Compensation in North Carolina Personal Injury Claims
If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or criminal intent, you may be entitled to financial compensation. North Carolina personal injury law allows you to seek compensation from individuals and entities responsible for your losses.
However, North Carolina is one of few states to abide by the doctrine of pure contributory negligence. This means that if you contributed to the accident in any way, you may not be eligible to obtain compensation. That’s why you need a skilled attorney to evaluate your situation and build a strong case in support of your claim.
In a North Carolina personal injury claim, the plaintiff may seek damages for:
- Medical expenses — from emergency care to hospitalization and treatment, medication, rehabilitation, psychological counseling, or ongoing care and assistance in cases of disability.
- Lost income — salary, wages, and the value of benefits, perks, bonuses, etc., not realized during recovery from injuries, as well as any projected losses from being unable to return to work or to the same level of work.
- Property damage — costs to repair or replace personal property, such as a vehicle damaged in an accident, or real property damaged in a fire, a hazardous waste spill, etc.
- Pain and suffering — compensation awarded for the physical pain and mental distress the plaintiff has been put through due to their injuries and/or the injuries of a loved one.
- Punitive damages — a additional payment awarded in cases of a defendant’s egregious or malicious conduct. Punitive damages in North Carolina are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded (medical expenses, property damage, lost income), or $250,000, whichever is greater.
In almost all personal injury claims, compensation is paid by insurance coverage held by the individual, business, organization, or other entity responsible for an accident. It may be auto liability insurance, homeowners’ insurance, business liability insurance, and/or other coverage. This is why it is always proper to pursue a personal injury claim: An insurance company has contracted with the defendant to make the payment if it becomes necessary; money you receive does not come out of the defendant’s pocket.
As your attorneys, Kurtz & Blum will work to identify all insurance coverage that can be applied to your accident and losses, and we will seek the maximum compensation available to you. We may be able to identify multiple defendants who are liable to you, such as the employer responsible for a driver who caused your car accident while on the job. This is another reason to never accept an insurance settlement without an experienced Raleigh personal injury attorney’s advice.
Compensation for Workplace Injuries in North Carolina
If you have suffered an injury or illness in the performance of job duties assigned by an employer in North Carolina, you are likely to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that pays the full cost of medical care and a portion of lost wages to employees who suffer occupational injuries, regardless of fault.
In exchange for workers’ comp payments, employees may not sue their employer for additional compensation after a workplace injury or illness. However, workers’ compensation rules do not prohibit claims against non-employers whose negligence caused or contributed to a workplace injury. The law allows “third-party” claims against negligent contractors, vendors, co-workers, etc.
The compensation recovered in a third-party workplace injury claim may supplement or exceed workers’ comp payments, which are limited by the injured worker’s earnings and state-mandated maximums.
Protect Your Right to Compensation After an Accident
What you do immediately to protect yourself after an accident can have a significant impact on your insurance claim and/or a personal injury lawsuit. The insurance company has a bottom line to maintain. Obtaining compensation you deserve for serious injuries suffered in an accident can become a fight if your losses are steep.
Our Raleigh personal injury attorneys will pursue every legal avenue available to demand full compensation for you after an accident. In the meantime, if you or a loved one has been injured, here are five steps for you, a family member, and/or a friend to take to protect your potential claim for compensation:
- Get medical care. You must demonstrate that the accident left you with compensable injuries. This requires a record of medical treatment. If you do not require emergency medical care after an accident, see a doctor within 24 hours. You must also follow doctor’s orders for treatment, or the defense can argue you were not badly hurt.
- Report the accident. Call police about an accident on public property (a car accident, a fall, or an assault in a park, etc.). Report an accident in a commercial establishment (store, restaurant, mall, etc.) to owners or management, and ask to file an official report. If a private organization does not have a policy for accident reports, follow up by writing to the establishment to explain what happened to you. Get it on the record.
- Document the accident and your injuries. If possible, get photos of the accident scene and any property damage, and of any hazards that contributed to the accident, like a spill in a grocery store aisle that caused a slip and fall. Take photos of your injuries, bandages, cast, etc. If police responded to the accident, get a copy of their report. Save all bills and receipts for costs connected to the accident, as well as any correspondence, such as with your employer or insurance companies. As you recover, keep a written, audio, or video journal of your progress and setbacks.
- Be discrete about your case. The possibility of pursuing legal action after suffering a personal injury is something to keep to yourself. This does not belong on social media. Statements you make or photos you post could be used against you. Discuss your accident and injuries only with your doctors, caregivers, and your attorneys. Never accept blame or admit fault for the accident, and do not downplay your injuries. Do not sign anything from any insurance company without the advice of a lawyer.
- Let an attorney speak for you. After a serious injury, you should focus on recovery, not insurance forms. In addition to protecting your rights to compensation, a personal injury attorney can take care of all paperwork, communications, and other details of documenting and filing an insurance claim after your accident. At Kurtz & Blum, we can pursue a full and proper settlement based on our thorough understanding of North Carolina personal injury law, with the goal of taking as much of the burden off you as possible.