Car Accident

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This page refers to Car Accident in North Carolina.

Since laws differ between states, if you are located in South Carolina, please click here.

What Do You Need to Know if You Are Injured in a Car Accident in North Carolina?

When you’re injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, a lot goes through your mind. “I need a car accident lawyer” isn’t likely at the top of the list. Medical bills, missing work, family, car repairs, and the like probably are. But what you don’t know may add insult to your car accident injury.

Our experienced team of North Carolina car accident lawyers put this information together to give you knowledge and confidence about a process we know inside and out. You need to understand what’s going to happen, how car accident laws in North Carolina apply to your case, and what your options are when it comes to seeking compensation for the harm that’s been done to you.

What kind of accident were you involved in? What injuries did you suffer? What’s most important now, and what comes next? And do you need a car accident lawyer?

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Injured in an Auto Accident: What Are the Odds?

Whatever you might call them – car crashes, wrecks, or accidents – there are millions of them across the country every year. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), there were 276,026 reported car accidents in North Carolina in 2021. In those car accidents, there were 114,722 injuries and 1,783 fatalities – 407 of which involved a drunk driver.

There were 10.55 million residents of North Carolina in 2021, so the odds of being injured in an accident with a negligent driver may seem quite low, at just 1.08%. You had just over a 1 in 100 chance of being injured in an accident. Doesn’t seem too likely, right? Well, the odds of being struck by lightning are about 1 in 700,000, according to National Geographic. That’s highly unlikely, yet people often correlate the two. Wrong place, wrong time, they say. The truth is, it’s very likely that you or someone you know has or will be injured in a car crash.

Read More: NC Drivers Beware: The Most and Least Dangerous Counties and Cities

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Types of Car Accidents and Collisions: How Were You Injured?

Here are some common types of car accidents we see:

  • Rear-End Collisions
  • Accidents Due to Speeding
  • Hit and Run Accidents
  • Distracted Driving Crashes
  • Accidents From Fatigue
  • DWI Crashes
  • Accidents Caused by Car/Mechanical Defects
  • Accidents Caused by Road Defects or Hazards
  • Accidents with Underinsured/Uninsured Drivers

Certain types of accidents often result in specific types of serious injuries. When you’ve dealt with as many car accident cases as we have and seen as many serious injuries as we’ve seen, patterns develop. Understanding the incident itself helps our North Carolina car accident lawyers build your case and justify the compensation you may receive.

Rear-End Crashes

It’s almost always a surprise when you’re hit by another vehicle, but this one can literally sneak up behind you. You don’t even necessarily have to be at a stop sign or traffic light. You could be moving when you’re struck violently from behind by another driver. It’s usually – but not always – the result of speeding, driving while distracted, or a combination of the two.

The most common injuries we see from rear-end collisions are whiplash injuries and back injuries, though any type of injury is possible.

Common injuries affecting the driver and passengers in rear-end car collisions.

Speeding Crashes

These can happen in a number of ways. When someone is driving irresponsibly and speeding, they can sideswipe you on the highway, T-bone you at an intersection, rear-end you, or hit you head-on. As such, the risk of serious injury in an accident due to a speeding driver is quite high.

More than a quarter of all traffic fatalities are in an accident where speeding is a factor, according to the NHTSA. One of the most deadly types of crash is the head-on collision. When speeding is involved, the risk of a fatal injury is very high.

3 types of speeding collisions

Hit-and-Run Crashes

It is against North Carolina law to leave the scene of an accident in which you are involved. Sadly, it does happen. Most of these occur when the other car is empty – in parking lots or along streets – and may simply result in property damage. However, some drivers cause serious car accidents and choose to try and run from the consequences.

Pedestrians and cyclists are the most vulnerable car accident victims in hit-and-run cases. Some 65% of all hit-and-run fatalities involve pedestrians or cyclists, according to a study by AAA.

gold person walk signPedestrians at Risk
In 2020, more than 7,000 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the US – about one person every 75 minutes. About 104,000 more were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to car crashes. One in six people who died in auto crashes in 2020 were pedestrians.

Gold bicycle traffic sign.Cyclists in Danger
In 2020, 938 cyclists were killed in crashes involving motor vehicles, a 9% increase from the previous year. People more than 20 years old made up 89% of those fatalities. The fatality rate per 100,000 people was seven times higher for males than for females.

NOTE: If you’re a cyclist injured by a negligent driver, consider a bicycle accident lawyer to represent you.

Distracted Driving Crashes

Distracted driving takes many forms and increases the risk of a serious car crash. Drivers who eat, drink, or use their cell phones while driving may be putting everyone on or near the road at risk.

Texting and driving leads to 1.6 million accidents and 330,000 injuries per year.

Crashes Due to Fatigued Driving

Driving when you’re tired or sleepy is dangerous – about 20% of all fatal accidents are believed to be due to a driver falling asleep at the wheel. Sometimes, driver fatigue is difficult to prove. Experienced North Carolina auto accident lawyers know what questions to ask and how to gather evidence that may strengthen your claim.

Just like speeding or drunk driving, getting behind the wheel when you’re sleepy or fatigued can be a form of driver negligence. These tragic crashes are entirely avoidable, but they happen all too often.

Crossing the Center Line After Falling Asleep?
We recovered $2.1M for a client in Hoke County, NC, who was hit head-on. The other driver passed away in the accident, but it is possible that he fell asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, we will never know for sure.  It took a car accident lawsuit and a jury verdict to get the other driver’s insurance company to pay our client.

DWI Crashes

drunk driving iconIn North Carolina, alcohol-related crashes accounted for 23% of the car accident fatalities and 7% of the injuries in 2021. That’s 8,100 injuries and 407 deaths across the state.

And DWI cases are complicated by the fact that people other than the drunk driver can also be at fault. In fact, North Carolina law states that bartenders, servers, and hosts who serve visibly intoxicated drivers may also be found liable in these cases.

Accidents Caused by Car/Mechanical Defects

hazard signWhen a car has a mechanical defect, such as failing brakes, faulty suspension/steering, or worn or defective tires, it can be a ticking time bomb to a dangerous accident. Even when small but fundamental parts such as windshield wipers or headlights are not properly working, the driver and those around them may be at risk.

“Operated defective equipment” was listed as a contributing factor in 2,922 crashes in NC in 2021 – and 23 of those crashes were fatal. But who’s to blame when an accident is caused by a malfunctioning car part? Is it the mechanic who serviced it last, or maybe the manufacturer of the car or car part?

Accidents Caused by Road Defects or Hazards

Many car accidents are caused by road defects that range from issues with the actual road surface or design, such as dangerous potholes, unreadable road markings, or drainage issues, to issues with the conditions around the road, such as broken or missing traffic signals, inadequate lighting, or missing or defective guardrails.

Is a government agency partially to blame for the road hazard that caused your injuries? It is prudent to consult with an experienced car accident attorney who is skilled at identifying and investigating the various possible responsible parties in these types of car accidents.

Accidents With Underinsured/Uninsured Drivers

Unfortunately, there are many underinsured and uninsured drivers on North Carolina’s roads, and there is a chance that you may be injured in a crash with one. All drivers are required by N.C. law to have a minimum level of Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, but Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage is optional.

Your attorney can fight the insurance company on your behalf to try to get you maximum compensation.  They can also review your policy and investigate whether the at-fault driver has assets to help or if there are other sources of possible compensation.

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Car Accident Injuries: Where Does It Hurt?

The injuries people sustain as a result of someone else’s recklessness or negligence in car accident injury cases can be far worse than you originally believe. Back, neck, and joint pain may not be apparent immediately. Concussions can be difficult to detect. The adrenaline of being involved in a traffic accident sometimes masks the symptoms of damage to the body. Of course, there are obviously serious car accident injuries that happen as well, including fractures, cuts, abrasions, and possibly burns.

Here are some of the injuries we see most often in auto accident claims:

Four common injuries in car accidents, shown on a human skeleton figure.

  • Head Injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, concussions, skull fractures, eye injuries and broken noses
  • Back injuries, herniated disks, and especially damage to the lumbar spine
  • Whiplash injuries and damage to the neck from seemingly little impact
  • Broken bones and fractures all over the body, depending on the circumstances of the crash

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If your body hurts after you were hit, and it didn’t before, that’s an injury, and you may be entitled to compensation for it. Contact an experienced car accident lawyer immediately to discuss your case.

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What Are the Dos and Don’ts After a Car Accident?

For what to do at the scene of the accident, you can read our step-by-step guide that includes the 5 biggest mistakes people make after a car accident. There’s a lot to remember, but it’s all important, especially if you end up needing to build a car accident case for compensation. Here are a few highlights:

DON’T: “Tough it out.” The longer you wait to obtain medical treatment, the harder it will be to get compensation if you really need it down the road. The auto insurance company will argue that if you didn’t seek treatment, you weren’t really injured. That could leave you with mounting medical bills and no help.

DON’T: Talk to insurance adjusters much, if at all. They’re trained to ask leading questions, get you on record, and may use what you say to try to minimize the amount they pay. Instead, seek legal representation and let a car injury attorney handle the adjusters.

DON’T: Be fooled into not considering a car accident lawyer. You may or may not decide to hire one, but you should come to that conclusion independently. It is highly likely that adjusters or insurance companies will tell you that you don’t need an attorney or that hiring an attorney will reduce the amount you could receive from your car accident claim. What you should remember is that insurance companies are in business to make a profit. They do that by limiting their payouts. They are not working in your best interests!

DON’T: Be frightened by the cost of an auto accident lawyer. Some insurance companies may try to scare you with talk of “out-of-pocket fees.” Our car accident lawyers work on what is called a contingency fee basis. That is, there is no upfront cost to you, and your lawyer only collects an attorney’s fee if they get compensation for you.2

DO: Seek medical attention for your injuries. A thorough examination should be requested, and you should tell your doctor about anything that feels out of the ordinary after your car accident. Document any doctor visits or treatments.

DO: Understand the insurance company is going to call you. They’re going to ask you questions, and some may try to get you to settle your car wreck for as little as possible. That may leave you bearing the burden of all future medical bills with no help to pay them.

DO: Consider hiring an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney. We know exactly how insurance companies work – some of our employees were once adjusters. Offload this task and the stress that goes with it, and let us handle it.

DO: Your research! There are a lot of skilled car accident lawyers out there, and we hope that you’ll consider us.

DO: Call us for a free case evaluation. The HurtLine is always open at 1-866-900-7078.

The Do's and Dont's After a Car Accident

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When Should I Get a Car Accident Attorney?

The short answer is to contact an experienced North Carolina auto accident lawyer immediately. Here are some other related questions we often hear, along with their answers.

How Long Do I Have to Claim for a Car Accident Injury?

A car accident injury claim is, at its root, a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations on a personal injury lawsuit in North Carolina is three years – but you shouldn’t wait that long. As long as you’re within the allowed timeframe, you can file a claim. Even if you think your claim may be barred by the statute of limitations, call a lawyer and find out for sure.

Should I Sue for My Car Accident Injury?

Depending on the severity of your injury and the behavior of the negligent driver’s insurance company, you may not need to file suit at all. For car accidents with minor injuries, insurance may offer sufficient compensation to cover the damage done to you. Our team works hard to try to collect all of the medical records, bills, and other data and negotiate a fair settlement of your claim with the adjuster. We know where you’re most likely to find the compensation you may deserve, and we pursue your claim accordingly. When liability is contested or when the insurance company is not offering fair compensation, we may file car accident lawsuits on behalf of clients.

Will My Car Accident Injury Case Go to Court?

Maybe. There are many misconceptions about car accident injury lawsuits in general. Some believe every case goes to court. The vast majority of cases, through skillful investigation and negotiation, are resolved before heading to court, and there are many steps at which this resolution can occur. Some clients cannot wait on the long process of a full trial, and we pride ourselves on trying to get our clients as much as possible as quickly as possible. The medical expenses may be piling up, after all.

Do I Have to Settle My Car Accident Injury Claim?

Some people may believe every claim settles before ever going to court. This may be statistically closer to the truth, but some cases do eventually head to court.  You always want to know if your car accident lawyer is willing to go to court for you. Not only do you have peace of mind, but when the other party in your case knows that your attorney is willing and able to try the case in court, it sends a clear message: You mean business.

What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do for Me?

A variety of different factors come into play when you make a claim in North Carolina. Who are you claiming against? For what, specifically? Our team does a lot of investigation and evidence gathering in our effort to try to secure a fair settlement for you – or, if that fails, we may file suit on your behalf.

In personal injury law, as the plaintiff, the burden of proof is on you. This is why a skilled car accident attorney is vital. We can give you a real, objective viewpoint and pursue evidence you may not have thought of, such as black boxes for commercial trucking accidents or looking for specific terms in the police reports of motorcycle accidents. From finding a traffic or bank security camera with evidence to tracking down the facts on the police report to hiring experts to reconstruct how the accident happened if needed- we can do what’s necessary to pursue your case.

Those are just a few reasons why you should consider our car accident attorneys.

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How Much Could I Expect From My Car Accident Claim?

It’s impossible to put a number on your claim as all car accidents are unique, and the amount will depend on factors specific to your injury, the at-fault party’s insurance coverage, and other variables. You may be entitled to compensation for the following things:

  • Medical Bills: Even if you involve your own insurance company, the deductible may be quite large. There are other tertiary costs as well, such as co-pays, medication, and things health insurance may not cover. These medical expenses should not come out of your pocket and should be part of the financial compensation you may receive from an insurance claim. And what about future medical expenses? Those should be considered as well.
  • Lost Wages: If your injury prevents you from going to work, you’ve still got bills to pay. Compensation can include lost wages as a result of your car accident injury.
  • Diminished Value: To add insult to your injury, if you were a driver, your car is damaged (which is often referred to as PD or property damage). As a repaired vehicle is often worth less when you go to sell it, some vehicles may suffer from diminished value. This is also something you may receive compensation for, but this kind of claim has its own steps to follow.
  • Pain and Suffering: The sleepless nights. Inability to ever really get comfortable. The pain and suffering from your injuries can affect every aspect of your life. And the pain is just the start, especially in the event of catastrophic injuries. The knock-on effects of lost sleep, fatigue, stress, and other factors you must suffer should also be considered. Seeking compensation for this pain and suffering is something your lawyer can assist you with.
  • Punitive Damages: In rare cases, you might be awarded punitive damages. Under North Carolina law, punitive damages can only be awarded if you prove the other driver was liable for your injury and one of the following factors was present: 1) Fraud, 2) Malice, 3) Willful or wanton conduct. This is rare and difficult to prove. Consult your car accident lawyer in North Carolina to find out if this is a possibility in your particular case.
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What if the Person Who Injured Me Is a Family Member or Friend?

It’s worth noting that the compensation you receive, if your claim is successful, often comes from the other party’s insurance company. In some cases, the party who injures you may be familiar – a friend or family member. That causes injured victims to hesitate, often to their cost.

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How Do I File a Property Damage Claim in North Carolina?

When your vehicle is damaged because of the negligence of another, you should immediately contact the other person’s liability insurance company to report the accident and file a property damage claim.

We encourage people to handle property damage only claims on their own because it is rarely cost effective to hire an attorney to pursue these claims, and you can usually save money by doing it yourself.

To assist with this, we have created a comprehensive property damage claim guide that takes you through the process and answers some frequently asked questions about car accident claims for property damage ONLY.

Two key steps in filing a car accident property damage claim are:

  1. Calling the at-fault driver’s insurance and following their processes for filing a property damage claim
  2. Calling your insurance to report the claim (often your insurance agent will be happy to help you file with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier)

Note: If we represent you on a personal injury claim (also called a bodily injury claim) related to your accident, we will assist you with your property damage claim at no additional charge.

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How Can an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Shoulder the Burden of a Claim?

When you’re injured in an accident through no fault of your own, life gets more complicated instantly. Not only are you in pain and suffering, but the stress of dealing with insurance companies about your injury claim can also affect your work and your family. One way to remove a lot of the strain and anxiety is to hire a car accident attorney.

Let us handle your case, so you can focus on getting better.

Learn More: Finding the right car accident lawyer for you


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Tell Them You Mean Business

Our law firm has helped thousands of people file car accident claims and seek compensation for the suffering they have endured in auto accidents caused by others. Our North Carolina car accident attorneys care.

Our clients say it best. Check out what they have to say on our results and testimonials page.

We’re ready to listen, explain your rights, and discuss what your case could be. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin today at 1-866-900-7078, chat with us, or just contact us online for a free case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Any Caps on Damages That Can be Recovered in a Car Accident Claim?

North Carolina law has a cap on punitive damages in car accident claims (up to $250,000 or three times the amount of compensatory, or actual, damages). Punitive damages are those that are intended to punish a defendant for especially wrongful behavior. There are no other types of damage caps for car accident claims.

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What Is Fault in a Car Accident?

In a car accident claim, faultcan be assigned to individual parties based on their level of negligence and how it contributed to the accident. Determining fault can be difficult as multiple parties may have been negligent at varying levels. The insurance company determines fault in order to assign potentialcompensation amounts for bodily and property damages.

When an attorney helps you try to prove the fault of the other driver, this can significantly increase your odds of success.

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Who Is Liable in a Car Accident?

The at-fault driver is liable in a car accident. Liability refers to the legal obligation to financially compensate a car accident victim for the harms and losses suffered. However, car accidents can be complicated, and there may be more than one party at fault for the accident, such as the manufacturer of faulty car parts that played a role in the accident or a bartender who knowingly served an already drunk driver.

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What Is the Time Limit for Filing a Car Accident Claim in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, you generally have three years to file a car accident claim. While this may seem like a long time, there may be many time-consuming tasks to complete, such as conversations with medical providers and accident investigators and the collection of medical records and police reports. After the three-year statute of limitations window closes, your window of opportunity to seek compensation for your losses generally closes.

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How Will the Contributory Negligence Law Affect My Car Accident Claim?

North Carolina’s contributory negligence law states that if you are deemed to be even 1% at fault for the accident that caused your injury, you could be denied any compensation. North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that still follows the contributory negligence doctrine, or law. This is one of the main reasons we encourage car accident victims to consult with an experienced car accident attorney.

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