North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, it’s important that you speak to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
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Each year, thousands of people are involved in motor vehicle accidents. Being the victim of a car accident can be sudden and a frightening experience. While not all accidents are the same, many accidents involve serious injury or even death. A serious car accident can turn your life upside down and possibly have long-lasting, if not permanent, consequences. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident where injuries or death occurred and weren’t at fault, you need to contact someone for legal representation.
Our car accident lawyer at Irons & Irons P.A., Harry H. Albritton Jr., has a depth of experience as the kind of advocate you require in getting fair compensation. He will be diligent in fighting for your case. As the victim in most personal injury cases, you will be going up against insurance companies, which is not always an easy fight to get the compensation you deserve. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney knows the judicial system and can be on top of any issues that need to be handled during the process.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
There are a myriad of reasons why car accidents happen. The majority of accidents involve human error. Drunk driving and speeding are two leading causes of fatal accidents however. Here is a list of some common causes of car accidents:
Running traffic signals
Driving at night
Common Types of Car Accidents
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data indicates that head-on collisions are the most common type of accident, followed by rear-end collisions. Angle accidents, which include side-impact collisions, are the third most common type of accident.
Statistics for Car Collisions in North Carolina
In 2022, in “Car Accident Statistics for 2023,” Forbes calculated that a fatal car accident happens every 15 minutes in the United States. North Carolina–along with Texas, California, Florida, and Georgia–represented 37% of the total road deaths in 2022. North Carolina had the fifth-highest number of fatalities in 2022 with an increase of 0.3% from 2021, and the research showed that the number of alcohol-related deaths rose. Additionally, the number of alcohol-related car collisions that caused injuries was higher than the four-year average. Distracted driving behavior is also on the rise, with a 15% increase that resulted in 117 fatalities in 2021.
The Aftermath of Car Accidents
As a result of a car accident where injuries are sustained, your life may change drastically from what it was beforehand. Depending on the severity of the accident and the injuries sustained, you may be unable to work, require ongoing medical treatment, and have a lesser quality of life. In addition, you will still have bills to pay and a family to provide for. Everything can be very overwhelming. An experienced personal injury car accident lawyer like Harry Albritton can help you navigate through the turmoil to get compensation that relieves some of the problems you incur.
Types of Car Accident Injuries
A victim in a car accident can incur a wide range of injuries, from those that are acute to chronic injuries that cause pain and suffering for years. A car accident can cause serious injuries to any part of the body. Regardless of the type of injury, victims of car accidents should seek medical care as soon as possible in order to improve chances of recovery.
Our North Carolina car accident lawyer represents clients who have suffered from the following injuries:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Burns, cuts, or lacerations
- Spinal cord, neck, and back injuries
- Nerve damage
- Chronic pain and paralysis
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Head Injuries
Soft Tissue Injuries
The human body has many soft tissues, especially in the neck and back. Soft tissue injuries that result from a car accident can include sprains, strains, bruises, and whiplash. Commonly, neck and back injuries involving soft tissues can occur resulting from an auto accident, with whiplash being one of the most common soft tissue injuries. A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament such as a sprained ankle. A physician will take an X-ray to rule out bone fractures and examine the area. Strains are also common injuries in a car wreck. A strain can be either a stretched or torn tendon that connects muscles to one another and to bones.
The most common neck injury in a car accident is a soft tissue injury. Doctors call these whiplash, neck sprains, or neck strains. Whiplash injuries are very common in car accidents. A car accident can cause your head to snap forward like a whip, thus the name. This abrupt movement causes damage to the soft tissue. A whiplash can have symptoms that are both physical pain and cognitive issues.
Signs and symptoms of a neck injury are:
- Neck stiffness
- Radiating pain from the neck down to the shoulders and/or arms
- Swelling and bruising
- Muscle weakness or paralysis of the arms or legs
- Decrease in sensation in the arms, legs, or body
- Difficulty in breathing
In the United States, car and other vehicle crashes are the most common cause of spinal cord injuries. Even car accidents that seem minor can cause back injuries because your spine can’t absorb the impact. Back injuries caused by car accidents can be sprains and strains, herniated or bulging discs, or fractured vertebra. Injuries to your back can severely affect your life long-term. Common back injuries caused by auto accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Whiplash – Whiplash often results from low-speed rear-end collisions. When the force of the impact from a vehicle crash makes the head jerk back and forth quickly, the motion can stretch or tear the neck’s muscles and tendons.
- Muscle strains and sprains – Impact from an auto accident can cause muscles and ligaments to stretch and tear away from their attachments. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, and spasms.
- Spinal disc injuries – Spinal discs are in between vertebrae. The impact of an automobile crash can cause a disc injury that will press on nerves causing a great deal of pain and discomfort.
- Spinal cord injuries – Sudden blows to the spine can cause severe, permanent, and disabling injuries. Spinal cord injuries are the worst type of back injuries. A spinal cord injury can cause total or partial paralysis, chronic pain, blood clots, infections, and other severe problems.
- Lumbar and thoracic spine injuries – The lumbar area of the spine is the lowest part of the spine. Doctors use a numbering system for vertebrae with the lumbar spine being L1 to L5. These are the largest vertebrae. A car accident can strain or sprain the muscles of the lumbar spine. In doing so, there is lower back pain, swelling, and bruising, which limits the car accident victim’s ability to move. The thoracic spine is the upper and middle back, between the neck and lumbar spine and supporting the rib cage. Injuries to the thoracic spine can be the most severe back injuries. A car accident involving high speed can injure the thoracic spine and lead to permanent nerve damage.
Nerve damage caused by a car accident is called “peripheral neuropathy.” This means that damage is to the nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord. When these nerves are damaged, you can experience pain, numbness, or loss of function in one or more body parts. Nerve injury from a car accident is sharp and immediate, can be severe, and can last a very long time. A physician specializing in nerve disorders (neurologist) is required to treat the condition. Nerve injury can cause someone to lose the ability to work and perform everyday tasks. Recovering full function from a nerve injury can occur but it takes time.
Chronic pain can stem from an automobile accident over time, even after an injury from an accident has healed. Inflammation, nerve damage, and muscle tension can cause chronic pain. There are treatments such as pain medication and ice, as well as physical therapy, that can help short-term.
Either damage to the spine or damage to the brain can cause paralysis. Trauma experienced in a car accident can bruise the spinal cord, partially tear it, or completely sever the spinal cord. Typically, an injury to the spinal cord will result in either a partial or complete paralysis that is either temporary or permanent. The type of paralysis depends on the nature and severity of the injuries to the spinal cord. The different types of paralysis you can experience following an accident include:
- Monoplegia – paralysis that affects only one limb
- Hemiplegia – paralysis that affects one side of the body
- Diplegia – paralysis that affects the same area on both sides of the body, such as both legs or both arms
- Paraplegia – paralysis that affects both legs and, in some cases, the lower half of the body
- Quadriplegia – paralysis that affects both arms and legs and, in some cases, the body from the neck down
Broken bones resulting from a car accident are common injuries. Here are some of the most common broken bones in a car accident:
- Arm fractures
- Wrist fractures
- Tibia and/or fibula fractures
- Femur fractures
- Clavicle fractures
- Rib fractures
- Back fractures
- Hip fractures
Head injuries are some of the most common car accident injuries. A head injury can cause mild pain that heals after a few days or severe damage that lasts long-term. Head injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and brain injury are often used interchangeably. Symptoms vary depending on the severity of a head injury. A concussion that is the result from a minor head injury can still temporarily impair brain function. Difficulties such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, depression, irritability, and memory problems can follow brain injury. Even after many years, limitations of activity can follow a brain injury regardless of its severity. For example, trouble hearing what is said in a group conversation and trouble hearing what is said in a one-to-one conversation were the most commonly reported limitations of activity from the Health and Activity Limitations Survey.
Severity of Injury from an Car Accident
The severity of injuries suffered by drivers and passengers depends on many factors, some of which include the following:
- Whether the injured person was wearing a seat belt
- Where the car was hit from the rear, side, or front
- The position the person was facing at the time of the accident–facing straight ahead or turned
- Whether it was a low-speed or high-speed crash
- Whether the car was equipped with airbags
Injuries from auto accidents fall into two categories: 1) impact injuries and 2 ) penetrating injuries. Impact injuries are caused when the body hits some part of the interior of the car (for instance, a head hitting the side window). Penetrating injuries are caused usually by cuts from shattering glass. A significant type of injury is soft tissue damage to the connective tissue and is in the category of impact injuries. An example of a connective tissue injury is whiplash.
What You Should Do After a Car Accident
According to the North Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI), you should do the following after a car accident:
1. Stop your car in a safe place.
2. Move your car, if necessary, to prevent getting further damage and to get out of the way of traffic.
3. Call the police (especially if there are injuries or in a hit-and-run accident).
4. Obtain information from the other driver involved (name, address, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number and insurance information).
5. Record the name of the insurance company and policy number exactly as it appears on the other driver’s proof of insurance card.
6. Get the names of any available witnesses as well as their addresses and telephone numbers.
7. Don’t agree to forget about the accident. You may have hidden damages, unknown injuries or later find that a lawsuit has been filed against you.
8. Call your insurance agent if you have any questions or concerns with the claims process.
Seek Medical Treatment As Soon As Possible
Each car accident and injury case is different so, if paramedics are called, you may want to seek medical attention even if they tell you that you are fine. If you think you may have an injury, go to a doctor within 72 hours after the wreck, especially if you are experiencing dizziness, numbness, pain or other symptoms. Waiting longer than 72 hours puts your health at risk and can damage a potential personal injury claim. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will decide to make the lag time an issue.
Car Accident Injury Compensation
In North Carolina, the primary issue in awarding a plaintiff’s suit for compensation is whether the fault was someone else’s. If it is found that you had some part in the accident, you cannot recover any money for your injuries and losses. This is because of the legal doctrine used in North Carolina called “contributory negligence” for car accident claims. Even if you only were one percent at fault for the accident, you will be unable to recover against the other party for any damages you received as a result of the accident. When making a determination of fault, there can be complicated circumstances that a seasoned personal injury attorney like Harry Albritton knows how to maneuver through.
If the defendant is found to be 100% at fault, damages are requested to cover current and future lost wages, property damage, and current and future medical expenses. In addition to compensating documented financial damages, the team at Irons & Irons P.A. can secure compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and disability.
How Long Does a Car Accident Case Take?
If you and your attorney decide that you should take your car accident case to court, you can expect that the process will take from 18 to 24 months. It’s possible that the case can take longer based on the litigation process, the court docket, and other factors. Also, realize that the case can be settled at any point after litigation has begun.
The Statute of Limitations for Filing a Car Accident Claim
Even though you may be in a virtual whirlwind after an auto accident that causes personal injury, you should understand the statute of limitations set by North Carolina. Time passes quickly and you can bump up against the expiration of time given for you to file a civil lawsuit.
North Carolina allows a victim three years from the date of the accident to file a claim (begin a lawsuit) for property damages and personal injuries. The date that begins the limitations period is the day of the accident. If the victim died as a result of the car accident, the deceased family has two years from the date of the death to file a claim for wrongful death damages. After the statute of limitations ends, it is likely that you cannot proceed with your claim. Therefore, it is extremely important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible, long before the limitations period expires.
How Much Compensation Can I Recover?
The following is the general formula most insurers use to measure how much a settlement is worth:
(Special damages x multiplier reflecting general damages) + lost wages = settlement amount
Special damages include any damages that can be assigned a monetary value except for lost wages that originated from missed work. Special damages can include loss of future wages due to inability to work, medical expenses both past and present, and any property damages that occurred.
General damages are damages that can’t be assigned a specific monetary value such as emotional damages and the loss of ability to do enjoyable activities. These are assigned a total number of one to five, based on their severity. Then, special damages are multiplied by the general damages.
How to Prove You Aren’t at Fault in a Car Accident
There are three things you need to show the insurance company in order to prove you were not at fault:
- The driver was negligent and did not fulfill their duty to practice proper care when driving on the road.
- The driver’s negligence caused the car accident.
- The driver’s negligence physically damaged you.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you in proving you weren’t at fault. They will:
- Collect all evidence of the crash
- Exchange contact information
- Get witness testimony
- Obtain the police report
You Need a Car Accident Attorney Working for You
A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer is critical to obtaining a more favorable outcome for your car accident claim. Navigating through the negligence standards and the documentation required for a successful result to your lawsuit is what we do at Irons & Irons P.A. Our experience and dedication in getting what you deserve and need lets you focus on healing and rebuilding your life. We handle the negotiations with insurance companies and fight for you. Even if a fair settlement can’t be reached out of court, attorney Albritton, Jr. will bring your case to trial in getting you the compensation you deserve.
Request a Free Case Review with Our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers
Harry Albritton and the team at Irons & Irons P.A. are dedicated to advocating for your car accident claim injury case. We are committed to getting you fair compensation for your specific situation. We accept auto accident personal injury cases throughout the state of North Carolina. If your settlement isn’t received, you don’t pay anything for our services. Call 252-215-3000 today or fill out the confidential, free case review form to learn more about our services and schedule a consultation.