Do You Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Isn’t Your Fault?

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North Carolina follows a fault-based system for recovering damages after a car accident. Should you get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t your fault?

If you incurred significant losses in a crash caused by someone else, you must file a claim with their insurer. At Horton & Mendez, our Wilmington car accident attorneys can help.

Why Would You Need a Lawyer if Blamed for a Car Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault?

As the plaintiff, the burden of proof falls on you and your legal team. Several factors can complicate a car accident claim. With the help of an attorney, you can focus on healing from your injuries while your legal representative takes over the case. Consider some critical reasons you may need our team to help build a solid claim.

To prove negligence

The first step in how to handle a car accident that isn’t your fault is to prove the other party’s liability. A successful claim should cover the three essential components required to prove negligence:

  1. Duty of care: You must show that the defendant had a legal obligation to ensure their actions were reasonably safe. Operating a vehicle on shared roads automatically implies a duty of care to other drivers.
  2. Breach of their duty: The evidence should show that the defendant did not uphold that responsibility. If they violated a traffic law, that would indicate a breach of duty.
  3. Cause in fact of the injury: The evidence should directly connect the defendant’s breach of duty with the accident’s cause and the cause of your injuries.

Our experienced team of car accident attorneys knows where to look for evidence of fault. We investigate the accident independently of the police and insurance company to find the proof you need.

To combat claims of contributory negligence

Placing even a fraction of the blame on the plaintiff in a car accident case is a common tactic for insurance companies. The reason is the state’s strict contributory negligence law. In North Carolina, if you bear any responsibility for an auto accident, the law hinders you from recovering compensation for your losses.

This rule restricts the court, but most car accident cases settle without filing a lawsuit or reaching the trial phase. So, if your case will probably settle, should you get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t your fault? In short, yes, you should. The insurance adjuster may still use contributory negligence to undermine a valid claim and argue fault against you without merit. Our team knows how to handle these tactics and will protect your right to fair compensation.

To identify and value recoverable damages

No car accident claim is valid without damages. These are the economic and non-economic losses associated with your accident and injuries. Common examples include your:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Lost income or future lost income because of missed work opportunities
  • Costs to repair your vehicle and other damaged property
  • Pain and suffering endured from your injuries and medical treatments
  • Emotional distress or mental anguish suffered as a result of the accident

Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, have no definitive monetary value. To access compensation for those losses, we gather evidence to show the accident’s impact on your emotional state. Assigning a fair value to those losses is crucial. The court may deny your claim if the amount does not reasonably reflect the loss.

To avoid dealing with the insurance company

An insurance adjuster’s job is to uphold the company’s best interests above all else. As a result, you may face pushback for your claim, including potential false allegations of fault. When we take over the case, we represent our clients in all communications and negotiations with the insurance adjuster. That means you can focus on recovering while a professional argues your case.

What Other North Carolina Laws Can Impact a Car Accident Claim?

Contributory negligence is not the only state law that can impact your claim. You should understand the statute of limitations and North Carolina’s rules for reporting a car crash.

Statute of limitations

The statute of limitations refers to the deadline for filing a lawsuit. North Carolina law usually allows three years from the date the accident happened to sue the at-fault driver and recover damages. For family members or estate representatives filing a wrongful death claim, the deadline is two years from the day their loved one died.

Remember, the statute of limitations applies to filing lawsuits with the civil court, not claims with the insurance company. However, waiting an extended period to file can harm your claim. Filing as soon as possible will strengthen your claim.

Reporting an accident

State law also defines a “reportable accident,” which lets you know when you must report a crash to the police. According to this law, a reportable accident meets one or more of the following qualifications:

  • Someone suffered an injury or died in the crash.
  • Damage to property amounts to $1,000 or more.
  • The accident involved a damaged vehicle seized from someone facing an impaired driving charge.

Report to the local police department if the accident occurred within a municipality. If it happened outside local police jurisdiction, you would report it to the state highway patrol.

Calling the police to the scene of an accident can benefit your claim. Responding officers will investigate the accident and document their findings in the report. They often include a fault determination in those findings. We can use that as evidence to support the negligence claim and combat allegations of fault against our client.

Get a Car Accident Lawyer Who Can Argue in Your Favor

If you suffered injuries in a car accident with a negligent driver accusing you of causing the accident, we can help. At Horton & Mendez, we know how insurance companies work. Our legal team may be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Contact our firm in Wilmington, NC to schedule your free consultation with our experienced team of attorneys.

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