If you have suffered an injury in an accident to receive damages, you need to prove negligence and causation. Losses due to the accident must be documented as well. This relies on evidence. This evidence is the same whether you file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. A Charlotte personal injury lawyer can help you gather evidence and file your claim or lawsuit. Ted A. Greve & Associates has over 20 years of experience in resolving personal injury cases. Whether you were denied SSDI benefits or injured in an auto accident call today and see how we can help you!
How Much Does it Cost to Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer?
Many people are reluctant to enlist the aid of an attorney after they suffer a personal injury because they are concerned about how much it might cost to hire them. Most personal injury lawyers that serve North Carolina are willing to operate on a contingency basis, which means that you do not have to pay them unless they win the case. They will then charge you a percentage of the award the courts gave you. The percentage is agreed in advance and is typically between 25% and 40%. The fee will depend on the amount of work that the attorney needs to put in. If you reach a settlement before the case is heard in court then this will mean that you owe less than if the case goes all the way through the court process.
This pay structure means that you don’t have to pay the attorney up front, and it also means that the attorney is incentivized to work harder for you because they make more money if you get a bigger payment.
Some attorneys will charge an hourly rate or even a flat fee. This might be a good option for you if you are able to pay upfront, but most clients opt for the no-risk nature of a contingency agreement.
How Much Compensation Could I Get from My Injury Claim?
It’s important to remember that there are many reasons why your insurance adjuster discourages you to seek legal assistance. When someone is represented by a Charlotte personal injury lawyer they have a good chance of getting substantially more compensation compared to a person who simply accepts the settlement that was initially offered by the insurance company. The insurance company wants you to think that it’s not worth working with a personal injury lawyer, but that is not the case.
There is no set rate that you can expect to get from a compensation case. It depends on the nature of your injury and the kind of treatment that you have already had and will need in the future. An attorney that is working with your best interests in mind will do everything they can to ensure that you get the right treatment. This could include rehabilitation and physical therapy, and you may need to take time off work.
When you hire a lawyer the first thing they will do is start collecting evidence to help you put together your claim. The job of the attorney is to make sure you get the compensation that you are entitled to and that there is a fair value put on your claim. You will need to accurately present the facts to support your case. There isn’t a single fool-proof formula that puts a value on a claim. An experienced attorney will take many factors into account, including:
- The extent of treatment required
- How long the treatment took
- Pain and suffering
- Personal hardship from the injury
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
In addition to these factors, a Charlotte personal injury lawyer will take into account causation, proof of liability and damages. If you were involved in a car accident and it was not you at fault, then you have a good chance of a high compensation payment. Another thing that attorneys will take into account is the likability of any witnesses because this may affect the likelihood of the compensation claim succeeding if the case goes to court.
Trained personal injury attorneys can guide you and your family through the case, helping you know what you should expect, and also what compensation you are likely to be able to claim.
When you meet with your personal injury lawyer, they will talk to you about your compensation goals, and work out what range of settlement offers it would make sense to accept. A lot of cases are settled quickly because the insurance company is eager to provide a reasonable settlement option.
What Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Do for Me?
Personal injury lawyers have numerous duties when it comes to assisting their clients. Those duties include the ethical and professional codes of conduct and rules that relate to their conduct. The state bar association has strict requirements. Lawyers are allowed to prepare legal documents, offer legal advice, file complaints in court and argue cases. They must meet certain rules while they do this, however.
A personal injury lawyer is responsible for interviewing their clients and making an assessment of the case. They will identify the pertinent issues relating to the client’s case, and will thereafter conduct research to help put together a good case. They have the goal of helping their clients to get justice and compensation for the losses they incurred as a result of their injury. This is something they do via advocacy and through both oral arguments and legal advice. Only if the parties are unable to reach an amicable settlement will the case go to trial.
There are strict guidelines about due diligence, confidentiality and avoiding conflict of interest. They are obliged to protect the best interests of their clients, not their own and there are detailed guidelines which explain this.
Proving Negligence and Causation
First, you must prove the other party had a legal duty to take certain actions or avoid certain actions in order to keep you safe. In some cases, this may be easy to establish. For example, a motorist must follow all traffic laws. If a motorist broke a law, it will probably be easy to establish liability. In this case, a police report would be very beneficial, as the report would note whether officers issued a citation to the other driver. In other cases, it is more complicated. For example, if a dog bites you while in the care of someone other than its owner, you need to discuss your case with a Charlotte personal injury lawyer to determine if the caregiver or owner is responsible for your injuries.
Next, you must show the at-fault party breached their legal duty through negligent action or inaction. For example, in medical malpractice or nursing home abuse cases, expert witnesses often must testify to what actions most healthcare practitioners would take.
Then, you must provide proof that the negligence caused your injuries. You must prove that if not for the defendant’s actions, you would not have sustained your injury. For example, if you were injured in a pedestrian accident where a car struck you, you can prove that your traumatic brain injury was the direct result of the defendant running a red light.
Lastly, you must show proof of your damages. Because the amount of compensation you receive relies on your actual losses from the accident, your medical bills, past pay stubs, and receipts pertaining to your injury are important. A journal or other record of your physical and emotional struggles may also provide proof of pain and suffering.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover?
You can recover two types of damages in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. These include economic damages – those calculated based on actual losses – and noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering. Different laws apply to workers compensation claims.
In most situations, economic damages are fairly easy to prove after an accident. You have a stack of medical bills and proof of missed work. Most monetary losses come with written reminders in the form of bills to use as evidence. Consider all of your losses due to the accident, and collect documentation for each. Include:
- Medical bills for emergency treatment
- Costs of ongoing medical care
- Rehabilitation costs, including physical therapy
- Lost wages
- Lost future wages, if you cannot return to your job
- Costs related to nursing care or assistance with activities of daily living
- Any other monetary losses due to the incident
Noneconomic damages are where most disagreement occurs in settlement talks with insurance companies. The amount tied to these losses is subjective and depends entirely on what you negotiate with the insurance company or the court’s determination. Noneconomic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental stress and anxiety
- Loss of enjoyment in former hobbies
- A decrease in quality of life
- Negative impacts on personal relationships
While there are no bills to prove the monetary value of your pain and suffering and other emotional damages, you still need to prove these losses. Keeping a journal including doctor’s appointments, records of treatment, pain level, and notes about your emotional and mental health often helps. Other options include expert testimony and medical records from a therapist or other healthcare provider.
Note: Because North Carolina operates under the contributory negligence doctrine, if an investigation finds you even one percent responsible you will not be eligible to recover compensation for damages. This is why it is imperative that you prove absolute liability.
What is the Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims in North Carolina?
Each state sets time limits on how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. North Carolina law limits you to a three-year period following the date of the accident. While this statute of limitations only applies to lawsuits, filing an insurance claim before your eligibility to file a lawsuit runs out is advantageous.
While the three-year statute of limitations applies in most cases, the rules are different if the defendant is the government or a government agency. Getting compensation from the government is a complex process, so discussing your situation with a lawyer as soon as possible is important. Advice and guidance from a Charlotte personal injury attorney and accident attorney are key in recovering damages in these cases.
North Carolina’s Injury Laws
Like many states, North Carolina law outlines the minimum liability insurance coverage that all motorists must carry. 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” which means the at-fault party in an accident is responsible for paying for any property damage and personal injuries sustained in an accident. The law refers to this responsibility as liability, hence the term “liability insurance.”
By requiring motorists to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, the state ensures those injured in a car 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
Personal Injury Claims Process
In the vast majority of North Carolina personal injury claims, the first step is notifying the at-fault party’s insurance company.
When you contact the insurer, expect to answer a few basic questions such as your name, date, and location of the accident, and whether or not you sustained any injuries. It is important, though, not to discuss the incident at length with the adjuster. Even if the adjuster threatens that your claim will take longer to process, it is never advantageous to give a recorded statement before speaking with a personal injury attorney.
In a simple situation, the adjuster may quickly investigate the case, total your damages, and offer a settlement that meets your needs. In more complicated situations, including those where liability is in question or where severe injuries occurred, a personal injury attorney is your best ally. A Charlotte personal injury lawyer may be able to advocate for you through the negotiation process and reach an agreeable settlement without having to file a lawsuit.
Never accept a settlement award before calculating all possible damages (past, present, and future) and always run the settlement by an attorney. Once you accept an award, you cannot go back later and ask for more money.
When a settlement agreement is out of reach, filing a personal injury lawsuit in the North Carolina courts is the next step. In some cases, simply filing a suit is enough to push the insurance company to offer more money.
If it is not, your personal injury and accident attorney will collect evidence and build a strong case to support your need for compensation to cover the cost of your injuries. The defendant’s legal team will also launch an investigation and collect evidence in an attempt to show its client was not negligent, that his actions did not cause your injuries, or that your damages are not as high as you claim.
Remember that you must continue medical coverage and follow doctor’s orders throughout the entirety of the process. If an adjuster finds out during their investigation, that you have ceased going to your appointments or are disregarding your doctor’s orders, they may claim that you are faking your injuries or that they are not as bad as you claim.
Once both sides present the evidence, the rest is up to the Mecklenburg County Court judge or jury. If the court awards you damages, you may receive your payment in a lump sum or payments over time. Your personal injury attorney can request the option that best suits your needs.
If you have been injured in Charlotte, 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
Contact Ted A. Greve & Associates for a Free Case Review Today!
Ted A. Greeve & Associates works with victims of personal injury accidents in North Carolina. We represent clients throughout the compensation process – from filing an insurance claim to going before the judge in a personal injury lawsuit. Call today for a FREE consultation. Simply request any personal injury attorney free consultation. Furthermore, Doctor Ted works on a contingency basis. This means that you pay nothing until we settle your case. If you have a personal injury and need legal representation, please remember Ted A. Greve & Associates in Charlotte NC! Call us today for a FREE no-obligation consultation to discuss your options.