In North Carolina in 2020, 1,658 people were killed in car accidents and an additional 105,382 people were injured. Regrettably, these figures represent an increase in both fatal and injury-causing car accidents from the year before.
When a car accident takes place in North Carolina, there are numerous laws that dictate what is supposed to happen. This post should help you better understand what to expect if you are involved in a North Carolina car accident.
No two car accidents are the same and every case can benefit from the help of an experienced North Carolina car accident lawyer to get the maximum settlement.
At Local Accident Reports, our nationwide car accident lawyers know how deeply distressing car accidents can be. Our objective is to offer support to our clients and ensure their right to financial compensation is protected. Contact us to find out more about how we can help after a serious North Carolina car accident.
Minimum Insurance Requirements in North Carolina
Drivers in North Carolina are required to carry liability insurance. The state sets the minimum coverage amounts. Drivers may choose to purchase additional insurance coverage, but they may not opt to carry less.
In North Carolina, the minimum amount of liability coverage is:
- $30,000 per person in bodily injury
- $60,000 per accident in total bodily injury
- $25,000 in property damage liability
In other words, if you are involved in an accident, your insurance company will pay out as much as $30,000 for each injured victim but will only pay out a total of $60,000 for the accident regardless of how many people were injured. In this type of situation, $60,000 is not a lot of money. This is because car accidents often result in serious injuries, so a lot of drivers wisely purchase insurance coverage that exceeds the minimum requirements.
Do I Have to Report My North Carolina Car Accident to Law Enforcement?
You are required to report a North Carolina car accident to law enforcement if:
- Someone was injured in the crash
- Someone was killed in the crash
- Property damage of more than $1,000 occurred
Drivers must also remain at the scene of the accident and exchange contact information as well as any other important details with the other drivers.
Even if the accident was relatively minor, it is a smart idea to report it, and get the contact information of any eyewitnesses along with the contact details for the other drivers. Police accident reports and witness testimonies can be very valuable if difficulties arise in determining liability for the collision.
How Does Liability Work in a North Carolina Car Accident Case?
Some states are no-fault states which limit the rights of car accident victims. In no-fault states, all drivers are required to purchase a particular type of coverage known as personal injury protection. This special insurance covers medical bills and lost income if they are injured without any consideration given to fault.
If you live in one of the many no-fault states, you file a claim with your own insurance company instead of filing one with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You are only eligible to collect financial compensation from the liable driver if your injuries are deemed serious as defined by your state.
North Carolina, however, is a fault state. This means that any car accident victim can seek financial compensation from the person who caused the accident. The nature and severity of your injuries do not factor into the equation.
Keep in mind that North Carolina is one of only four states in the country that adheres to the laws of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence means that if you contributed just 1% to your accident, you will not be eligible to collect any compensation from the at-fault driver.
Most states have ditched this archaic law and now follow the law of comparative negligence instead. These laws make it possible for accident victims to still recover some compensation from the driver who shared fault for the collision. Since North Carolina is not one of them, any negligence on your part could prevent your North Carolina car accident claim from being successful.
A North Carolina car accident attorney can help you understand how the law of contributory negligence could impact your ability to obtain the financial recovery you need after a serious car accident.
What is the North Carolina Civil Statute of Limitations?
On most civil claims in North Carolina, such as car accident claims, there is a three-year statute of limitations. In other words, you have three years from the day the crash took place to bring a North Carolina car accident claim. If this deadline expires, you will most likely lose your right to collect any financial compensation from the at-fault party regardless of the circumstances of your accident.
Every state has a statute of limitations that applies to injury claims. This statute was created to protect individuals from defending themselves against lawsuits originating from events that took place a long time ago. As time passes, witness memories fade and crucial evidence can be lost, destroyed, or deteriorated beyond use.
Do I Need to Move My Vehicle?
If your vehicle is operable and in the way of traffic, like on an interstate, you need to move it in order to prevent a secondary accident. Before you do so, you need to take a video or some pictures that show the exact location and position of your vehicle immediately following the accident. If your vehicle is not in the way of any oncoming traffic, you can leave it where it is. It is not uncommon for a tow truck to be the only viable way of moving a wrecked vehicle and you do not want to cause any additional accidents or injuries. The pictures and video you take, however, will document other significant pieces of evidence such as traffic signs, weather conditions, oil spills, and skid marks.
Do I Need to Call My Insurance Company?
All auto insurance policies come with driver’s obligations saying that you agree to notify your insurance company after an accident and that you will do so within a “short” time period. It is best to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. They will ask you to supply some basic information, like the other driver’s name and insurance information. You are not required to give them a full statement right then and never admit fault. This is the time for you to contact a qualified North Carolina car accident attorney so they can deal with the insurance company on your behalf.
Should I Speak to the Insurance Adjuster?
You will be expected to supply some basic details about your accident. Generally, the insurance adjuster will ask you when the accident happened, where it happened, and the names of those involved. Your answer does not need to be anything more than “I was in an accident with Ben Benjamin on Main Street in Nags Head, NC at 1:30 yesterday afternoon”. Then give them the names and insurance information of the other driver or drivers involved in the crash.
Never admit fault and do not provide them with a formal statement. If they ask you any additional questions, you can politely decline to answer them. Insurance adjusters are infamous for fishing for information by asking you seemingly random questions that will put you at a disadvantage later on.
What Should I Do If the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Calls Me?
You are not obligated to respond to any queries that do not come from your insurance company. If you and the at-fault driver have the same insurance company, tell them they may refer any questions about their other policyholder to your lawyer. Working with an experienced car accident lawyer can mitigate the stress of knowing which questions you do not need to answer.
Should I Accept the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer?
No insurance company is going to offer you a fair settlement offer the first time around. Their aim is to pay as little as possible. The insurance company’s first offer is always less than what you need to cover your damages. In addition to lowballing car accident victims, insurance companies are notorious for convincing claimants that they do not need legal representation. They know that a skilled North Carolina car accident lawyer can properly valuate your claim and determine how much compensation is fair.
What Form of Damages Am I Eligible For After a North Carolina Car Accident?
The damages you may be entitled to collect will hinge on the severity of your injuries and other damages. At Local Accident Reports, our lawyers will investigate every potential avenue of monetary recovery. Your compensation demand could include payment for:
- Current and ongoing medical bills
- Vehicle replacement or repairs
- Lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- In some cases, punitive damages
What Should I Do Immediately After A Car Accident?
Due to the traumatic nature of car accidents, a lot of people forget what they are supposed to do. After a car accident in North Carolina, try to remain calm and take the following actions:
- Call 911 and report the crash.
- Request paramedics to the scene or seek immediate medical help once you are cleared to leave.
- Write down the contact details of the other drivers and any witnesses.
- Take videos or pictures of the entire accident scene and take notes about what happened as soon as you can.
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
- Schedule a free consultation with a North Carolina car accident attorney
What Are the Leading Causes of North Carolina Car Accidents?
According to recent data, there are a few commonalities that appear in most North Carolina car accidents. The leading causes include driving under the influence, aggressive driving, distracted driving, and speeding. Less common but still notable causes include disregarding traffic signs and traffic signals, and failing to yield.
What Are the Most Common Car Accident Injuries in North Carolina?
Although strains, sprains, traumatic brain injury, and whiplash occur the most often, other injuries that are often sustained in car accidents across the state include bruising, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, lacerations, and internal bleeding and organ damage
How Do I Pay My Medical Bills For an Accident That Was Not My Fault?
While you are trying to recover, you don’t need to worry too much about your hospital bills. Your North Carolina car accident lawyer will keep track of all of your medical bills for the duration of your claim. Then will negotiate with the insurance company and involved medical professionals to make sure you are not under unnecessary pressure to pay your bills before you have collected compensation. If anyone contacts you regarding bill payment, refer them directly to your lawyer.
Do You Need a North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer?
If you were injured in a North Carolina car accident that you did not cause, you are most likely entitled to collect recovery for your medical bills, lost earnings, and more. The North Carolina car accident lawyers at Local Accident Reports can help you secure the financial compensation that you need and deserve. Call us at (888) 657-1460 to schedule your free consultation.