How to Determine Personal Injury Liability in a North Carolina Case
Liability is one of the most important words in the field of law. Liability means the legal responsibility for one’s acts or omissions. When an individual fails to meet that responsibility, then they are left to possibly deal with a lawsuit for any of the resulting damages from the injury-causing incident for which he or she was responsible. Determining personal injury liability or legal responsibility can be complicated and often rests on someone that was careless with their actions if this negligence led to a personal injury case in North Carolina.
It is simple to say that the individual or business that caused the accident is responsible and must pay for your injuries, but it is necessary to determine who was legally at fault. Going about this legal process alone can be a rocky road. Our North Carolina personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Brown, Moore & Associates, have experience with determining liability and getting our clients proper compensation for their injuries.
Proving Personal Injury Liability for Cases in North Carolina
A lot of injuries occur due to someone’s careless acts. The general rule for dealing with these situations seems simple, but can sometimes be difficult to prove. Basically, if someone involved in an accident did not exercise proper care, and this caused injury to another, then the person who did not exert appropriate care can be held accountable for paying some, or all, of the damages that were sustained by the innocent victim. In most situations, personal injury liability is determined by this rule. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however.
If the injured individual was hurt because they were somewhere they were not supposed to be or if they should have expected the kind of activity which caused their injuries, then the negligent party may not be held liable. This is because in a situation such as this, the opposing side did not have a “duty of care” toward the injured individual. Also if the injured person’s carelessness contributed to his or her own injury, than in North Carolina, the injured person may not be entitled to recover anything for his or her injuries, even if the other party was more negligent. This is known as the doctrine of contributory negligence.
What If I Suffer from a Personal Injury at Work in North Carolina?
If a negligent person causes an injury during the course and scope of his or her work, then that person’s employer may be held legally responsible for the accident and damages. Employers and businesses can also be found liable if an injury occurs due to the property itself being hazardous or dangerous. The owner of the property has a duty of care to those that enter their business. This is the same for a defective product that was produced by a company. The manufacturer and the seller of the product can potentially both be held liable for the selling of a faulty product.
Personal Injury Liability for Multiple Parties in North Carolina
When more than one individual is at fault for an accident, the law states that any one of the careless parties is responsible for compensating for your injuries. The responsible parties must determine amongst themselves or through court which and how much each should reimburse one another. It is best to alert all those whom you believe are responsible for the accident that you will be filing a claim for damages. Then, depending on what you discover about the incident and those involved, you can make a claim with one or more of the insurance companies.
As you can tell, these type of situations can get really tricky and dealing with insurance companies can be difficult. This is why it is best to seek experienced legal counsel before trying to handle a personal injury claim on your own.
Personal Injury Liability and Comparative Negligence
It is important to know that even if you partly caused the accident, in some states you can still get at least a portion of compensation from anyone else who was at fault and in part responsible for the accident. The amount of the other individual’s liability is decided by comparing your own carelessness with theirs. The percentage of liability on each other’s part will result in the amount that they must pay. While the law in North Carolina would bar such a claim pursuant to the doctrine of contributory negligence, if the claim can be brought in South Carolina, then the injured person may still be entitled to receive compensation. This is known as the doctrine of comparative negligence. Here is an actual example of how comparative negligence works:
Frank was in an auto accident where he stopped short and was rear ended by the car behind him. If the other driver was at total fault, then Frank’s medical bills and lost wages would entitle him to $2,000. However, the accident report filed by the police notes that Frank stopped short due to a group of school kids crossing the street at the wrong time. The insurance company for the other driver points out that because they were in a school zone, Frank should have been driving slower. If Frank was driving slower, then the other driver would not have had to slam on the brakes.
In this case, Frank may be found to be 10% liable for the accident for not driving slow enough. The other driver would be 90% responsible for the accident for failing to stop. So instead of recovering the full $2,000 in damages, Frank would only receive $1,800. Frank is 10% liable for the accident, and therefore he will receive 10% less than the total for his part of the fault for the accident.
There is no exact math formula, however, for arriving at the percentage of liability assigned to a particular individual when analyzing liability under the doctrine of comparative negligence. While North Carolina uses the doctrine of contributory negligence, more than 45 states use the comparative negligence approach favored by South Carolina.
Consult with a North Carolina Attorney Today to Discuss Personal Injury Liability
As one can see, understanding the specifics of your own state’s laws and rules regarding personal injury liability can be overwhelming. The personal injury attorneys at Brown, Moore & Associates are knowledgeable and up to date on all North Carolina and South Carolina personal injury laws. We are here to help you navigate through the complex legal process and help you find peace of mind while dealing with your recovery. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury and would like to discuss the specifics of your case with one of our skilled personal injury lawyers, please call our office today.