North Carolina Car Accident Laws

If You Were Hurt in a Car, Contact the Experienced OBX Injury Lawyers at Sharp, Graham, Baker & Varnell, LLP Today

North Carolina is a “fault” or tort-based state, meaning that if you were hurt in a car accident you can recover from the driver who caused the accident, or was “at fault.” (“Fault” states are discussed in comparison to “no-fault” states in which an injured party recovers from their insurance company, regardless of who was at fault.)

If you were hurt in a car crash in North Carolina, you can receive compensation for your injuries from:

  • Your own insurance carrier, who will then seek reimbursement from the at fault driver’s insurance company;
  • The at-fault driver by filing a lawsuit for personal injuries; or
  • The at-fault driver’s insurance company in a third-party claim.

The "at-fault driver" is not always the driver of the other car. For example, you may have been riding in a car that was involved in a crash. If the driver of the vehicle you were in caused the accident, you may have a claim against the driver of the vehicle you were in.

Types and Amounts of Automobile Insurance Coverage

North Carolina requires drivers to carry the following minimum automobile insurance amounts:

  • $25,000 per single person claim for injury or death
  • $60,000 maximum coverage amount per incident
  • $25,000 for claims of property damage

North Carolina also requires drivers with minimum insurance limits to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage allows you to file a claim with your own insurance company if you are injured in a car crash and the at-fault driver did not have insurance.

In some instances, drivers are required to carry under-insured motorist coverage. Under-insured motorist coverage applies if your claim for injuries exceeds the at-fault driver’s insurance limits. For example, if the at fault-driver had a minimum limits policy of $25,000 and your claim for personal injuries included medical bills of $30,000, you could claim the remaining $5,000 from your insurance company.

Strict Time Limits Apply to Your Claim for Personal Injuries

Strict time limits apply to claims for personal injuries. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is 3 years. If you have not filed a lawsuit within 3 years after the date the injuries were caused, it is likely that you will be unable to proceed with your claim.

Even if you think your claim will settle, it is important to speak with an attorney well before the statute of limitations expires. You might have other types of claims with a shorter statute of limitations period. Or, the settlement could fall apart. Not to mention that you will be in a stronger negotiating position if you can still file your claim in court. If you were injured in a car accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Sharp, Graham, Baker & Varnell, LLP today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Contributory Negligence May Eliminate Your Recovery

North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, meaning that if you have contributed in any way to your personal injury, you cannot recover compensation. This holds true regardless of how much fault is assigned to your actions.

North Carolina Damage Caps

North Carolina applies “damage caps” which limit the amount you may recover on a personal injury claim. North Carolina’s damage caps limit punitive damages to $250,000, but otherwise only apply to claims for medical malpractice.

If you were hurt in a car accident and the other driver was working for the government, a different set of rules apply, and you must file your claim with the Industrial Commission within three years.

Successfully resolving a claim for personal injuries is a complex process. If you were hurt in a car accident, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. Contact the attorneys at Sharp, Graham & Baker, LLP today for a free consultation. We handle most claims for personal injuries on a contingency fee.

What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

  • Pull Over. If you were involved in a car crash that involves property damage, personal injury, or death, North Carolina requires that you stop your vehicle and avoid obstructing traffic by pulling over to the side of the road. You may temporarily leave the scene of the crash to get medical help or call a police officer; otherwise, you must remain at the scene of the crash until a police officer completes an investigation or authorizes you to leave.
  • Call Law Enforcement. Drivers involved in car accidents that cause property damage, personal injury or death are required to notify the local law enforcement agency by the quickest means of communication possible. A driver is not required to contact law enforcement if the accident does not involving property damage, personal injury or death unless an unattended vehicle is damaged. However, you may still wish to contact law enforcement in order to create an unbiased record of who is at fault for the incident.
  • Assist Anyone Who Is Injured. Check to see if anyone involved in the crash was injured and, if someone was seriously hurt, immediately call for medical assistance. Make the injured person comfortable and offer reasonable assistance, but do not move the person unless you are a trained medical professional.
  • Statements About the Accident. North Carolina requires that you provide your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to the driver and occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash. You should also cooperate with the police officer by providing basic facts. HOWEVER, you are not required to admit fault, and no one, not even the police officer, can require you to give an opinion as to the cause of the accident. Remember, ANY STATEMENT YOU MAKE ABOUT THE ACCIDENT, WHETHER SPOKEN OR IN WRITING, CAN BE USED AGAINST YOU.
  • Exchange Information. Just as you are required to provide your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to the driver and occupants, you should request the same information from other people involved in the car accident. We suggest that you ask to see the other driver’s license. We also advise that all parties to the car crash exchange insurance information; however, exchanging this information is not required by law.
  • Witnesses. Try to obtain the name, telephone number and address of any witnesses who might have information about the accident.
  • Take Notes. Complete an accident information form and diagram, which you can obtain from the police at the scene of the crash. Also take your own notes about the collision. Use the camera on your phone to take as many pictures as you can of the other car, the scene, and your car. Once you leave the scene of the accident, continue to keep your own notes about the accident, including what happened, who you think was at fault, and anything the other driver or witnesses said.
  • See a doctor. Even if you do not think you were seriously injured, it's a good idea to see a doctor. Many times injuries do not show symptoms until hours or even days after the accident. When you do see a doctor explain that you were involved in a car accident and that the accident caused your injuries.
  • Notify Insurance Companies. Report the accident to your insurance company, and ask about medical payments coverage. If the at-fault driver’s insurance has not taken care of the property damage, you can ask your insurance company to pay for it and seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Also call the the at-fault driver’s insurance company to notify them of the accident, as the at-fault driver may not do it. HOWEVER, beware of insurance adjusters. Do not discuss your injuries with anyone other than your attorney and your medical providers. You do NOT need to provide them with an interview, or make a recorded statement, and certainly do not sign anything.
  • Keep Records Related to the Accident. Continue to keep notes about the accident, like your injuries, medical symptoms, medical and rental car expenses, and any out of pocket expenses you incurred as a result of the accident. It is better to include more rather than less, and let your attorney decide whether some expenses are unrelated to the crash.

If You Were Hurt In a Car Crash Call the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Sharp, Graham, Baker & Varnell

If you or someone you love was hurt in a car accident in the Outer Banks, you need skilled, aggressive representation to get the compensation you need and deserve. Contact the attorneys at Sharp, Graham, Baker & Varnell, LLP today to schedule a free consultation. Call 252-261-2126, email, or complete our online form.