Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
The answer to this question is absolutely, unequivocally YES! You want someone who just does personal injury law, but more than that you want a personal injury lawyer who will be there for you on the small issues and the large.
What Information Should I Have Before I Call an Attorney?
Get photos of all vehicles or know the location of each so that your lawyers private investigator can get them. Photos of your vehicle should show all of the exterior damage as well as interior.
Property damage estimate showing name and address of facility.
Names, addresses and phone numbers of all Witnesses.
Location photos. You want photos from the perspective of both drivers point of view. Photos soon after the wreck are critical because locations change in appearance, skid marks disappear, debris gets removed.
Documents showing value of your vehicle. This would include bill of sale, Internet searches like kbb.com, nada.com, etc.
All insurance policy declaration pages for all car insurance for you and anyone who is a relative that lives in your household or where you live.
If you have the police report or officer exchange slip then fine. If not don’t worry about it as most reports are now online whether local or State highway patrol.
All medical bills and prescription receipts and receipts for home health care equipment.
All photographs showing your injury.
You must get names , addresses and phone numbers of all of your family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances who have witnessed how your injury has affected you!
Names and addresses of all hospitals and doctors that have treated you because of your injury from the event.
Names, addresses and phone numbers of all medical care providers and hospitals that have seen you in the last 20 years, particularly all primary care providers.
Copies of your Medicaid and/or Medicare cards, both side.
Your health insurance card including all EOB’s.
Any and all letters received from ANY insurance companies or their representatives whatsoever.
All items of physical damage..ie..motorcycle helmets or clothing, boots etc.
IF you know, tell your lawyer if the Patrolman had a unit out at the scene taking photos or scene sketches, measurements etc.
How Long Do Lawsuits Take?
You file your case in court by filing legal documents called a summons and complaint. The defendant will generally have anywhere from 30-45 days after the filing of the complaint to file his answer.
After the Answer is filed, then both parties conduct “discovery,” which takes time, months (and sometimes years) depending upon the case.
Does Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Mean I’ll Have to Go to Court?
It depends on whether you’re making an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit. A claim filed with an insurance company is typically settled out of court. If you cannot settle, then the next step is filing a lawsuit.
Will I Be Deposed? What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is oral testimony given under oath. It is part of the discovery process once a case has been filed in court, and takes place long before the trial is scheduled or on the eve of trial if ordered by a judge. You will undoubtedly be deposed.
I Have Been in A Motor Vehicle Accident. Should I Go to A Doctor?
If you aren’t injured, you don’t have to. If you ARE injured, you need to make it a priority and get to a doctor ASAP.
Do I Have to Go to Court if I Want to Recover Monetary Damages?
Not necessarily, but you want to make sure that you are fully recovered or are finished with all your medical care and treatment before you settle your case.
Who Determines Who Is at Fault After an Auto Accident?
The law enforcement officer who investigates the wreck has a lot to do with who was at fault. Bear in mind the law enforcement officer was not a witness. So the parties themselves and witnesses often determine liability by making admissions to the law enforcement officer at the scene, like they ran the light or they followed too closely and couldn’t stop in time or they didn’t see the other car.
What Is Negligence?
Simply put negligence is “lack of ordinary care”. It is failure to follow a duty imposed by law. Every person is under a duty to use ordinary care to protect himself and others from injury. Ordinary care means that degree of care which a reasonably prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances to protect himself and others from injury.
What Is Proximate Cause?
Proximate cause is a cause which in a natural and continuous sequence produces a person’s injury and is a cause which a reasonable and prudent person could have foreseen would probably produce such injury or similar injurious result.
If the accident was my fault, can I still recover compensation?
The short answer in NC is NO! However the defendant has the burden of proof on this issue. If your negligence or your lack of ordinary care proximately caused your own injury then you cannot recover in NC. The defense must prove this!
How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
Ultimately your case is worth what a jury is going to give you. Depending on the case and severity of the injury, it can, by objective standards, be a lot of money, in fact millions.
How Soon Do I Need to Bring My Legal Claim Against the Other Driver?
Most states have what they call Statutes of limitations. These are laws put in place that prescribe the time within which you must file a case in court and serve all responsible parties. In NC, for personal injury the Statute of limitations is generally 3 years.
What if The Insurance Company Offers Me a Check Right Away?
I learned a long time ago, that if something is too good to be true, then it always is! They are trying to get out cheap before you even know the extent of your injury. With that check will come a general release that they will want you to sign. Do not take it, and consult with a good personal injury lawyer immediately.
What if The Other Driver, Who Caused the Accident, Has No Insurance?
This is where both Uninsured motorist coverage and Underinsured Motorist coverage come into play. Both of these coverages are vitally important and I tell all my clients that they must annually review their OWN insurance policies to make sure that they have it and that they have it in adequate limits, which in NC is a maximum of $ 1 Million Dollars.
Are There Parties Other than The At-Fault Driver Against Whom I Can Take Legal Action?
Depending on the circumstances, absolutely.
What to Do if You Are in An Accident
Please refer to the #1-17 above in the section “what information should I bring to my attorney” for specifics. Additionally, you should cooperate with all law enforcement officers.
The Other Driver Was Uninsured; Can I Still Be Compensated?
Absolutely see above
Auto Accident and Injury Compensation
Simply put the law allows for fair compensation to be awarded to a person for any past, present, future injury proximately caused by the negligence of another. That would include:
past, present and future medical expense ( hospital, doctor, drugs, modalities necessary and reasonable)
past, present and future loss of earnings or diminution in earning capacity
past, present and future pain and suffering (including emotional suffering and loss of enjoyment of life)
past, present and future scars or disfigurement ( including inconvenience and hardship caused by handicap)
past, present and future loss of use of body part
Steps Involved in Truck Accident Lawsuits
These cases are extremely complex as they are not simple wreck cases. The laws applicable to cases involving truck accidents involve both state and federal regulations allowing for negligence claims as well as claims for punitive damages based on malicious or grossly negligent conduct. Potential parties may include, but are not limited to the driver, the owner, the motor carrier, the safety director for the carrier, the diesel mechanic, the broker, the dispatcher and the vehicle inspector.
What to Do if You Are Injured in A Truck Accident
Help yourself physically by getting good doctors and doing all that you can to get better. And hire a really good personal injury lawyer to help you with your case. These cases are much too complicated for you to handle by yourself, call it a “David and Goliath” situation.
Proving Fault in a Truck Accident Case
The remedy for a truck crash at common law is a suit for negligence. Under the doctrine of respondent superior, you can sue the motor carrier/employer for the wrongful acts of its driver. However, you must prove an employer/employee relationship AND that the driver was acting within the scope of employment at the time of the crash.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Accidents Involving Commercial Trucks and Automobiles?
I would not characterize a trucking crash as common on any level because most are devastating. They wreak havoc on our public roadways and cause mayhem. They cause regular ordinary people to have their lives change in an instant and often horribly so.
Are Commercial Truck Drivers Required to Have a Special Driver’s License?
The short answer is yes. This is governed by 49 C.F.R. Section 383 et al. This statute provides for certain qualifications and training and certification for commercial driver’s licenses or CDL’s and the operations of CMV’s or commercial motor vehicles.
Are There Limits on The Amount of Time that A Commercial Truck Driver Can Spend on The Road?
Yes. Drivers operating a CMV who are ill, fatigued or who have violated HOS or hours of service regulations can be held liable, 49 C.F.R. 392 and 395. A driver’s driving hours are regulated by these two sections.
If I Am Injured in A Truck Accident, Who Can I Sue?
It is important to speak to an attorney right away, so that a proper investigation can be done to determine the proper parties to sue. You have both common law negligence claims and statutory negligence per se claims available to hold the driver and other responsible. Those other might include but are not limited to: the company or employer; the carrier; the lease company; the shipper( improper load); the receiver (who has a just in time policy) ; trailer manufacturer (under ride case); the mechanic; the dispatcher and others depending on the nature of the claim and what the investigation turned up.
I Was Injured in A Crash Where a Truck Driver Was at Fault. What Kind of Damages Can I Recover?
Just as in any other negligence case, you may have two or three claims! This would include a claim for negligence or negligence per se requesting compensatory damages for:
past, present and future medical expense;
past, present and future lost wages;
past, present and future pain and suffering (including emotional);
past, present and future scarring and disfigurement;
past, present and future permanent injury
past, present and future loss of enjoyment of life;
Moreover, you may have a claim for Punitive damages or damages seeking to punish the wrongdoer for willful, intentional, or reckless conduct.
What Is an Underride Accident?
A truck underride crash occurs when a passenger vehicle crashes into the truck and penetrates beneath or underrides the rear or side of the trailer. The top of the car is crushed or removed altogether many times resulting in severe injury or death.
If I Am Partially at Fault for The Accident, Can I Still Recover Compensation?
The short answer is that in NC if you are contributorily negligent and your own negligence caused your injury then NO you cannot recover.