Several laws and legal theories apply to your North Carolina car accident that determine whether you may receive financial compensation for your injuries. It helps to have an experienced attorney who is intimately familiar with the law and how it works when trying to recover financial compensation for your car accident.
The Law of Negligence and Your Car Accident
The first legal theory that impacts your case is the law of negligence. To receive financial compensation, you must prove that the other driver acted in a manner that a reasonable motorist would not have under the circumstances. North Carolina is a fault state, meaning that you need to show the other driver was at-fault to be paid for your injuries.
Negligence is not a law on the books, but it is a common law theory that underlies every personal injury case. North Carolina has a rich body of case law about negligence that your attorney may use to support your claims if your case goes to court. North Carolina courts will apply legal precedents from cases that other courts have decided before them.
Reporting Car Accidents to the Authorities
In terms of statutes, North Carolina requires drivers who have been involved in an accident to report it to authorities if any of the following apply:
- Someone suffered a personal injury
- There was property damage of over $1,000 or more
- There was any property damage to a car seized from someone charged with driving while intoxicated
Mandatory Car Insurance for Drivers
North Carolina drivers are required by law to carry auto insurance if they want to operate a car in the state. The state requires the following coverage minimums for auto insurance policies:
- $30,000 per single person claim for injury or death
- $60,000 per occurrence maximum coverage amount per incident
- $25,000 for claims of property damage
The insurance company must offer uninsured motorist coverage equal to your policy limits. This mean if you are injured by an uninsured motorist, your insurance will cover the damages up to your policy limits. It is always a good idea to purchase more coverage than the minimum amount in case you are struck by an uninsured motorist.
Contributory Negligence Could Bar Your Settlement
North Carolina has complex contributory negligence laws that may allow insurance companies to try to deny your claim entirely. In a large majority of states, car accident victims may still receive some compensation when they are partly to blame for their accident.
North Carolina is a pure contributory negligence state, meaning that you cannot receive compensation if you shoulder even part of the blame for your accident. Therefore, if there is even the slightest question as to who was at fault you can count on an insurance company making an argument that you did something wrong. Accordingly, you need an attorney for every car accident claim because you can never anticipate what the insurance company may do to keep you from getting fair compensation.
The Statute of Limitations and Your Car Accident
Another law that affects your car accident claim is the statute of limitations. This law limits the amount of time after your car accident that you have to file a lawsuit against the responsible driver.
North Carolina General Statutes states that you have three years from the time that you were injured in the car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The statute of limitations is a strict deadline, and there is no leeway for plaintiffs who miss the deadline unless they can prove that one of a minimal number of exceptions applies.
There Are No Damage Caps in Your Car Accident Case
Unlike other states, North Carolina has very few limitations on personal injury damages. Both your economic and non-economic damages cannot be limited. In other words, you can receive the full amount of your car accident damages without any arbitrary cap. The only cap that may be relevant is a limit on punitive damages, but these are rare in most car accident cases.
To understand all the laws and the intersection between them, you must have an experienced car accident attorney. Your attorney will work to uncover the facts of your case and use them to help you get the maximum possible financial compensation. You can be assured that the insurance company knows the letter of the law, and they will try to use it to gain an advantage over you at every turn.
Contact a Wilmington Car Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident that involved injury, you need an attorney at the earliest possible juncture. The lawyers at Horton & Mendez are advocates for car accident victims who know how to fight for their clients. We make it our mission to get you top dollar when you have a valid car accident claim.
To learn more about how we can help you, contact us online or call (910) 688-8067. Our services are free of charge unless you win your case.
FAQs About Car Accident Cases
How much is my car accident case worth?
Your compensation is tied to your damages and experience after the car accident.
Will my car accident case settle out of court?
Most car accident claims and lawsuits will reach settlement agreements without the need for a trial.
What if the insurance company tries to blame me for the accident?
You have the right to be heard by a jury when the insurance company has unreasonably pointed the finger at you or denied your claim.