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What to do if You’re in an Auto Accident

What to do if You’re in an Auto Accident

What do I say to the other driver after an accident?

Right after an accident, there usually is some interaction with the other driver.  Stay calm in this situation!  Yes, they might have swerved over and hit you, but you don’t want anyone from the other car to tell the reporting police officer anything negative you said or put a dark cloud over you.  If you offend or upset the police officer, this could have an impact on the way he writes a report.

So while staying calm, make sure the other driver is okay, get their information, take pictures from the scene, DO NOT ADMIT FAULT, and make sure you’re specific to the police officer when telling him or her what happened.

How does the police report work?

The police report is the first piece of information an attorney will look at after your accident.  They are two pages and within North Carolina are all the same.  Although you might see it different then the police officer, a police officers description of an event has a greater amount of credibility then your representation.

The police report itself consists of numbers on the side of the report which tell a story.  The police narrative in the box of what happened is important, but so is all the numbering on the side.  Again, when the police officer is making the report, NEVER EVER ADMIT FAULT.  You also want to try to have that officer write what happen in your favor as much as possible.

If it was my fault, can I still sue the other driver?

North Carolina is a contributory negligent state.  We are one of two states who have adopted and follow this doctrine.  Contributory negligence means, if you have contributed to an accident, you are not allowed to recover from the other driver.  Seems unfair right?

So, if I am 99% at fault in a car accident and you are 1% at fault, you are not going to collect a dime.  Now, with that being said, there are ways around this, which is why hiring an attorney is important.  However, this doctrine is extremely difficult to overcome.   Again, this is why we NEVER ADMIT FAULT.

How long do I have to file a claim after a car accident?

The statute of limitations for filling a personal injury car accident lawsuit is three years from the date of the crash.  However, it is best  and to call an attorney to get started right away.  This three year deadline is not the same as reporting an accident to your insurance company as that should be done as soon as possible. A wrongful death claim, where you are brining suit on behalf of someone who has died in a car accident, must be brought in two years

Do I get pain and suffering after an auto collision?

Today, the General Statutes of North Carolina, do not have a guideline on how to calculate pain and suffering.  Sometimes you can get pain and suffering and sometime an insurance company will offer it to you.  Sometimes they do not offer it to you and you still may be able to get it. Having an attorney determine what that amount will be is something in your best interest.

What do I say to the adjuster after an accident?

Give the adjuster the basic information of what happened.  When, where, and who was involved.  DO NOT give a recorded statement.  DO NOT admit fault.  Do not say too much as your phone-line is likely recorded.

An important point to know is an adjuster might seem friendly, but they are not on your team and they are actually highly skilled in leading you into making statements which can hurt you in the long run.  So keep it short, sweet, and simple.  If you don’t know what to say, refer them to our offices and we will speak on your behalf

What information do I need to give an attorney after an accident?

Everything!  The pictures you took from the scene, the police report, any medical bills you might already have, what witnesses you saw and what they may have said, and anything you think would be helpful.

It is a great idea to write everything down right after the accident so you can remember correctly.  It is also good idea find someone nearby who witnessed the events and get their contact information.

How long does it take to settle my claim after a car accident?

Like most questions in the law, it depends.  The time it takes you to finish your medical treatment is where a lawyer should start putting the numbers together.

There is no reason to rush and you want to get treated correctly and get back what you deserve.  The time frame can be from several weeks to several years depending on the facts of your current case.

Will my car accident got to trial?

The lawyer puts you in a position to win and the client gets to make the ultimate decision.  Thus, if you want to go to trial, you can.  If you want to settle, you can.  Whether or not you go to trial, generally depends on whether there is a fair settlement offer.

If I owe you $1,000,000 dollars, and I only offer you $100,000, you would probably want to go to trial because that is not a fair offer.  This question will depend on your best interest and the settlement offer.

How much does it cost to hire an attorney for a car accident case?

Attorneys usually work in three ways:  Flat fee, hourly, or contingency.  Car accidents are usually taken on a contingency basis.  That means, you don’t owe any money up front, and you only pay the other attorney if you win.  You will find contingency basis work in NC on a 33% basis most of the time, but can range between 25% – 40% depending on your specific case.  Thus, if you win your case of $10,000, the attorney will take $3,300 and recoup the expenses for the particular case.

Should I accept an offer from the other insurance company?

The short answer is probably not.  This is prime negotiation material for an attorney.  They will know what your case is truly worth.  Remember, the insurance company wants to pay as little as possible.  The offer that you likely got was a small amount compared to what you can likely get.

What if I am getting phone calls about medical bills if someone else caused the accident?

Give the medical bill associate the information to your attorney.  Do not feel pressured to pay medical bills while you’re trying to recover.  Let a skilled negotiator and attorney speak with health care providers and insurance companies for you.

What is underinsured motorist coverage?

Underinsured motorist (UIM) is a liability coverage you maintain in case someone driving hits you and does not have enough insurance to pay for your damages.  Then your underinsured motorist coverage will kick in.

Be very careful because the insurance company may be reluctant to pay this out.  Especially speak to an attorney about this coverage because it is different than a normal car accident.

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, is required in the State of North Carolina.  If you get hit by a car with no insurance, this coverage will kick in for you.

How much liability insurance should I carry on my automobile policy?

There are certain requirements in NC, but you need to carry as much as you stand to lose.  If you have $100,000/$300,000 coverage, the insurance company will pay out at most $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.  If you are liable to a party for more than $300,000, you will be liable out of pocket for those expenses.  If you have an extra $1,000,000 in the bank, you want to protect those assets.  The more assets and cash you have, the more coverage you should have.

Do I need to raise my liability insurance for a teen driver?

Not necessarily.  You do want to make sure you have enough coverage to protect you and your assets in the worst case scenario.  But it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to higher your coverage if you already have adequate protection.

Having another driver on your plan, whether younger or older, will expose you to more risk because there is more driving being done on your policy.  As an attorney with former auto insurance employment experience, feel free to call our offices and speak to an attorney about your situation.

Does an accident affect my insurance premium?

This answer depends.  If you have a clean record and good credit, you’re less likely to see a spike in insurance.   However, more times than not, an insurance company will find a justification for raising your rate in this situation.

Do I have to use the insurance companies repair shop?

The insurance company will usually recommend a repair shop, but feel free to choose your own based on your decision.  The insurance company cannot require you to use after-market parts, unless it is equal to the original part in terms of fit, quality, performance, and warranty

What is the Negligent Entrustment theory?.

Courts in North Carolina use the negligent entrustment theory.  This is how it has been stated:

Under the negligent entrustment theory the owner is held liable, not for any imputed negligence, but by reason of his own independent and wrongful breach of duty in entrusting his automobile to one he knows or should know is likely to cause injury; proof of negligence of the driver merely furnishes the causal connection between the primary negligence of the owner and the injury or damage.

Therefore, you need to be careful when lending your car to someone!  If you know or should have known that they were likely to cause an injury and you let them borrow your car, you can be liable.

What is the Family Purpose Doctrine?

The family purpose doctrine means that if you have a family car, and you are the owner of the vehicle, if you let that family member or household member use that car and you know they are inexperienced, particularly dangerous, or likely to cause damage, you can be liable for that third parties damages.

Contributed by:

Timothy Pavone – Attorney
The Law Offices of Attorney Timothy J. Pavone
(980) 613-4849
TJP@charlottelawoffices.com
www.CharlotteLawOffices.com

More info at: https://theareaguidecharlotte.com/listing/the-law-offices-of-attorney-timothy-j-pavone-pllc/

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