North Carolina Car Accident Laws
If you’ve been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the NC car accident laws.
These laws will help you better understand your rights and options for recovery after an accident.
It’s also important you contact a North Carolina car accident attorney who can walk you through the specifics of your particular case.
In the meantime, here are a few important North Carolina auto accident laws you need to be aware of.
Statute of Limitations in North Carolina
One of the most important laws you need to be aware of is what’s called the statute of limitations. Like other states, North Carolina has a certain amount of time where you are allowed to bring a lawsuit against the party who hit you.
The deadline will vary based on the type of case you intend to bring and what kind of injuries you sustained. For auto accident cases, the statute of limitations is usually the same as what is allowed for most personal injury matters.
The North Carolina General Statutes §1-52 sets forth the time limit, or statute of limitations, for property damage and/or injuries as three years. This means you have three years from the date you were injured or the date your vehicle was damaged to bring a lawsuit against the defendant.
If the other driver was working for the government, there will be a separate set of laws that apply, and you’ll need to file your claim with the Industrial Commission within the three years.
In the event someone passes away due to injuries sustained in the accident, there is a different statute of limitations that can apply. If you bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of your family member who was killed, then you have two years to bring a lawsuit.
The major difference here is the clock doesn’t start running until the date the person passes away. This could be two days or even two months after the accident.
Insurance Coverage Amounts
Each state has laws that require that all drivers carry a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage. In North Carolina, the requirements are:
- $30,000 per single person claim for injuries or death
- $60,000 total claim for injuries or death
- $25,000 for property damage per incident
If you opt to carry the minimum amounts, the law also requires that you carry uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage allows you to file a claim with your own carrier in the event the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance. There is also something called underinsured motorist coverage.
This would provide coverage in the event the other party’s limits were not high enough to compensate you for all your damages. For example, if the at-fault driver’s coverage was only $30,000 and your medical bills were $40,000 alone. If you carry underinsured motorist coverage, then your policy would compensate you for the remaining $10,000.
Theory of Contributory Negligence
One of the other most important North Carolina car accident laws you need to know is the theory of contributory negligence. This is a rather antiquated liability rule that only a handful of states still follow.
It’s completely unfair, because if you are deemed even one percent at fault for the accident, you are barred from any recovery. In states that follow comparative negligence, you could be found 20% at fault and still collect up to 80% of your damages. In North Carolina, if a jury finds you 1% at fault and the other driver to be 99% at fault, you would not be eligible to collect anything at all.
An example would be when a jury finds the other party was at fault for turning left directly in front of you, but they also determined you were driving several miles over the speed limit, finding you 10% at fault. This means you will collect nothing for your injuries and pain and suffering, which is what makes the rule of contributory negligence so antiquated and unfair.
North Carolina Damages Cap
The state has something called a “damage cap” which can limit the amount you can receive in compensation for a personal injury claim. The limit is $250,000, which is specific for punitive damages, but otherwise will only apply to medical malpractice claims.
Contact a North Carolina Auto Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one were injured in an auto accident in the state, it’s important to understand which North Carolina auto accident laws are applicable to your case in order to protect yourself and maximize the amount of compensation you may be entitled to. And, the sooner you meet with a skilled North Carolina auto accident attorney, the better.
At Dawson & Albritton, P.A., we’ve been helping residents with their North Carolina accident claims for over a decade. Contact our Greenville office today at 252-752-2485 to schedule an initial consultation.