At Henson Fuerst, we know that you can’t predict when car accidents happen. But you can be prepared for what comes next. From helpful items you should carry in your vehicle, to what to do at the crash scene, our Raleigh auto accident lawyers have compiled useful tips to help protect your health and legal rights before and after your wreck.
Preparing for Accidents and Emergencies
Carrying the following items in your car can help prepare you for an accident or emergency:
Blankets can help keep you and your passengers warm and comfortable if you’re waiting for help after a winter or nighttime accident.
- Cell phone charger
A phone charger that’s compatible with your car can help ensure you can contact police, emergency services, and loved ones after a crash.
- First-aid kit
It’s vital to seek professional medical attention for car accident injuries, but a first-aid kit can help you treat minor cuts and injuries before help arrives.
After an accident at night or during inclement weather, a flashlight can help you record the other driver’s information, inspect vehicle damage, and find a safe place away from moving traffic and other hazards.
- Warning lights or road flares
Warning lights and road flares can increase your visibility to emergency responders and other traffic after a crash.
5 Steps to Take at the Car Accident Scene
Following these five steps at the crash scene can prevent further injuries and help protect your rights to file an injury claim:
- Move to a safe place.
Car accidents disrupt normal traffic patterns, which can confuse or distract drivers passing by. Find a safe place to wait for help and move your car to a location near the accident scene if it’s drivable.
- Check for injuries.
If anyone involved in the accident is injured and needs emergency medical treatment, dial 911 for assistance.
- Call the police.
Call the local police department to report the accident. Depending on the details of your accident, they may send an officer to the crash scene.
- Exchange information with drivers and witnesses.
If you’re able, collect the following information from drivers, passengers, and witnesses at the scene:
- Email address
- License plate number
- Insurance company name, policy number, and phone number
- Take photos.
Try to take photographs of your injuries, the accident scene, and the cars involved in the accident. After injuries heal and damaged vehicles are repaired, photos from the accident scene can help demonstrate how the crash happened and the extent of your damages.
After Your Auto Accident
The effects of a wreck can linger long after your car leaves the body shop. But before you get to the body shop. But before you get your vehicle repaired, our Raleigh car accident lawyers recommend taking the following steps:
- See a doctor.
If you are hurt or having pain, it is important to see a doctor. Some injuries take time to present themselves, and having a doctor’s opinion may help your case.
- Gather evidence.
Preserve any items related to your personal injury claim such as pill bottles, receipts, glass removed from cuts, or physical aides you used during your recovery process.
- Describe your accident.
Either draw a detailed diagram or write down exactly how your accident happened. Be sure to include the lane you were traveling in and the path of the other vehicle(s) involved.
- Get a copy of the police report.
If no report was filed or you didn’t get a copy of the police report at the scene of the accident, you may be able to file a report or obtain a copy at your local police station.
- Contact Henson Fuerst.
For our North Carolina auto accident attorneys, getting you the fair treatment you deserve is our first priority. Call us today at (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer?
Our North Carolina auto accident lawyers recommend that you seek the help of a lawyer if:
- your claim involves large injuries,
- you had (or continue to have) substantial medical treatment (treatment that extends beyond more than a few visits to a doctor),
- and/or you have suffered a permanent injury that resulted in scarring, the need for surgery, or a permanent disability.
There are other situations when you may NOT need to hire a lawyer, including:
- You Only Have Property Damage
If the insurance company has accepted responsibility, you can usually handle property damage claims without the help of a lawyer. Even in cases where we handle bodily injury claims for our clients, we often advise them to handle their own property damage claims because it’s faster, cheaper, and easier for them. In certain circumstances where a client either cannot or does not want to handle the property damage claim, we are happy to assist, but the majority of clients decide to handle these claims on their own.
- You Have a Minor Injury Claim
If you were treated by an ambulance service, had only one visit to a hospital or primary care doctor, or had only minimal medical treatment and no major injuries, you may not need an attorney. For small injury claims, insurance companies pay based on the amount of your medical bills and lost wages and then pay a small amount (~$250.00 to $750.00) in addition. Having a Raleigh auto accident attorney may not increase the amount you are compensated.
Dealing With The Insurance Adjusters
If you’re the victim of an auto accident, it’s likely that you’ll have to deal with an insurance adjuster. Follow these tips from the North Carolina auto accident lawyers at Henson Fuerst to make sure your rights are protected.
- Watch what you say.
Be mindful that many insurance companies record their calls, so be aware that anything and everything you say may be recorded and can be used against you.
- Don’t give a recorded statement.
Only in very limited circumstances do our North Carolina auto accident lawyers ever allow a client to give a recorded statement—and even then, it’s only with a lawyer present.
- Have your attorney review your paperwork.
Don’t sign anything from the insurance company without having our lawyers review it first. The small print at the bottom of a letter or on the back of a check may include release language that can dramatically affect your case.
- Never sign a medical release.
When you sign a medical release, the insurance adjuster has full access to your medical records and you will lose all rights to privacy. Don’t give an adjuster the names of your doctors either.
- Avoid small talk with an adjuster.
Focus on the issues you need to address with your adjuster, and leave the pleasantries for someone else.
- Don’t give an adjuster the names of friends, family, or co-workers.
Adjusters may call your friends, family, and co-workers trying to get information on you, even when you have nothing to hide.
The North Carolina auto accident lawyers at Henson Fuerst can guide you through the complex legal process and help you deal with the insurance company.
Contributory Negligence & Negligence Laws
To make a claim for personal injuries or property damages, you must be able to prove that the at-fault party or person was negligent—or failed to act with reasonable care. In an auto accident case, a driver may be considered negligent for:
- crossing the center line into oncoming traffic,
- drag racing another car,
- driving at an excessive speed,
- driving erratically,
- driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
- failing to follow traffic signs,
- failing to keep a proper lookout,
- failing to reduce speed,
- running a stoplight or stop sign,
- texting while driving,
- and more.
A NC motor vehicle accident lawyer at Henson Fuerst is able to evaluate each case to ensure a proper investigation is performed and the complexity of the facts and circumstances are considered. This includes collecting photographs of the accident scene, getting measurements of the wrecked vehicles, and talking with the investigating officers, agencies, and any eyewitnesses to obtain statements.
North Carolina is one of four states that prevents victims from making a claim if they are in any way partially at fault for the accident—or contributed to the accident. This is the law of contributory negligence. Under this law, if you are found even one percent partially at fault, you may not be able to recover any damages for your injuries or property damage from the other driver.
Many North Carolina plaintiffs’ attorneys are working to change this law. Until then, you may still be able to recover under a few specific circumstances:
- The other driver was grossly negligent.
- His or her conduct was too egregious to overlook.
- The other driver had the “last clear chance” to avoid the wreck.
Statute of Limitations
Statute of limitations: A deadline for the time period in which a lawsuit must be filed or a case must settle
For most personal injury negligence cases, such as a car wreck, the statute of limitations in North Carolina is three years from the date of the accident. For cases involving wrongful death, the statute of limitations in North Carolina is two years from the date of the death.
Failure to either file a proper lawsuit or settle your claim within these time periods may mean that you can no longer make a legal claim for your injury. There are a number of exceptions to these rules. That’s why it’s important to talk with a North Carolina auto accident attorney about your case. We can help you make sure the proper statute of limitations is calculated.
Take Action Now
Don’t wait to contact an attorney. In order to get the maximum results for your case, it’s imperative that you allow adequate time for your attorney to:
- research the case,
- obtain necessary records and documentation,
- evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the case,
- determine what legal claims should be made,
- decide which parties to sue,
- and file the case in the proper court.
Many law firms will not accept a case that has only a short amount of time remaining on the statute. Take action now—call our North Carolina auto accident lawyers today at (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form.
At Henson Fuerst, our experienced North Carolina auto accident attorneys can help you navigate these complicated legal issues. Our focus is always on ensuring that your rights are protected following a car accident that was not your fault. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, call Henson Fuerst right away.