Greenville Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal Injury Attorney in Greenville, NC
In the United States, the majority of civil litigation consists of personal injury lawsuits. In particular, 60% of all property, contract and tort trials in 2005 were related to some sort of personal injuries, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
To clarify more precisely, “personal injury” is the term which refers to the injuries caused to the body, mind, emotions, or property of a person. Personal injury lawsuits are usually filed in case of the plaintiff or victim, being harmed physically or mentally by another party through negligence, intentional misconduct, or based on strict liability. This means the lawsuit could be filed against the responsible party for professional incompetence, intentional harm, or for the harm that the plaintiff has suffered because of a poorly manufactured product.
It would be useful to understand what the causes of personal injuries are statistically. As stated by the US Department of Justice, only 4% of all personal injury cases go to trial, with the majority settling out of court. The victims, apparently, are deciding to take the plea deal instead of taking the matter to the court. And, it does make sense because, in the majority of cases, personal injuries are caused unintentionally. In accordance with the same research done by the U.S. Department of Justice:
- 52% of personal injuries were a result of motor vehicle accidents
- 15% were a result of medical malpractice
- 5% were a result of product liability
The remaining 28% cover other cases, such as construction, animal bites, etc. As you can see, only 20% of personal injuries are a result of professional incompetence, in which case taking someone to court would make sense.
Of course, the plaintiff should be compensated for the mental or physical harm he/she suffered. However, in some cases, it can be hard to prove the wrongdoer guilty, which is why you’d need a personal injury attorney to take care of the case.
What are the General Personal Injury Laws in North Carolina?
It is no surprise that every single state has its own laws and regulations, which would determine your responsibilities for a certain action. The statute of limitations is one of the essential things you need to know in any state. This is the law that imposes time limitations depending on the type of case, and you would have to take the matter to court within that time limitation.
If you have suffered a personal injury in North Carolina, you can file a claim against the responsible party within three years after receiving the harm. This means that the court will not hear your case if you fail to file the claim within this 3-year window. Accordingly, you will not be able to get any compensation for the suffering and pain that you have experienced. Retaining the experience of a personal injury attorney will relieve some of the strain of the process. An experienced personal injury attorney has the knowledge and skills to protect your rights to recover damages and get you the compensation you deserve.
Another very important detail in the North Carolina personal injury law is that NC is a “fault” state, which means that every single party involved will have to bear some responsibility.
If the court finds that you were 51% or more responsible for some sort of an accident or injury, you will receive no compensation for whatever losses you have incurred. On the contrary, if you are liable for 50% or less, you would get compensated by the party at fault. Nevertheless, the amount of compensation would be reduced in proportion to your fault. For example, if Charlie and Emily get into a car accident, with Emily getting injured as a result, the court would have to figure out who was more at fault. If Charlie were found 60% at fault, he wouldn’t get compensated, while Emily would get only a $600 compensation for her $1,000 losses.
This method is called “modified comparative negligence rule.” It more or less fairly distributes the compensation amongst the parties involved. Of course, many more factors are considered, like the ability of the parties to pay, whether or not those parties have been involved in the same type of accidents before, whether or not the damage was intentional and so on. Nevertheless, the fault of one party or the other should still be proved for the court to be able to make a final decision. This is where, once again, a personal injury attorney would be very helpful.
What are the Types of Damages?
As it was mentioned above, you can definitely get compensated for the injuries or suffering you have experienced. In the United States, there are several types of compensation you can get, based on the circumstances and based on the type of injury. In personal injury law, those compensations are called “damages” and are considered to be the amount of money paid to the plaintiff for the losses he/she has incurred.
In general, there are two main types of losses: economic and non-economic. The economic losses are the ones you can put a dollar sign on medical bills, bills for the car repair and so on. The non-economic losses, on the other hand, are the ones that you cannot put a dollar sign on the emotional suffering, the pain, the fright, the mental scarring. In North Carolina, there is a cap on how much money you can demand for a non-economic loss, and that limit is $500,000.
Now moving on to the types of damages or compensations. There are quite a few of them:
- Compensatory damages – these are the type of damages paid to the plaintiff for the losses incurred.
- Punitive damages – unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not intended for compensating the plaintiff. Although the plaintiff will get some compensation for the personal injuries, nevertheless the purpose of punitive damages is to abstain the defender from participating in any type of misconduct similar to that which formed the case.
- Incidental damages – these are the type of damages that refer to or that are connected with real damages, which occurs as a result of the breach of contract.
- Consequential damages – consequential damages are another type of compensatory damage. They refer to the compensation paid to the plaintiff as a result of the other party’s failure to meet a contractual obligation. The difference between consequential and incidental damages is that the consequential damages are considered to be more indirect, as an end result of the breach of contract, and not a direct one.
- Liquidated damages – also known as ascertained damages, these are the damages the amount of which is defined while forming a contract.
- Reliance damages – reliance damages are also compensatory. The purpose is to compensate the plaintiff who has incurred economic losses by acting in reliance on other parties who failed to fulfill their obligations.
- Nominal damages – these damages are usually of a symbolic nature. They are very small damages, awarded to show that the harm caused to the plaintiff was more technical than actual. Usually, whenever plaintiffs are not able to prove significant damages, they claim for nominal damage, to get at least a small amount of compensation.
- Statutory damages – these are awarded in accordance with a certain statute, rather than according to a calculation.
- Treble damages – treble damages is a term used to indicate that the statute allows for the compensation to be tripled. So if plaintiffs suffered $1,000 of damage, the court can give them compensation of $3,000.
As you can see, with this huge amount of injuries and damages to consider, it can be quite complicated to file a case correctly without a lawyer. Hire a personal injury attorney to guide and support you along the way if you have suffered any type of personal injury and are trying to claim compensation, hire a personal injury attorney to guide and support you along the way.
What does Insurance Provide?
Insurance policies are different from state to state. As you have noticed in the statistics above, more than half of personal injuries are caused by car accidents.
This is why personal injury protection insurance is an extension of car insurance and covers the medical expenses and losses in most cases. That is also called “no-fault coverage,” as the insurance company does not always pay attention to who was at fault for the accident.
The faulty driver is also the one to help cover up for the harm that he/she had caused, as NC is a “fault” state. If you reside in North Carolina, you are required by law to carry liability insurance on all of your registered vehicles. The liability will cover all bodily and property damages within a certain limitation. Most importantly, the insurance will cover the owner of the vehicle, his/her family members using the vehicle, or anyone else who uses the vehicle with the owner’s permission.
Moving on to the limitations of the coverage, there are three types of coverages: maximum bodily injury, total bodily injury, and property damage.
The states of North Carolina requires you to have $30,000 in liability to cover one individual’s medical bills after an accident. For example, if you have had an accident and suffered injuries of $40,000 to cure, $30,000 would be covered by insurance, and the rest would be covered by the other driver.
The total bodily injury policy covers $60,000 of total medical bills from an accident, meaning if both parties are injured in an accident, the insurance company will cover only $60,000 of medical bills.
Last but not least, the limitation for property damage coverage is only $25,000 in North Carolina, meaning no matter how expensive your car is to fix, the insurance company will cover only $25,000.
Nevertheless, these are the minimum limitations amounts of liability you can carry according to the law. You can carry a larger amount of liability, in which case you are not going to be personally responsible for the losses of another driver in an accident. For example, if you hit a very expensive car and you only have the minimum liability of $25,000 which is far less than enough, you might need to pay large amounts of money from your own pocket.
What are Lawsuit Settlements?
As it was mentioned before, only 4% of personal injury cases are taken to court, which means the majority of the cases are settled outside of the court. This is usually called a plea deal or a plea bargain. The way it works is quite simple: there is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant, whereby the defendant agrees to take on the guilt in return for some concession. Now, this is done in order to filter out the cases which are not as complicated and important as some others, so that the court can manage to deal with the most complex and difficult cases.
Now keep in mind that if you take a plea bargain, you are basically refusing your right to take the case to court. So if you have been offered a plea bargain, think twice before taking it and consult with your lawyer.
Here are some of the cases in which a plea bargain would be beneficial to you:
- A reduced charge or a lighter sentence – if the bargain gives you the opportunity of taking on fewer responsibilities than the court would, it would definitely make sense to agree to it immediately. Consult with your lawyer to make sure that this is the case before agreeing to the deal.
- If it saves you money – most lawyers will charge you more for a court trial than for a quick plea-bargain hearing. So settling for the bargain might save you a lot of money.
- It is quicker and less stressful – court trials take a few months to figure out the party at fault and define compensations. On the other hand, plea-deal hearings are much quicker, and they eliminate the dreadful uncertainty.
Now there are obviously some cases in which you shouldn’t settle for a plea deal and should exercise your right to a court trial. Here are some examples of that:
- You are innocent – if you don’t have anything to do with the personal injury of the other party, you should never settle for a plea deal. If you are innocent, the court will be able to resolve the case and let you go without any fines and damages. So be aware that you have the right to be heard.
- You are giving up your rights – by giving up the right to a trial, you are also losing the chance of confronting the witnesses and protecting yourself. So if you think that the court would’ve come to a decision that is more beneficial to you, exercise your right and protect yourself properly.
- If your criminal record is under risk – don’t forget that your criminal record will play a huge role in your future, especially in the state of North Carolina, where your criminal record may affect your college scholarship and financial aid, your ability to find a home and so on. So if you are sure that the court would approach your case more fairly, don’t hesitate to take action.
What can a Personal Injury Attorney do for Me?
A personal injury attorney tends to mainly practice the area of law which is called tort law. A tort refers to wrongdoing, which causes someone else to incur losses and suffering, either physically, mentally, emotionally or economically. A case can file against an individual, a business, government agency or any other type of entity.
Any area of law is quite complex both to understand and excel in, but torts can be even more complicated due to the emotional and mental factors being involved: proving that someone has suffered a tremendous amount of fright or pain can be difficult, to say the least. Not to mention, laws are continuously being changed and modified, which makes the matters even harder to resolve.
This is why, if you have suffered some sort of a personal injury and are seeking to receive compensation, you should hire a personal injury attorney to help you build a strong case. If you live in Greenville, North Carolina, an experienced personal injury attorney at Carolina Law Group would be happy to give you a hand. Contact a personal injury attorney at our firm now and let us know what we can do for you.