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Demystifying The North Carolina Personal Injury Process

Demystifying The North Carolina Personal Injury ProcessMisconceptions About The North Carolina Personal Injury Process

When people in North Carolina are injured and considering filing a personal injury claim, they often grapple with various questions and misconceptions. One of the most prevalent misunderstandings I’ve encountered over my years in personal injury law is the assumption that receiving payment is automatic, as though they are entitled to it. People also tend to think that they’ll get as much money as they want.

Most people are completely unaware of the factors that go into determining the value of a claim and whether it will be accepted or not. This process differs from state to state, and in North Carolina, due to certain antiquated laws, winning a case can be quite challenging.

In addition to believing that payment is automatic, many have misconceptions about the timeline of their personal injury case, with most underestimating how long it will take. They assume it occurs much faster than is actually so.

Engaging With The Other Party At The Scene

Immediately after an accident, I advise you to exercise the utmost caution when interacting with the other party. Limit your discussion and communicate primarily, if not exclusively, with the police officer on the scene, if at all possible. There are some important reasons for this:

  • Injuries & State of Mind: The other person may be injured or in a state of distress, making it difficult to engage in a coherent conversation.
  • Emotions & Liability: Emotions can run high after an accident, and the other party may be reluctant to talk, be mad, or claim to be innocent even if they were at fault. They may want to protect their own interests, which can complicate the situation.

Therefore, it’s generally best to let the police officer handle the initial exchange of information. This ensures that all necessary details are accurately recorded and can help prevent unnecessary misunderstandings or disputes at the scene.

The Statute Of Limitations

In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is three years. What this means is that you must either settle your claim or file a lawsuit within this three-year period. There’s no strict deadline or specific time frame within which you must initiate the claim, so long as your claim is resolved within three years of the date of the incident. That said, I strongly recommend taking action as soon as possible, filing your claim on the day of the incident, the following day, or within 48 hours at most.

Starting The Personal Injury Claim Process

When you find yourself in the aftermath of an injury, the first thing you need to begin the personal injury claim process is to reach out to the insurance company. This is where your attorney would step in to assist, assuming you partner with one, as they have experience with these matters. They will easily be able to secure a claim number and get the entire process underway. While you can on your own, it will be significantly more difficult.

When serving a client, there are a few crucial pieces of information and evidence I need at this point in the process. The police report of the incident is the first thing I look for because it serves as the official account of the incident, complete with a diagram illustrating what occurred, a listing of the involved parties, and other essential details about the event.

Besides the police report, I also need a statement from my client describing what happened from their perspective. I additionally need comprehensive medical documentation that outlines all injuries my client has suffered. Whether they sought treatment at a hospital, a primary care physician, an orthopedic specialist, or a chiropractor, these medical records help to build a robust case for my client.

Fault In North Carolina Injury Claims

Understanding the consequences of your own fault in North Carolina is crucial. This is because the state follows a unique legal principle called contributory negligence. Most states adopt comparative negligence. There are profound differences between the two that have massive implications on how damages are awarded.

In North Carolina, even if the injured party is found to be just 1% responsible for the accident, it can potentially bar them from recovering damages. Compare this to comparative negligence, which allows for some degree of recovery even if the injured party shares some blame, and you can see how big of a deal this is. As such, it’s critically important to establish that the injured party had no responsibility for the accident.

The Types Of Personal Injury Claims

When it comes to personal injury claims, there are several different types of claims you can make, including:

  • Bodily Injury: These encompass a wide range of physical injuries suffered by an individual to any part of their body. They can also cover cases of emotional distress resulting from the incident.
  • Economic Damages: This type of claim is primarily focused on financial loss. It can include compensation for lost wages for instances where the injured party has suffered financial setbacks due to their inability to work. Economic damages can also account for a reduced earning capacity. This occurs when the injury has diminished the person’s ability to earn a living and generate income. This might be due to a reduction in the number of hours they can work, or mental or physical limitations that require them to change the type of work they do or otherwise impact their work capacity.
  • Property Damage: This covers damage to property, which can include the vehicle involved in the accident and any property inside it. Individuals involved in accidents can seek compensation for the repair or replacement of these damaged assets.
  • Loss of Consortium: Loss of consortium addresses the loss of enjoyment in a marital relationship. This loss can encompass companionship, shared activities such as dining or watching movies, and even the physical aspects of a relationship that might be affected due to the injuries sustained.

Paying For Medical Bills

One concern many injured people have is how to manage their medical bills while they await the resolution of their personal injury case. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to know that there is no immediate source to cover these expenses in North Carolina – health insurance included. Typically, you have to wait until the personal injury claim is settled.

In a third-party claim, the process differs from traditional health insurance. The responsible insurance company usually settles all medical bills in a lump sum. They won’t pay bills as you receive them or present them individually, as is often the case with health insurance.

For more information on Misconceptions About The NC Personal Injury Process, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (704) 324-8500 today.

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