Man taking picture of his car after accident

Reasons to Sue Another Driver After a Car Crash in North Carolina

By Jeremy Bradford
Founding Partner

Car accidents in North Carolina are an unfortunate reality many residents face. Determining fault and understanding the legal avenues available afterward can be complex. Knowing the reasons and grounds for pursuing a lawsuit against another driver can empower victims. This knowledge not only aids in seeking compensation but also in achieving justice and closure after such traumatic incidents.

North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions

The North Carolina Pattern Jury Instructions (NCPJI) help in understanding North Carolina law by providing clear, standardized explanations of legal concepts, ensuring jurors, regardless of legal expertise, understand the law’s application in a case, thereby promoting fairness and consistency in trial outcomes.

These instructions assist judges in accurately conveying legal standards and elements required for different charges or claims, aiding in informed decision-making by jurors and preventing misunderstandings during trials. For further insight into each concept discussed in this article, we’ve provided links to the corresponding NCPJI.

The Basics  of North Carolina’s Fault System

In North Carolina, the at-fault system determines who is financially responsible for damages after a car accident. This means the driver who caused the accident is liable for any injuries or property damage. However, the state also adheres to the contributory negligence rule, which bars recovery if the plaintiff is found even slightly at fault. As such, it’s crucial for victims to prove they had no part in causing the crash to receive compensation.

NCPJI – Contributory Negligence Issues

104.20  Contributory Negligence–Gratuitous Passenger or Guest

104.21  Contributory Negligence Per Se–Gratuitous Passenger Voluntarily and Knowingly Riding With Impaired Driver

104.24  Contributory Negligence Per Se–Pedestrian’s Violation of Certain Motor Vehicle Laws

104.25  Contributory Negligence of Minor Between Seven and Fourteen Years of Age

104.30  Contributory Negligence–No Duty to Anticipate Negligence of Others

104.35  Contentions of Contributory Negligence

104.40  Contributory Negligence–Doctrine of Sudden Emergency.

104.50  Final Mandate–Contributory Negligence Issue

105.15  Last Clear Chance–Burden of Proof; Definition; Final Mandate

Reasons to Sue Another Driver

  • Medical Expenses: Medical expenses can quickly accumulate after a car accident, placing a significant financial burden on the injured party. By suing the at-fault driver in North Carolina, victims can seek compensation for these costs, covering everything from emergency room visits to prolonged treatments and therapies. Recovering these funds is crucial to ensure that the injured person doesn’t suffer financially while trying to heal physically. Pursuing a lawsuit can be the most effective way to get reimbursed for these essential medical services.
  • NCPJI – Medical Expenses

106.04  Personal Injury Damages–Medical Expense

  • Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity: Accidents can often render victims unable to work for an extended period, leading to lost wages and potential financial hardships. Beyond immediate lost wages, a severe injury might compromise one’s ability to earn at the same capacity in the future. This lost earning capacity can significantly alter a person’s lifestyle, financial stability, and future plans. Suing the responsible driver can help victims recover these lost earnings and ensure a more secure financial future.
  • NCPJI – Lost Wages and Earning Capacity

106.06  Personal Injury Damages–Loss of Earnings

  • Property Damage: Property damage, especially to vehicles, is a common outcome of car accidents. The cost of repairs, or even total replacement, can be substantial. Additionally, you may be entitled to the diminished value your vehicle incurred by simply being in a collision. By suing the at-fault driver, individuals can seek compensation to cover these repair costs and any related expenses, like rental cars. Pursuing this legal avenue ensures that victims aren’t left shouldering the financial burden of someone else’s negligence.
  • NCPJI – Property Damage

106.62  Property Damages–Diminution in Market Value

106.64  Property Damages No Market Value–Cost of Replacement or Repair

106.66  Property Damages–No Market Value, Repair or Replacement– Recovery of Intrinsic Actual Value

106.67  Damages for Loss of Use of Vehicle–Measure of Damages; Final Mandate

106.68  Property Damages–Final Mandate. 

  • Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering go beyond the tangible losses experienced after an accident. They encompass the emotional and psychological distress, trauma, and diminished quality of life that victims endure. In North Carolina, individuals can sue for pain and suffering as non-economic damages. These claims recognize that the repercussions of an accident are often deeper than just physical injuries or material losses.
  • NCPJI – Pain and Suffering

106.08  Personal Injury Damages–Pain & Suffering

  • Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer for particularly egregious or malicious behavior and to deter others from committing similar actions. In the context of car accidents, these damages might be awarded if a driver acted with willful or wanton conduct, such as driving under the influence or racing. While not as common as compensatory damages, punitive damages can significantly increase the amount of compensation received.
  • NCPJI Punitive Damages

106.96  Punitive Damages–Liability of Defendant

106.98  Punitive Damages–Issue of Whether to Make Award and Amount

Importance of Evidence

Evidence plays a pivotal role in establishing the facts and circumstances of a car accident. It provides a tangible record of events, helping to pinpoint liability and validate claims made by the parties involved. Whether it’s in the form of police reports, witness testimonies, or photographs from the accident scene, evidence strengthens a victim’s case in court. Without compelling evidence, proving fault and securing just compensation becomes significantly more challenging.

Why Legal Representation Matters

Legal representation is invaluable when navigating the intricacies of personal injury claims stemming from car accidents. Attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of state-specific laws, regulations, and procedures that can be daunting for individuals to tackle on their own. They are adept at gathering essential evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, and presenting a compelling case in court. With their experience, victims stand a better chance of securing the maximum compensation they deserve.

Help If You’ve Been Involved in a Car Accident

Facing the aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. Our dedicated team is here to guide and support you every step of the way. Reach out to Bradford Law today, and let us help you secure the justice and compensation you rightfully deserve.

About the Author
I am Jeremy Bradford, the founding and managing attorney of Bradford Law. From my offices in Charlotte, NC, I travel all across North Carolina helping injured people fight against insurance companies, in what could be life-altering circumstances. I have made a point to develop strong relationships with my clients. I take the trust my clients put in me personally and put myself into every case. If my client calls, my client will always be able to speak directly with me. You will get to know me as we work our way through the personal injury process. So when we make recommendations on whether to settle or go to trial, you will know your best interests are always at heart.