In North Carolina, to establish a case of negligence, the plaintiff must prove:
- Causation (cause-in-fact and proximate cause)
First, a defendant owes a duty to conform to a specific standard of conduct for the protection of foreseeable plaintiffs. Breach occurs when the defendant fails to conform to that standard of conduct. Moreover, the defendant's breach must be the cause-in-fact and proximate cause of the plaintiff's harm. To prove cause-in-fact, the plaintiff must show the harm would not have occurred but for the defendant's actions. To establish the defendant's breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's harm, the plaintiff must show the result of the defendant's conduct was foreseeable. Finally, damages include the plaintiff's past and future medical expenses, lost income, property damages and pain and suffering.
While you may be able to prove that the other party was negligent and caused you to suffer numerous injuries, you may still be barred from recovery because of Contributory Negligence. North Carolina, unfortunately, is one of the few remaining states that still follows this rule. Under North Carolina Contributory Negligence Doctrine, if you were found to be even 1% at fault in an accident, you may be completely barred from any recovery whatsoever. The policy behind this rule is justified by legislators in that as a plaintiff, you also owe a duty to the other person to exercise reasonable care on your own behalf. This antiquated rule also, allegedly, helps to keep insurance premiums down.
Last Clear Chance Doctrine and Medical Payments are meant to alleviate the harshness of this rule. Under Last Clear Chance Doctrine, you will be entitled to compensation even if found to have been contributorily negligent. This applies if after you have placed yourself in peril, the defendant knew or should have known that you were in peril and had the time and the means to avoid injuring you, but failed to use reasonably available means to avoid injuring you and as a result caused your injuries.
Medical payments, on the other hand, is a type of insurance coverage that you may obtain in North Carolina that will pay for your injuries regardless of who is found at fault for the accident. You may be wondering whether using this medical payments coverage will increase your premiums. The answer is no. Generally, insurance companies are not permitted to raise your premiums simply because you have used this coverage.
Having been involved in multiple car accidents myself, I understand the agony and the pain that a personal injury victim experiences. Aside from the physical injuries, emotional stress, loss of income and exorbitant medical expenses, you also have to deal with restoring your financial well-being, which more often than not proves to be very challenging.
Speak to a lawyer today about your accident.