Important Facts About North Carolina Car Accident Injury Claims
When you’re injured in a car accident, a lot of questions may come up. “How will I pay for my medical care?” “How do I get compensation from the person who caused the accident?” The most important one is probably, “What do I do next?”
Claiming compensation for your injuries can be done in several ways. You could simply let the insurance company handle it, but they’re not on your side. In fact, they’re trying to pay as little as possible – that’s how they make money. You can try to pursue a car accident claim alone, or if you need a professional to take the burden off your plate, you can chat with a real person right now. Whatever you choose to do, there are some important facts to know as you move forward.
Fact: The Burden of Proof Is on You
In order to obtain compensation for your injury, you have to prove that someone caused harm to you. In some cases, the fault is obvious, but it isn’t always, and insurance companies may argue fault regardless of how obvious it seems. That’s why it’s important to have all of the evidence and documentation you can. You can help your claim if you know what to do after a car accident.
Having strong evidence surrounding the accident and thorough documentation of the harms and losses you’ve suffered can add value to your case. When negotiating with an insurance company, having a strong case can help you push for a larger settlement amount. Unfortunately some insurance companies may not even properly value strong cases, daring you to file a lawsuit.
What Is Negligence in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, the general elements required to prove negligence are:
- Defendant (the driver who harmed you) owed a duty to act a certain way or to refrain from acting a certain way.
- Defendant breached their duty.
- Their breach of duty caused injury to the plaintiff (that’s you, the injured party).
- Defendant’s actions (or inactions) were the proximate cause of your car accident injury (the defendant should have known what they were doing/not doing could cause injuries or harm).
- Plaintiff suffered actual harms and losses (such as lost wages, hospital bills, etc.).
If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. You can always call us at 1-866-900-7078 to discuss your potential claim. We will evaluate your case for free.
Fact: North Carolina Is a Contributory Negligence State
North Carolina law does differ from most other states in one key way. It’s one of only a handful of states that follows a doctrine called “contributory negligence.”
Contributory Negligence: Conduct that creates an unreasonable risk to one’s self.
The challenge of contributory negligence from a legal standpoint is that, according to North Carolina law, if you are deemed to be even 1% at fault for the accident that caused your injury, you could be denied compensation. This makes it even more crucial to build a strong case, as the insurance company may use any shred of doubt to reduce or eliminate their payout.
Fact: The Insurance Company Is Working Against You
We’ve handled thousands of cases. One thing we see over and over again is some insurance companies trying to find ways to reduce their payouts. Here are some things some insurance companies may do to pay you as little as possible for your North Carolina car accident claim:
- Ask leading questions to take you off guard, only to use your answers against you later
- Argue that you’re partially to blame for the collision and invoke contributory negligence
- Offer a quick payout below what you may actually need, hoping you’ll cash the check and therefore ending your claim
- Delay as long as possible, hoping you’ll have no choice and settle for less than you may deserve
- Convince you that hiring an attorney is a bad idea (they don’t want to deal with us)
- Make “take it or leave it” offers, and generally be threatening or stubborn
This is by no means a complete list, and not all insurance companies behave the same or use the exact same tactics. What they all have in common, however, are adjusters. The insurance adjuster you speak with is very likely a trained negotiator. Their job is to keep the insurance company’s money in the insurance company’s pocket by paying you the smallest settlement they can.
How Much Is Your Claim Worth?
Most people who are in an accident really just want clarity – they want to know how much they’re going to get in compensation. Knowing an amount would take a lot of stress off of them, and allow them to plan their lives and move forward.
It is important to note that every case is unique and that there is no “average” claim value.
There are, however, guidelines you can look at for an idea of your claim’s total potential value. Some are fairly regular. Some are not:
Damage to Property (your car) – When you’re involved in an accident, you can seek the value of the repairs or replacements necessary to make your vehicle whole. This includes a valuation of the car prior to the accident, including mileage and condition. Then, the costs of repairs and replacement parts are calculated. It is important to take the cost of the actual parts replaced into account – not to generalize the cost of repairing “rear-end damage” for example. Insurance companies will likely refer you to a repair shop. You are not required to use their recommended shop.
Also, depending on the age and mileage of your car, even after your car has been repaired it may be worth less than it was before the repairs. In this situation, you could be entitled to Diminished Value. Insurance companies don’t often offer this additional compensation without being asked.
Cost of Your Injury – This is where valuing a claim becomes complicated. There is no set “value” for a given injury, like a broken arm. The value of an injury can be more than the medical bills you see. There are additional costs to consider – does your injury keep you out of work? If so, those lost wages should be sought. Does your injury carry with it long-term repercussions and effects? More medical bills? Lifelong care, or loss of potential earnings? These are things that lawyers (and insurance companies) look at. As experienced car accident injury attorneys, we’re aware of many hidden costs that come along with an injury – costs you should not have to bear. We seek the most compensation possible, as quickly as possible, for our clients.
The Many Ways Hiring an Attorney Can Benefit Your Personal Injury Claim
Experienced representation takes the burden off of you when it comes to building your case, negotiating, and filing paperwork. Meanwhile, you can focus your efforts on getting better and getting back to normal.
Myth: Insurance companies are generally fair in negotiating compensation.
Fact: There are many instances of insurance companies behaving badly, sometimes trying to take advantage of honest people during vulnerable times. Despite your best intentions to avoid a hassle and just get what you may be owed, no one can guarantee the insurance company’s reasonableness.
Here are a few insurance company complications your attorney may be able to help you fend off:
The Contributory Negligence Hail Mary
In North Carolina, victims are can be barred from getting compensation for a personal injury claim after a car accident if they are even one percent at fault for causing it. That’s why, even if the other driver is clearly at fault, the insurance company may try to nitpick and assign some fault to you in an effort to pay you nothing. This is an all-too-common tactic, which is why the threat of contributory negligence is a compelling reason to hire an attorney to represent your best interests.
The Insurance Adjuster Ambush
Adjusters for the insurance company work for them, not you. They’re highly trained and very good at their jobs, and their jobs may include trying to pay you as little as possible. Your most innocent comment to them could give the insurance company a loophole to deny your car crash injury claim. To balance the scales, you need all of your leverage, including your own battle-tested advocates.
The Empty Well
It’s important to remember that the insurance company is only responsible up to their agreed policy limit. Even if you secure that full amount, it may not be enough to cover your harms and losses. An attorney knows what needs to be done to try and recover the balance from other applicable sources and insurance policies.
Here’s an article on the topic of pursuing first party insurance claims.
The James Scott Farrin Advantage
The car accident injury attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin know how to deal with the insurance companies. We even have former insurance adjusters on our team who know exactly what to expect – and how to deal with the tactics insurance companies use. We are skilled at gathering evidence and presenting a carefully built case on your behalf.
We’re not afraid to fight for fair compensation for our clients – even if that means going to court.
Our Contingency Fee Arrangement
Your objective is to seek maximum compensation and to get it as quickly as possible. Our contingency fee arrangement guarantees we have the same exact goal. We only get an attorney’s fee if you collect compensation.2 No hourly fee. No retainer fee. Even the case evaluation is free.
We Mean Business
Since 1997, we’ve helped tens of thousands of accident victims. And we’ve recovered more than $1.6 billion in total. In 2022 alone, we recovered over $185 million for our clients.1 What more do you need to know?