With the increasing numbers of motorists, many of whom are constantly on their phones while driving, the number of auto accidents is on the rise on NC
streets and highways. The age of smartphones has brought with it an increase in the number of auto accidents and fatal motor vehicle crashes due to distracted drivers.
Whenever auto accidents occur, victims may incur material losses and suffer bodily injuries. In such instances, accident victims need to decide quickly whether they need the help of an automobile accident attorney in recovering damages.
You can represent yourself in an automobile accident claim; however, it is usually not a good idea. It is important to keep in mind that insurance companies will have loss adjusters, lawyers, and an experienced legal team working on their behalf to minimize their financial payout. For a level playing field in settling your claim in your favor, it is strongly recommended that you hire an experienced automobile accident lawyer to represent you in your claim.
Before hiring an auto attorney, you need to make some important considerations. Below are 7 factors you should consider when hiring an automobile accident attorney in North Carolina to represent you with your claim:
1. Potential Compensation for Damages
An automobile accident may be caused entirely as a result of either the negligence or incompetence of the other party. As the plaintiff, you might go on to win your claim for compensation/damages without it being contested or otherwise argued against you. However, uncontested claims are not generally the norm and given that NC is a ‘contributory negligence’ state, it is essential that you hire a lawyer who is well versed on North Carolina personal injury law and how insurance adjusters attempt to underestimate your claim value.
A competent car crash lawyer will ensure that you have the greatest chance of receiving a financial award and for full value.
2. NC Auto Accident Statute Of Limitations
The “statute of limitations” is a state law that defines the time limits for when a claim can be filed against the defendant in a court of law. These deadlines may vary given the kind of harm suffered or the kind of claim you wish to file.
An injury lawyer working on your case will know the boundaries of the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits and making claims against insurance companies. For example, the State statute of limitations may not apply when notifying insurance companies about your loss; they have their own requirements and time limits and it’s always much shorter than that required by the Courts. Your insurance company expects you to make a claim promptly or within a reasonable duration after the accident, and the specifics will be detailed in your policy.
3. Tort Laws
NC is one of 28 States that has adopted the system of tort liability when it comes to auto accident laws. States have adopted this system to allow accident victims to file lawsuits against defendants, who injure them in car wrecks, for compensation which includes payment for pain and suffering, permanent injury, lost wages, and medical bills.
4. Role of Negligence
The lawyer representing you should thoroughly understand the role of contributory negligence when filing your claim, bearing in mind that only 4 states including NC have adopted contributory negligence law.
For a successful damages claim in a case pursued through the civil court system, your car accident lawyer must be able to prove that the other driver was fully at fault for the accident. Where the defendant’s lawyers can demonstrate and attribute even partial fault to the plaintiff in an accident case, the plaintiff may be unable to recover any damages for his/her injuries and losses.
5. Government Defendants
In a case involving an auto accident where the defendant is actively employed by the government at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may be significantly shortened. Your attorney should take into account cases where the defendant is a state, municipal or federal employee since there exist shorter deadlines for providing notice related to your claim. In some instances, deadlines can be as short as six months.
6. Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorists
NC requires that drivers carry a minimum car insurance policy on their vehicles. This way, individual liability coverage can pay for property damage and bodily injury, up to certain limits. Your attorney should be aware of the minimum coverage requirements in NC and also know how to manage your claim in cases where you are dealing with a defendant who is an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
7. Legal Fees
Many auto, motorcycle and truck accident attorneys base their fees on receiving a percentage of the gross recovery of your claim. A percentage of any awarded damages is received by the attorney, which often does not cover their ‘out of pocket’ expenses incurred along the way. Some attorneys may have a flat fee or an hourly fee, and you may be liable for paying your attorney even if he or she fails to earn you a financial settlement.
So you need to be aware of your attorney’s fee structure from the outset as it can significantly impact the outcome of the case, particularly if you’re not operating on a ‘only pay if we win’ basis.
If you need help with your case or claim, contact our office today and speak with an experienced car accident lawyer ASAP.