Car accidents are disorienting. Suddenly you’re worried over potential injuries, repair costs, insurance, getting to work and more. In this flurry of questions and confusion, it can be challenging to focus on the important steps you need to take.
In the aftermath of a car accident, follow these four steps to ensure you are within your legal rights.
Report the car accident
According with North Carolina law, you must contact the police about a car accident if:
- Any person was injured or killed
- There is more than $1,000 in property damage
- Your insurance company requires it
- The city law requires it
As a rule of thumb, it is usually best to contact the police for any vehicle accident, so that a police report can be made. This report prevents parties involved from changing their story later on.
Avoid claiming any fault for the accident
Remember not to apologize or assume any fault for the accident at the scene. North Carolina negligence laws follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, which bars recovery by the plaintiff if he or she is partially at fault. This means even if you have been injured, you may not be eligible for compensation if you are attributed with partial fault for the incident.
Following a car accident, you may not realize all of the components involved in the incident, so you should be careful not to admit things at the scene. The other driver’s insurance company will not hesitate to use anything you say against you. You are not required to answer any questions asked by the other party’s insurance company. Consider consulting an attorney about answering these questions on your behalf.
Seek medical attention
Victims of car accidents may experience delayed injuries. You should always seek medical attention after a car accident and keep record of your diagnosis, injuries and treatment. These will be of use to recover costs in a personal injury case. Those who “tough it out” by not going to a doctor after an injury are punished by a system that treats delay in treatment as evidence that they weren’t injured.
Get legal help within the time limit
Because North Carolina is strict about which circumstances warrant personal injury compensation after a car accident, it is important that you contact an attorney to file for an injury or damage to property claim within the time allowed. The time limits can be complicated, so you should consult a lawyer very soon after your accident, if you have any questions.