NORTH CAROLINA CAR ACCIDENT STATISTICS
North Carolina roadways saw a total of 275,067 total car accidents in 2017, which is an increase of about 9,000 cases from the previous year. This is also 40,000 cases more than the average between 2012 and 2016. Since 2012, the total number of accidents has been increasing every year by about 6,000 cases, with 2015 to 2016 seeing the largest increase of about 15,000 cases. Injuries to both passengers and drivers occurred in almost 30% of the cases (81,865) out of the total cases in 2017. This represents a reduction by 800 from the previous year, though it’s an increase of 74,429 from the 4-year average. Fatalities in the accidents saw an increase to 1,287 in 2017, which represents a decrease of 60 cases from the previous year, and is slightly higher than the 4-year average of 1,228 fatal crashes. Generally, the overall rate of fatalities increased to 230.39, which is 15 points higher than the 4-year average.
HOW MUCH DOES A CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER COST
The thought of hiring an attorney in Huntersville, NC is a key concern for many victims due to the expected costs. The good thing is that many firms these days provide legal services to car accident victims on a contingency fee basis. What this means is that as a client, you won’t have to part with any money upfront to obtain a lawyer. The only time you part with money is when the lawyer successfully wins the case. You will pay your lawyer an agreed percentage from the money you’re awarded as damages for the accident by the responsible parties. Furthermore, you won’t have to pay your lawyer a cent unless they win the case on your behalf. This makes the contingency fee arrangement ideal for most people. It also makes it easier to acquire quality legal services, in which the lawyers are compelled to take a critical look at your case and look after your best interests. Since the lawyers don’t get paid unless they win the case, they will do their best to ensure that they get the maximum amount of compensation possible. In most cases, the amount you pay your lawyer will range between 25% to 40% of the compensation amount, depending on your specific case and whether it has to go to court or not. Other attorneys and law firms may provide their services under different payment arrangements, including hourly rates and flat fees. Although such arrangements could be ideal for some cases, most clients prefer working with the contingency fee arrangement. Harman Law Firm is happy to provide you a free initial consultation, which allows us to determine how we can help you. Get in touch with our lawyers today and schedule your free consultation, to help you decide your best course of action.
WHAT SHOULD DO YOU AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT?
Once you get into an accident, what you do next will be critical not only to your health but also with your ability to seek compensation. here’s what to do after you get into an accident:
DON’T LEAVE THE SCENE
Stay at the scene until the police arrive. Leaving the scene of an accident could risk you being charged as a hit-and-run, driver, which is a serious criminal offense.
CALL THE AUTHORITIES
In case there’s significant injuries, damage, or death, call 911. When the police arrive, ask them to file an official report, and if you can, ask them how you can obtain a copy of it.
CHECK ON OTHER VICTIMS
Ensure that everyone at the scene is okay. In case the paramedics are yet to arrive, get first aid for anyone who needs it. However, if a victim is badly injured or unconscious, avoid moving them, unless their position poses a hazard.
COLLECT THE NECESSARY INFORMATION
If you can, get the names, phone numbers, license numbers/plates, and insurance information from the drivers involved. In case there are other witnesses at the scene, including onlookers and other passengers, get their names and phone numbers too.
RECORD THE SCENE
Take videos or photos of the injuries you and other victims sustained, along with any damage to the cars. Get details such as skid marks, the position of vehicles, any other property damage.
AVOID ADMITTING FAULT
Don’t apologize for anything, especially while at the scene. Statements like “Sorry I run the stop sign” could put you at the center of the case as the liable party. This can be quite unfortunate considering it probably won’t be clear who was at fault for the accident. As such, avoid saying anything in the lines of apologizing or admitting guilt.
SEEK MEDICAL HELP
Timely medical attention following an accident is critical. Be sure to let the attending healthcare professionals about any injuries you sustained, and follow through their treatment plan. In case the symptoms persist following the treatment, don’t hesitate to obtain a second opinion.
KEEP A JOURNAL
It’s also wise to keep a journal that highlights your injuries, pain, and any medications prescribed. Keep in mind that the success of most car accident claims relies heavily on the ability to provide a detailed medical record that documents all of your injuries, the pain and suffering experienced, and their impact on your life.
OBTAIN AN ATTORNEY
If the accident was serious and you were seriously hurt, working with a lawyer is important. Why? Well, it lets you focus on your recovery while your lawyer handles the legal side of things. Dealing with insurance companies can be a major headache during this time, and an experienced car accident attorney will ease the hassle of collecting and finding the necessary evidence and records for your case. Your attorney will also make better decisions on your behalf to help maximize the amount of compensation that you can recover, protect your rights, and defend you better in case you were at fault. Call a Harman Law Huntersville car accident lawyer today to learn more about what we can do for you.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SETTLEMENT FOR A CAR ACCIDENT?
It’s quite difficult to determine the average settlement of car accident claims mainly because the amount of non-economic damages and punitive damages awarded vary widely from case to case. The key thing to have in mind here is the damages involved in your case. To determine a fair settlement amount for your car accident case, your lawyer, as well as the involved insurance companies, will most likely consider the following:
- The nature and amount of evidence available
- The total available insurance coverage. Typically, insurance companies won’t pay anything beyond the policy limits
- Medical bills
- Car repairs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
North Carolina law outlines the minimum car insurance policies for personal injuries as follows:
- A minimum of $30,000 to cover bodily injury for one person
- A minimum of $60,000 to cover bodily injury for two or more people
- A minimum of $25,000 to cover property damage in any one accident
This list only gives you the least amounts that an insured driver in North Carolina is required by law to carry. The actual amount of coverage will vary depending on the state where the car in question was insured.
WHEN SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR MY CAR ACCIDENT?
For car accident cases, it’s not always necessary to get a lawyer. Many people have managed to handle their accident claims independently, with some even representing themselves in court. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s the right course of action. Don’t forget that insurance companies usually employ a team of lawyers specifically to find gaps in the policies they give out so as to minimize the amount they will eventually pay to clients who seek compensation. Their attorneys also don’t shy away from using unscrupulous tactics and means to ensure that the company keeps as much of the money as possible. When you hire a Harman Law car accident lawyer, you will effectively be evening out the playing field by having an attorney by your side to protect your rights and discourage these lawyers from taking advantage of your situation. Your attorney will ideally hold the insurance company to their policies’ expectations, and stand up against the aggressive attorneys. However, there are still instances where seeking legal help is not necessary. With certain types of claims, such as where the victim was involved in a minor car crash, it’s possible to handle the case on your own. For example, a minor fender-bender accident where nobody was hurt doesn’t necessarily have to be handled by a lawyer. On the other hand, for accidents where there were serious injuries, major property damage, and time spent away from work, then handling the case independently isn’t the right course of action. North Carolina laws and procedures regarding personal injury claims are very complex, and nothing stands in the way of insurance companies to take advantage of the situation and minimize the amount of money they payout.
WHY SHOULD I HIRE A HUNTERSVILLE CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER?
An experienced lawyer will effectively handle the necessary communication between you and the insurance companies, witnesses, etc. and seek expert opinion from health experts and accident reconstruction professionals were necessary to build a stronger case. They will also be effective at interpreting evidence and communicating the findings to the judge/jury in a language they understand.
Professional lawyers know the different actions to be taken when it comes to collecting and preserving evidence. They can easily work with professionals from various fields, including forensics and accident reconstruction professionals to ideally reconstruct the crash especially in cases where visual evidence is little. This enables them to build a stronger case on your behalf.
Most car accident cases will involve lots of paperwork. Your attorney will make sure that all of the right procedures are followed to the letter, so as to avoid missing any deadlines or overlooking any kind of paperwork.
With a reputable lawyer by your side, you will be able to demonstrate how the liable party caused the accident and the resulting injuries and property damage. This is critical considering that NC is a contributory negligence state.
UNDERSTANDING OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
In cases where the accident was caused by an underinsured or uninsured driver, it calls for the victim to recover damages from their own insurance policies under the UIM (underinsured motorist) or UM (uninsured motorist) coverages.
HANDLING INSURANCE COMPANIES
As already mentioned, insurance companies are known to use unscrupulous means to compel victims to settle for low-ball offers. We know these tactics, and our lawyers won’t be affected by them. Plus, your lawyer can effectively tell when a company is acting in good faith or when they’re just looking to take advantage of the situation.
HANDLING THE INTRICACIES OF THE CASE
Strategies like pre-litigation settlements and mediation can effectively get you favorable results without having to go through the NC court trials, which can be lengthy and cumbersome. Your lawyer can also provide you with expert guidance on the right settlement amount. Car accident lawyers at Harman Law have extensive legal experience with pre-litigation and mediation settlement. We actually have a litigation team in place that is more than ready to go to trial when it’s the right course of action for your case.
HOW MUCH CAN I EXPECT TO RECEIVE FOR MY DAMAGES?
In case you or a loved one suffered an injury in an auto accident, the medical bills can skyrocket easily. However, since another entity is deemed responsible for the accident, it’s their insurance company that should pay for your damages. However, aside from medical bills and lost wages, it’s quite difficult to determine the value of non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. Our team of lawyers will help you determine the true value of your damages in full. They will also provide you with details about what determines the total value of your case.
WHAT TYPE OF DAMAGES CAN I RECOVER?
After a car accident you can pursue damages for:
Economic damages are a key aspect of car accident cases in NC. They include all of the out-of-pocket expenses that you’ve had to incur following the accident. Economic damages include things like emergency room bills, hospital stays, treatment and medication, rehabilitation, and other medical bills. Lost wages from time spent away from work and property damage caused by the accident are also calculated under economic damages.
Non-economic damages are also a key element in NC car accident cases. They include any form of compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life from the temporary or permanent disability or disfigurement suffered. The emotional trauma caused by disfigurement or disability that resulted from the accident is also calculated under the non-economic damages. Keep in mind that NC laws set no caps on the amount of damages you can be awarded under non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are a form of monetary compensation to the victim meant to punish the defendant more for any seriously wrongful or intentional acts of negligence and to serve as a deterrence for the defendant and the public from engaging in similar actions. The main role of these damages is to serve as extra punishment, meaning they won’t always be awarded.
HOW IS FAULT DETERMINED IN AN NC AUTO ACCIDENT?
NC is a pure contributory negligence state, meaning that any driver who is at fault for causing the accident is automatically barred from receiving compensation. This law makes it really difficult for people who are partially at fault for the accident to get compensated for their damages. Consider the following scenarios to see how unfair it can be: Lucy is driving on a straight road at about 9 mph over the speed limit. The driver in front of her turns left without warning and causes a collision. Bear in mind that Lucy clearly had a right of way. The court finds her 10% at fault for the accident because of speeding, making her ineligible for compensation. An intoxicated driver is driving at 80 mph and runs a red light. John is driving at the speed limit, but drives through a yellow light while he tunes the radio station. The intoxicated driver hits him, but the court finds him 5% responsible for the accident, making him eligible for $0 in compensation. Such situations can be very unfair and painful for the victims. However, they are quite common under the strict laws of North Carolina. It’s therefore important to work with an attorney who has successfully handled such claims in the state, considering that insurance companies won’t hesitate to use any means to show you were at fault.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM IN HUNTERSVILLE, NC?
The statute of limitations is 3 years from the time of the accident in North Carolina. Also, note that you need to report the accident to your insurance provider as soon as possible from the time of the accident. This statute of limitations also doesn’t apply to accidents involving the government or a public agency. The time window allowed for these kinds of cases is much shorter.
WHAT CAN I DO IF INSURANCE DENIED MY CLAIM?
Just because an insurance provider denies your claim doesn’t mean that they’re right. We have handled such cases many times before, and have successfully won millions of dollars in compensation for victims whose claims were denied. Much of our successful cases are actually from clients whose claims were turned down by insurance companies, or dropped by other law firms once their claim was denied. If your claim is denied, get in touch with us. We’ll examine the available evidence, and if we believe you still have a case, we’ll do everything we can to pursue the compensation you need and deserve. So, don’t get discouraged to move your case forward just because your claim was denied.
WHAT IF THE DRIVER WHO HIT ME DOESN’T HAVE INSURANCE?
North Carolina laws require all drivers to carry UM insurance. This is supposed to protect a victim in situations where the driver at fault doesn’t carry insurance. UIM and UM coverage provides compensation for such cases, or where the liable driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cater to all the damages. UIM is specifically meant to address gaps in insurance coverage. The value of your damages might exceed that of the policy undertaken by the driver. With UIM, you can turn to your insurance company for compensation. In case they seem reluctant to process your request, our lawyers have the experience to keep the process going.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED HUNTERSVILLE CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER
You have the right to pursue compensation if you or a loved one have been hurt in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence. Our car accident lawyers at Harman Law will carefully review the details around your claim and advise you on your best course of action. If you have any questions regarding the claims process you are here to help. Schedule a free case review with an attorney at our Huntersville injury firm today. Remember, we operate on a contingency fee basis so you owe us nothing until your claim is won.