When someone is hurt in a car accident, it’s essential to determine who was at fault. If you were injured, the other person was likely responsible for the crash. But, even in cases where the other driver was breaking the law, they may not be financially responsible. Compensation recovery for your injuries can be challenging, as North Carolina has strict rules on fault and damages. Here you can learn how to identify and show fault in North Carolina auto crashes.
How Do You Determine Fault in A Car Accident Case?
Because of North Carolina law, you will need to prove that the other driver was negligent. Showing a high degree of negligence and how it led to your crash will help in your attempt to recover the damage. A car accident claim will be part of your personal injury lawsuit. But that’s not the end of the process. You will need to show that you did not contribute to the crash.
When proving negligence, you’ll need to show that the other person involved had a duty of care. That part is easy enough as every driver who gets behind the wheel immediately owes every person on the road a duty of care. Then you must show that they failed that duty. Afterward, you must show the connection between their failure or negligence and your injuries.
Duty of care covers a few specific things, including maintaining proper control over the vehicle. That could mean driving carefully in poor weather conditions as well as choosing not to drink and drive. Duty of care also covers attention and concentration on the road, the will to act without distractions within reason. Finally, the duty of care requires that all drivers thoroughly abide by the rules of the road.
How Is Evidence Used to Determine Fault?
The initial steps after a crash involve you filing a claim to the insurance company. Then they will review any evidence such as damages at the scene, your injuries, and witness statements. When submitting a lawsuit, and if the case doesn’t end in a settlement, the judge or jury will use that same evidence to determine fault.
You can present fault through a number of different pieces of evidence. Police reports and witness statements can be two very valuable pieces of evidence. Additionally, you’ll want to submit any video recording and pictures. On occasion, other aspects such as data from the vehicle can become integral as it may provide information on the speeds each car was traveling at when the crash occurred.
Finally, all the related laws and regulations will fall under review for applicability. For example, if drivers have a restriction to only drive when wearing prescription glasses that could be taken into consideration if the driver at the time was not wearing their glasses. Additionally, drivers of commercial vehicles have additional regulations to comply with when driving.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Contributory negligence is the factor for determining fault within North Carolina. In other states, you may be able to recover some of your losses even if you contributed to the crash in a small way. In North Carolina, that is not possible. Even if you were injured and are the victim if you contributed to the crash, you cannot receive compensation. If you were on the phone or distracted or speeding slightly, it could derail your entire case.
The presence of contributory negligence is one reason why it is so important to prove that you did nothing wrong. Even if no one is claiming that you were responsible, you must defend yourself against the insurance company, the judge, and in some cases a jury. There are very few exceptions to this rule.
What is the Last Clear Chance Doctrine?
“Last clear chance” is the most complex exceptions to pure contributory negligence laws in North Carolina. Essentially the victim must show that the other person had a chance to avoid the crash and did not. In these cases, even if the injured person did contribute to the crash, they can receive completion.
To claim for a last clear chance, you must show:
- You were unable to escape the situation of the crash
- The defendant knows that they would create a dangerous situation
- The defendant could have avoided the accident
- The defendant failed to act in a way to avoid injury
An example of the last clear chance in motion covers all of these requirements. Say that you ran a red light and your car stalled while you were in the intersection. Then an oncoming car hit you. They should have been traveling at a speed which would have allowed them to stop in time. Other factors such as texting can be brought into play here as well. In these situations, yes, you ran a red light, but the other driver should have had time to see you and stop. That means that the contributory negligence law should be put to the side.
What is Gross Negligence or Willful and Wanton Conduct?
These words surface from time to time, and it is always when there is egregious activity present. Gross negligence, as well as willful and wanton conduct, can call for an exception to the contributory negligence laws.
If someone is driving with blatant disregard for the safety of anyone on the road, that is gross negligence. Examples of this are drunk driving. Whereas willful and wanton conduct is any purposeful behavior. For example, if you are speeding and someone hits you in a fit of road rage, your negligence may not be under review.
Call Today for A Free Consultation
If you were hurt in a North Carolina auto accident, then you need help showing fault and defending your own actions. A skilled North Carolina car wreck attorney can go over the evidence with you and help you hold the other driver liable for their actions. It is your best way to work towards a fair and full recovery of the compensation that you need. Contact Ted A. Greve and Associates to schedule a free consultation with a North Carolina Personal Injury attorney.