PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER IN CHARLOTTE NC
Personal Injury Attorneys in Charlotte, NC
Personal Injury Lawyers… Can they help? In many cases, they can. After experiencing a personal injury, it is hard to know how to navigate the legal process, pay for medical bills, lost wages, and more. When seeking answers, it is helpful to consult with a personal injury attorney for guidance on how to proceed. Our office gives free consultations for anyone with questions about an injury they’ve suffered.
Hiring a Charlotte NC Personal Injury Attorney
For all personal injury cases, the state of North Carolina has a statute of limitations in place. This means that the plaintiff has a limited
amount of time to file suit in a North Carolina court. Failure to file the lawsuit within the set amount of time can bar a victim from ever filing a claim in court. Under North Carolina law, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is generally three years. In wrongful death claims, the plaintiff has two years to from the date of death to file the lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a medical malpractice cases is three years from the date on injury, but no more than six years from the date of product purchase. The best way to measure the statute of limitations and ensure proper filing is to secure a consultation with a knowledgeable attorney.
There are numerous and steps for consideration when instituting a personal injury claim. One of the first matters is determining who is at fault. This is done by determining what party has a duty to act in the situation leading to injury. A duty to act may be as simple as abiding by traffic laws. Without a duty, there is no possibility of liability. Once a duty is identified, you must then ensure that the defendant actually breached it, leading to injury.
For intentional torts, the determination of fault can prove easier. This is especially true if the incident resulted in a criminal case. If a criminal court determines that the defendant was guilty by a criminal standard, it is probable that a court will find the defendant liable under a civil standard of proof.
Strict liability is rare, but it’s applicable to certain dog bite and product liability cases. There is no requirement for proving negligence. You must only show that the injury was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. Negligence per se is also rare, only applicable to violations of certain state statutes, like traffic laws and building code regulations.
Personal Injury Lawyer – Damages
The next step in pursuing your case is determining appropriate damage amounts for your specific injuries. A Charlotte, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer can help you with this. There are three types of damage awards in personal injury cases. Special damages refer to economic damages that are quantified with documentation and receipts. Examples of special damages are medical bills, pharmaceutical expenses and lost wages. Property damages and other out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred as a result of the incident leading to injury are also classified as special damages.
General damages are noneconomic in nature. Examples of general damages include pain and suffering, as well as mental anguish. Loss of consortium, which deals with the loss of affection between the injured party and loved ones, as well as lower quality of life, are additional examples of general damages.
Punitive damages are a third type of possible damages in a personal injury case. These damages are only applicable to certain cases of recklessness or gross negligence. Courts award punitive awards in order to punish the actions of the defendant or deter the defendant from repeating bad behaviors.
Personal Injury Lawyers & Negotiations
The success of your case is largely dependent on your ability to adequately negotiate with the insurance company. One key to completing this task is quantifying your injuries and accurately calculating damage amounts. This is done in different ways, depending on the type of injury:
- Quantifying medical costs through receipts and statements from your physician. It is useful to keep every document provided to you by medical providers;
- Quantifying loss of income through pay stubs;
- Quantifying property damage through a showing of fair market value;
- Quantifying out-of-pocket expenses through receipts or cancelled checks;
- Quantifying pain and suffering with medical documentation about the extent of your injuries and the amount of necessary treatment;
- Proving general damages with medical documentation regarding sleeplessness or depression; and.or
- Establishing loss of consortium and decreased quality of life through statements from family members and loved ones.
If you are unable to negotiate a settlement, a court case may prove necessary. The process of negotiating a settlement starts with a letter of notification to the insurance company of the at-fault party. The company will likely respond a Reservation of Rights letter, stating that no liability is admitted. The next step is a demand letter, detailing your claim amount. Then, the insurance company adjuster will contact you to begin the negotiation process. Negotiations continue back and forth settlement agreement is reached.
While a settlement agreement is the most desirable outcome, there are several reasons why a court appearance may prove necessary. These include situations where:
- The insurance company denies your claim, without good cause;
- The insurance company ignores your claim and does not respond to your demand letter;
- The claims adjuster is uncooperative and unreasonably difficult; and/or
- The statute of limitations is fast approaching and you have no expectation of a settlement.
During the time between your injuries and the settlement of your claim, medical bills pile up and require attention. There are several ways that you may choose to handle these medical expenses. You may speak with your insurance company and seek payment for these bills. However, it’s important to note that the insurance company must be reimbursed once a settlement agreement is reached.
You may also choose to pay these expenses out of pocket, though this can prove a very expensive option. If you find yourself having trouble with these responsibilities, speak with your creditors about a hold agreement, where they will hold off on contacting credit bureaus about your overdue accounts. Some claimants choose to pursue personal injury loans. However, there is some level of controversy surrounding these loans, caution is necessary.
Concluding your Negotiations
Once you and the insurance company reach a settlement agreement, the company will send you and your personal injury attorney a release for your signature. Review this document carefully and do not sign it unless you or the Charlotte personal injury lawyer completely understand every provision. the services of an attorney can prove extremely useful in this task. Signing this release binds you to its statements and you are barred from contesting it later. There is certain language that is generally included in all release forms. One clause generally states that the settlement agreement is not an admission of guilt. Another common provision is a statement that you waive all of your rights to any additional claims. This is included to prevent you from bringing any additional claims once you receive compensation for the present one.
There are numerous types of personal injury cases due to the countless ways that individuals become injured. Some of the most common personal injury matters are as follows:
- Premises liability cases result when individuals are injured on the property of another individual based on defects in the property. Property owners have a duty to keep their property in proper repair for the safety of visitors. If they fail to do so and a visitor is injured, the injured party can bring a personal injury claim against the owner.
- Product liability occurs when a person is injured by a product. These injuries may occur due to the following issues:
- Design defects, which are problems with the initial design of the product;
- Manufacturing defects, which are problems that arise during the production and manufacturing process; or
- Marketing defects, which are problems with product labeling or warnings .
- Medical malpractice cases arise when the negligent actions of a medical professional cause injury to a patient. Misdiagnosis of illness, medication mistakes and surgical errors are all common types of medical malpractice actions.
- Auto accident cases are the most common types of personal injury cases, occurring when the actions of a driver result in injuries to another. Some example of auto accident cases include pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and incidents involving uninsured motorists.
- Wrongful death actions are brought by the surviving family members or estate representatives of a deceased party. They are brought to seek compensation when an individual’s death occurs due the negligent acts of another. Damage awards may cover loss of income, loss of affection and mental anguish. To prove these cases, the suing party must prove the following elements:
- The party had a responsibility to act in a reasonable manner in order to prevent injuries;
- The party failed to act in a responsible manner; and
- The lack of action proximately led to the death of the victim.
- Dog bite cases are also classified as personal injury matters. Under North Carolina law, a person injured by a dog may collect damages from the owner of the dog. Liability is commonly proven under a strict liability theory if injuries occurred while the owner was in violation of the state’s running at large statute. Liability is also proven under a negligence theory if the owner breached his duty of care, resulting in an injurious dog bite.
Negligence is the most common basis for personal injury compensation. It is based on the theory that an individual’s actions or inactions caused the injuries of another individual. There are four elements to proving a negligence claim:
- An individual owes a duty to act or not act;
- An individual breached that duty;
- The breach of duty proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury; and
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages.
Negligence cases also require a finding of proximate cause between the actions of the defendant and the injury of the plaintiff. In addition, you must prove that the defendant actually possessed a duty.
When dealing with a negligence case, it’s important to note that North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. This means that if a plaintiff contributed to his injuries, he is barred from collecting compensation under a negligence claim.
While negligence cases are based on a failure to act, intentional torts are based on purposeful and intentional behavior. Many torts are also criminal offenses, which helps in proving civil liability. Some examples within the state of North Carolina include:
- Assault and battery – Assault is the imminent threat of battery or harm. It requires some action, along with words, that place another individual in reasonable fear of injury. Battery is an offensive touching without permission. The elements of the crime includes:
- An act by the defendant that brings about harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff’s body;
- Intent on the part of the defendant to bring about harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff’s body; and
- The act caused injury to the plaintiff.
- False imprisonment – False imprisonment is the intentional and unlawful detainment or restraining of an individual without permission. The court generally considers how long the detainment lasted and emotional suffering, among other factors, when determining damages.
- Intentional infliction of emotional harm – This intentional tort applies when a person acts in a particularly outrageous and egregious manner, which results in extreme emotional distress on the part of another party.
- Malicious prosecution – When a person wrongfully institutes a criminal proceeding against another for a reason other than obtaining a legal judgement, the injured party may seek compensation through a malicious prosecution lawsuit.
- Defamation – The tort of defamation occurs when an individual purposely makes untrue statements about another party. When these statements are made in writing, it is referred to as libel. Verbal communications are classified as slander. For a successful defamation claim, you must show that the statement in question was in fact false.
- Fraud – Fraud is a fairly common intentional tort action, often brought in small claims court. It occurs when a person communicates a deliberate lie and another person relies on the lie to his detriment. The fraudulent party may prove liable for tangible injuries incurred by the victim.
- Trespass is an intentional tort that occurs when a party interferes with the property ownership interests of another party. It may apply to real property or personal property, also called chattel.
- Conversion is also an intentional tort to property. It applies when the following elements are present:
- Plaintiff owned a right of possession at the time of the tort;
- The defendant intentionally interfered with the right of ownership; and
- The interference deprived the plaintiff of his rightful possession and use, causing damage to the plaintiff.