North Carolina Legal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When you or a loved one is injured in an accident, no one hands you a pamphlet containing all of the information you need to understand your case. In this section we strive to answer the basic questions that everyone has in the time following a car accident, on-the-job injury, medical malpractice, abuse, or other accident.
If you don't find the answers to all of your North Carolina injury questions here, we encourage you to contact our Raleigh injury lawyers for answers to questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
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Should I Speak to the Truck's Insurer if They Contact Me?
No, the only person you should speak with about the accident is the police officer who will ask you questions at the scene of the collision. Answer every question, and do not offer additional information. Do not try to settle your case by accepting the first settlement amount the insurer offers you, instead, speak with an attorney to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
If you think you have a case, or you have any questions, feel free to call Brent Adams and Associates at 877-273-6823 to schedule a free consultation.
Who is Liable if a Bicyclist and Car Collide?
Bicycles are recognized as "vehicles" in every state, according to the state's traffic or vehicle code. This means bicyclists are required to follow the same rules as all other automobiles on the road. So, if there is a collision between a car and bicyclist, that means the fault is assigned by "the general principals of negligence."
For example, if a cyclist fails to stop at a stop sign, and is struck by a car, he will be determined as negligent. Therefore, he cannot receive compensation for his losses.
What is the Most Common Cause of Trucking Accidents?
There are several outside reasons that could cause a trucking accident. The same circumstances could also be applied to regular car accidents. However, truck drivers are put under a large amount of stress because of late driving hours and harsh labor treatment. Large 18-wheelers are also difficult to maneuver and sometimes have faulty features. Driver fatigue, driver distraction, poor driving conditions, and brake failure can be a number of reasons for a trucking accident.
If you are driving near an 18-wheeler it is important to remember to:
- stay far enough behind an 18-wheeler so that you can see upcoming traffic lights,
- not get directly behind an 18-wheeler that is backing up, and
- slow down when they pass you.
Who Do I Sue if I am Victim in a Trucking Accident?
Understanding who is liable for a trucking accident can be confusing because there are several people who could be held liable. Here is a list of people that could be at fault in a trucking incident:
- the driver of the truck/trailer
- the owner of the truck/trailer
- the company that leased the truck/trailer
- the manufacturer, and
- the freight loader
According to Nolo.com, the trucking, hauling, and leasing companies argue over who is to blame when it comes time to pay the victim. The best way to receive the compensation you are entitled is to contact an attorney. If you would like to speak with Raleigh-based, trial lawyer, Brent Adams and his team of professionals, call 877-273-6823.
Can a Motorcyclist Without a Helmet Seek an Award from the Other Driver?
In North Carolina, you are not entitled to any compensation if you were not wearing a helmet while involved in a motorcyclist collision. N.C. law requires you to be wearing a helmet when opporating a motorcycle on the road. So, if you are involved in a collision, and you are not wearing a helmet, you are not entitled to receive benefits because you were breaking the law.
Am I Liable is Someone Rear-Ends Me?
Regardless as to the reason you stopped your car, the car behind you will be at fault for the collision. The rule of the road says a car must be a safe distance behind you at all times so that if you stop, they will not hit you. If they hit you, this means they were not a safe distance behind you, leaving them at fault for the collision. The only time the car directly behind you would not be at fault for the collision is if their car is pushed into your car due to the negligence of of a third car.
What Will a Police Officer Do at the Scene of a Collision?
The police officer's purpose is to record the facts of the automobile accident and assign blame. While at the scene, a police officer will record any evidence, give both parties an exchange of information paper, and sometimes issue a citation.
Another driver hit me. What should I do after a car accident?
In 2014, there were 226,586 motor vehicle collisions in North Carolina. Several people are involved in car accidents every day throughout the state. But what should you do after an automobile accident? Here is short checklist to follow after you have hit or been hit by another person in a motor vehicle. Keep in mind, this list is not in order of priority. Always consider your unique circumstances and focus on keeping yourself and loved ones safe:
- Call the police. You should call the police soon after the accident. If you are not physically capable of calling the police, ask someone to call them for you. Learn more about reporting a car accident in North Carolina.
- Stay calm. If you believe you have experienced a serious injury, stay in the vehicle. Do not accuse anyone and do not blame yourself for the accident. Anything you say can be used against you in court.
- Call a friend or family member. You will be distracted by the stress of the situation. Having a friend or family member on the scene may be able to help you take certain precautions you did not think about.
- Make sure you receive detailed information. You need to know the driver’s name, address, phone number, license plate number, the make and model of the car, the driver’s license number, the car owner’s name, and the insurance company. This information must be obtained from every car involved in the wreck. You should also note any names and phone numbers of witnesses.
- Do not discuss the details of the collision with other people. The police are the only people you should talk to about your automobile accident. That includes your insurance adjuster. Only talk to your insurance adjuster about your vehicle. Do not give them any information regarding the accident or your injuries. If you tell someone you are injured or not injured, the insurance company will use this against you in court. If someone asks you if you are injured, let them know you cannot tell at this time.
- Take photographs of the scene. Most people can use their phone to take pictures now, but if you do not have one, see if any witnesses or other people involved can take pictures of the accident. Take pictures of any traffic control devices or signs. Photograph skid marks and any objects that were hit by the vehicle. Accident evidence might not be limited to photos. Look around to see if traffic video cameras are present.
- See a doctor. After an accident, visit a doctor immediately. If you do not, the insurance company will argue that your injuries must not be too serious; otherwise, you would have seen a doctor right away.
- Report the accident to the other driver’s insurance company. The other driver may not report the accident to his or her insurance company. You need to alert the other driver’s insurance company immediately. That way they will be able to examine the facts of the collision.
- Review your own insurance policies. You may be able to recover benefits from your own insurance. Even though you are making a claim against the other driver's liability insurance policy, there may be benefits you can collect from your own policy. These benefits could be from your Med-Pay insurance coverage. Med-Pay will pay you, up to the limit of your policy, to cover your medical expenses.
- Give your contact information to the other driver(s) involved in the accident. You will need to give the other driver(s) your name, address, phone number, and the name of your insurance policy. But be careful not to make any comments on how the wreck occurred or whether or not you are at fault.
- Secure your motor vehicle. If you go to the Emergency Room in an ambulance, make sure the contents in your car are safe. You will have to remove all valuables from your vehicle and the vehicle will need to be removed from the road. Of course, you will not be able to do this yourself, so make sure a friend of family member can do this for you. Most of the time, law enforcement will do this for you after investigating the collision.
What is the North Carolina Child Protective Seats Court Diversion Program?
The North Carolina Child Protective Seats Court Diversion Program (CPSCDP) is a system that launched in 2013 that operates in select counties across the state.
According to Safe Kids North Carolina, about 200 children are fatally injured in car accidents annually across the state. CPSCDP was developed to help minimize the number of improperly installed car seats and also the number of parents or guardians who carelessly neglect to use a car seat when required. Counties can volunteer to enforce the program. As of this writing, 45 out of 100 counties in North Carolina have an operating CPSCDP.
What To Do If You are Cited For Improper Car Seat Use in NC
The CPSCDP mandates that parents or caregivers cited for failing to use a car seat or for improper car seat use must receive signed authorization from a safety technician that the seat has been correctly installed. The cited individual must also show proof that they completed education on car safety seats.
More than 40,000 children in North Carolina receive medical treatment each year due to car accident injuries. Use proper child safety restraints and if you are uncertain about whether or not the car seat is installed properly, visit a local sheriff's department for a free check or contact Safe Kids North Carolina to be connected with an authorized safety technician.
Our Lee County Car Accident Attorneys Are Here to Help You
If your child was injured in a car accident and may receive or will receive compensation from the negligent driver, learn about how minors receive settlements in injury cases.
My child survived a car accident in Cary. How will a minor receive an accident settlement in NC?
Car accidents do not discriminate. Anyone of any age or background might be a victim at some point in their life. Sometimes children are involved in car accidents. Children who suffer accident injuries might be impaired for life, depending on the severity of the crash. Insurance companies or a court will determine the value of compensation for these injuries, but when the settlement or award is finalized the transfer of funds is different for a minor than for an adult.
In North Carolina, a minor who receives a settlement from a motor vehicle collision usually will not receive funds until they reach the age of majority, 18. Certain statutes within North Carolina law stipulate how and when a minor will receive a settlement. Before the victim reaches the age of 18, the settlement is kept in a interest-bearing common fund by the Clerk of Superior Court. However, the Clerk charges a fee to hold the funds, and the small interest that accrues generally covers the cost of the Clerk fee.
There is one exception to holding the settlement in a common court fund: A structured settlement. Instead of being held by the Clerk, the funds are used to by an annuity, which has favorable interest when compared to the common fund. A structured settlement also offers a level of flexibility that the court fund does not: The parent or guardian of the minor can decide the terms of the structured settlement.
Navigating complicated laws while advocating for the best interests of a minor can be challenging for parents. Let us know if you have questions. An initial consult is free of charge and we can help you understand all options so that you can make the best decision for your loved one. Call 800-910-5879 to schedule a spot on our calendar.
I was in a car accident and have no health insurance, but I need surgery. My claim is not settled yet, what should I do?
Individuals who were hurt in a motor vehicle accident and who do not have health insurance might feel like they have no way to pay for healthcare options. If liability is clear in the case, which our accident attorneys can help assess, then we may be able to connect the victim to a source of money for their surgical needs.
Accident victims should follow the treatment guidance their doctors provide after an accident. If physical therapy, medications, or surgery is required, it is important to follow through with treatment. Medical records will be gathered and submitted as part of a motor vehicle claim. If medical records show a gap in treatment, such as an individual missing therapy appointments, this could negatively impact your claim. The other party may suggest injuries worsened or were caused by some other act during this gap in treatment. This is one of the many mistakes accident victims often make unintentionally. We explain more errors and how to avoid them in our free book Mistakes That Make Wreck Your North Carolina Case.
If you are concerned about covering the costs of surgery and you do not have health insurance, contact our car accident attorneys in Raleigh and Fayetteville so that we can connect you with groups that provide a source of money for these purposes. Simply complete an online contact form here or call 877.BRENT.ADAMS.
What are autocycles and are they legal in North Carolina?
Autocycles are three-wheeled vehicles that share different structural features than a three-wheeled motorcycle. Autocycles have steering wheels, seat belts, air bags, and are enclosed vehicles. If a vehicle has these features and meets North Carolina autocycle definition requirements, then as of October 1, 2015 these types of vehicles are defined as autocycles state-wide. As with any vehicle, individuals should research registration and insurance requirements and options prior to operating a vehicle on public roads.
If a person was hurt in an accident involving an autocycle in North Carolina, they should create a log of their injuries, document vehicle and property damage, learn about injury and damage claims process, and contact injury attorneys to learn their rights. Severity of injuries varies on many factors, and even accidents that don't appear to cause too much physical damage could be responsible for underlying soft tissue damage or long-term brain injury. Individuals should not be rushed to settle their claim. Instead, take time to learn the statute of limitations, legal rights and entitlements, and focus on getting well.
Can the dealer charge for recalled part replacement? My car has a faulty suspension system that has been recalled, but the dealer wants to charge for the part.
No. Defective motor vehicle parts that are included in a recall issued by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) are required under federal regulations to be repaired or replaced at cost to the manufacturer--not at cost to the owner of the vehicle. If the dealer wants to charge the car owner for the recalled part replacement, the owner should refuse to pay these fees and contact the auto manufacturer. At the following link our Raleigh injury lawyers explain more about accident cases involving recalled parts, the rights consumers have during a recall, and why dealers are not permitted to charge vehicle owners for recalled part repair or replacement.
I have a moped in North Carolina, do I need to have insurance?
Yes, as of July 1, 2016 all moped owners are required to carry minimum liability insurance coverage with limits no less than $30,000/$60,000/$25,000. Learn about moped registration requirements.
Moped insurance in North Carolina is required and failing to maintain adequate coverage results in revocation of the license plate. Aside from regulatory fines and consequences, without insurance coverage, an individual involved in a moped accident could face significant financial loss. If the moped operator is hit by an uninsured driver - who will cover bills if injuries prevent the moped driver or passenger from working? If another party suffered damage or injury due to the moped driver's fault, how will the moped driver compensate the victim?
Mopeds and scooters are popular across North Carolina, and seen frequently on and near the campuses of NC State and UNC Chapel Hill as these vehicles are fuel-efficient and budget-friendly. These often fit into students' tight budgets. However, opting not to obtain insurance coverage to 'save money' is often a poor choice. If the moped driver causes an accident, bodily injury coverage can be used toward victims' medical bills, while property damage coverage can be used toward repair costs to damaged property. Without insurance coverage, the at-fault party is generally personally responsible.
If you have questions about a moped accident in Raleigh or elsewhere in North Carolina, contact our accident attorneys for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys can explain how liability is determined in a crash, what you are legally entitled to, and how the injury claim process works in our state.
NOTE: The above information is as of this writing in July 2016. Legislation changes over time and individuals should confirm with the NCDOT and the NCDMV regarding state insurance and registration requirements for their unique vehicle(s).
My spouse was injured in a car accident. I was not in the car, but can I file a claim?
Yes, depending on when the car crash took place and the severity of your spouse's injuries in the accident, you may pursue a claim for loss of consortium. Sometimes accident victims are focused on injury claims that pursue compensation for their own medical expenses, lost wages, pain management, rehabilitation, and more. These are all important, but in traumatic life-changing accidents we also want to consider the losses a spouse suffers as well.
Loss of consortium claims in North Carolina provide compensation to a spouse who may no longer experience the joys of companionship, sexual relations, and more. Injured spouses need to have suffered significant injuries in order for these claims to be recognized. Loss of consortium claims are generally made in severe cases where an unharmed spouse becomes the accident victim's caregiver, takes over full responsibility of household chores, and similar circumstances.
Our injury lawyers can review your case and explain whether or not the statute of limitations has run out for your consortium loss claim. Contact our North Carolina injury law firm for a complimentary case evaluation.
I saw another driver on their phone before they hit my vehicle, but they claim they were not texting or on a call. What is legal mobile phone use in NC?
When it comes down to evidence of the other driver's negligence, is it really just your word against theirs? At the following link our car accident lawyers in Cary review ways you can prove another driver was texting while driving. One of which is pulling cell phone records. Even if the other driver deletes texts and call records off their phone before police or investigators retrieve the device, the phone company still maintains records of this information.
One caveat is that the other driver may be telling the truth - perhaps they were not texting or making a call, and the records may substantiate this. However, they could have been checking email, social media, messaging through applications, finding a Pandora station, or many other mobile phone activities that distract drivers from the road. These actions are also illegal in North Carolina. According to G.S. 20-137.4A, unlawful use of a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle encompasses texting, calls, emails, messaging, or entering of text to be 'stored within the device'. (North Carolina law provides that individuals who operate a motor vehicle may not use their mobile devices while the vehicle is in motion. If the vehicle is parked or stopped, mobile activity is permitted.)
In the event another driver's mobile phone actions are not captured on a phone company's reports, statements from witnesses can help. Also, checking the at-fault driver's social media accounts could reveal incriminating evidence.
Distracted driving is the second most common cause of accidents in North Carolina. Local news reports revealed in 2014 that "distracted driving has been a contributing factor in 71 crashes in Cary since 2013." There are likely more. Many cases go unreported, plus there are hit-and-runs where officials may never learn the cause behind the negligent driver's actions.
The Cary car accident attorneys at Brent Adams & Associates can review more ways of establishing another party's negligence, pursuing compensation from third parties, and more about your accident case during a complimentary case evaluation.
Does insurance follow the driver in a North Carolina auto accident?
Regardless of the vehicle an individual operates, as long as they have liability insurance coverage on a personal auto policy, it generally will follow them. There are certain conditions of course! One, the vehicle must be eligible for insurance coverage. Two, what type of insurance coverage is the individual concerned about? Some insurance coverage options (like liability) follow the driver, while others (like comprehensive and collision) may stay with the vehicle. Understand issues with comprehensive and collision coverage have many conditions themselves. Three, some insurance companies simply refuse to cover individuals who are not named in the policy.
If an individual borrows a vehicle owned by a family member, friend, or even a rental car company, liability coverage generally follows. Questions may arise when a relative or friend comes to visit and the vehicle owner allows them to use the vehicle during their stay. Insurance may follow the vehicle and limitations may apply. However, if the vehicle is being used for "regular use" - insurance may not be applicable. For example, if a driver's car is inoperable and they are not repairing it, but their parents have an extra vehicle they can use every day, there could be insurance issues in the event of an accident if the driver does not get added on to the vehicle's insurance policy and regularly operates their parents' vehicle.
Another variable: Permission. Sometimes certain insurance coverages are void if an individual is driving a vehicle without the owner's permission.
Back to the question at hand: Yes, typically some type of insurance will follow the driver, and some type of insurance will follow the vehicle. Our North Carolina car accident attorneys can help you understand the complicated legalese terms in insurance policies so that you can first understand how much and what types of insurance coverage you are entitled to, and then we can assist you with an insurance dispute claim if the company fails to provide what was outlined in your policy.
Am I allowed to drive through a red light in North Carolina if I'm driving in a funeral procession?
Traffic signals, right of way, and other road rules followed while operating a motor vehicle are different during funeral processions, and these differences are unique to every state. Since every state has statutes addressing traffic rules during funeral processions it is important to research what is permissible if you are visiting a jurisdiction outside your home state for a burial.
In North Carolina it is legal to drive through a red light during a funeral procession if certain conditions have been met; this does not relieve any particular driver of fault should an accident occur as the circumstances of each accident are unique and should be reviewed with an attorney.
"Funeral procession" is defined by the N.C.. Gen. Stat. § 20-157.1 Funeral Processions as two or more vehicles. According to the statute:
The operator of the lead vehicle in a funeral procession shall comply with all traffic-control signals, but when the lead vehicle in a funeral procession has progressed across an intersection in accordance with the traffic-control sign or signal, or when directed to do so by a law enforcement officer or a designee of a law enforcement officer or the funeral director, or when the lead vehicle is a law enforcement vehicle which progresses across the intersection while giving appropriate warning by light or siren, all vehicles in the funeral procession may proceed through the intersection without stopping, except that the operator of each vehicle shall exercise reasonable care towards any other vehicle or pedestrian on the highway. An operator of a vehicle that is not part of the funeral procession shall not join the funeral procession for the purpose of securing the right-of-way granted by this subsection.
As you can see, funeral processions have the right-of-way in North Carolina, but they must yield to emergency vehicles or as directed by police. Also, the lead vehicle must be marked with a flag or light to signify a funeral procession. Each vehicle in the procession must have its headlights and hazard lights on.
I was hit by a family member in a car. How should I proceed with my injury claim?
Sadly, a Fayetteville car accident recently involved a wife hitting her husband unintentionally--and killing him. Although unintentional, the crash has posed the question for those who survive accidents caused by a family member: How to make a claim?
Regardless of how you are related to the negligent party, you may be entitled to compensation if you were hurt by no fault of your own. When you are hit by a family member, you are not only recovering from your accident injuries, but you're trying to understand how you should move forward with an injury claim.
It is possible a relative may assure an accident victim they will take care of all the medical costs and damage expenses to the vehicle (if the victim was in a car at the time of the accident), but there is no way to predict how these accident injuries may affect a victim's life for years to come. There are injuries that manifest themselves over time, like brain injuries. What may not be apparent immediately following an accident could cause serious life changes later on. Will your family member be prepared to cover long-term costs associated with an injury like that? Pain management? Home modifications? Lost wages? It is not likely.
Make a claim. It is important to pursue an injury claim through an insurance company right away. What's more important than an insurance claim? Getting medical treatment as soon as possible and advising your healthcare provider how your injuries were caused.
Get a police report. Sometimes individuals think they don't need a police report for car accidents involving family members since they know and trust their relatives. This does not offer any benefits. A police report is an official document that outlines the events that took place, the location of the accident scene, and includes all parties' available contact and insurance information. Insurance companies will use this as part of a claim, and should the case ever go to trial, it will be one of the many pieces of evidence an injury lawyer will reference.
Retain an injury lawyer. You need an injury lawyer that does not work at the same firm as one your family member is retaining. There would be a conflict of interest otherwise, and most law firms would decline from representing opposing parties.
If you were hit by a relative, our car accident injury lawyers in Raleigh would need to learn:
- If the relative owned the vehicle they were driving when they hit you.
- Whether the driver was intoxicated, impaired, or acting in another negligent manner, like texting-while-driving.
- If the driver, owner of the vehicle, or yourself have insurance policies. Car accident victims commonly don't realize they can receive insurance coverage from multiple sources. For example, a victim may claim on their own auto insurance policy even if their vehicle wasn't involved in the accident.)
- Whether a third party was responsible or contributed to the accident. Faulty car manufacturing? Was the vehicle recalled?
The details to the items above can help build a clear picture of negligence and will collect important resources that could help maximize your car accident injury claim. Getting hit by anyone is an unpleasant and stressful experience. Getting hit by a family member makes the experience all the more personal. It's a challenge to put your personal feelings aside, but if you are not at fault you need to accept what the law provides. Brent Adams & Associates injury lawyers in Raleigh hope to win compensation to the full extent that the law allows.
When is a vehicle a total loss in North Carolina?
"Totaled" vehicles, or ones that are considered total losses after an accident, are recognized differently on a state-by-state basis. In North Carolina, a vehicle is considered totaled when the costs to repair the car or truck exceed the Actual Cash Value (ACV) by a Total Loss Threshold (TLT) of 75% or more.
Many factors come into play when determining this figure. The value of your vehicle may be calculated based on age, mileage, and condition. Making this situation even more complicated is that valuation methods vary by insurance company. The cost of repairs need to be estimated. The salvage value may even be considered.
It's important to review your specific auto insurance policy to understand the terms under which your provider will compensate you for damage to your insured vehicle. Language in insurance policies usually outlines maximum limits to physical repair costs, options to repair or replace parts, and the terms under which total loss are made. Don't let an insurance company take advantage of you after an accident. If you are not receiving the coverage outlined in your policy, Raleigh car accident lawyer Brent Adams is also an insurance dispute attorney and can review your rights and may handle the case for you if needed.
If your vehicle is not considered a total loss and you elect to get it repaired, be aware of faulty auto repairs. Follow the link and you'll learn how important it is to have safety inspections of vehicles after accident repair work is complete.