North Carolina is an at-fault insurance state, meaning that the at-fault driver is responsible for the damages that result because of a car accident. His or her insurance company usually pays for these damages. To make the other party pay, you will have to provide evidence that he or she was at fault.
It is important to understand that North Carolina uses a strict contributory negligence scheme. In most states if a driver is partially at fault, he or she can still recover for the damages he or she sustained. His or her degree of fault reduces the damages award. For example, if the driver is 40 percent at fault and sustained damages of $100,000, he or she can still recover an award for $60,000. In North Carolina, if a driver is in any way at fault – even just 1 percent – he or she cannot recover any damages. This means that you must prove the other driver was 100% at fault for the accident.
A Wilmington NC personal injury lawyer can help you gather evidence to prove the other driver’s negligence caused the accident.
Evidence to Establish Your Claim
You will need to prove the following four elements of your claim: 1) duty; 2) breach of duty; 3) causation; and 4) damages. The following types of evidence can help you establish these elements:
- Police report – After an accident, it is important that you contact the authorities and make an accident report. A law enforcement officer will arrive at the scene, conduct a preliminary investigation and may give a citation to the party who violated traffic laws.
- Medical records – Medical records can show that you were physically injured in the accident. Collect emergency or hospital admission records, X-rays and other imaging scans, prescriptions, doctors’ notes, clinical summaries and other medical records.
- Photos – Photos can help establish how the accident happened. Take pictures of the accident scene, including skid marks on the roadway, damage to your vehicle, damage to the other vehicle and the location of the accident. You can also use photos to establish some of your damages, such as your injuries and the damage to your property.
- Employment records – If the accident caused you to miss work, employment records can show how much income and benefits you lost. Collect check stubs, tax returns and other payroll information. You might also want to ask your employer to write a note that indicates how many days you missed from work because of the accident.
- Witness testimony – Objective witnesses can explain what they saw. This can help establish that the driver ran a red light, was weaving around traffic or speeding. If possible, try to get contact information for any witnesses immediately after your accident. Your Wilmington NC personal injury lawyer can contact these witnesses and determine if they may be able to help your case.
- Video footage – Surveillance from local businesses or traffic cams may also show how the accident happened.
- Statutory references – Because you will have to prove that the other driver was negligent, you will have to pinpoint exactly what he or she did wrong. You can then compare that act with North Carolina laws. For example, the driver could have been impaired or distracted. He or she may have sped, failed to yield, ran a red light or followed too closely.
- Personal testimony – You may also be expected to testify about how the accident was caused and the extent of your damages. You are the best person to explain the pain and suffering you suffered as a result of the accident.
Robert Armstrong can help you gather this information to help prove your claim and seek maximum compensation against an at-fault party.