Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers
Legal Representation for Serious Vehicle Accidents
Did you get into a collision on US 17, or Highway 74/76 in the Wilmington area?
Car collisions occur all too frequently on busy North Carolina roadways. While the majority of these are simply unfortunate events, some involve significant negligence or irresponsible behavior on the part of other people. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of catastrophic injuries. Depending on the severity of the accident, victims could suffer long-term setbacks or even permanent disability, forever changing their quality of life.
Experience with a Wide Variety of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Rhine Law Firm, P.C., represents those injured in any type of serious car accident; from severe rear-end collisions to multi-vehicle highway collisions. Making a claim while recovering from serious injury can be challenging to do on your own. Our Wilmington car accident attorneys have represented many clients who have been hurt in vehicle crashes resulting from:
- Speeding by a truck, car, or motorcycle
- Failure of a car, truck, or motorcycle driver to yield
- Dangerous lane changing, passing, merging, or turning
- Distracted driving: texting or talking on a mobile device
- Inadequate or improper vehicle maintenance
- Drunk, impaired, or tired drivers
- Teenage drivers
- Unlicensed and uninsured or underinsured drivers
- Recreational vehicles
- Collisions with bicyclists
- Collisions involving tractor-trailers and commercial vehicles
- Semi-truck accidents caused by driver fatigue, negligence, overloaded trailers, or mechanical failures
- Truck underride accidents, which often cause catastrophic injuries or death
- Construction zone accidents
What You Should Do After an Accident
When you are involved in an accident, the first thing to consider is your physical safety and well-being. If you are injured, prioritize your health and seek medical attention immediately. If others are injured, you should assist in contacting medical assistance if possible. Remember to leave your car stationary; this allows law enforcement to assess the scene and interpret what transpired in the accident. If your car is impeding the flow of traffic, or is in a dangerous position, it is best to move it to a safer position.
Gather and Document Information
Begin to gather information regarding the other driver(s) involved in the collision and any witnesses. Document their personal contact information and insurance details. Take photos of all important details - the vehicles, any injuries, and the scene. Make notes of accident specifics while they are still fresh in your mind. Also, be sure to adhere to any follow-up appointments or therapy orders from healthcare providers. Keep all documentation related to the incident stored in one location.
Contact the Police
North Carolina law requires those involved in a vehicle collision to contact the police if injury or death occurs, or if property damage exceeds $500. Today’s cars are made of lighter-weight materials that are less impact-resistant. Based on the high cost of auto collision repairs, it’s advisable not to underestimate the cost of moderate damage and contact the police. The police report may contain details that end up being influential in a civil lawsuit. The officer may be able to provide you the reference number for the accident report, which you should be able to access online or in person within a couple days.
Know Your Rights
Law enforcement may assign fault in the accident and/or issue tickets. Make a note of the specific agency handling the accident and officer’s badge number. Do not issue a verbal or written statement regarding the cause of the incident, or sign insurance company documents, until your accident attorney has reviewed them. Any preliminary settlement offers from a driver’s insurance company should be redirected to your attorney also.
Accident Claims and Adjusters
Promptly notify your insurance company of the accident details to expedite the filing of a claim. Be sure that you or your insurance company contacts the other driver’s insurance provider to begin the claims process. If another driver is at fault and your vehicle is operable, his or her insurer may request you bring it to a local claims office for assessment. You attorney will likely begin investigating and pursuing a claim against the insurer involved. Several factors influence an insurance adjuster’s projections for settling, such as:
- The significance of vehicle damage and whether airbags were deployed;
- Results of medical examinations and if supporting evidence illustrates the injury, such as through X-rays or MRIs;
- If emergency medical services were necessary;
- The limits of liability under the insurance policy, and many more.
Rental Car Coverage
Generally, if the at-fault driver renders your vehicle inoperable, that person’s insurance will either provide you a rental or related compensation. If you are at fault and a rental is necessary, coverage depends on the terms of your policy. Rental car companies are required to detail their insurance coverage options in writing. Prior to renting, all drivers should review their auto insurance policy details related to coverage for rental vehicles.
When to Settle a Claim
If you incur very minor injuries that do not require medical attention and limited damage to your vehicle, it is probably not worthwhile to pursue the matter further with an attorney. Your best course of action is to focus on having your car repaired. If you are not incurring any costs, and the other party’s insurance company is paying repairs for your vehicle, it is best to settle the matter. In accidents resulting in moderate or severe injuries or property damage, you should always consult with an attorney.
Do You Trust Your Insurance Company?
Insurance companies are out to make a profit. Insurers will often try to offer you a payout that is less than what you deserve, or deny your claim all together. This is called acting in "bad faith." If you feel your insurance company is acting in bad faith regarding your claim, you'll need a qualified attorney to negotiate for an adequate settlement on your behalf.
Auto Accident Liability Laws in North Carolina
The driver found "at fault" for a crash is required to make restitution to the accident victim for property damage, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. However, North Carolina is one of the few states that practices "pure contributory negligence." This means that if the victim is in any way responsible for the accident, he or she can collect no damages from the other driver.
For instance, imagine it’s nighttime and you're driving through an intersection. Another car doesn't stop at a stop sign and hits you. The other driver would be at fault for the accident. But if you were speeding or didn't have your headlights on, you could be found partially responsible for the collision and be ineligible for any compensation from the driver who hit you.
Under the concept of pure contributory negligence, being even 1% liable for an accident prevents you from collecting any compensation from the other party. Our attorneys are highly experienced at analyzing car accidents to determine whether you have grounds for a legal case.
North Carolina Auto Liability Insurance Requirements
The state requires all motorists to maintain auto liability insurance coverage. The minimum requirements are $30,000 per person for bodily injury, $60,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 for damage to property. In addition, uninsured and underinsured coverage are required.
- Liability for bodily injury: This coverage pays for damages to others in an accident. Examples include expenses for medical treatment, rehabilitation, funeral costs, pain and suffering, and more.
- Liability for damage to property: Covers damages to property of others, including repairs to a damaged vehicle or replacement of totaled vehicle.
- Uninsured motorist: Used when the at-fault driver in an accident does not have insurance.
- Underinsured motorist: Used when the at-fault driver in the accident has insufficient insurance to cover the damages.
North Carolina law allows passengers to bring claims for damages against all at-fault drivers involved in an accident. Passengers who are in a vehicle that is involved in an accident are prohibited from leaving the scene until cleared to do so by law enforcement.
Accidents Caused by Defective Products
There may be times when an accident is caused by a poorly-designed or manufactured vehicle or vehicle part. In these cases, the defective part's maker can be held liable for any damage it caused. There have been numerous cases in the past where defective tires, airbags, brakes, and other parts have caused injury and death.
Hire Us for Your Car Accident, We'll Handle All Your Claims
Any injury or property damage resulting from a car accident is unexpected and inconvenient, to say the least. However, the lasting effects of a catastrophic injury or wrongful death require justice.
Our firm can help you hold negligent or careless drivers and their insurance companies financially responsible for your medical expenses, rehabilitative costs, income loss, property damage, home modifications (if necessary) and most importantly, the pain and suffering you and your family have endured.
We invite you to contact Rhine Law Firm, P.C., at (910) 772-9960 or toll-free (866) 772-9960 for a free initial consultation with one of our Wilmington personal injury attorneys regarding your legal needs. Our law office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening and weekend appointments are available upon request. We offer Spanish interpretation and translation services.
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“They worked hard for me after I was involved in an auto accident. I appreciate their efforts and making me feel like family.”