If you have been injured in an accident in Charlotte, it can be difficult to know what to do. At any moment you could be involved in a serious accident. Nothing in life prepares you for dealing effectively with the pain, stress and outright shock. Next thing you know, you're at the Carolinas Medical Center emergency lying on a hospital bed. Whether you are injured at work, at someone else's house, as the result of a defective product, by a dangerous dog, or from a slip and fall accident, it's crucial to know your rights.
Where should you begin? FindLaw to the rescue. Here's some general information about the process and law behind a typical Charlotte personal injury case.
What Are the Stages of a North Carolina Personal Injury Case?
1. You're injured because of someone else's negligence;
2. Your lawyer files a complaint in the Mecklenberg County Superior Court and serves in on the defendant(s);
3. The defendant through his attorney may be required to file an answer;
4. Both sides gather evidence and engage in discovery;
5. A pre-trial conference takes place between judge and the attorneys to discuss; possible settlement. You may also be able to hire a mediator and settle out of court;
6. If there isn't a settlement, trial takes place and a verdict is rendered;
7. Either party can appeal the decision to appellate courts.
Should I See A Doctor?
If you're injured, of course! Always put your health first. This isn't a time to be macho or minimize your pain. Go the doctor. Pain is actually a means for your body to communicate to you that there is something wrong. Be completely honest with your physician and explain how the injury happened.
Should I Gather Evidence?
Yes, it will help your lawyer decide if you have a viable claim. Begin to collect evidence to help your case. Almost every cell phone has a camera. Don't be afraid to use it. Have pictures taken of the different stages of your physical injuries.
Speak to witnesses, keep a journal, and take photos. Witnesses can helpful even if they only heard the accident and did not see it. People often do not know the true extent of the information they have processed.
What if I am Injured on the Job ?
If you are injured at work, contact the North Carolina Industrial Commission. If you are no longer able to work, the income that you and your family depend upon can often be decreased or even eliminated. If the insurance company or workers compensation carrier is disputing the claim or the seriousness of the case, you and your family are suffering financially, physically and emotionally.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
Don't delay. North Carolina recognizes a three-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases, which means that lawsuits cannot be filed more than two years after the accident. There are a few exceptions if you are a minor or judged incompetent.
Proving Fault in North Carolina
In order to win your case, you and your attorney must prove the defendant was negligent or "at fault" for your injuries Determining who is at fault isn't always easy. It will depend on the particular circumstances. Your lawyer may rely on evidence collected from the scene, expert testimony, witnesses' statements or any combination of these things.
What is Contributory Negligence?
North Carolina has a controversial rule called contributory negligence. That means an injured person may not be able to recover anything if he or she was even as little as 1% at fault in the accident.
If you believe that contributory negligence will prevent you from recovering compensation, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
What kind of compensation can I get for my injuries?
The term for collecting money to compensate you for your injuries is called damages. The most common type is physical injuries, which include direct trauma to the body. A victim may be to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of life's pleasures, and scarring and disfigurement. Mental and emotional injuries are also part of that.
Punitive damages usually are sought only if the defendant was grossly reckless or intended to injure the plaintiff. These damages are awarded as punishment to make sure the defendant won't commit the act again.
Do I Really Need A Lawyer ?
If you aren't sure what to do, a trained legal professional may be able to help. Lawyers take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. Basically, you do not pay for the costs of a case or pay the lawyer his or her attorney fees if you lose the case. If you win, you pay the lawyer a percentage of the money you get. A settlement of your case is considered a "win" and your attorney will most likely be entitled to collect their fees.
If you or a family member has suffered a personal injury in Charlotte due to someone else's negligence behavior, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses and suffering. You may want to at least consider seeking legal advice from a qualified lawyer.
Contact a qualified attorney.