Motor Vehicle Accidents
The lawyers and staff at Wallace Law Firm, PLLC are committed to fighting for the rights of motor vehicle accident victims. We understand the full extent of damage an auto accident can cause, and work diligently to obtain a fair and favorable outcome for our clients. While our firm is based out of the Charlotte Metro Area, our attorneys also represent clients throughout North Carolina and South Carolina.
Common Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents can happen for a multitude of reasons. Although unforeseeable factors, such as unfavorable weather conditions, can lead to a crash, the majority of car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are the result of negligence. Speeding, intoxication, general failure to abide by traffic safety laws, and faulty vehicle parts are among the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents throughout North Carolina and South Carolina.
When an accident occurs because of someone’s negligent or reckless conduct, victims may have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim to seek compensation for their injuries and property damage. If a loved one was killed because of another driver’s reckless actions on the road, surviving family members may also have a valid claim for a wrongful death lawsuit. Because the laws regarding motor vehicle accidents are complex, it is imperative that victims seek legal counsel with an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
The most common factors that can lead to a motor vehicle accident include:
- Roadway Defects
- Improper Lane Changes
- Faulty Vehicle Parts or Mechanical Defects
- Failure to Slow Down
- Failure to Stop at a Traffic Light or Stop Sign
- Failure to Yield
- Overloaded Truck Cargo
Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Auto accidents can occur in the blink of an eye. From single-car crashes to multi-vehicle collisions, crashes involving cars, trucks, and motorcycles can vary in both type and severity.
Among the types of auto accident claims, our firm can assist those involved in:
- Single-Vehicle Collisions
- Multi-Vehicle Collisions
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
Injuries That Can Result From Auto Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents can lead to a wide range of personal injuries. Even if the victim was involved in a minor fender-bender, serious injuries can result from the crash. However, the larger the vehicle involved in the accident, the worse the outcome can be. Accidents involving large commercial trucks, such as 18-wheelers, can result in life-threatening injuries due to the sheer size of these vehicles. High-speed collisions can also lead to severe injuries due to the force of the impact. Bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians who are hit by motor vehicles often suffer the worst injuries because they are unprotected. Even when wearing a helmet, bodily injuries that can result from the impact of a car or truck often lead to irreversible spinal cord damage, limb loss and – worst of all – death.
Some of the most common types of personal injuries that can result from motor vehicle accidents include:
- Head Trauma
- Neck and Back Injuries
- Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
- Limb Loss
Even if a motor vehicle accident does not result in serious injuries, oftentimes, victims suffer deep emotional trauma that can persist for months, years or for a lifetime. Victims may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or may even develop a fear of driving because of an auto crash. The worse the accident, the greater the emotional trauma a victim can suffer.
How At-Fault Policy Can Affect Auto Accident Victims
When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, states either follow a no-fault or at-fault policy. No-fault systems allow crash victims to file a claim with their insurance provider, regardless of whether they caused the accident, to seek compensation for their injuries or property damage. However, no-fault states limit a victim’s ability to file a claim for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages.
North Carolina and South Carolina are at-fault states. This means that motor vehicle accident victims can sue for compensation pertaining to property damage, personal injuries and emotional trauma. This also means that the at-fault driver (or their insurance provider) is responsible for compensating victims. However, the fault must be established in order for victims to file a claim – which may not be as simple as it seems.
Contributory Negligence vs. Modified Comparative Negligence
One way North Carolina and South Carolina laws differ regarding auto accidents is their policy regarding negligence. North Carolina follows the contributory negligence rule while South Carolina follows the modified comparative negligence rule.
The contributory negligence rule states that injured parties may not be able to receive compensation if they are even at a minimum of 1% at fault for the accident. On the other hand, the modified comparative negligence rule states that the injured party cannot recover compensation if they are 50% or more at fault for the accident. If the injured party is 49% or less at fault, while they may still be eligible for compensation, their damages will be reduced according to their degree of fault.
North Carolina Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics
Every year, the number of motor vehicle accidents in North Carolina increases at an alarming rate. Motorists continue to disregard safety laws while on the road, and their negligence has contributed to a significant rise in the accident rate. According to a 2016 report from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDOT):
- 484,936 motor vehicle accidents were reported
- 266,267 accidents involved passenger cars
- 14,004 accidents involved trucks
- 3,763 accidents involved motorcycles
- 2,344 accidents involved pedestrians
- 1,441 persons were killed in motor vehicle accidents
- 130,137 people were injured
- 6% of crashes were caused by speeding
- 9% of crashes were caused by inappropriate lane changes or swerving
- 3% of crashes were due to driver distraction
- 2% of crashes were due to intoxication
Charlotte Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics
Charlotte has one of the highest rates of motor vehicle accidents in North Carolina. According to data reports, the following information reflects the city’s auto accident statistics for 2016:
- 39,602 auto accidents were reported in Charlotte, NC
- 85 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents
- 18,010 people sustained personal injuries
- 408 pedestrians were injured and 21 were killed
- 1,068 of these accidents were related to alcohol intoxication
South Carolina Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics
In South Carolina, driver negligence is also the number one factor contributing to motor vehicle accidents. According to the 2016 South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book, the following statistics were reported regarding motor vehicle collisions throughout the state:
- 141,599 traffic collisions were reported
- 40,187 motor vehicle accidents lead to injuries
- 941 of the crashes were fatal
- 525 accidents involved passenger cars
- 348 accidents involved trucks
- 148 accidents involved motorcycles
- 150 accidents involved pedestrians
- 41,824 crashes were caused by speeding
- 27,501 crashes were caused by failure to yield
- 10,673 crashes were caused by improper lane changes
Motor Vehicle Accident FAQs
- Q: What should I do after a motor vehicle accident?
A: The first thing you should do if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident is call 911. Oftentimes, injuries that follow an auto crash may not surface immediately. It is imperative to seek medical attention right away to ensure you obtain the treatment you need for your personal injuries
After contacting paramedics, the next thing you should do is call the police. If you are able to, document as much evidence as possible. Take note of the at-fault driver’s license plate, driver license information, take pictures of the accident scene, record the state of the driver at the time of the crash (such as whether they appeared intoxicated, were speeding or any other details that can substantiate your claim).
As a victim of a motor vehicle accident, you may be eligible to obtain compensation for both your personal injuries and property damage, and an experienced attorney can assist you in your recovery for damages.
- Q: How much money can I expect from my motor vehicle accident claim?
A: Every auto accident case is different. The extent of your injuries and property damage to your vehicle play a role in how much your claim may be worth. If your injuries are so severe that they render you incapacitated or unable to work, your damages may be significantly greater. Some of the factors that may impact the ultimate value of a case include: the amount of any paid or outstanding medical expenses and whether they are reasonable and necessary; future medical expenses; lost wages or loss of earning capacity; scarring or disfigurement; any permanent injury; the reasonableness of the injury treatment period; any verifiable physical or emotional distress caused by the incident; pain and suffering; and how the incident affected your activities of daily living.
- Q: What if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance? What if I don’t have insurance?
A: If you are involved in a motor vehicle crash and the at-fault driver does not have insurance or enough insurance, you may file a claim with your own insurance provider using your uninsured/underinsured coverage. There may be additional recourses available to you, which is why it is important to seek legal counsel following a collision.
- Q: What is the statute of limitations for a motor vehicle accident?
A: In North Carolina and South Carolina, there is a three-year statute of limitations for filing a motor vehicle accident lawsuit. The time limit applies to both claims regarding personal injuries and property damage. This means that if you do not file a lawsuit within three years of your accident, your claim may be legally barred.
However, it is important to note that there are times when the statute of limitations may not apply to a particular case. For example, wrongful death lawsuits need to be filed within two years. Other circumstances may allow for a longer period for filing claims.
- Q: Should I settle?
A: Remember, most auto policy insurance providers will attempt to settle to avoid paying victims additional damages. However, the amount of the settlement is almost always far below the amount that victims truly deserve. Insurance companies are not on your side and will almost always try to lowball your offer to get you to settle for less than your claim is worth.
If an insurance company attempts to contact you – be it your own insurance company or the at-fault driver’s – do not accept their offer before speaking with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. Your claim could be worth much more than the insurance companies are offering, so it is in your best interest to avoid contact with insurers until you obtain advice from your attorney.
- Q: Why should I hire an auto accident lawyer?
A: The laws governing motor vehicle accident claims are extremely complex. Those who attempt to file a case on their own may end up accepting a much lower settlement than they deserve and may not even file the claim in time to recover the full spectrum of damages they are entitled to.
Each of our lawyers has over 19 years of legal experience. Call us today at 704- 626-2900 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our firm representing victims involved in car crashes, truck collisions, motorcycle wrecks, and other vehicular accidents.