If you’ve ever been involved in a car or truck accident in North Carolina, you may have asked the question, Is North Carolina a “no-fault” state for auto accidents or a “fault” state?
The simple answer to the question is that North Carolina is considered a “fault” state. But you should understand what both terms mean as they apply to your car accident case.
What does it mean to be a no-fault state or a fault state? Being a no-fault state does not mean drivers who cause accidents get off scot-free.
Negligent drivers and their insurance companies can still be held responsible for the injuries that they cause. However, no-fault rules set limitations on the circumstances where an injured party can sue a negligent party.
What Is the Difference between Fault States and No-Fault States?
North Carolina is a “fault” state. What this means is that if you are hurt in a car accident, you can recover from the driver who caused the accident, or the driver who was “at fault.”
You can recover medical bills, wage loss reimbursement, and compensation for pain and suffering.
If North Carolina were a “no-fault” state, each party would first turn to their own insurance to pay for their medical bills and any wage loss.
This would apply no matter who caused the accident (thus, the “no-fault” designation). But to seek pain and suffering compensation, you would have to go after the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
To do so, you would have to show that your injury was severe enough to meet the state’s no-fault injury threshold requirements.
These typically require either that your medical bills exceed a certain dollar amount or that your injuries are of a certain type.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
North Carolina is one of the few states that still follow pure contributory negligence rules. This rule states that a driver whose conduct contributed to the accident in any way cannot collect compensation.
For example, imagine you are going 80 mph in a 65-mile-per-hour zone. You’ve got the right of way and enter an intersection when another car exits it to your left and collides with you.
You are 10% responsible for the accident due to speeding. You will get no compensation for your pain and suffering because of your 10% fault for speeding.
Proving Fault After an Accident
Because NC isn’t a “no-fault” state for auto accidents, the issue of who was at fault is very important. With many car accidents, it’s pretty obvious who was at fault.
But with some car or truck crashes, there is a question as to who was ultimately at fault. Or there is a dispute about whether the party who was not at fault contributed to the accident.
With the difficult cases, the best course of action is to hire a skilled and experienced North Carolina car accident attorney. Your attorney will be able to collect all pertinent evidence.
Evidence that may be useful to prove fault could include most of the following, depending upon the facts of the case:
- Scene-of-the-crash evidence such as pictures of the scene and road conditions, plus traffic control devices and signs;
- Pictures of the damage to the vehicles;
- Witness information and recorded statements of each witness; and
- Any security camera footage showing the crash, such as stoplight cameras, local business security cameras, and even people’s front porch security cameras could be useful.
Witness memories can fade over time, and evidence can be lost, so it’s important to collect this evidence as soon as possible.
Contact a North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Today
We will fight for your rights to get the full and fair compensation you deserve. Contact Mehta & McConnell today to schedule an initial consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.