Who Covers Medical Bills After an NC Car Accident?

Who Covers Medical Bills After an NC Car Accident?

In the aftermath of a car accident, there is a LOT to worry about – from paying for medical treatment to your car insurance coverage to a potential personal injury lawsuit.

One of the most significant causes of anxiety for most of our clients is their medical bill payment.

Coverage of medical expenses following an accident depends on several factors – who caused the wreck, what kind of insurance each party has purchased, and more!

Who pays medical bills if the other driver is responsible for the accident?

If you were injured in a car accident and another person caused that accident out of their own negligence, the negligent (or at-fault) person must cover your medical bills.

ALL North Carolina drivers are required to have bodily liability car insurance. This insurance covers an injured party’s medical expenses in the case of a motor vehicle accident caused by the NC driver. Basic bodily liability insurance covers up to $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident.

So, this is the kind of potential compensation you can expect at minimum if the other driver is at-fault.

However, you will only receive this medical bill coverage if – and when – you (and your experienced NC Personal Injury Lawyer) reach a settlement with the opposing driver and their insurance company. 

But remember, obtaining a personal injury settlement can take several months. Until a settlement is reached, YOU are still responsible for your medical expenses.

That may mean you first have to submit your medical bills to YOUR OWN health insurance company (like usual) and reimburse your insurance organization later with your settlement money.

NOTE: In North Carolina, you also have the option of MedPay insurance (through your own insurance agency) – which may cover out-of-pocket health care costs (i.e. co-pays and deductibles) for you and other injured passengers of your care.

Interested in MedPay? Robert Louis Armstrong can help you secure the insurance you need!

Who covers medical bills if YOU are at-fault?

North Carolina is a pure contributory negligence state. That means you cannot recover personal injury damages if you contributed to your injury in ANY way.

So, even if a judge decides you are 1% at-fault, you may not receive injury compensation.

If it’s been decided that you are responsible for the car accident, your bodily liability car insurance will kick into action, covering any medical bills of the other driver and passengers. 

As for YOUR medical bills (and those of your passengers), you will most likely need to use your own health insurance and/or MedPay insurance.

What happens when the at-fault party is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to pay medical bills?

Many people are unaware that Uninsured Motorist Coverage – insurance that covers you, your passengers, and your vehicle if the at-fault party does NOT have car insurance – is mandatory in North Carolina.

Even if the responsible driver has the lowest level of bodily liability insurance, some form of Underinsured Motorist Coverage may be required for your car insurance policy.

Learn more about Underinsured & Uninsured Motorist Coverage.

First-Things-First: Get immediate medical care

Seeking immediate medical treatment following a motor vehicle accident is essential.

There are a couple of reasons for this…

  • The longer you wait to get treatment, the more difficult it will be to prove definitively that your injuries were caused directly by the vehicle accident.
  • Plus, if you do not seek medical attention immediately, you are putting your health and wellness at risk.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE, you may not be able to pay for medical treatment for any personal injuries acquired during an accident until you have received a settlement – which can take a long time.

Regardless, you SHOULD NOT avoid seeking quick medical care simply because you do not want to (or cannot) pay your medical bills up-front. 

In North Carolina, medical care providers can claim a medical lien that gives them the right to compensation for your care if you win a personal injury settlement.

Robert L. Armstrong | North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

Have you or a loved one been injured as a result of a car accident? It’s crucial for you to consult with an experienced NC attorney who can help you determine the true value of your case. 

Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for a FREE consultation!

RELATED:

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in North Carolina?

Why Medical Care is Necessary After a Car Accident

How to Tell if a Personal Injury is Serious Enough For an NC Lawsuit

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How to Tell if a Personal Injury is Serious Enough for an NC Lawsuit

Our team gets this question all the time! Unfortunately, not every injury warrants a lawsuit – even if the other party involved in the accident was clearly at-fault.

For severe injuries, a personal injury lawsuit is the best way to restore significant losses. But sometimes, the amount of damages you’ll actually recover may not be worth the time and money it takes to bring your case to court.

Common “Serious” Personal Injuries

In our experience, we’ve found that certain types of injuries are more likely to withstand in NC courts and result in greater damages recovered by our clients: 

All of these injuries share a few things in common…they carry exceptionally high medical costs, come with a relatively high risk of death, and most are permanent or life-altering.

The greater impact the injury has on your life, the more serious your injury will probably be viewed in a courtroom.

NOTE: If we do not list your injury above, that DOES NOT mean your injury is not serious enough for a lawsuit. An experienced North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney can help you determine whether your injury is truly serious and suggest what next steps to take.

What we determine in our initial consultation.

When you first bring your case to the Robert Louis Armstrong team, we will assess three things:

  • What exactly happened
  • How much your injury has cost you
  • Whether your case meets all the legal requirements of a North Carolina personal injury

How do we calculate the cost of your personal injury?

We use the equation below:

Cost of your injury = economic damages + non-economic damages

Your economic damages are the physical costs we can actually attribute dollar amounts to – like medical bills, added living expenses, and lost wages.

Meanwhile, non-economic damages are less tangible, including factors like pain and suffering, loss of certain capabilities, and mental anguish. When assigning this value, we strive to answer the question: How has your quality of life changed because of the accident?

If the sum of your economic and non-economic damages is high enough, your personal injury is likely serious enough to warrant a civil lawsuit. 

What do I need to prove a personal injury in North Carolina?

To recover personal injury damages in North Carolina, you need to prove four things: 

  • The opposing party had a legal duty for your safety.
  • The other party’s negligence caused the accident (they were at-fault).
  • The accident was a proximate cause of your injury.
  • And the specific damages you’re requesting stem from the accident and your injuries.

Let’s unpack that a bit.

The legal term “duty” refers to a person’s responsibility to treat others with care (watchfulness, caution, and attention) that a reasonable person would use in the same situation.

So, to prove the at-fault party broke their “duty,” we first need to establish that they had to avoid acting in a way that put you at risk of injury. Such obligations include driving safely and keeping their property hazard-free.

Then, if the negligent party failed to satisfy that obligation (and you were hurt because of it), you have the foundation for a strong personal injury case.

REMEMBER: North Carolina is a pure contributory negligence state. That means you cannot recover personal injury damages if you contributed to your injury in ANY way.

Robert Armstrong | North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

Have you or a loved one been injured because of an accident? It’s crucial for you to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you determine the true value of your case. 

Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for a FREE consultation!

RELATED:

Common Reasons For Personal Injury Claim Denial

The Process of a Personal Injury Claim

5 Tips For Choosing the Best Personal Injury Lawyer

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Best Ways to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents in Wilmington, NC

Best Ways to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents in Wilmington, NC

It’s no secret that motorcyclists in Wilmington, North Carolina, often have to practice more defensive driving than the average driver.

However, motorcyclists can still take certain precautions to protect themselves on the road.

How to avoid a motorcycle accident

Although you can’t entirely prevent a motorcycle crash, there are things you can do–like following the applicable state motorcycle laws and avoiding certain negligent behaviors–to maximize your safety on the road.

According to North Carolina law, you must…

  • Get (and maintain) the proper license to drive a motorcycle
  • Pass a written knowledge test and road test or complete a basic motorcycle safety course
  • Wear an appropriate motorcycle helmet
  • Double-check that your motorcycle has all the proper equipment (headlights, brake light, turning signals, high-quality tires, etc.)
  • Avoid lane-sharing
  • Limit your load to the amount of passengers/weight your particular bike allows

Besides following the law, here are some tips that will make for a safer motorcycle ride…

  • Drive slower. 

The faster you travel, the less time you have to react if you see a dangerous condition ahead of you (debris, other vehicles, pedestrians, or other potential hazards).

  • Take extra caution at intersections. 

Intersections are dangerous spots for motorcycle and motor vehicle drivers alike. In fact, 41% of fatalities from U.S. motorcycle-vehicle crashes in 2019 occurred while another vehicle driver was turning left and the motorcyclist was traveling straight or passing/overtaking another vehicle (NHSTA).

Intersections are also frequent locations for rear-end accidents, which are much more serious for motorcyclists than motor vehicle drivers.

  • Avoid driving between traffic & parked cars.

Not only does driving in this area put you at a greater risk of an accident with a motor vehicle, but it increases your chances of being “doored” or hitting a pedestrian.

  • Keep up-to-date on motorcycle maintenance.

The last thing you need is for your motorcycle to fail on you in the middle of busy Wilmington, NC traffic. Be sure to keep regular tabs on your engine, tires, brakes, headlights, and turn signals.

  • Avoid lane-sharing.

Squeezing your motorcycle in next to other vehicles in a lane is not only illegal, but it’s dangerous. Motor vehicle drivers don’t expect to have to share their lane with a motorcycle, so who knows how they may react when you surprise them? It’s simply NOT a risk worth taking.

  • Be as prepared as possible.

You will almost certainly encounter dangerous road hazards at some point–potholes, train tracks, wet pavement, blown-out tires, debris, you name it! 

If you’ve only recently purchased your motorcycle, consider taking a motorcycle riding course that will prepare you to face these challenges on the road.

Avoid these common causes of motorcycle accidents

You can prevent many motorcycle crashes by avoiding certain negligent driving behaviors or keeping an eye out for certain driving conditions. The most common causes of motorcycle fatalities include…

  • Left-hand turns
  • Speeding
  • Bad lane changes
  • Lack of experience
  • Drugs & alcohol
  • Distracted driving
  • Lane-splitting
  • Abrupt stops
  • Open parked car doors (“dooring”)
  • And poor road & weather.

Learn more about these common causes here.

Robert Armstrong | Specialized North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s essential for you to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of medical bills, building a claim, and presenting your case.

Get in touch with Robert Armstrong’s office today!

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Proving Back Personal Injuries in NC Car Accident Claims

Back injuries from a car accident can be very serious, if not devastating. An injury to your back muscles, bones, or spine can affect your daily life, relationships, and work. They may even be permanent!

We’ve seen a wide range of back personal injuries, including…

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Bulging or herniated discs
  • Soft tissue injuries (like sprains, strains, torn ligaments, & pulled muscles)
  • Compression fractures
  • Broken vertebrae
  • Spondyolisthesis
  • Facet joint injuries 
  • And more!

However, proving that your back injury directly resulted from a vehicle crash can be tricky–that is, without an expert North Carolina back personal injury attorney on your side!

Here’s what you need to know to build a strong claim.

Why is it so difficult to prove a back personal injury?

There are a wide variety of potential causes for back pain. So, as you can probably imagine, pinpointing the PRECISE reason for your back pain can be challenging. 

If possible, the insurance agency representing the opposing party in a personal injury case will attempt to suggest you suffered from “pre-existing” back conditions (or “degenerative changes”) before the car accident that contributed to the back pain you’re experiencing now.

They will try to claim the auto accident did not entirely cause that your back injury. 

And, unfortunately, North Carolina is one of only a few states that follows a pure contributory negligence rule. According to the rule, you cannot recover ANY personal injury damages if you contributed to your injury/injuries in ANY way. That’s why it’s all that much more important for you to hire a lawyer with significant experience in North Carolina personal injury law.

Building a strong back personal injury case

With back personal injury claims, you’ve got to prove four things:

  • The opposing driver had a legal duty for your safety.
  • The opposing driver’s negligence caused the accident (they were at-fault).
  • The accident was a proximate cause of your back injury.
  • And the specific damages you’re requesting stem from the accident and your back injuries.

So, what do you need to show these 4 things?

Plenty of evidence.

Don’t wait long after the crash to seek medical treatment. And be sure to keep all the relevant documentation, from crash scene photographs and police reports to medical bills and records. It may even be a good idea to keep a journal of daily pains and struggles until the court hearing.

And a knowledgeable NC personal injury lawyer.

Robert Louis Armstrong has been helping clients argue back personal injury cases for nearly 24 years!

Robert Armstrong | North Carolina Car Accident & Back Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one sustained a back injury because of a North Carolina car accident, it’s essential for you to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of medical bills, building a claim, and presenting your case.

Get in touch with Robert Armstrong’s office today!

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10 Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Fatalities in North Carolina

10 Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Fatalities in North Carolina

On the busy roads of North Carolina cities, motorcycle accidents are far more likely to result in death than crashes involving other types of vehicles.

In fact, over 80% of motorcycle collisions across the country result in motorcyclist fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

And the number of yearly motorcycle deaths is only rising in NC!

North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) studies show that motorcycle crash fatalities rose about 15.2% between 2020 and 2021. And over the last 5 years, the deaths have increased by nearly 25%.

1. Left-Hand Turns

Motorcyclists are more difficult for most drivers to see, which becomes especially dangerous when drivers take left turns through intersections.

Whether because of inattentive driving, distance misjudgements, or right-of-way mistakes, a surprising 41% of fatalities from U.S. motorcycle-vehicle crashes in 2019 happened while another vehicle driver turned left and the motorcyclist was traveling straight or passing/overtaking another vehicle (NHSTA).

 2. Speeding

Excessive speeding significantly decreases a motorcyclist’s chances of noticing and reacting to other drivers and surroundings in enough time to prevent an accident. And as speed rises, so does the risk of serious injury.

In fact, speed proved to be a major factor in about 33% of nationwide motorcycle deaths in 2019, according to the NHTSA.

3. Bad Lane Changes

Motor vehicle drivers frequently hit motorcyclists after neglecting to check their blind spot or use turn signals when moving from lane to lane.

4. Lack of Experience

Motorcyclists need significant training to handle their vehicle-just like people do when they get a motor vehicle driver’s license. Without the proper understanding of their motorcycle and local road rules, motorcyclists can put themselves AND other drivers in unnecessarily dangerous situations.

Unfortunately, a significant portion (30%) of U.S. motorcycle accidents in 2019 involved drivers who did not have valid motorcycle licenses.

5. Drugs & Alcohol

It’s never a good idea—nor is it legal—to drink alcohol or use drugs before driving, whether you’re handling a motor vehicle or a motorcycle. When driving a motorcycle, you need to have extremely sharp reflexes so you can react quickly to potential safety risks to you. And yet, 29% of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 were under the influence of alcohol—more than any other type of motor vehicle driver.

6. Distracted Driving

Besides drugs and alcohol, there are a wide range of other things that can create distractions on the road—from texting to fellow passengers or riders to mere day-dreaming.

7. Lane Splitting

Many motorcyclists develop a bad habit of shifting between multiple road lanes and weaving through traffic. Not only is this illegal, but it also creates dangerous situations to which many drivers may not know how to respond.

8. Abrupt Stops

We can’t forget the all-too-frequent fender bender. Although rear-end accidents can be very serious for all drivers, motorcyclists have a greater injury risk because of their lack of external vehicle protection.

9. Parked Car Doors

A common problem for bicyclists and motorcyclists alike, “dooring” can be much more serious than it sounds. When a driver parks a vehicle on the side of a roadway and doesn’t watch out behind them for oncoming traffic, motorcyclists frequently cannot react in enough time to avoid a collision.

10. Road & Weather Conditions

Motorcycle crashes can have a wide range of external causes, such as:

  • Potholes
  • Crumbling pavement
  • Debris
  • Inclement weather conditions
  • Absence of necessary road signs & signals.

Robert Armstrong | Specialized North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s essential for you to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of medical bills, building a claim, and presenting your case.

Get in touch with Robert Armstrong’s office today!

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Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required in North Carolina?

Woman stressed and injured after a car accident

There’s no getting around it – car insurance is simply one of those things in life that is essential but oh-so frustrating to deal with. 

In fact, the cost and complexity that tends to come with automobile insurance often deter some drivers from getting ANY insurance coverage whatsoever. 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 12.6% of U.S. drivers – and 7.4% of North Carolina drivers – are uninsured. 

And this percentage becomes even greater in high-population towns like Wilmington, NC. 

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage? 

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) is insurance that provides protection for you, your passengers, and your vehicle if injured or damaged in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver.

This protection not only covers medical bills for everyone in your car, but it also covers any necessary vehicle repairs. 

Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Really Necessary in NC?

Yes! 

Uninsured Motorist coverage is mandatory in North Carolina. 

Fortunately, NC-required car insurance policies (with the basic bodily injury and property liability measures) MUST also include UM protections.

Oftentimes, these minimum liability insurance policies include some Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM), as well. 

But what about Underinsured Motorist Coverage? Is that required, too?

Yes…at least for some insurance policies.

North Carolina law dictates that car insurance policies with limits greater than the state’s minimum NC insurance standards must include BOTH Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage.

Even if the at-fault party has the lowest tier of liability insurance, their policy may not quite cover the entirety of your medical bills or damages incurred in an accident.

When this happens, your UIM policy should pay for expenses left uncovered by the underinsured driver’s insurance. 

Plus, UIM coverage is relatively inexpensive when compared to other levels of insurance.

How to tell if you have UM and UIM insurance? 

Uncertain whether you have adequate auto insurance coverage?

The first step – touch base with your insurance agent. 

Have more questions about Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage? Contact Robert Armstrong’s office.

If you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident, it’s essential for you to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you with the complexities of insurance and other aspects of your case.

Get in touch with Robert Armstrong’s office today!

5 ignored rules of the road you must do now!

5 ignored rules of the road you must do now! Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

There’s an old saying that rules are meant to be broken, but this saying can be a dangerous one, especially when it comes to rules of the road. 

Failing to obey traffic laws can land you in big trouble— either in the form of a ticket, a severe accident, or both.

At the law offices of Robert Armstrong, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, our legal team wants to help you avoid accidents or getting any tickets by helping to remind you of traffic rules that are often forgotten. Here are 5 of the most commonly ignored rules of the road that you should start following — if you aren’t already.

  • Failing to use your turn signal 

Putting on your turn signal is crucial to do, though so many drivers tend to do so infrequently. There’s a reason you have a turn signal, and it’s not for decoration or effect. It’s to let other drivers know your next move, which is often essential information for other drivers as they, too, try to decide what their next move or direction will be, often in a split-second. 

Failure to use a turn signal can result in:

A ticket for unsafe movement. Unsafe movement can result in an increase in both your insurance and license, along with a fine. 

It can also cause another driver to run into you and cause an accident with injuries.

 

  • Traffic Lights 

 

North Carolina has specific traffic light laws that are unlike other states. 

  • For instance, one such law is North Carolina doesn’t allow motorists to make a left turn on a red arrow in a turn lane. 
  • Also, in some states, it’s illegal to enter an intersection if the light is yellow. However, in North Carolina, a solid yellow light is just a warning that the light is about to turn red. In other words, you can enter an intersection while the light is still yellow, just not after it has turned red. 
  • Red light cameras are used in North Carolina. (However, they must have signs installed indicating to motorists that it is in use.) Red light camera violations are civil offenses as opposed to traffic infractions. The fine for a red light camera ticket is $50, and $100 if the ticket is not paid on time. 
  • Following too closely 

Safety professionals suggest that you abide by a two-second rule when following any vehicle. The two-second rule means you keep far back enough that it would take you two seconds to catch up to the car in front of you if it stops suddenly. North Carolina Code Section 20-152 makes it a traffic offense to follow other motor vehicles too closely. 

You could be ticketed for this offense if you do one of the following:

  • You follow a vehicle more closely than is reasonable given the speed of other cars, traffic, and road conditions.
  • When driving on a highway other than in a business or residential district, you follow another vehicle and do not allow enough space for an overtaking vehicle to enter and occupy the area in front of your auto without danger. 
  • Staying out of the left lane except for passing 

The far left lane of most highways are to be used only for passing slow-moving vehicles. 

Unfortunately, it’s something that countless drivers forget — or choose to ignore — and it’s no fun for vehicles behind you. It can obstruct the flow of traffic and cause accidents. 

  • Texting and driving 

Texting while driving is among the most careless distracted driving infractions you can make. It only takes a couple of seconds with your eyes off the road and on your phone to cause a serious — and potentially deadly — crash. 

North Carolina State Law prohibits texting and emailing while driving. Drivers under the age of 18 with provisional licenses are prohibited from all cell phone use while behind the wheel, even hands-free. North Carolina is a “primary law” state, which means that the police can stop you and issue you a ticket solely for violating this law. It is illegal for drivers to:

  • Manually enter letters or text in a cell phone to communicate with another individual
  • Read an email or text transmitted to or stored in an electronic device

There are exceptions to this ban on texting and driving, however. The law will not apply in these situations:

  • The driver is lawfully parked or stopped
  • The person is a police officer, firefighter, or ambulance driver texting while they are performing official duties
  • The technology used is a factory-installed or after-purchase GPS
  • The person is using voice-operated technology

Learn More from Attorney Robert Armstrong 

Sometimes, accidents are unavoidable and not your fault, but you should follow these rules to decrease your chances of a crash. If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident in Wilmington, North Carolina, contact Robert Armstrong today.

Types of compensation in an auto accident case

types of compensation in auto accident case Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

When you’re in an automobile accident — whether it’s a fender-bender or a serious crash with injuries — determining who caused the accident or who is at fault and how much compensation you deserve is no small feat. 

If you live in a state where you may be disqualified from receiving any type of compensation if you are at-fault, even in the slightest can make this task even more complex. 

In North Carolina, the laws can be tricky to navigate. Therefore, it’s crucial that you have an experienced personal injury attorney like Robert Armstrong on your side. From Robert Armstrong’s office, here’s more about the types of compensation you could receive in an auto accident case.

North Carolina is a Contributory Negligence State

Most people know that North Carolina is an at-fault state, meaning that the individual found to be at fault must compensate the other driver, or motorcyclist, for damages and injuries. 

However, North Carolina also adheres to the contributory negligence standard of law. Contributory negligence states that you will not recover damages if you have any liability whatsoever for the accident, even as little as one percent. 

Therefore, if a victim’s negligence contributed to causing the accident, the victim recovers nothing. Examples of this include: 

  • as a driver, speeding
  • as a pedestrian, jaywalking or making sudden or unexpected movements
  • riding with a driver that you know is drunk, reckless, or sleepy
  • riding in a car that you know is defective (for example, without working headlights), and
  • interfering with the driver’s operation of the vehicle.

Compensatory Damages 

In car accident cases, the damages the injured person receives are known broadly as compensatory damages. As the name suggests, the purpose of these damages is to compensate you for actual losses caused by the crash. These losses can include: 

  • Loss due to medical bills and other medical expenses
  • Loss in wages due to missing work as a result of the car accident
  • Potential loss of future income  
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Continuing or lifetime treatment of injuries due to accidents
  • Punitive Damages 

The calculation of these damages typically depends on the bills and medical records you present in the case showing what you spent. So it is imperative that you keep a record of everything after an auto accident. 

Amount of Insurance 

A common factor that may influence the amount of compensation in a car settlement in North Carolina is the amount of insurance the at-fault driver has on their vehicle. 

North Carolina law requires that drivers keep a minimum of $30,000 in bodily injury coverage and $25,000 in coverage for property damage for any single person involved in an accident. 

If the damages you are seeking are greater than the rate of the other person’s insurance, you may not be able to receive all of what you need to cover your costs. 

Personal Injury Claim

In North Carolina, there is a three-year time limit to file a personal injury claim after an automobile accident from the date of the accident.

Do not wait longer than the three-year limit. You risk dismissal of the case and no chance of recovering any compensation for your injuries. 

However, if a death was involved in your case, then your time limit may be shortened to a two-year limit from the time of death (not to go beyond three years from the date of the wreck).

Contact Attorney Robert Armstrong for more information

If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident, contact the offices of Robert Armstrong today. We will do everything we can to make sure you are compensated the amount you deserve. Contact (910) -256-1233 to schedule your first consultation. 

What is Contributory Negligence?

What is Contributory Negligence Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

If you are involved in a vehicle accident, the term contributory negligence might come up. Contributory negligence is the legal term for the actions of an injured person who may have played a part in causing their own injury. 

For example, if you are hit by a car while riding your bicycle, but you were riding on the wrong side of the road, you could share the blame for the accident, and your compensation could be affected. Another example would be dining in a restaurant and having a severe peanut allergy but failing to notify the restaurant. If you eat something with peanuts and have an allergic reaction, it may be partially your fault for failing to tell the employees. 

Not every state has the contributory negligence law; actually, few do. North Carolina happens to be one such state. As a result, contributory negligence can be a challenging lawsuit. Personal injury attorney Robert Armstrong, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, is here to help you navigate it and understand the basics of the law. 

How does North Carolina’s contributory negligence law work?

North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that still abide by the contributory negligence law. 

This rule means that if a judge determines that you are at fault in any manner — even if you are just one percent at fault for the car accident — you cannot recover anything in damages even if the other party is ninety-nine percent at fault. 

(This law is different from most states in which you can be partially at fault and still receive compensation.)

Last Clear Chance Doctrine 

North Carolina does have legal doctrines which can override contributory negligence. 

One example is the Last Clear Chance Doctrine. North Carolina courts have outlined the elements of the last clear chance doctrine as follows:

  • The plaintiff, by the plaintiff’s own negligence, put themselves into a position of helpless peril;
  • Defendant discovered, or should have discovered, the position of the plaintiff;
  • The defendant had the time and ability to avoid the injury;
  • Defendant negligently failed to do so; and
  • Plaintiff was injured as a result of the defendant’s failure to prevent the injury.

Essentially, if the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly, you might still be able to receive money for damages. The Last Clear Chance Doctrine is usually a case-by-case basis, so having a lawyer on your side could significantly improve your chances of using this tactic effectively. 

Duty of Care

Duty of care is a legal term that refers to the responsibility one person has to avoid causing harm to another. 

It is a type of social contract that includes individuals’ implicit responsibilities towards others within society. In most cases, every person has at least some duty of care toward others. 

When a person engages in an activity, they are under a legal duty to act as a reasonable, ordinary, and prudent person in the same or similar circumstances, often known as the “standard of care” or the “reasonable person standard.” Everyone must take reasonable care to avoid injury to others.

Standard of Care Provision

Contributory negligence is calculated by something called the standard of care provision, which is an offshoot of duty of care. 

An at-fault driver’s conduct is measured against that of a reasonable, ordinary, prudent person. The “reasonable person” standard is measured objectively in that it does not consider the emotional state, opinions, or status of the at-fault party. In other words, the at-fault party is deemed to have knowledge of things known by the average member of society and expected to act as one would under similar circumstances. 

Three simple takeaways for the Standard of Care Provision include: 

  • Standard of care applies to what a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation.
  • To be considered contributory negligence, you must have done something that was both negligent and caused the specific injury or damage that is at the center of the claim.
  • Just because you may have been negligent, it still must have caused or contributed to your injury in order to bar recovery.

In North Carolina, children are not held to the same standard of care for negligence as adults. 

Contact Attorney Robert Armstrong 

Located in Wilmington, North Carolina, Robert Armstrong is here to help you navigate the challenges that occur with the contributory negligence law or any other issues with your car accident case. As an experienced personal injury attorney firm, we are committed to working through the complexities of your case. Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help contact (910) -256-1233 for a consultation. 

Do your personal injury medical records have red flag? What are they?

Do your personal injury medical records have red flag- - Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

Unfortunately, when it comes to personal injury claims against insurance companies, insurance companies will always try to offer you less money than you deserve to compensate you for injuries you sustained in a car accident. That’s just the way the insurance business works.

An experienced personal injury attorney like Robert Armstrong will work tirelessly to make the insurance companies pay what they owe, but often there are “red flags”  that insurance companies look for in your medical records as a way to justify paying you less money.

What are some of the red flags that insurance companies will identify?

There are several factors that come into play when insurance companies examine your medical records. Red flags include:

  • Degenerative changes – Degenerative means that your symptoms are chronic and that your condition continues to deteriorate or is irreversible. If your symptoms are degenerative, it will usually show up on tests like MRIs and X-rays. Typically, degenerative conditions are caused simply by the aging process, but degenerative changes could start to appear in your body as early as your 20s, so degenerative characteristics could realistically show up on almost anyone’s imaging tests. Insurance adjusters are quick to point out soft tissue injuries and claim that they are degenerative changes and not the direct result of a car accident. With the help of a good lawyer and the honest testimony of a medical professional, it could be proven that you weren’t having any discomfort or symptoms before the crash, even if there are degenerative signs that show up on your MRI or X-ray.
  • Pre-existing conditions – If you broke your arm in a car accident, and it just so happens that you broke the same arm in a skateboarding accident two years ago, an insurance adjuster could try to link your current pain and aftermath of the injury to your last painful injury. The same could hold true for prior car accidents, slip-and-falls, or any other pre-existing injury. That’s why it’s so important to have the testimony of a doctor or other medical professional.
  • Treatment gaps – If your doctor recommends that you go to physical therapy once a week, and records show that you consistently miss appointments and aren’t following your doctor’s orders, it could be a big red flag for the insurance adjuster. It’s common for crash victims to try to heal on their own without having the inconvenience of seeking medical treatment, but it’s important you don’t do that. Remember that an insurance company will do everything in its power to try to prove that you haven’t been completely honest and forthcoming about your injuries. Don’t give them any leeway.

There are many other red flags that could show up on your medical records, but with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney you can still get the settlement you deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help.