash is different, there are certain factors that determine whether or not a personal injury claim is likely to succeed. In this blog post, we’ll step through everything you need to know before pursuing an auto accident lawsuit.
The first step of the process in any personal injury claim is to establish that the other party is liable, or at fault, for the accident.
Liability in car accident claims typically involves negligence. To prove negligence, you must show that the other driver owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused an accident that resulted in your injuries.
Less often, a car accident may involve strict liability. Strict liability cases don’t rely on the other party’s direct fault in causing the accident. Rather, this type of case may involve defective products that led to the accident, or other unique circumstances in which another party’s actions or neglect led to your damages.
It’s important to note that North Carolina is one of just four US states with a strict contributory negligence standard.
That means that if you are deemed partially responsible for your car crash—even 1% responsible—then you can’t pursue compensation from the other party. While this law does limit the possibilities for personal injury lawsuits, you should never abandon a potential case without first meeting with a lawyer.
If the other party is proven liable for your injuries, then the next step is to prove the extent of your damages.
In order to prove your damages, you’ll need to gather evidence such as medical records, bills, pay stubs, and any other documents that demonstrate the financial impact of your injuries.
If your injuries affected your ability to earn an income, that loss may be factored into your case.
Short-term, long-term, and future income losses may all be included in your damages. Your personal injury attorney will help you calculate all of your damages so that you can pursue the full and fair compensation that you’re entitled to.
Filing Your Lawsuit
In North Carolina, there is a three-year statute of limitations for making auto accident personal injury claims. That means that victims of car accidents have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If you wait longer than three years, your personal injury claim will most likely be barred by the statute of limitations and you will be unable to recover any compensation for your injuries. In rare cases, exceptions to the statute may occur if evidence of accident-causing negligence does not become known until after the three-year time period has ended.
The Trial Process
If your case goes to trial, both sides will be given the opportunity to present their evidence and arguments. Either a judge or a jury will decide which side should prevail in the case.
It’s important to note that very few personal injury cases actually go all the way to trial. Most cases are settled out of court through negotiation or mediation. A case that does go to trial may offer the chance for a larger reward, but with greater risk. Trial cases may also drag on for many months.
Whichever direction your case moves in, the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney is essential. Your lawyer will help you understand your options and advise you on whether or not going to trial is in your best interest. Your lawyer will also guide you through negotiations, working towards the best possible outcome for your case.
Suing with an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist
After a car accident involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist in North Carolina, it is important to understand all the legal options available to you. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, you might be able to find compensation for your claim using your own insurance policy.
If you do have the appropriate uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage, review the details of that policy to ensure it meets all your needs. In cases where an at-fault driver’s insurance is inadequate, you may also want to consider pursuing other legal avenues such as filing a suit against them personally, or initiating a suit against the manufacturer of any defective automotive parts found to be a contributing factor in the incident. It is best to consult with an experienced attorney specializing in motor vehicle accidents prior to making any decisions regarding litigation in these circumstances.
Get Personal Injury Representation in North Carolina
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in North Carolina, Curcio Anderson Law can help. Our compassionate and talented personal injury attorneys will take the time to understand your needs, master the details of your case, and fight tirelessly for the best possible outcome.
Contact Curcio Anderson Law today to schedule a free consultation.