Despite advances in technology and safety features, auto accidents are far too common across the United States — including here in Durham, North Carolina. In 2018 alone, 281,685 motor vehicle accidents happened across North Carolina. In those crashes, 1,442 people were killed and an additional 125,454 people were injured.
If you were hurt in a car accident caused by another person, then you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. A personal injury lawsuit can help you get justice after a Durham auto accident. Through a personal injury claim, you may be able to recover money for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
At Johnson & Groninger, we are dedicated to helping people who have been hurt in all types of accidents, including victims of car wrecks and their loved ones. Our Durham auto accident attorneys will aggressively advocate for your right to compensation. Our law firm offers free consultations to all prospective clients, and we never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
We Handle Auto Accidents
From our offices in Durham and Charlotte, we represent clients throughout the state in car accident lawsuits. We have both the experience and the resources to obtain the best possible result for you.
If you decide to work with us after a free case evaluation, we will start the process by conducting a thorough investigation of the accident. We will send private investigators and accident reconstruction experts to the scene to gather evidence and witness statements. We will then analyze all of the evidence, research North Carolina law, explore all possible sources of insurance coverage, and put together a strong argument for why the other driver is responsible for any losses that you have suffered.
In addition, we work closely with our car accident clients to make sure that they get the medical care that they need. We will also handle any claims from your health insurance company that may arise after a settlement or judgment in your case.
We handle a range of motor vehicle collision cases, including:
- Car accidents (rear-end, head-on, intersection collisions, rollover)
- Trucking accidents (head-on collisions, wide right turns, improper passing)
- Motorcycle personal injury claims
- Automobile vs. scooter injuries
- Bicycle Accidents
- Pedestrians hit by trucks and automobiles
- Fatal car, truck and bicycle accidents (wrongful death)
If you have been hurt in any type of motor vehicle accident, we can help. Our team has a track record of success, and will work hard to get you the money that you deserve.
Understanding North Carolina Accident Law
Auto accident claims are a type of personal injury case. Most often, these claims are based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. If you can prove that the other driver (or some other entity) was negligent, then you may be able to recover damages.
To prove that someone was negligent, you will need to establish four things:
- Duty: the other driver owed you a duty of care to drive in a safe manner
- Breach: the other driver breached (violated) that duty.
- Causation: this violation caused injury to you, and was the “but for” cause of your injuries (i.e., but for the other driver’s breach, the accident would not have happened and you would not have been injured).
- Damages: you suffered actual damages as a result.
For example, another motorist was texting and driving, and rear-ended your vehicle because he wasn’t paying attention to the road, causing you to suffer whiplash and other losses. All drivers owe others on the road a duty of care to drive safely, and the other driver breached that duty by texting and driving (a violation of North Carolina law). If the driver had been paying attention, the crash wouldn’t have happened (causation) — and you have medical expenses, lost wages, and more damages from the accident.
Importantly, North Carolina is one of the few states that follows the rule of contributory negligence. This means that if you are even partially at fault for the accident, you cannot recover for your losses. Using this rule, insurance companies may try to assign some blame for the crash to you so that they can deny your claim. An experienced Durham auto accident lawyer can push back and work to get you the money that you deserve.
After an accident, you have three years to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file your claim within this time period, known as the statute of limitations, then your case may be barred. Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible after a collision can help to protect your rights and ensure that your claim is filed on time.
What to Do After an Durham Accident
If you have been hurt in a car crash, the first and most important thing to do is to get medical attention for any injuries that you may have suffered. Even if you think that you weren’t hurt — or that your injuries are minor — you should still get checked out by a doctor. An early diagnosis is often key to getting the proper medical treatment. It may also prevent the insurer from arguing that your injuries are worse than they otherwise would have been had you gotten medical care immediately.
If you are able to do so, collect information and evidence at the scene. This may involve taking pictures of the accident, getting contact information from witnesses, or asking for a copy of any police report. Do not apologize to the other driver; instead, simply provide them with your contact and insurance information.
The other driver’s insurance company may try to contact you by phone, letter or in person. Do not talk to the insurance company or an adjuster without talking to a Durham accident lawyer first. The insurance adjuster’s goal is to deny or minimize your claim to maximize profits for their employer, not to give you the maximum recovery.
Similarly, do not sign anything without first consulting with a Durham car accident attorney. Even if a settlement agreement seems fair, you could be giving up important rights by signing it. An experience car accident lawyer will represent your best interests and make sure that you do not inadvertently say something that could jeopardize your recovery.
Hurt in an Accident? Reach Out Today.
There are few things more frightening than being in a car accident. The aftermath can also be devastating, with mounting bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A personal injury lawsuit may help you get the money that you are entitled to so that you can move forward with your life after a crash.
Johnson & Groninger is devoted to helping injury victims throughout North Carolina. If you have been hurt in a car accident, we will stand by your side throughout the process, from the initial consultation to the final resolution of your case. Contact us today at 919-240-4054 or email us to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.
Different types of accidents require different approaches
Sometimes after a free consultation with one of our experienced auto accident attorneys, we have given so much information that an injured person decides to handle the case on their own. In smaller cases we encourage that, since fortunately many car accidents are painful and inconvenient but they are manageable.
For a more serious accident, which has caused you to have significant medical bills, or to miss more than a few days from work, you will benefit from having an experienced car accident personal injury attorney.
In a serious auto accident, we hope that you will hire one of our Durham car accident attorneys. Even if you don’t hire us, be sure to hire someone experienced and respected. You want the best auto accident attorney for your case.
Talk To A Durham Car Accident Lawyer First
You definitely don’t want to talk to the insurance company without talking to an accident lawyer first! Insurance companies handle thousands of claims, and the other driver’s insurance adjuster who contacts you has a number one goal of saving money for her insurance company, not you. You should not sign anything without talking to an auto accident lawyer first so that you know ahead of time what to expect.
Often the outcome of an auto accident case depends on how much insurance the at-fault driver has. The outcome of the case can also be affected by how much insurance you have. Whether it is for this car accident, or to protect yourself against any future auto accident, you can learn more about what kind of insurance you should have.
Download our free brochure, Eight Questions Your North Carolina Insurance Agent Should Answer Before You Are Ever in a Wreck. We wrote this guide to help you when you are buying car insurance so that you will know how to protect yourself against irresponsible drivers.
The law of contributory negligence
In North Carolina, we have the doctrine of contributory negligence. This is a rule imposed by the courts in just a handful of cases, and it says that anyone who was partly at fault in causing a wreck can’t be compensated at all. This is something that the insurance company for the other driver may say about you, and then they may deny your claim. This is our North Carolina rule and it is harsh, but it has exceptions.
Don’t let the insurance company make your decisions
First of all the insurance company may be mistaken and it could be that you weren’t the least bit at fault. Or, perhaps the other driver was so much to blame that it doesn’t matter if you were somewhat at fault. For example, if the other driver was willful or wanton or had the last clear chance to avoid the accident, the defense of contributory negligence may be overcome.
Contact us first
If you are involved in an accident, don’t admit to anything without first consulting an attorney who understands North Carolina law. You could be making your claim more difficult without even knowing it!
Car Accident FAQs
What should you do if you’re involved in a car accident?
First, to the extent you can, make sure that you and any other people who are at the scene who are injured get medical attention, by calling 911. You should make sure that the police are called to document what happened. If there are witnesses who can help you, make sure the police officer talks with those witnesses. If the driver who hit you tries to leave the scene, be sure to get as much identifying information as you can about the driver and the automobile. If you have a camera in your car, take pictures of the automobiles and the scene. After the accident, and as soon as possible, you should report the accident to your own insurance company.
Should I negotiate with the insurance company myself?
If you have only damage to your automobile, or very few, if any, physical injuries, you may wish to handle your auto accident claim yourself. However, if you have any substantial medical bills or injuries, you should call an attorney for a free initial consultation. Do not make any settlement decisions quickly! Some injuries from auto accidents do not appear right away, but do appear within days or weeks after the accident. Do not sign any release in a hurry! Remember that the insurance adjuster for the person who caused the wreck does not work for you, and her primary goal is not to help you, but to settle the claim as quickly and for as little money as possible.
Should I sign a medical release for the insurance company?
Should I sign a medical release for the insurance company?
If you have any significant injuries or medical bills, you should not sign any medical release given to you by the insurance company. Remember, the insurance adjuster for the person who caused the wreck works for that person, and not for you. There are limitations on what you are required to disclose to the insurance adjuster about your personal medical history.
What should I do about the damage to my automobile?
You should address the damage to your automobile right away with the adjuster for the person who hit you. If that adjuster will not pay the amount owed for damage to your automobile, your own insurance company will pay for the damage. If there is a disagreement between you and the insurance company over the amount that the repairs will cost, you may get opinions from several automobile repair shops to assist in your negotiations with the insurance adjuster. If you think the adjuster has treated you unfairly, you may make a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Insurance. If we handle your personal injury claim, we will help you if there is a dispute over property damage.
What if the driver who hit me didn’t get a ticket?
Police officers do not always give tickets in automobile accident cases. If the other driver was at fault he will be legally responsible for your injuries regardless of whether he received a ticket. If the insurance adjuster for the driver that hit you will not take responsibility for the claim, and you believe that driver was responsible for the wreck, you should call a lawyer for a free initial consultation. At Johnson Groninger PLLC we often call on experienced accident reconstruction experts to investigate auto accidents to determine who was at fault and what went wrong.
When do I need a car accident lawyer?
You should seek the services of a lawyer if your injuries are significant or if you lose time from work because of an automobile accident that was the fault of another driver. At Johnson Groninger PLLC, your initial consultation with a lawyer will be free. If we accept the case for representation, we will charge an attorney’s fee only if we are able to obtain a settlement or award for you.
What if the driver who caused the wreck had no insurance?
If the driver who caused the wreck had no insurance, you can turn to your own insurance company for compensation for your injuries. This is why it is extremely important that you carry as much uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage as possible. If you thought you purchased this insurance coverage, but your insurance company tells you that you don’t have this coverage, you should consult with an attorney about this situation. If your own insurance company did not follow the law when it did not sell you this coverage, the company may be responsible for your injuries.
What is the statute of limitations?
Normally the statute of limitations in an automobile accident case in North Carolina is three years. However, if you intend to seek the services of a lawyer you should contact the lawyer well in advance of the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Do I have to file a lawsuit to get compensated for my injuries?
No. Many claims are brought by attorneys and then settled, as long as the insurance company for the person who caused the wreck offers a fair amount to compensate for the injured person’s lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. You do not have to have a trial if you do not want one. On the other hand, if the person who caused the wreck or his insurance company is not willing to take full responsibility for the damage caused by the wreck, then a lawsuit leading to a trial is ordinarily the only way to require them to be responsible. You and your lawyer can discuss all the options and decide together whether a lawsuit is necessary.
Can I get punitive damages?
Punitive damages may be warranted where the conduct of the person who caused the wreck was willful, reckless, or with conscious disregard for the rights of others. Punitive damages are awarded by juries only rarely; however, you may have a valid claim for punitive damages where the person who caused the wreck was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, or in other circumstances that you may discuss with your lawyer.
How will I pay my medical bills?
If you have health insurance or Medicare, you should give all of your medical providers your health insurance or Medicare information and ask that they bill your health insurer or Medicare for the cost of your medical treatment. You have the right to insist on this. Also, you very probably have medical payments insurance as part of your own automobile insurance policy. If you have this coverage, you should give copies of your medical bills to your own insurance company and they will reimburse you for the full amount of the bills, up to the limits of your coverage. You should do this even if you have health insurance or Medicare, because under North Carolina law, your insurance company does not get a credit for other insurance that is available. If your health insurance is through your employer, you may have to reimburse your health insurance company from your settlement or award. You should always check with your lawyer before making this reimbursement.