North Carolina Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline

Sometimes, escaping the parking lot after a Panthers game can be just as dangerous as traveling the winding, icy roads along the Smokey Mountains in winter time. If you are one of the unlucky few involved in a car accident in the Old North State, this article about the North Carolina car accident settlement process and timeline should help.

Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in North Carolina?

North Carolina's requires a report to be filed with local law enforcement whenever a "reportable accident" occurs, which means:

  • The accident resulted in an injury or death to a person
  • Where there is property damage of $1000 or more.

The “appropriate law-enforcement agency,” if you are in a city, is the city police department. If you are outside city limits, the agency would be the Highway Patrol, sheriff’s office, or county police where the accident occurred. That agency will then file a report with the state department of motor vehicles.

North Carolina Car Insurance Laws

North Carolina's mandatory minimum insurance requirements include liability insurance of at least:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person,
  • $60,000 for bodily injury to or death of more than one persons
  • $25,000 for property damage in any one accident
  • Supplemental uninsured motorist

How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in North Carolina?

Almost no cases end in trials. Nearly all car accident damage claims end in settlement, as the parties would rather control the outcome by taking a guaranteed payout than risk losing at trial. A settlement means you may also save on legal fees and stress, instead negotiating appropriate compensation and signing a written agreement, before dropping the pending lawsuit.

North Carolina requires mandatory settlement conferences in nearly all civil cases with a neutral mediator. Even if a settlement isn't reached with the mediator, your attorney will likely continue to discuss settlement options with you and the other party.

What is the Average Car Accident Settlement in North Carolina?

There is no average settlement -- as cases and the amount of pain and damages suffered by parties vary widely from case to case. The more important consideration is the amount of damages in your particular case -- no other case is like it.

To determine a fair settlement amount in your case, the parties and their attorneys will likely consider:

  • The amount and evidence of fault and damages
  • Insurance coverage (insurance companies won’t pay more than policy limits)
  • Car repairs
  • Medical bills (past and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages from time away from work

How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in North Carolina?

North Carolina, like all states, has time limits (Statutes of Limitations) for filing a legal case: you have three years from the date of the accident for both personal injury claims and for property damage.

These time limits are strict and are not extended due to pending insurance claims. Speak to an attorney early in order to ensure that you still have time to file a lawsuit if needed.

Get a Free Claim Review from a North Carolina Attorney

There are a lot of factors that go into determining whether a settlement offer is "fair," including the amount of damages, the likelihood of success at trial, and the insurance coverage. A free claim review from an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney can help to evaluate the settlement offer and can prevent other issues that could end your case before it begins. 

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.