Common Personal Injury Questions in North Carolina

What is the first thing I should do following an injury?

The first action you should take is to ensure your well-being. If emergency medical services arrive at the scene of injury, accept assistance and follow their recommendations for future treatment. If there is no immediate emergency assistance, be sure to see a medical professional as soon as possible to assess your potential injuries. Even if you do not feel significantly hurt, see a doctor anyway, as many conditions may not present immediately or start as minor pains before progressing into serious matters. After seeking medical assistance, contact an attorney for representation.

Do I need an attorney?

The need for an attorney varies depending on the specifics of your injury. In making the decision, you should consider the seriousness of your injuries and who is at fault for them. The best way to answer this question is to take advantage of the free consultations offered by numerous law offices. This affords you the opportunity to discuss the specifics of your case and receive a professional opinion.

How much will an attorney cost?

Attorney charges vary depending on the lawyer. Most often, personal injury cases are billed on a contingency basis. This means that you pay the attorney a percentage of the compensation you receive for your case. The percentage amount typically ranges from 20 percent to 40 percent and usually does not include additional expenses for filing fees and administrative costs. With this type of payment arrangement, if you do not win your case, the attorney does not collect any compensation.

Another possible payment arrangement is a flat fee, where the attorney provides you a set payment amount ahead of time. Your attorney may also want to be paid on an hourly basis, where you will make a retainer deposit that the attorney pulls from as work is completed on your case.

What do I do if contacted by an insurance company?

Do not feel pressured to speak with the insurance company without the benefit of legal representation. Your communications will likely be recorded and saying the wrong thing could have negative consequences after the case. If you do choose to talk with the insurance company, only give general information and refrain from admitting any type of fault in the incident leading to your injury. You also should not sign any releases or settlement agreements that you do not understand.

What is negligence?

Negligence occurs when one person fails to exercise the appropriate duty of care owed to an individual. it is based on a reasonableness standard, which means that the court considers whether the actions of all parties were reasonable considering the specifics of the incident. In filing a negligence lawsuit, you are asserting that the defendant acted in a negligent manner, which proximately caused your injuries.

What is my case worth?

This is a difficult question to answer because of the many variables involved. The worth of your case depends on the extent of your injuries, which you may not fully know until later in the case. It also depends on the amount of other costs you have encountered as a result of the incident, including:

  • Medical bills;
  • Future medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future earning potential;
  • Pain and suffering; and
  • Punitive damages awarded by the court.

The best way to answer this question is to take advantage of the free consultations offered by numerous law offices. This affords you the opportunity to discuss the specifics of your case and receive a professional opinion about its worth.

Will I have to go to trial?

Whether your case goes to trial depends on a number of factors. A personal injury claim can take a long while to reach completion. During this time, there are numerous opportunities for you and the other side to reach a settlement agreement. If a compromise is met to the satisfaction of both parties, a trial will not be necessary. However, if all attempts at negotiation and mediation fail, a trial may prove necessary. Remember that there are time limitations in place for filing a lawsuit.

How soon will I receive money from the case?

It is difficult to provide an exact time frame for receipt of award funds. First, it depends on the amount of time it takes to complete the settlement or the trial process. Once complete, the judge must enter an order or payment. For many cases with smaller awards, payment is received within two to three weeks. However, in cases involving larger award amounts, out-of-state insurance companies or individual defendants can take much longer for payment.

What is a deposition?

A deposition is a process by which attorneys collect sworn testimony. You are asked a variety of questions under oath. Some examples include:

  • Questions about your medical history;
  • Questions about the incident leading to injury;
  • Whether an insurance claim was filed;
  • Questions about the effect of the injury on your life; and
  • Previous involvement in lawsuits.

What if I am partially at fault?

You can still receive compensation even if you are found to be partially at fault for your injuries. However, the court may lessen your award amount based on your contribution to the incident. If you feel that you are partially at fault, it is important that you contact an attorney to represent your interests. Also, make sure that you don’t admit your guilt to any insurance representative.