When you’re in a car accident, the process of establishing fault and seeking compensation can be a tricky and contentious process. In North Carolina, the doctrine of contributory negligence can make it difficult to recover even damages that you’re owed.
Understanding the basics of an accident case can be the first step in recovering damages. Discover what goes on during an auto accident case, how the process moves forward, and why having a Winston-Salem auto accident attorney is important.
Liability and the Car Accident
Auto accidents, like most personal injury claims, reside on one core principle: that of negligence. Proving liability in an accident, and thus collecting compensation for the damages you suffer, involves three elements:
- That all drivers on the road have a duty to behave responsibly behind the wheel and avoid placing others in dangerous situations.
- That one driver violated this duty by acting in a way that is contrary to what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.
- That this irresponsible and unreasonable (negligent) act led directly to the accident that caused the injury in question.
Thus, when you’re hurt in an accident, at its most basic level, you have to prove that the accident was the other driver’s fault because they were careless, irresponsible, or deliberate in their actions.
What Can I Collect?
In a car accident case, you may be eligible for a variety of damages. These include your medical bills, any lost wages, and potential future lost earnings, damage to your quality of life and relationships, loss of comfort, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, emotional damages, and others. However, you will need to prove that the other driver was responsible.
In North Carolina, we have a concept known as contributory negligence. This means that if the defendant can prove that you were in any way partially responsible for the accident—even as little as 1% responsible—you cannot collect damages.
Contributory negligence makes it very difficult in some cases to collect full damages, and insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to avoid having to pay out. After all, they make money by people paying in, not by them paying out. This does not, however, mean you shouldn’t fight for your rights.
Hiring a Winston-Salem Auto Accident Attorney
The difficulty in proving total fault for an accident is one reason why you should never represent yourself but should hire a Winston-Salem auto accident attorney. Insurance companies are canny and very good at what they do, and it’s important to have someone in your corner who knows exactly how to fight back and protect your rights.
The lawyers at Lewis & Keller have recovered many millions of dollars over the decades of experience we have fighting for our clients’ rights, and your case could be next. If you have been in an accident in the Winston-Salem area and you need help proving negligence or standing up to the insurance companies, we’re ready to help.
There’s no fee unless we win your case and no obligation for a case evaluation. Just fill out our case evaluation form or give us a call today!