Wilmington Passenger Injury Attorneys
Were You a Passenger Hurt in a Car Accident?
If you were a passenger in a car wreck and were injured, what should you do? Aside from seeking any necessary medical attention, you should know that you have the same rights to file an injury claim. If you were a passenger involved in a motor vehicle accident, the lawyers of Rhine Law Firm, P.C., in Wilmington can help. We represent car crash victims and their families throughout North Carolina.
Request Your Free Police Report
Rhine Law Firm, P.C., is happy to assist you with getting your crash report at no cost. Visit our police report request page and fill out our form. We'll take care of the rest.
We Stand up for Passengers' Rights in Wilmington
As a passenger, you have the right to seek compensation for injuries you sustained as a result of someone else's negligence. Our attorneys will take steps to determine the cause of the collision, whether it was the negligent actions of another driver or the carelessness of the person who was driving the vehicle in which you were riding. If the latter is the case, we strongly recommend you have separate counsel from him or her to prevent a conflict of interest.
Passenger injuries are common in multicar collisions, especially those involving 18-wheelers. The catastrophic injuries, such as head or spinal injuries that are often sustained in such accidents, can result in extensive medical bills, lost wages, long-term disability, and diminished quality of life. We have decades of experience helping clients pursue full and fair compensation to which they are entitled for these setbacks.
However, keep in mind that this can be a complicated process. When you were the passenger involved in a crash, many different factors must be determined. One of them is which driver is at fault for the car accident. Another is quantifying the compensation you deserve. As an experienced Wilmington personal injury firm, we can guide you through the process of litigating a claim against the at-fault driver or his or her car insurance company.
Avoid Being Take Advantage of by Insurance Companies
Auto insurance companies have representatives looking out for their best interests and they know that you may sue for personal injuries. Passengers are often friends or relatives of the driver who is at fault. The insurer knows that in these instances the passenger would rather not sue.
Do not be taken advantage of in this situation by accepting an insufficient settlement offer. If there was more than one driver that caused the accident, it may be necessary to file claims with both insurers to fully recover. These are just a couple of reasons why it is critical after being injured in a car accident to retain legal counsel with the knowledge and experience to assist you.
NC Liability Insurance Requirements
The state requires motorists to maintain auto liability coverage that covers injuries and property damage that are the driver’s responsibility (i.e., for when that driver is "at fault"). This coverage applies to the driver and other family members in the household, as well as to individuals that the driver allows to borrow his/her car.
The state-required minimums of liability coverage are:
- $30,000 of bodily injury coverage per person
- $60,000 of bodily injury coverage total per accident
- $25,000 of property damage coverage
Damages typically associated with bodily injury include medical costs, funeral costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Property damage includes damage to another person’s vehicle, or coverage for other property such as objects the driver hit during an accident.
Medical Payments Coverage (“Med-Pay”) is an optional coverage. Some states call a similar coverage personal injury protection (PIP); however, it is not available in North Carolina under this name. Med-Pay coverage is designed to pay medical expenses for an insured and passengers stemming from an accident without regard to fault. (Not everyone will have Med-Pay in North Carolina, but your attorney can check.)
Uninsured motorist insurance provides coverage when the driver at fault does not have liability coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage provides coverage when the driver at fault has liability limits that are insufficient to cover the expenses incurred.
Riding as a Passenger With a Drunk Driver
North Carolina is one of only a few states that has strict contributory negligence. If you choose to ride as a passenger in a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver, the driver (or his insurer) may contend that you contributed to your injuries and are not eligible for recovering damages. The law states that even if you were just partly to blame, you may not be eligible to receive compensation.
Another rare scenario is if you were to knowingly allow an intoxicated driver to operate your vehicle and ride as a passenger; in which case you may be charged with aiding or abetting a DUI. In fact, the Charlotte Observer recently reported a case where this occurred involving a former North Carolina State Senator.
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North Carolina law allows for punitive damages under certain circumstances. The plaintiff must first clearly prove one of the three following aggravating factors: fraud, malice, or that the actions of the defendant were conducted in a willful or wanton manner. Willful or wanton actions may be intentional or done with conscious disregard or indifference for the rights and the safety of others. These damages are designed to punish the offender and to deter others from demonstrating similar behavior.
Awards for punitive damages in auto accident lawsuits are very uncommon. The standard required is high and difficult to prove. These damages are limited to three times the total of the other awarded damages in the case or $250,000, whichever is greater.
“Joel Rhine and his staff did everything possible to help us in a very dark period of our lives.”- John
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“Joel and Chris were there for us in every need.”- Mary
“Rhine Law Firm has a friendly, caring, professional staff and they worked hard for me.”- Becky
“We were very pleased with the outcome of working with Rhine Law Firm.”- Former Client