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Accident & Injury FAQ

Automobile accidents can shake up the strongest of us. Even if you are not seriously injured, there are always questions that come up after the accident. You may find out that the driver who caused the collision had his insurance canceled, or you may believe you’re fine while at the accident scene but wake up the next morning in pain!  Many injured victims simply do not know if they need a personal injury attorney to help them.

Leone Noble & Seate is happy to provide some answers to the most common questions we hear from accident victims. If your question isn’t answered below, just give us a call or complete the contact form and we’ll get back to you with an answer.

What should I do immediately following a car accident?
If you are not severely injured following a car wreck, collect all pertinent information from the other drivers – driver’s license numbers, address, telephone numbers, insurance card information, etc. Keep a daily journal beginning with the date of the accident to document all physical and mental injuries, as well as document your view of the accident. Notify the arriving North Carolina police officer of the events of the accident that you can recall.

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Who is responsible for an accident involving my vehicle and a city street pothole?
Responsibility for damage caused by improper maintenance or repair of North Carolina’s roads and highways generally lies with the government agency responsible for the upkeep of such roadways. If it were a pothole on a city street, the city would be responsible, etc.

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Should I take the settlement my insurance company is offering me?
You should not take any settlements offered by an insurance company without first speaking with an experienced North Carolina auto accident lawyer. Insurance companies typically offer a minimal amount of money in return for your signature stating that you will not sue them. Never take an insurance check without first consulting an attorney.

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What if I cannot afford to pay my medical bills?
If you suffer injuries from a car accident, you will likely have medical bills from physicians, hospitals, physical therapists, and other health care providers. Under North Carolina’s law, you are primarily responsible for paying your bills, regardless of the cause of your injuries. The at-fault person’s liability insurance carrier is responsible for paying you reasonable compensation for damages incurred, which includes medical bills, but the insurance carrier is not responsible for paying your doctors, hospitals, and other providers. Sometimes the amount the insurance company is willing to pay is far less than the actual amount you owe.

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When will my personal injury claim be resolved?
Personal injury claims can be resolved in a matter of a few weeks or months. However, they can take up to several years depending on the complexity of the case. It is best to speak with an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney about your specific case.

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What is a permanent injury?
A permanent injury is an injury that will be with you for the rest of your life or for some period beyond the settlement of the claim. In most cases, the injured party is entitled to compensation from the at-fault party or their insurance company for all medical bills incurred to date and into the future for all injuries caused by the accident.

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I did not feel pain at the scene and refused medical treatment. Now, a few days later I am in pain. What should I do?
You should immediately consult your medical provider regarding any pain, discomfort or possible injuries from a car accident, even if you think they may be only minor injuries. Even if you did not complain of injuries at the scene of the car accident, you may be entitled to payment of your medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity, and emotional distress due to personal injuries. You should consult an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney to discuss whether you need representation on your claim.

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What sources of compensation can be pursued after an auto accident?
After an accident depending on who is at fault, you may pursue compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, future medical expenses and future pain and suffering.

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What is negligence?
Negligence is the failure of the person to act as a reasonably prudent person would act under like or similar circumstances.

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Should I contest an accident-related traffic citation?
If you were not at fault for the accident, you should seek to contest any accident-related traffic citation.

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What if the driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident? Can damages be recovered?
North Carolina law does not bar a victim’s right to compensation just because they were not wearing a seatbelt.

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My son was rear-ended and the other driver claimed my son caused the accident. How does the law decide what is being rear-ended?
A rear collision is where one vehicle collides into the rear of another. Typically the person who hits the vehicle in the rear is at fault, However a vehicle that is rear-ended may still be responsible for the accident. If the person stopped suddenly or had improperly working brake lights or turn signals, he/she could be held responsible or partially responsible for the accident.

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What happens if I’m sued for causing an auto accident and I don’t have insurance?
If you are the cause of an accident and are sued, if you have insurance your insurance carrier will provide a defense for you at no extra expense. However, if you have no insurance you could be personally responsible for any damages owed to the injured party. In addition, your driver’s license could be revoked for being uninsured.

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If I’m involved in an accident, do I have to tell the insurance company about it right away or can I try to handle it on my own?
Your insurance contract requires you to report an accident immediately to them. Failure to comply with the terms of your insurance policy could result in a denial of coverage. It is usually best to notify your insurance company rather than try to handle the case yourself.

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I loaned my car to a friend who was involved in an accident. Am I liable if my friend was at fault?
If someone else is driving your vehicle, as long as that person had your expressed or implied permission your insurance coverage will cover the accident. You could be held liable for the accident along with your friend if your friend was operating the vehicle for your benefit or you negligently entrusted the vehicle to your friend.

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Can a spouse recover damages for injuries caused by the other spouse?
If one spouse causes the accident, you can seek recovery for your injuries from your spouse.

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Can a passenger in the car recover for injuries caused by the driver?
If the driver was negligent in the accident, then usually a passenger can recover from the driver for injuries the passenger sustained. However, if the passenger contributed to the accident in any way, he could be barred from recovery. For instances if the driver was drunk and the passenger knew or should have known, the passenger would be considered contributory negligent and would be barred from recovering from the driver or the driver’s insurance.

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My seatbelt was unbuckled when the driver of the car I was riding in caused an accident. I was injured. Can I sue the driver for damages?
Yes you can still sue for damages even if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of an accident.

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What is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage covers damages an individual suffers as a result of a motorist who fails to carry the required insurance on his/her vehicle. Underinsured motorist coverage covers a person for damages whose injury claim value excess the insurance coverage the at-fault owner/driver carried.

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What is the purpose of obtaining uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits?
Having uninsured motorist coverage’s protects you from the irresponsible driver who drives without insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage helps protect you when you have serious and significant injuries.

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If I get injured in a car accident but do not have insurance, can I still sue and recover for my injuries?
You can recover from a third party who is responsible for your injuries even if you do not have insurance. However, if the third party responsible for the accident does not have insurance then you may not be able to recover for your injuries.

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On my way to a company authorized seminar, a deer hit my car causing serious damage to my personal car. MY auto insurance will be used to cover the damages. But, whose obligation is it to pay the deductible?
Most of the time if you hit a deer the accident will be covered under comprehensive coverage. Many policies do not have deductibles under the comprehensive coverage. However, if you have deductible, you should check with your employer if they will reimburse you the deductible.

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Am I liable for damages to my employer’s car because of a rear-end accident that occurred while I was using the car on my employer’s business?
If you were rear-ended and the accident was not your fault you should not be liable for damages. However, if you are at-fault and rear-ended the vehicle you and your company can be liable for the other person’s damages.

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My 17 year old son was in a coma 3-4 months because of an injury in a car wreck. Now he is 20. Does the time period for filing suit apply to a person that was in a coma and is just realizing what happened and wants to sue the driver’s insurance company?
The statute of limitations is 3 years from the date of the accident except for minors and those who are incompetent. If you are a minor or incompetent, you have 3 years from the date of your 18th birthday or 3 years from the date the incapacity is lifted.

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How do insurance adjusters operate?
Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company and are not necessarily working for your best interest. They are licensed by the state and are required by their company’s to follow guidelines and procedures set out by the state and their company. Most insurance adjusters will want a statement from you, their insured, a police report and any witness information before deciding to pay a claim.

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If I am sued, will my insurance company defend me in court?
In an auto accident case, if you were responsible for an accident and had insurance coverage at the time of the accident, your insurance company should defend you in court.

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If a rental agency is aware at the time of rental that another driver will drive the vehicle other than the one authorized and covered under the rental agreement and insurance purchased, is the car agency partly liable for an accident that the unauthorized driver causes??
When renting a vehicle, the person renting the vehicle is liable for damages they cause unless they purchased additional insurance. If the person driving the vehicle is not authorized on the rental contracts then the rental company can deny any liability for an unauthorized driver.

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I had an accident with a car I was test driving. Does the car dealership cover the costs of repair?
If you are test driving a vehicle, you are considered to be using the vehicle as a temporary substitute and your insurance will cover the costs of repairs.

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My wife and child were in a car accident that was not their fault. The other person ran a red light and was cited. That person has not contacted us. Our van was totaled and we have medical bills. I’ve turned it over to my insurance company. Should I contact an attorney?
You can contact an attorney at any time to pursue your legal rights. If you have ongoing medical bills and treatment and the insurance company’s are non-responsive, hiring an attorney MAY get a response from them. At the very least you know the attorney can file suit to attempt to recover damages.

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I gave a recorded statement to the insurance company of the woman who hit my car. Now I’m thinking about getting legal representation. Is there a problem?
A You may still seek and obtain legal representation after giving a recorded statement. Any statement you make can be used against you later.

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While riding my motorcycle a couple of weeks ago, I was hit by a guy running a red light. His insurance company sent a form for me to sign giving them access to all of my medical records. Is this normal? Why do they need records related to the traffic accident? Their agreement said they needed all of them to see if there were any pre-existing conditions?
It is normal for insurance companies to send medical authorizations to injured parties in order to obtain your medical records. If you are making a claim for bodily injuries you will have to provide the insurance company with your medical records for their evaluation. You do not have to sign the authorization and can either hire an attorney to handle your case or obtain the medical records yourself. The adjuster may ask for your prior medical history and may obtain that information once a lawsuit is filed, but it is best to contact an attorney before sending any prior medical information to the insurance company.

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What happens if I’m sued for causing An auto accident and I don’t have insurance?
If you are the cause of an accident and are sued, if you have insurance your insurance carrier will provide a defense for you at no extra expense. However, if you have no insurance you could be personally responsible for any damages owed to the injured party. In addition, your driver’s license could be revoked for being uninsured.

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I hit a car parked in the street while backing out of my driveway. The car was in my blind spot. I was uninsured at the time because I was (still am) on a tight budget. The car owner received one estimate and is now harassing us to pay for the damages . Can we ask for another estimate? Can the owner keep asking us for money?
The owner can continue to contact to recover there expenses or they could file suit directly against you. Most insurance companies will want to have at least two estimates before paying a claim and should be reasonable to ask for another estimate.

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I injured somebody in an accident. The insurance company refused to settle within my policy limits. The jury awarded damages in excess of my policy limits. Must I pay the excess instead of the insurance company?
If your insurance company failed to settle the claim within your policy limits when the other side would have agreed to settle, you are liable for the excess verdict. However, your insurance company’s action may have arisen to “bad faith”. IF the insurance company acts in “bad faith” then the insurance company ultimately could be responsible for paying the excess judgment/verdict.

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