After serious car accidents, the most important thing is to make sure you seek prompt medical treatment. Once you have had that treatment, you should consider speaking with a North Carolina personal injury attorney. At Maginnis Howard, we offer detailed, free consultations to folks injured in automobile collisions where we discuss the following three major aspects of any car accident case.
The first question in every car accident case is whether the other driver is liable. This means asking whether he or she violated a safety statute or otherwise acted unsafely. In most cases, such as rear-end crashes, liability is clear. In others, the determination may require retaining expert witnesses such as accident reconstruction engineers and human factors professionals.
In some cases, there is the additional hurdle of North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule. This rule provides that if the injured party negligently contributed to his or her own injuries in any way, he or she is not entitled to a recovery. While there are exceptions, it is a harsh rule. Insurers often rely on it, even when you have not done anything wrong. Our attorneys discuss both negligence and contributory negligence at every initial meeting.
Probably the most important aspect in the majority of cases involving car accidents is evaluating the damages. This means looking at all the ways you have been harmed as a result of the crash. In general, the “elements” of damages that might be recoverable in most North Carolina car accident cases include compensation for (1) past and future medical and pharmaceutical costs, (2) past and future lost wages, (3) past and future physical pain and mental suffering, (4) permanent injury and disability, and (5) permanent scarring. “Punitive damages” may also be available in cases involving egregious conduct, such as drunk driving. These are damages given solely to punish the reckless driver.
There are 4 types of personal injury insurance coverage on most North Carolina automobile insurance policies. The first is no-fault medical payments coverage. Whether or not you were at-fault for the accident, this type of insurance coverage will assist with paying medical bills resulting from the crash. Each policy also has automobile liability coverage. This coverage pays an injured third-party if the insured negligently causes a crash. So, in most circumstances where you have been injured by a negligent driver, you will be pursuing a claim against his or her liability coverage.
Each standard North Carolina policy also has underinsured (UM) and uninsured (UIM) motorist coverage. If you are struck by a hit-and-run driver, or a driver who does not have automobile insurance coverage, your UM coverage will provide relief. You can pursue personal injury damages for car accidents directly from your own automobile insurer. The UIM coverage acts as a supplement when the other party has not purchased enough liability coverage to fully compensate you for your damages.
Maginnis Howard offers a contingency fee arrangement to all personal injury clients. This means that you do not pay any attorneys’ fees unless we recover a settlement or verdict for you. For details on scheduling a consultation, visit our contact page.