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How is Fault Determined in a North Carolina Car Accident?

By Stephen M. Bennett October 21, 2019

Personal Injury

Is North Carolina a No-Fault or At-Fault State for Car Accidents?

Depending on the state legislature, states apply either a no-fault or an at-fault policy to determine fault following a car wreck. North Carolina follows the fault-based system for car wrecks. Once a determination has been made of which party was at fault in a car wreck, the victim has a right to seek compensation for the property damage and bodily injuries. An award of damages to a victim can be reasonably incurred for property damage to the vehicle, reimbursement of medical expenses, economic damages, such as loss of wages, and non-economic damages, such as physical and emotional pain and suffering. However, North Carolina also applies the doctrine of contributory negligence, which prevents compensation for a victim if they are found to have contributed to the wreck in any way. You can read more about contributory negligence on our prior blog post.

The North Carolina Statute of Limitations

In North Carolina, lawsuits involving car wrecks or personal injury allegations apply the same statute of limitation provisions. Section 1-52 of the NC General Statutes provides that the time for filing all claims for compensation related to property damage and bodily injury after a car wreck must be filed within three years of the date of the incident.

Should a car wreck result in the death of one of the involved parties, a surviving family member or the estate representative of the deceased could file a wrongful death claim against the individual who caused the crash. Wrongful death claims are a little different from personal or property injury because the deadline for filing this type of claim is two years from the date of death, per Section 1-53 of the NC General Statutes.

How to Ascertain Negligence or Fault

Every individual who drives a motor vehicle in North Carolina has a duty to operate his or her vehicle with a certain level of care, typically referred to as a “reasonably prudent person.” Common ways individuals breach this duty of care include the following:

  • Driving a car above the speed limit;
  • Purposely ignoring other traffic rules, such as running stoplights or following other cars too closely;
  • Not using due caution when changing lanes;
  • Driving a vehicle knowing that is faulty, defective, or not suitable for the road (i.e. a four-wheeler or ATV);
  • Negligent situations are not restricted to drivers alone. Pedestrians who are not following the rules, for example, by jaywalking, could also be found negligent;
  • If you are a passenger in a car and interfere with the driver and it leads to a crash, this could also be considered negligence.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or your loved one has been injured in a car wreck in North Carolina, let the attorneys at Helms, Robison, Lee & Bennett, P.A. help you with your personal injury and property damage claims. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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