Like many states, North Carolina law outlines the minimum liability insurance coverage that all motorists must carry. Every Charlotte car accident lawyer knows that according to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, these laws require that drivers have:
- At least $25,000 coverage for property damage
- At least $30,000 bodily injury coverage per person, $60,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage
North Carolina is a “fault state”. This means a North Carolina auto accident in Charlotte is covered under the same law as in Concord, NC, the law does not vary. The at-fault party in a car accident is responsible for paying for any property damage and personal injuries sustained in an auto accident. The law refers to this responsibility as liability, hence the term “liability insurance.” A Charlotte personal injury lawyer will help you file a claim to obtain compensation for your damages.
If you are located in the Charlotte area and have any questions pertaining to a North Carolina auto accident or injury, contact Ted A. Greve & Associates for a no-hassle FREE consultation. Call Ted A. Greve & Associates today at 844-387-8677.
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Transportation and Car Accident Statistics in Charlotte
Charlotte is surrounded by important roadways, including four interstate highways. These roads have seen their share of traffic accidents, and according to City-data.com, there has been an increase in the number of fatal cars crashes in Charlotte since 2010.
The fatal accident count in 2010 was 42, and it rose to 56 in 2011. The number of people involved in accidents went up from 95 to 141.
These statistics supplement the report from the Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald, which said that Mecklenburg County, whose largest city is Charlotte, was the deadliest county in North Carolina in terms of car crash fatalities in 2009.
Claiming Compensation from an Auto Accident
Car crash victims deserve to be compensated properly for the physical, financial, and emotional damage they obtained from the accident. If you suffered injuries and losses in a car accident, you can often claim compensation for the following:
- Medical costs
- Property damage
- Emotional suffering
- Lost opportunities
- Future medical expenses
How Can I Obtain Compensation After a Charlotte Car Accident?
By requiring motorists to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, the state ensures those injured in an accident have an option to recoup their expenses and other damages through the liable driver’s insurance company.
In most cases, victims of North Carolina auto accidents have three ways to get the compensation they need to repair their vehicle and cover medical costs. These include:
- Filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company based on his liability policy
- File a claim with their own car insurance company, especially if they carry a collision policy (If the at-fault driver is uninsured, underinsured, or flees the scene of the accident, victims can turn to their own UM/UIM coverage.)
- Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver
What Should I Expect From the Claims Process?
After the victim and at-fault driver notify their respective insurance companies, the insurers will begin an investigation. Both companies will likely request a recorded statement but you are under no obligation to provide one to the at-fault’s insurance company. You can politely decline or ask the adjuster to direct any questions to your Charlotte car accident lawyer.
Note: You may have to provide a recorded statement to your own insurer as you likely signed a contract promising to cooperate with investigations.
When the adjuster calls, provide the insurance adjuster with your name, the other driver’s name, and date of the accident. Do not give the adjuster any more information. Do not speculate on accident causes, apologize for anything, or downplay your injuries. The adjuster can use this information against you.
The adjuster will need access to your medical records; it is imperative that you only give them access to records pertaining to the accident. A North Carolina auto accident attorney from Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. can help.
If the adjuster’s investigation finds the other driver at fault, the insurance company will offer you a settlement award. Never sign this first settlement without first calculating your damages and speaking with a Charlotte car accident lawyer. If you and the insurance company cannot agree on a settlement, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Accidents Involving Bicyclists
The League of American Bicyclists ranked North Carolina in the 20th position for 2017 on their list of states ranked for the safety and rideability for bicyclists. North Carolina certainly doesn’t lead the list, though the state has taken many measures in an effort to improve the safety of bicyclists in areas like Spartanburg, SC. Bicyclists are at a greater risk of injury when accidents occur, and more likely to have broken bones and traumatic brain injuries.
It’s important to be safe when riding a bicycle in North Carolina. Some things that you can do to protect yourself include riding at a safe speed to control your bike and be able to react quickly to hazards. Avoid distractions like music and conversations, and use hand signals correctly. You should also be highly aware of your surroundings, look both ways before crossing an intersection. Ride with the direction of traffic, go single file when riding with others. Use designated bike lanes where available, and take measures to improve visibility in the dark (reflective clothing, headlights).
When car accidents do occur involving bicyclists, they can be caused by vehicles pulling out of side streets or parking lots, leaving little room for you to react, vehicles turning directly into your path (typically at stoplights or intersections), being rear-ended by a vehicle following you too closely, or by a parked car opening a door that happens to be in your path.
Seeking Compensation for Bicycle Accident Injuries
Any injured bicyclist can seek compensation from the insurance company of the at-fault driver in North Carolina. You can recover your medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earning potential, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
If the behavior of the at-fault driver was particularly reckless or harmful, you can even seek out punitive damages, intended to punish the at-fault driver. This is especially true in drunk driving cases.
To seek compensation for your injuries and losses, you should begin by contacting 911, seeking medical attention, and gathering the contact information of drivers and witnesses. You should then document your medical treatment and expenses in an organized file, speak with law enforcement, avoid admitting to any fault or wrongdoing and avoid giving a statement to the insurance company without first speaking to a Charlotte bicycle accident attorney.
Rear-End Accident Laws
The most common misunderstanding about rear-end accident laws is that the rear driver is automatically at fault for these sorts of auto accidents. It is true that the rear driver is most commonly assigned the majority of fault in a rear-end accident, though there is no law that says that this should be the case in every accident. Most don’t realize that there are many situations where the rear driver is not to blame for the rear-end accident or is only partially to blame.
Many circumstances can lead to rear-end auto accidents. For example, tailgating, which is where the rear driver failed to keep adequate distance between the vehicles, can cause a rear-end accident, or malfunctioning brakes on either vehicle could be the cause. Distracted driving and speeding are common causes of motor vehicle accidents, and again, could be on the part of either driver. Distracted driving can involve cell phones, distracting passengers, fatigue, and more. Speeding can result in not having enough time to safely stop or can cause trouble due to road conditions, like ice. There is also the possibility of failing to signal on the part of the front driver. If the front driver stops suddenly, without signaling, then the rear driver may not be at fault for the accident.
Rear-end accidents can cause a variety of different injuries. There can be minor sprains, whiplash, severe back problems, head injuries, broken bones, cuts, and scrapes, etc. If a heavier vehicle is involved, like a commercial truck, then the accident may even result in death. If you or a loved one has been injured or lost their lives in a rear-end accident, contact an attorney to discuss your case.
Dealing With Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters may go by different titles, like claims specialists, claims analysts, or claims representative, but they all have the same job. You will probably encounter one after filing an auto accident insurance claim. There are claims adjusters, public adjusters, and independent adjusters. The claims adjusters work for insurance companies to investigate accidents and negotiate settlements.
Public adjusters work independently on a freelance basis for members of the public. Independent adjusters also work independently on a freelance basis, but for government agencies and insurance companies. They all work to investigate accidents, determine liability, and negotiate a settlement agreement with the victim who filed the claim.
Initial Contact with Insurance Adjuster
You are likely to hear from an insurance adjuster with a phone call. You may feel pressured to make a statement, but you should politely refuse to do so without first speaking up with an attorney and following up with your medical care provider. It is okay to tell the insurance adjuster that you would like more time before making a statement. If you make a statement, you will be bound to whatever you say, and it is easy to say the wrong thing. Take your time, and consider completing a release for the insurance adjuster to have access to medical records.
Your vehicle repair expenses will also be addressed by the insurance adjuster. You can inform the adjuster that you are going to take your car to a shop. The insurance company’s recommended mechanics do not need to be used. You should also request that only OEM (original equipment manufactured) parts be used on your vehicle. Before you end the first meeting with the insurance adjuster, ask for your claim number and for a written document that confirms the claim has been opened.
It is essential to keep the insurance adjuster updated about your medical condition, the condition of any damaged property (vehicle), and all receipts from anything that you’ve paid out of pocket for medical care or vehicle repairs. You should remain organized. Keep your information together, and keep your case at the top of the insurance adjuster’s list of cases. Finally, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you have a reasonable basis for your claim, maximizing its value.
Negotiating for a Settlement Agreement
An insurance claims adjuster wants to convince you to settle quickly for the lowest amount possible. Ultimately, they are working to save money for the insurance company. They also have several cases to deal with at any given time. You’re going to know more about your own case than the insurance adjuster if you stay on top of things. Staying organized will put you in a better position when it’s time to negotiate.
The insurance adjuster will also be limited in his or her authority to offer a settlement amount. The insurance company will give the adjuster a range to stay within. The first offer will typically be on the low end of this range. It can give you an idea of what the insurance adjuster is working with. Senior adjusters are likely to have higher limits, though they cannot usually offer anything more. If they wish to, they will likely need to get approval from a supervisor or manager. Follow up with any communications like this and send a reminder letter if you don’t hear back by a set date.
Car Crash Lawyer Can Help Car Accident Victims
You should consider hiring a car accident lawyer because after you file a lawsuit, the discovery period begins. The attorneys for both sides will be looking into the accident. Again, make sure the at-fault party’s attorney only has access to medical records pertaining to the accident. If the Mecklenburg County Court finds in your favor, it will order the at-fault party to pay whatever damages the court deems applicable.
Auto accidents cause serious injuries, and often leave a lasting impact on the lives of victims. If you were the victim of a car accident in Charlotte, you may be eligible to recover compensation for existing medical bills and lost wages, as well as ongoing healthcare, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering. For help filing a claim or lawsuit for compensation, speak with a Charlotte car accident lawyer from Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. today
What If You Want to Stop Your Doctor Visits?
One of the benefits of having an experienced car accident lawyer is that he will know what you should do to get the biggest auto wreck claim settlement. For example, your accident lawyer will inform you that it is imperative to continue with medical coverage throughout the claims process. If you stop going to appointments or ignore doctors’ orders, the insurance company can use that against you. They can lower your award amount or offer you nothing at all.
How a Car Wreck Lawyer can Help You Recover Damages
Under North Carolina law, victims of auto accidents can receive compensation for damages. Most of the damages people consider after an auto accident falls under the category of economic damages. Common economic damages after a car crash include:
- Bills for an ambulance, emergency medical care, and hospitalization
- Rehabilitative care
- Ongoing medical bills
- Lost wages from missed work
- The potential loss of future wages
- The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle
- The cost of hiring household help to complete tasks you were previously able to do
Economic damages are not the only damages you can recover after a North Carolina auto accident. While you cannot directly calculate noneconomic damages, you can still collect compensation for them. The amounts are much more subjective but often reach substantial totals with the right evidence and support. Common examples of noneconomic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Anxiety and stress
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of ability to continue previous activities
- Effect on personal relationships
In cases where a defendant acted in a way that was especially negligent, intentional, or malicious, courts may award punitive damages. Courts award these damages in order to punish the at-fault party and to deter any future wrongdoing. Laws prohibit courts from awarding more than $250,000 or three times the compensatory damages award (economic and noneconomic damages) – whichever amount is greater.
An Injury Lawyer can Demonstrate How to Calculate Economic and Noneconomic Damages?
You cannot just demand an arbitrary amount of money in your claim. You must calculate your damages as well as provide enough that substantiates your claim for damages. To substantiate a claim for economic damages, you must provide:
- Medical bills
- Medical records
- Pay stubs
- Employment records
- Vehicle repair estimates
- Any receipts for services rendered that pertain to your accident (e.g., landscaping or housecleaning bill)
Noneconomic damages depend less on physical evidence, but you still need to take action to ensure you have the proof for the amount you request. For this reason, you should:
- Maintain a calendar of your medical appointments, treatments, etc.
- Keep a daily journal detailing your physical pain and the impacts of the accident
- Track limitations that prevent normal activities
What do I Have to Prove to get Damages From the Liable Driver?
In order to receive damages from the liable driver, you will need to have proof of four important criteria. These include:
- The law obligated the other driver to abide by certain rules and not act carelessly(duty of care)
- The other driver was negligent, failing to abide by the rules of the road or otherwise behaving recklessly (breach of duty of care)
- This behavior led to your injuries, whether property damage or personal injury (causation)
- The accident caused you physical/financial/emotional harm (damages)
Proving liability in an accident is paramount because your entire claim to compensation hinges on proving the other driver was 100 percent at fault. North Carolina is a comparative fault state, relying on a doctrine called “contributory negligence.” This doctrine restricts you from collecting any compensation if you contributed to the accident in any way. This is true even if you are only one percent at fault.
Insurance adjusters or the court allocate fault in these cases, so your ability to provide proof that the other party is liable is key. Without proof, or with only weak proof, the insurance company can deny your claim or offer a much smaller settlement. If they believe you played any role in the accident – and do not believe you can persuade the court otherwise – there is no reason for them to offer a fair settlement.
What Evidence Do I Need to Prove Fault and Liability?
Some accidents, especially those caused by overt negligent acts, may not call for in-depth investigations to prove fault and liability. When running a red light or following too closely lead to a crash, proving negligence may be easier as the facts of the accident are probably enough to establish liability.
When the fault is not so clear-cut though, determining liability and what percentage of the fault lies with which party may require a more intensive investigation. Liability could fall to involved drivers, motorists not involved in the accident, and/or outside factors such as road design and weather conditions. You bear the burden of ensuring there is enough proof to show the other driver was at fault.
Common Evidence You can Use in These Cases Includes:
- Pictures of the scene (Take pictures of debris in the roadway, potential hazards, weather conditions, car damage, location of vehicles, skid marks, injuries, etc.)
- Witness testimony
- Police reports
Police reports are commonly used evidence in car accident cases. They include all the necessary information about the accident, such as vehicle location and damage, officers’ opinions on fault, and any issued citations. If an officer issues the other driver a citation, it makes establishing liability much easier.
You can download a copy of the accident report online for five dollars. The accident report number or the date of the accident, your last name, and the location where the accident took place are required to get a copy.
You can obtain a free paper copy of your accident report by visiting one of the following locations:
- Mecklenburg PoliceHeadquarters at 601 East Trade Street
- West Service Area at 4150 Wilkinson Boulevard
- Your local Division Office
Is There a Time Limit for Filing an Accident Claim Or Lawsuit?
North Carolina law has a three-year statute of limitations on personal injuries and property damage from a car accident. This means you must file a lawsuit within this limited time frame, or you lose your eligibility.
Note: While this law technically applies only to filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, it is important to pay attention to these limits when filing an insurance claim as well.
It is important to note, however, that this statute of limitations does not apply to accidents where the government or a public agency was at fault. The time limit on filing a lawsuit against the government – and, in fact, the entire process – is different and almost always shorter.
If you have sustained injuries in an auto accident, it would be best to seek immediate medical attention. Major hospitals and other medical facilities in Charlotte, North Carolina include:
- Carolinas Medical Center – 1000 Blythe Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28203-5871 / (704) 355-2000
- Presbyterian Hospital– 200 Hawthorne Lane, Charlotte, NC 28204-2528 / (704) 384-4000
If you were the victim of an accident that involved a government vehicle or someone working for a government agency, contact us as soon as possible after the crash. You need to get started on the claims process immediately in order to receive compensation for your injuries and property damage.
What Will An Accident Attorney Cost?
Personal injury attorneys will charge different rates based on different factors. The type of fee arrangement, including contingency fees (where payment is based on a percentage of recovery); and then you have to consider the filing fees in addition to attorney’s fees affect the cost.
Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. Charlotte car accident lawyers have lots of experience with North Carolina car accidents and many successes in winning automobile accident claims, including motorcycle wrecks, truck accidents, and Uber accidents. However, if for any reason we do not win the claim we will not charge any fees. Your case is FREE!. Our car accident lawyers do not want to waste our time or yours trying to fight any claim that we think we will lose, so call us today for a FREE evaluation as to whether or not you have a car accident claim at (844)387-8677.
Attorney’s Fee Arrangements
Very rarely will an accident attorney charge a flat fee for any case. This can happen, though, where the lawyer decides on a particular rate for the case, without considering whether or not the case succeeds. This can be paid in installments or with a half upfront arrangement. With the latter, the remaining half is paid at the conclusion of the case. If you are charged a flat fee of $3,000, that will be the rate, regardless of hours or case outcome.
Some attorneys will charge an hourly fee with a retainer deposit. You will pay an amount in a retainer, which the attorney then draws from to pay his or her hourly rate for the work completed. An additional deposit may be requested as you run through the money in the retainer’s trust.
More often, you’ll find that personal injury attorneys offer a contingency fee arrangement. This means that you will not pay anything unless you recover compensation, and then you will pay only a percentage of your settlement or judgment. It is typically between 25% and 40%, with the most common contingency fee arrangement being 33%. Thus, if you recover $30,000, your attorney will receive $10,000. If the case goes to trial, then the percentage may increase to up to 40%.
These percentages may seem excessive, though you will find that the contingency fee arrangement is the best option. You will not have to pay anything if you don’t win the case. The attorney takes a chance with a contingent fee case, justifying the cost.
Personal injury cases involve a lot of different associated costs. This includes such as court filing fees, service of complaints, service of summons, service of subpoenas, obtaining medical and police records, expert witness fees, court reporter fees, etc. As these different fees come up, the attorney may draw from a retainer deposit that you have paid. Alternatively, they may pay the costs upfront and recover their expenses from the final award. If the lawyer does the latter, you will not be responsible for the costs if you do not succeed in your case.
The Insurance Research Council has reported that those who seek legal representation in personal injury cases will receive an average of three and a half times more in their settlement than what those without an attorney are likely to receive. It is always wise to seek out the help of a lawyer.
Call Ted A. Greve & Associates for an Experienced Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer
If you are in need of a car wreck lawyer near you, Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. represents car accident victims in Charlotte. If you sustained injuries in a crash due to no fault of your own, we can help you secure compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Call us at (844)387-8677 to find a lawyer near you. Ted A. Greve & Associates has Charlotte car accident lawyers ready to help you today.