After a car crash, the first thing you should do is make sure everyone is safe, call the relevant authorities, and exchange contact information. From there, you should try to collect any evidence from the scene that you can, such as photos and witness statements. (If you’re injured, this may not be possible, so you’ll need an attorney to help.) Finally, you’ll want to contact a skilled personal injury attorney who can help explain North Carolina’s fault laws for auto accidents and how they could affect your personal injury claim.
Keep reading to learn more about North Carolina law and how it may affect your auto accident case.
North Carolina Fault Laws for Auto Accidents
North Carolina requires that every driver carry auto insurance coverage for any vehicles they use on the road. The minimum coverage requirements in our state are:
- $30,000 of bodily injury coverage for each person in a crash
- $60,000 of total bodily injury for all persons in a crash
- $25,000 for property damage
Most states use at-fault systems for auto accident claims, which means the negligent driver who causes a car crash must pay for damages to both people and property. Under these systems, if you weren’t at fault, you should be eligible for compensation from the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy.
However, some states use no-fault systems. In these states, both drivers file claims for compensation with their own insurance company after a collision, regardless of who was at fault for the wreck.
So, is North Carolina a no-fault state for auto accidents? The answer is no. North Carolina is an at-fault state for car accident claims. In North Carolina, the person who is found to be responsible for a wreck must pay for the damages they caused.
While we are an at-fault state, North Carolina applies a rule for personal injury claims known as contributory negligence. This rule says that any driver involved in an accident who contributed to the crash (even in the slightest way) cannot get compensation for their injuries by filing a personal injury claim.
So, let’s you’re driving over the speed limit and another driver pulls out in front of you, causing a car accident. The insurance company and their attorneys may try to claim that your speeding contributed to the accident, even if the contribution was tiny. If they succeed, you’ll lose your right to compensation. However, the insurance company has the burden of proof on this issue, so they need to have a somewhat legitimate claim that your fault was a cause of the crash.
Only three other states and the District of Columbia use this system, which is very unfair to injured victims. When you file a personal injury claim in a state that applies contributory negligence laws, you may have two burdens of proof on you.
First, you need to prove that the person who hurt you was negligent. If the insurance company claims you were contributorily negligent, they only need to prove you were 1% at fault. Second, you need to prove that the other driver had the “last clear chance” to avoid the crash. This can get complicated. So, having a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney on your side in North Carolina is extremely important if you want to receive compensation.
Proving Fault After a North Carolina Auto Accident
Contributory negligence can make life very difficult for injured victims. However, injured victims can still receive compensation — they just have to prove they were not at fault or that the negligent driver who injured them had the last chance to avoid the collision. If they succeed, the insurance carrier for the reckless driver must pay the damages that resulted from the crash, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.
So, how can you and your attorney go about proving your case? Here are the steps in that process.
- Gather documents: Your attorney will collect all documentation related to your claim, including the police report as well as all medical records and bills. These documents can help prove the extent and costs of your injuries.
- Collect testimony from fact witnesses and expert witnesses: A fact witness is a person who actually saw the crash. Meanwhile, expert witnesses may not have seen the crash, but they can draw from their own expertise as well as tools like crash reconstruction software and medical tests to talk about the wreck or your injuries.
- Present visual evidence: Your attorney will gather, organize, and present all photographs from the scene as well as video footage from local businesses and traffic light cameras. Your lawyer may also provide pictures of your injuries. These images can serve as important evidence and help the jury understand what you’ve been through.
No matter how you choose to proceed, remember that contributory negligence will be a critical factor that determines whether you receive compensation for your injuries. So, your goal should be to present as much objective evidence as possible during your insurance claim and any litigation that follows. Usually, the best way to gather the critical evidence you need is to contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash.
Contact Myers Law Firm if You’ve Been Injured in Charlotte, North Carolina
At Myers Law Firm, we understand that stress, anger, and confusion often accompany a senseless injury. If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we’re here to help. When you choose us to represent you, we’ll act as your advocate and use our legal experience and resources to fight relentlessly on your behalf until your case reaches a resolution.
Call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out the contact form on our website to schedule your free consultation with us. We will use this time to get to know you, learn about your case, and inform you about your legal options so you can go forward with confidence.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.