If you have sustained injuries in a car accident in North Carolina, you are not alone. In fact, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, 272,310 car accidents occurred in the state during 2020.
Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, was founded to represent individuals who were injured because of someone else’s negligence. Our Charlotte car accident lawyers will help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
What You Should Do After a Car Accident
The aftermath of a car accident can be a stressful and traumatic experience. It can often feel like a complete blur. However, it is vital you take certain steps to ensure your own safety and the safety of your passengers, while also preserving relevant evidence for your personal injury claim.
After an accident, the first thing you should do is stop your vehicle. If possible, try to get out of the roadway to minimize danger. Check yourself and your passengers for any obvious injuries.
Some injuries may not be noticeable until a later time. Even if you think the accident was minor, evaluate everyone inside the car to ensure no one needs emergency medical attention.
Contact the Authorities
If police are not already at the scene of the car accident, contact them. Even if you do not think the accident was serious, having the police respond to the location can be helpful for your personal injury case.
When police respond to an accident scene, they will complete an official police report. The police will include lots of information that is relevant to your personal injury claim in the report.
The accident report will most likely become useful evidence if your personal injury claim proceeds with trial.
If possible, get the name of the officer who completes the accident report. That will make the police report easier to obtain in the future.
Collect Relevant Evidence at the Scene
The moments immediately after the car accident are the best time to gather evidence. If you are able to do so, gather as much information at the scene as you can that may be useful for your personal injury claim.
Examples of evidence you might be able to collect following your accident include:
- Names and contact information from witnesses,
- Photographs of your injuries,
- Eyewitness statements,
- Photographs of the accident scene,
- Property damage, and
- Identity and insurance information for other involved parties.
Some of this information will only be easily obtainable right after your car accident. Therefore, if possible, it is crucial you get as much evidence as you can from the scene.
The more information you have about the circumstances of your car accident, the stronger your personal injury claim will be.
Seek Medical Attention
It is imperative you receive medical attention after being in a car accident, even if you believe your injuries are minor. Your potential compensation in a personal injury claim depends on what you are able to prove.
A doctor documenting your injuries will help establish your claim, entitling you to recover compensation. Recoverable damages in a car accident case include:
- Emergency room visits,
- Hospital stays,
- Necessary follow-up appointments,
- Rehabilitation services, and
- Prescription costs.
If you do not seek medical treatment after your car accident, you may have a hard time proving you suffered any damages from the accident.
Do Not Make Any Admissions
It is important that you do not make any statements after your car accident that could later be held against you when trying to recover compensation.
Thus, you should not make any statements implying you were at fault for the accident. For example, you should not say “sorry” or apologize to any parties that were involved in the crash.
The other driver’s insurance company may contact you soon after the crash. Insurers are not your friend. Their priority is to settle personal injury claims for as little as possible, without consideration of the damages caused to the injured party by the accident.
Insurance companies may try to ask you questions and pressure you to give a recorded statement. This statement can be used against you later to preclude you from recovering damages.
If you are contacted by an insurance company after your car accident, do not talk to them. Consider contacting a car accident lawyer in Charlotte, NC, before taking further action.
The Mehta & McConnell car accident lawyers in Charlotte, NC, can advise you on how to deal with insurance companies and assist you with the personal injury claim process.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
In total, 285,074 car accidents occurred in North Carolina in 2019. Some of the most common causes of Charlotte car accidents include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol,
- Distracted driving,
- Lane departure, and
- Failure to follow traffic laws and signals.
It is impossible to completely eliminate car accidents. However, many accidents could be prevented if proper guidelines were followed.
It is important to be mindful of the top causes for accidents in North Carolina and operate your vehicle in a way that minimizes those risks.
North Carolina Negligence Laws
Personal injury claims in North Carolina hinge on the legal theory of negligence. Thus, to win your personal injury case, you must prove that another party was negligent in causing your car accident.
The elements of a North Carolina negligence claim are duty, breach, causation, and damages.
You must prove the following for a valid personal injury claim:
- Another party owed you a duty of care to act as a reasonable person would under the same circumstances;
- That party breached their duty of care by failing to act as a reasonable person would have under the same circumstances;
- The party’s breach was the cause of your accident; and
- You suffered damages as a result of the accident.
All four elements must be proven for your personal injury claim to succeed. If any of the elements are missing, you are not entitled to recover.
North Carolina is a “fault” state. That means that after a car accident in North Carolina, the driver who is responsible for the accident, or “at fault,” is liable for damages.
However, North Carolina follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which can preclude you from recovery all together.
What is Contributory Negligence?
North Carolina is one of only four states that still follows the common law principle of contributory negligence.
Contributory negligence is a legal theory that prevents a victim from recovering compensation if his or her negligence “contributed” to the accident.
This means that if you were partially at fault for the accident, you cannot recover anything. Even if the other driver was 99% for the accident and you were 1% responsible, you are barred from recovery.
Recovering Compensation After a Car Accident
Under North Carolina law, you must file your personal injury claim within three years of the date of the crash. If you fail to file your claim within this time period, your case will be dismissed.
Speak to a Charlotte car accident lawyer soon after your accident to ensure your claim is filed in time.
After being involved in a car accident in North Carolina, you may be entitled to damages stemming from the accident. Some common examples of damages include:
- Lost wages,
- Medical costs,
- Loss of future wages,
- Property damage, and
- Compensation for pain and suffering.
It is important that you keep a record of any costs you incur that resulted from the car accident. These expenses are evidence of your damages that can be presented to the court to prove the amount of compensation you deserve.
How a Charlotte Auto Accident Lawyer Can Help
The thought of hiring an attorney can seem intimidating in itself. However, having a lawyer represent you in your personal injury claim can make the entire process less stressful for you. Here are some ways a car accident lawyer in Charlotte, NC, can help you.
Retrieving Relevant Evidence
Personal injury cases can often hinge on the amount of evidence available for the case. A Charlotte auto accident lawyer can help you identify and collect evidence that is useful to your case. Examples of evidence your lawyer can help you obtain include:
- Official police reports,
- Medical reports, and
- Video footage, where applicable.
Because a lawyer cannot be obtained until after the accident takes place, there will be some pieces of evidence your lawyer cannot recover. That is why it is important for you to gather evidence at the time of the accident as well.
Damages are a sum of money the law imposes for breach of a legal duty.
Damages are a crucial element of any negligence claim. A failure to prove you suffered damages from the accident can sink your entire case.
Because of the vital role damages play in a negligence claim, it is crucial that you hire a car accident lawyer who can calculate the amount you deserve.
Speaking to Insurance Companies on Your Behalf
The vast majority of personal injury cases end in a settlement. In most cases, this requires negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Insurance companies prioritize paying out as little money as possible. This often leads to several low-ball offers. It is important that you do not accept any of these offers as a way to close your case quickly.
An experienced car accident attorney will effectively negotiate with the insurance provider to secure the full compensation you deserve.
Preparing for Trial, If Necessary
The vast majority of car accident claims are settled out of court. This is typically the preferred method of settlement because it is faster and less expensive than filing a lawsuit. However, there are times when an out-of-court settlement may be impossible or against your best interest.
In these situations, going to trial may be the only way to pursue your claim and get the compensation you are owed.
Even for the most seasoned attorney, trial preparation is time-consuming and complex. Steps in preparing for a trial include:
- Jury selection,
- Pretrial motions and briefs, and
- Witness preparation.
Hiring an experienced car accident attorney to take the lead on your case will prevent you from having to perform these steps on your own.
Contact Us Today
If you are still wondering whether a car accident lawyer in Charlotte can provide assistance in your case, contact our team today for a free consultation.
We are prepared to guide you through every step of your claim. We will fight to get the compensation you deserve, so you can move forward with your life.