- February 17, 2016
- Personal Injury Law
5 Things to Know Before Filing a Negligence Claim
Asheville car accident victims frequently contact me asking, “Do I have a car accident claim?” People are often surprised to learn that just because they were involved in a crash does not mean they have a claim for damages. Here is a checklist of requirements you must satisfy to have a personal injury case.
You Must Have Suffered Damages
Keep track of any medical or other bills you incur because of your car accident.
Whether it’s physical or mental injuries or property damage, you must be able to prove that your accident damaged you in some way. Out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills, psychiatric treatment bills, car repair bills, lost wages and other documents are the only way of demonstrating that you really were affected by your accident. Without them, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to collect money.
Your Damages Must Have Been Someone Else’s Fault
Some people believe that another driver is automatically at fault for accidents that occur under some circumstances, like if they rear-end you. However, this is not always true: for instance, the other driver may not be at fault if they rear-ended you after you failed to signal a lane change.
One thing to be aware of is North Carolina’s contributory negligence law. This is a strict law that states that if a person contributes at all to their accident, they cannot collect any damages from the other driver’s insurance company. For example, if you were driving legally through an intersection and another driver hit you, you may attempt to seek compensation for your damages. However, if you were texting and driving, the insurance company will allege contributory negligence and that you could have avoided the accident if you’d been paying attention. They will use this defense as a justification for denying your personal injury claim.
You Must be Able to Prove the Other Driver’s Fault
Always allow EMS to evaluate you after an accident.
To prove negligence, you must be able to prove that someone else – the other driver, in your case – owed you a duty of care that they failed to fulfill. This is sometimes cut-and-dry in car accident cases. One example may be that another driver crossed over the center lines on a two-lane road and hit your car head-on.
However, fault is not obvious in many cases. One of the most common accident claims arises at four-way intersections where no witnesses can attest who had the right of way, who stopped, or who rolled through. If you can’t prove that the driver who hit you was at fault, your best bet may be to seek compensation from your own insurance company.
Your Injuries Must be Related to Your Accident
In order to claim damages in a personal injury case, you must prove that the accident caused your injuries. It may be difficult to prove some claims, such as those involving worsening of an old injury or mental suffering resulting from the accident.
People who do not seek medical attention after their car accident often experience difficulty proving their injuries are related to their accidents. For this reason, seeking treatment after a crash is vital to your claim.
When It’s Not Worth Suing in a Personal Injury Case
It may be wise to accept a settlement for accidents resulting in minor damage.
Remember that just because you have a personal injury case, it isn’t always cost-effective to sue. This is particularly true if the insurance company is offering a settlement that will cover all or most of your expenses resulting from a simple accident. If your bills only total about $3,000, it may not be worth it to spend months litigating it – especially if you’ll have to use much of it to pay legal fees.
Contact an Asheville Car Accident Attorney With Questions
Unfortunately, car accident cases are not often black-and-white. If you are at all uncertain about whether you should seek compensation for your car accident injuries, you may benefit from speaking to a personal injury attorney. Attorneys see a variety of cases during their careers, and their experience gives them a sense of when it is prudent to file suit and when it is not.
Most personal injury attorneys provide free initial consultations to potential clients. At this meeting, the attorney may be able to help you determine whether your case is viable. If you have questions about your case, call our Asheville car accident lawyers for answers and advice.
Related Posts From Our Car Accident Blog:
- Why Do Car Accident Claims Fail to Settle?
- How NOT to Handle Your Car Accident Claim
- Investigate a Car Accident Using Your Smartphone
- Who is Responsible for Paying My Medical Bills After a Crash?
- Can I Get a Settlement in My Concussion Case?
Attorney Lakota R. Denton is a Personal Injury Lawyer in Asheville, NC who proudly to assists clients that have been injured through no fault of their own, or due to someone else’s negligence. A graduate of the New England College of Law and a former partner at Minick Law in Asheville, Lakota is a recipient of the 2014 “top 40 under 40” award from the National Association of Trial Lawyers and is a member of North Carolina Advocates for Justice. Lakota and his staff are committed to helping injured persons to get the compensation they deserve. For more information, contact our office.