North Carolina Car Accident Law: What You Need to Know
March 8 2023
In North Carolina, drivers are required to carry liability insurance which covers property damage and personal injury caused by a car accident. Additionally, there is a period of 3 years in which an individual can file a claim for damages caused by a car accident.
North Carolina Car Accident Laws
To the surprise of many, North Carolina is a “fault state” when it comes to car accident law. As opposed to other states like New York and Colorado that have no-fault laws, which means that all drivers are responsible for their own damages regardless of fault, North Carolina car accident law requires victims to identify and sue the at-fault driver in order to recover damages. The main argument in favor of this model is that the lawsuit process acts as an incentive for drivers to be more aware and responsible on the roads by making them accountable for their actions.
Popular cities in North Carolina that we service include: Charlotte.
The primary downside of North Carolina’s fault system is that it can often mean slow, expensive litigation for victims who want to be fairly compensated for their damages. Additionally, under a fault system, insurance claims must go through the at-fault party’s insurer instead of through the victim’s insurer, which can present additional problems related to communication and negotiation between two separate insurers.
Despite its flaws, North Carolina’s fault-based system remains the current legal standard and understanding how it works is essential after a major car accident. That being said, the next step in such a situation is largely concerned with investigating and gathering evidence regarding the accident itself, including taking pictures and getting witness statements. This section will further explore what steps should be taken when it comes to investigating a car accident in North Carolina.
Investigating a Car Accident
When investigating a car accident, it is important to take a step-by-step approach. First, the responsible law enforcement agency should be identified. Depending on the severity of the accident and its location within North Carolina, this could be anything from local police to the state highway patrol. The investigative agency’s involvement is typically essential in order to determine fault, calculate damages, and file an official report.
The next step involves gathering evidence related to the accident, including photos and witness testimonies. This can be done through physical evidence at the scene or by interviewing potential witnesses to the event. During an investigation, it is also critical to speak with all involved parties so that their versions of what happened can be heard. Doing so can help to illustrate any points of contention in case a legal dispute arises later on.
Once sufficient evidence has been gathered, it becomes necessary for all parties involved to contact their respective insurance companies and submit relevant documents such as police reports. An insurance company may then opt to investigate a claim further if there are questions about who was at fault or how much should be paid out in damages. It is best practice for the claimant to ensure they have proper documentation and follow up with the insurance company regularly so that the process goes smoothly.
Finally, working with a personal injury lawyer may become necessary in order to understand rights surrounding a car accident and submit any applicable claims. A qualified attorney can help navigate complicated legal processes while providing sound advice based on each person’s individual circumstances and needs.
Investigating a car accident requires due diligence and careful attention to detail in order to ensure that any resulting claims are valid under North Carolina law. Such strategies will give all involved parties peace of mind knowing that they have taken every precaution possible to secure justice moving forward.
Now that we’ve discussed investigating a car accident, let’s take a closer look at who is responsible for this task in the next section — “Who is Responsible for Investigating a Car Accident?”.
Who is Responsible for Investigating a Car Accident?
When an accident occurs, with the details still unknown, it can be difficult to know exactly who is responsible for investigations that need to be done. In North Carolina, there are two primary players involved in an accident investigation: the police and the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The police are charged with a few different things when it comes to handling car accidents. They must investigate and document an accident, as well as determine fault by collecting evidence at the scene. Depending on the severity of the crash, they may also have to assist with providing medical aid, protecting bystanders, making traffic control plans, or notifying other elements of law enforcement.
The DMV is also concerned with determining causation, but their involvement tends to come after the fact. The DMV receives reports from police about all accidents reported on public roads. From there, it’s their job to review the reports in order to determine if any parties involved should receive traffic citations for violations such as speeding or reckless driving.
Both sides can agree that it is important that all collisions in North Carolina are properly investigated and documented whether through the police or through the DMV. By being thorough and finding out exactly what happened in a crash, we can ensure that offenders are held accountable and victims are properly compensated based on the facts of each case.
Now that we know who is responsible for investigating a car accident in North Carolina, let’s explore how fault is determined in a car accident.
- In North Carolina, drivers who are at fault for a car accident can be held liable for any resulting property damage, bodily injury, and/or death.
- According to North Carolina law, Drivers must carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury coverage for one person’s medical expenses, $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per incident, and $25,000 in property damage coverage.
- According to the United States Census Bureau’s 2011–2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates data, there were over 19,700 car accident fatalities due to driver negligence in the state of North Carolina over a 5 year period.
How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?
When it comes to car accident law in North Carolina, one of the most important factors that is taken into account is fault. Fault determines who is responsible for the damage, financial losses and injuries resulting from the crash and how much (if any) compensation will be paid out to those impacted by the accident.
In North Carolina, fault is determined based on a legal concept known as contributory negligence. This means that if it is determined that the driver or passengers were even partly responsible for the accident, then they are not allowed to seek compensation for their losses or damages. To hold someone liable for an accident in this state, they must have been 100% at-fault in causing the crash. So even if a driver was 99% at fault and another party was only 1% responsible, they would still be unable to pursue a personal injury claim.
This can seem extremely unfair as it leaves injured parties without recourse when an accident is caused by multiple people. Furthermore, insurance companies may attempt to blame both parties involved in a crash in order to reduce their own liability and deny an insurance claim. Thus it is important to get an experienced lawyer with knowledge of North Carolina car accident law who can help protect you from having your own negligence unduly penalized during settlement negotiations with insurers.
The complexity of determining fault in a car accident can also make seeking medical care immediately after a crash especially tricky as any delays could be used by the insurance company to argue that you contributed to your own injuries. Therefore, it is essential to carefully protect your rights following an automobile crash in North Carolina while proving that you did nothing wrong to cause or contribute to the collision occurring.
Finally, it is important to remember that there are certain exceptions where victims may still have recourse even if they were partially at fault for an auto accident under North Carolina Car Accident Law. For example, there does exist something called “last clear chance” wherein risk could not be fully assessed until just before a crash happens. In these kinds of cases, injured parties may be able hold responsible those deemed primarily responsible for causing the collision even if the victim themselves may have made an error or mistake leading up to the crash.
An understanding of these difficult concepts is essential when assessing how best to proceed with legal action following a car accident in North Carolina and serves as a good introduction into learning about rights and responsibilities under North Carolina law—the topic of our next section.
Rights and Responsibilities Under North Carolina Law
In North Carolina, certain rights and responsibilities apply to anyone involved in a car accident. Drivers must abide by the state’s laws regarding reporting accidents, filing claims and paying damages. Safeguarding these rights is extremely important — understanding them can help motorist protect themselves in the event of an accident.
Under North Carolina law, drivers are required to report the accident to police or judicial officials if there are injuries or fatalities, or when property damage exceeds $1,000.00. This obligation continues even if you decide against filing an insurance claim. Checks or cash payments to settle claims are strictly prohibited under North Carolina law; payment must be made via approved methods such as electronic funds transfer (EFT) or a bank draft.
Drivers involved in an accident must also exchange certain information with other drivers involved. The information exchanged must include your name, address and driver’s license number; the registration numbers of both vehicles; the insurance company names and policy numbers for each vehicle; and the make and model of each vehicle. Anyone not complying with these requirements may face fines or suspension of their license under certain circumstances.
Reporting an auto accident means that you must also disclose any damages that were caused by the accident to your insurer; failure to do so could result in a denial or refusal to pay on your claim. Furthermore, North Carolina obligates motorists to pay any judgment against them up to their policy limits. If they fail to do so, insurers may suspend their license until they satisfy the judgment amount within 30 days of being notified of the suspension.
Given these rights and obligations, it is important for motorists to know their legal requirements following a car accident situation in order to protect their interests and those of others involved in the crash. Getting proper legal advice can ensure that your rights are preserved and all steps are taken appropriately under North Carolina law. With this knowledge in mind, it is now time to move onto the next section which will discuss: What To Do After a Car Accident.
What to Do After a Car Accident
After you have been in a car accident, it is important that you stay at the scene and make certain that the law enforcement is aware of the occurrence. This will ensure that the police will file an official report, which can be used to determine liability after the accident. It can also be used to prove negligence if one of the involved parties acted with unreasonable carelessness or recklessness. Once law enforcement has arrived, they may ask each involved party to provide their respective insurance information and contact details as well as to give a statement of what occurred during the incident.
Before exchanging insurance information, you may want to take pictures of the vehicles involved and the area surrounding them, documenting any fresh damages sustained as a result of the collision. Additionally, witnesses should be identified so that statements can be taken. The more evidence that is gathered at this time, the greater chance there will be for subsequent liability to be established.
At this stage of the process, people may differ on whether getting in contact with an attorney is necessary following a car accident. On one hand, seeking legal advice from an experienced car accident lawyer or attorney can help provide objective answers and strengthen your case. On the other hand, those who are not represented by an attorney may feel pressured to accept responsibility for the crash or agree to an unfair settlement without fully understanding their legal rights. Ultimately it may depend on how complex or serious the crash was, but obtaining legal counsel can often prove useful in helping navigate these situations and protecting one’s rights.
Regardless, after a car accident occurs it is important to preserve all evidence until a determination of liability is made. With clear evidence and knowledgeable guidance when needed, determining fault can become much more straightforward and reliable in North Carolina. Which leads us into our next section: Determining Liability After a Car Accident.
Determining Liability After a Car Accident
Determining liability after a car accident can be a difficult process as emotional circumstances and legal procedures have to be navigated. Generally, the party who was at fault for the car accident is liable for damages and losses resulting from their negligence or careless behavior. Depending on the specifics of the accident, determining liability can involve extensive investigation, which takes into account evidence such as witness statements, photographs, medical reports, and police reports. Liability is typically assigned to one of two entities: driver negligence or the auto manufacturer’s fault.
For negligence claims against a driver or drivers involved in the accident, the rules vary by state. In North Carolina, it’s typically established if a violation of Section 20-166 of the North Carolina General Statutes occurred—which states that “no person shall drive any vehicle upon a highway or public vehicular area carelessly and heedlessly in wilful and wanton disregard of the rights of others”—or if some other form of negligence took place. Common forms of negligence in accidents include failure to use turn signals when turning or merging, driving recklessly under road conditions and other weather-related hazards, ignoring speed limits, intoxication, and texting while driving.
In cases where a manufacturer’s error caused an accident, usually due to faulty brakes or defective tires for example, there is potential for product liability claims to be filed against them. This type of lawsuit requires substantial evidence that shows that a faulty part was either explicitly responsible or indirectly contributed to the cause of the accident in order for the victim to pursue compensation from the party responsible.
While fully determining liability after an auto crash may take some time, understanding how these processes work can help provide guidance when seeking resolution in response to an injury claim. The next step toward resolving an auto accident is looking into what are compensable damages.
What Are Compensable Damages?
Under North Carolina law, a person who is found to be legally responsible for a car accident that caused harm is expected to financially compensate the persons harmed. The amount of money awarded in compensation is referred to as “compensatory damages”. Compensatory damages can either be economic or non-economic.
Economic damages correspond to a tangible monetary loss and are intended to repay the victim for any financial losses associated with the injury. This includes medical expenses for treatment related to the accident, lost wages from not being able to work due to the injury, property damage, and any other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
Non-economic damages focus on personal losses that don’t have assigned dollar amounts. This can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and consequences associated with permanent physical impairments such as scarring or disfigurement. Punitive damages may also be recoverable under some circumstances, though this type of award is rarer than compensatory damages.
The amount of compensatory damages claimed will vary depending on the nature of the accident, the extent of injuries sustained by the victim or victims, and sometimes other factors outside of either party’s control. Both victims and defendants must understand that certain automnobile accidents are not eligible for compensatory damages in North Carolina courtrooms – such cases must satisfactorily meet legal standards set by previous case law to be considered for some sort of award.
Now that we’ve discussed what compensatory damages are and why they are important for those involved in North Carolina car accidents, we’ll turn our focus to another important issue: uninsured drivers in North Carolina.
Uninsured Drivers in North Carolina
Uninsured drivers in North Carolina pose a significant risk to other motorists and can easily lead to costly damages for those involved. Under North Carolina’s Financial Responsibility laws, all registered motor vehicles must have a minimum of either $30,000 in liability insurance on each vehicle or demonstration of financial responsibility (e.g., an auto liability bond). Although the majority of drivers purchase insurance to comply with state laws and to protect themselves financially, many drivers choose to forego this essential security measure.
Furthermore, North Carolina requires uninsured motor vehicle owners to register annually with the Division of Motor Vehicles; whether they are found at fault or not, uninsured drivers face license revocation and substantial fines due to their violation of state law requiring them to meet Financial Responsibility requirements. Many people argue that individuals should be held accountable for being behind the wheel without insurance; however, others suggest that registration fees and fines make it difficult for uninsured drivers to obtain coverage when they need it most.
Ultimately, while North Carolina holds uninsured drivers liable for any damages they cause should they be found at fault during a car accident, it is important for victims of an accident caused by an uninsured driver to seek legal advice from an attorney with expertise in dealing with these types of cases. The next section will focus on legal recourse available for North Carolina car accident victims.
Legal Recourse for North Carolina Car Accident Victims
In the aftermath of a car accident, victims may be left feeling overwhelmed and unsure of their legal rights. Fortunately, North Carolina law provides victims with multiple avenues of recourse to seek justice and financial compensation for the damages they have suffered. These options can include filing an insurance claim, initiating a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, or even seeking criminal charges if the accident was caused by reckless or negligent driving behaviors.
Insurance Claims: After being involved in a car accident, most victims will first look to their own and the other person’s insurance policies for coverage. Every driver in North Carolina is required by law to carry liability insurance, covering at least $30,000 in bodily injury per person and $60,000 per accident. Depending on the severity of the incident and any insurer limits, these state-mandated minimums might not cover all victim damages, but it can provide them with a source of financial recovery when expenses exceed their own policy limits.
Personal Injury Lawsuits: When insurance claims are inadequate to compensate victims for serious injuries, they can initiate civil lawsuits against the at-fault party in order to recoup economic losses like medical costs and lost wages; as well as non-economic losses such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. To prove fault in court, victims must establish that the defendant owed them a duty of care which they breached by their negligence. A successful civil lawsuit can result in awards of monetary compensation that are often much greater than amounts offered through insurance claims.
Criminal Charges: If an accident results from unlawful behavior such as drunk driving or excessive speed, injured parties have another option for recovering damages – pursuing criminal charges against the offender. Parties that suffer harm due to illegal activity have a legal right to recovered from those whose actions violated drivers’ license regulations or criminal codes. Financial restitution awarded through criminal charges can help cover medical costs, lost income, and other related expenses resulting from a car crash.
Ultimately, car accident victims have access to multiple sources of legal remedies when seeking justice for whatever damages they might have incurred due to another driver’s negligence. No matter if they choose an insurance claim settlement or pursue civil court proceedings, individuals injured in an automobile collision should always reach out to an experienced attorney who can protect their best interests throughout any pursuit of legal recourse they decide to take.
Responses to Common Questions with Detailed Explanations
What are the civil liability laws in North Carolina when it comes to car accidents?
In North Carolina, when it comes to car accidents, the civil liability laws for damages stem from a comparative negligence approach. This means that if an individual involved in the accident is found to be at least partially responsible for their own injuries, then any damages recovered through a lawsuit will be reduced by the percentage of negligence attributed to that person. Therefore, it is important for individuals involved in a car accident to keep records of evidence that can prove that the other driver caused or contributed to the crash as well as any costs associated with medical care and lost wages due to their injuries. Additionally, in cases where both parties are found to be equally responsible (50/50) for the accident, they are typically barred from recovering damages from the other party.
Are there any specific time limits associated with filing claims in North Carolina regarding car accidents?
Yes, there are specific time limits associated with filing claims in North Carolina for car accidents. The Statute of Limitations for any lawsuit arising from an automobile accident is three years from the date of the accident. This means that an injured person must file suit within three years from the date of the accident or else risk losing their right to seek compensation for their injuries. Additionally, if a person wishes to make a claim against an insurance company they must give written notice within one year of the accident, otherwise their claim will be denied. It is important to note that the time limits are not extended should the injured party be out of state during this period or leave North Carolina altogether. If you are injured in an automobile accident in North Carolina, it is important to take action quickly and discuss possible legal options with an experienced car accident attorney in order to ensure your rights are protected.
What types of damages can be sought in car accident cases in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, individuals who have been involved in a car accident may seek both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are intended to recompense the injured party for any tangible losses or financial burden suffered as a result of the accident, such as medical bills, loss of income, and property damage. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish the at-fault party and deter future misconduct by way of a financial award. In addition, wrongfully injured parties may also be entitled to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. The amount recoverable may also vary depending on whether or not fault is apportioned to multiple parties. Thus, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who can advise you on all types of damages that you may be able to claim after being involved in a car accident in North Carolina.