Getting injured can be a terrifying situation. Once the initial shock and overwhelming feelings fade, you likely need to determine what you are going to do about things like paying for medical bills and missing time at work to recover. Fortunately, if you were injured because of someone else, the law does allow you to hold those parties accountable and receive restitution for what you suffered.
Whether it is from a car accident, a slip-and-fall incident, or another situation where someone else was negligent, filing a personal injury claim could help you get restitution for what you’ve had to endure. At the Tatum Law Firm, our team helps those who have suffered a personal injury seek damages to cover their costs.
The central component of a personal injury claim is the matter of fault. Restitution will only be paid to the plaintiff if it can be shown that the other party was at fault for what occurred. The burden of proof is then on the plaintiff to make the case that the defendant was at fault. Generally, proving fault, or liability, in a personal injury case comes down to proving three things:
In a personal liability case, the compensation you receive is known as damages. Much like proof of fault is necessary to prove in a personal injury case, it is also essential for your lawyer to prove that the damages you are seeking are directly tied to the injury you suffered. The proof of fault extends from the breach of duty through the accident and injuries all the way to the costs of those injuries.
It’s crucial to keep good records of all bills and everything else associated with managing your injuries, as those will often be used to demonstrate the connection. The damages that are awarded in personal injury cases generally fall into one of two categories:
Economic and non-economic damages are both forms of compensatory damages. In most cases, these are the only damages that will be awarded. However, there are some situations where punitive damages may also be awarded.
Punitive damages are meant to act as a kind of punishment and deterrent for those who cause injury to another party through conduct that is considered to be particularly egregious. This typically means there is something about the defendant’s conduct that is intentional, such as being malicious or fraudulent. There are a number of factors to be considered when deciding whether to award punitive damages, including:
One of the things that makes personal injury cases in North Carolina more challenging than other states is its system of pure contributory negligence. What this means is that the plaintiff could lose all possibility of receiving damages.
In most other states, if the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for an accident, the total amount of damages that they can collect is reduced proportionately to the share of fault that they are found to have. In North Carolina, though, if there is even the slightest thing that the plaintiff should have done differently to prevent an injury, then they risk not being able to recover anything. For instance, if a plaintiff ignored a store’s warnings about a wet floor, they might not be able to recover damages if they slipped and fell. Another example might be an instance where both drivers were found to be partially at fault. That situation could result in neither driver being able to recover damages.
This isn’t cause to give up hope, though, as there are ways to defend against contributory negligence. The burden of proof is on the defendant to prove that the plaintiff was also at fault. It’s possible to challenge the components of negligence that are argued against you. There are also some legal principles, such as the last clear chance doctrine or gross negligence, that could apply to your case and offer some protection. It’s important, however, to work with an experienced legal team, like the Tatum Law Firm, to craft a defense based on the particulars of your case.
The concept of a statute of limitations is that only so much time can pass after an incident before an injured party is no longer allowed to hold the other party responsible for the accident. For most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is three years, meaning that a claim must be filed within three years after the injury occurred. There can be some exceptions to this, though, such as if the injury is reasonably discovered at a later time. There may also be some variance depending upon the type of personal injury claim — for example, medical malpractice — and a lawyer can help you understand the specifics of your case.
There are some things that can be done in the immediate aftermath of an accident that can benefit your potential claim. Keep in mind that these moments following the incident are a time to be careful with what you say and to begin to gather evidence that can help your case.
Working with a personal injury lawyer can be critical for having a strong, thorough case. It’s especially important to have a skilled attorney, given that North Carolina is a pure contributory negligence state. You need a team ready to defend against any claim that you were even partially at fault for. Experienced lawyers, like those at the Tatum Law Firm, have a solid understanding of what can be done to defend against those claims.
The first thing we do when we work with a client is a thorough investigation of the case. This is critical for both making the case for negligence on the part of the other party and also defending against claims of negligence on your part. Our investigation could entail any number of things depending upon the particulars of your accident. Generally, we review any photographs or video of the accident and the scene. We interview any eyewitnesses or expert witnesses as necessary and gather documents or other relevant facts. We will look for every bit of evidence that can be used to argue your case and protect against contributory negligence arguments. Our investigation is specific to your case; we go where we can to ensure the most optimal outcome for your situation.
We also work with the insurance companies on your behalf. In many cases, it can be beneficial to avoid taking a claim all the way to trial, as that can be a lengthy and expensive process. A negotiation with the insurance companies could provide the most favorable outcome. You want to allow our lawyers to negotiate on your behalf, though. Insurance representatives will be looking for anything you say that could be argued as an admission of fault, especially in a pure contributory negligence state like North Carolina. By letting us deal with them, you have some protection against that risk.
If it’s necessary to take your claim to court, it is our job as your lawyer to argue your case. We’ll make the case to establish components of fault on the part of the defendant. We are also prepared for the arguments that the defendant may make regarding your potential share of fault in the incident. Lastly, we are ready to argue for the damages that you wish to recover from the case. We understand the different legal elements that could be critical to your claim, and we use our experience in court to craft a case that highlights the factors the court is looking to see demonstrated.
When you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve restitution that makes you whole, or at least as whole as possible. You should be able to get compensation for your medical bills and for the psychological and emotional damage that you’ve suffered. However, these payouts are made by insurance companies. They don’t want to see their bottom line take the hit, so they often fight against paying what you’re owed. With North Carolina’s pure contributory negligence policy, they also have a significant advantage.
To make sure you are giving yourself a strong chance at getting what you’re owed, you want to work with a law firm that understands how to handle the unique challenges of arguing a claim in North Carolina. At the Tatum Law Firm, we have the necessary skills to work with difficult claims. We thoroughly investigate our clients’ cases and develop a comprehensive argument in their favor. We know the kinds of arguments that the opposition is likely to make, and we craft a solid plan for how we can argue against them. If you think you have a personal injury claim, contact us to discuss your case.