People suing other people…especially for car accident injuries
Welcome to the world of personal injury: the world of people suing other people. We’re talking dog bites, slips and falls, medical negligence, product liability, and of course – the most common here in the U.S. – car accidents. It’s this last type that usually relies on the insurance money available in both parties’ pockets. As you can imagine, personal injury cases are among the most complex stories following road-related interactions; their ramifications can vary immensely, from quick settlements to life-altering damage. So…what do you need to know?
In the state of North Carolina, you are legally required to have liability insurance associated with your vehicle that will be there for you, should you assume fault of another person’s injuries or property damages on the road. We all know that with bouts of negligent driving come hikes in insurance premiums; ever stop to think about why? The more you pay per month to remain behind the wheel, the more money will be available to cover your ass in an accident situation.
Minimum coverage limits
To make this easier on you, there are minimum coverage limits in place and they are as follows:
- $30,000 for bodily injury (per person, per accident)
- $60,000 for bodily injury (total, per accident)
- $25,000 for property damage (per accident)
That isn’t to say there’s an unlimited amount of damage coverage a company will provide – they have interests too! In the case of an extreme accident, one insurance body will pay no more than:
- $100,000 for bodily injury (per person, per accident)
- $300,000 for bodily injury (total, per accident)
- $50,000 for property damage (per accident)
- $2,000 for medical payments
These amounts are to be available and provided by your insurance company. It is essentially the company’s job to pay out the injured party’s claim so that no one ends up in court, and that those harmed will sign a release that forgives the injury. The insurance company is “buying the peace”, assuring that the stack of cash that is your insurance coverage is handled accordingly as determined by a personal injury lawyer. More often than not, it is in the company’s best interest to comply with some amount of coverage; they know that if they offer nothing, they could easily be taken to court by the plaintiff’s attorney.
How much money can I get from the other guy?
If you are the plaintiff in an accident, you’re going to want to keep a list of all the financial burdens with which you were subsequently strapped. It’s the most common question asked of personal injury lawyers following a crash: How much money can I get from the other guy? Don’t assume anything is too far-fetched! If you’re facing out-of-pocket expenses caused by another person’s negligence, it’s crucial that you keep a record of it.
The most typical examples of damages worthy of coverage include:
- Property damage. Keep in mind that this encompasses everything owned by you that was harmed in the accident, from the car itself to your iPod to a piece of furniture you were moving. Additionally, North Carolina’s “75% rule” dictates that if it would cost 75% or more of the vehicle’s pre-crash value to fix it, the other person’s insurance company must offer the full value of that car in good condition.
- The costs you accrue while your car is out of commission, like compensation for a reasonably-priced rental car.
- Both past and future medical costs: everything from ER visits to prescription medication to ongoing physical therapy.
- Pain and suffering: something that is not easily measured, but can be more readily translated by an experienced lawyer if you keep a detailed journal of all the ways in which your life was affected by the accident.
- Permanency: a negative and enduring state of living that involves a physical part of you that was irreversibly damaged. This damage is determined as a percentage by a doctor, which can translate to an amount of money per day that you hope to be awarded.
- Punitive damages: additional money awarded when you’re able to prove the other driver was engaging in grossly negligent conduct, such as racing, driving under the influence or purposely attempting to harm others with his or her vehicle.
- Loss of wages: speaks for itself. Be aware that while it isn’t required in the state of N.C., it is helpful to have a doctor’s note explicitly advising you not to work given your condition.
Keep detailed records from the moment the accident occurs
Hopefully, you aren’t on the inflicting end of an accident resulting in injury – but sometimes placing the blame isn’t so clear-cut. For instance, you may have swerved to avoid hitting a car that was parked illegally and in doing so hit someone else and injured them significantly. It’s important to keep a detailed record from the moment the accident occurs establishing a timeline of events that can be referenced when talking with your insurance company and possibly an attorney. Items of this record should include (but are not limited to):
- All basic information about all drivers involved in the accident: their full names, insurers, license plate numbers, and details about their vehicles;
- The accounts of any outside witnesses;
- Proof of police presence: the involved officers’ full names and badge numbers, and a copy of the report if immediately available;
- Miscellaneous details surrounding the event: weather, time of day, traffic conditions, etc.;
- If possible, photos of the scene – or at the very least, a sketch of the positioning of the vehicles involved.
Unless it’s just a fender-bender in which no one was hurt, it’s a good idea to seek legal aid. Once substantial damage has occurred to your person and your vehicle, it is an attorney’s job to assess all the costs involved and argue with the insurance company over how much it is worth on their end. Ordinarily there is no litigation involved; insurance is a huge fund and is meant to be used. Keep in mind that honesty is always the best policy! If you hide things from your insurance company that are later uncovered, you’re far less likely to receive adequate coverage.
What a lawyer typically charges to represent you in a personal injury case
In general, an attorney will charge a fee for crunching these numbers, and your average counsel isn’t cheap: realistically speaking, it will be in the ballpark of 33% of the awarded claim. If the insurance company ends up providing $3,000 in coverage, about $1,000 will go to the law firm. (It’s worth noting that a case uploaded to BernieSez will very likely provide you a rate much better than this!) While it’s obviously important to get reliable support from someone who is licensed to provide it, the savvy driver knows that the legal work involved is truly not terribly time-consuming.
Prefer professional help?
If you’re looking for a lawyer to help you, simply upload your personal injury case details onto our site, include the respective details, and our attorneys will contact you regarding their contingent fees. Choose the one that best meets your budget. The service is free to use, and available throughout the country.