North Carolina Rear End Collision Caused by a Drunk Driver Lawyer

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A side view shot of two cars with debris scattered around them from when one rear-ended the other.Rear-end collisions should not happen, yet they make up over a third of all motor vehicle crashes.

The likelihood of causing a rear-end collision while intoxicated is high because a driver’s reaction time is diminished. A rear-end accident ranges from no damage to a costly disaster that may even involve fatalities.

A personal injury lawyer specializing in drunk driving accidents will help you build your case and determine how much you are entitled to receive.

Can You Sue for Being Rear-Ended?

Absolutely, you can sue for being rear-ended. However, you will have to prove that the other driver was negligent and caused the accident.

Your personal injury attorney knows what questions to ask and will use your answers to determine if you have a case.

You can generally be compensated by filing a claim for damages through the negligent driver’s insurance company, but there are times when a lawsuit is warranted.

When Should I File a Lawsuit?

You should sue the negligent driver for rear-ending your vehicle when any of the following are true:

  • When the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident refuses to offer a fair settlement, a lawsuit is the next step. Your drunk driving accident lawyer will help you decide if and when it is necessary to sue.
  • The driver was drunk. When you are in any type of collision with a drunk driver, you would assume that the case should be simple, but the opposite is true. Claims and cases against drunk drivers are often more complicated. For example, the driver may dispute the fact of being drunk. If there was no sobriety test, or if it was administered after too much time had passed, it would be very difficult to prove the level of intoxication. There may also be other parties at fault for the accident, such as a bartender or whoever served the driver alcohol and later allowed the driver to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
  • The driver’s insurance was not sufficient to cover all damages. According to North Carolina’s Department of Transportation, the minimum insurance coverage for bodily injuries in this state is only $30,000 for one person and $60,000 for two or more people. While this may be enough coverage for a low-speed accident, it may not be enough to cover everyone’s injuries if the driver was traveling at high speeds and there were multiple people in the victim’s car, especially not if they collided with two or more vehicles. The same rings true for property damage. North Carolina’s minimum required insurance is only $25,000. That is not enough to cover most new vehicles, especially not any customized or luxury cars. You may have to sue the driver personally for any excess damages.
  • The driver was driving so recklessly that punitive damages are warranted. For example, the collision may have been the result of road rage, and the driver hit your vehicle on purpose. Punitive damages are used as a punishment for outrageously harmful behavior.
  • The driver was uninsured. Operating a motor vehicle in North Carolina without insurance is illegal. However, the law does not stop all drivers. You are required to have uninsured driver insurance on your own policy, but that does not mean that you cannot sue the driver for compensation.

What Is Contributory Negligence?

North Carolina has a unique rule that prevents anyone at fault from receiving financial compensation. Even if you are found to be only one percent responsible for the accident, the court and insurance companies will deny claims for damages.

For example, the insurance company may try to put part of the blame for the collision on you by saying you cut in front of their client or stopped suddenly without cause.

This rule is why it is so important to have a skilled lawyer on your side to gather evidence and strengthen your case.

What Can I Claim in a Lawsuit?

There are several types of damages that your drunk driving accident lawyer will discuss with you to make sure you are compensated appropriately.

  • Repairs for damage to your car caused by the accident.
  • Medical expenses, including prescription medication and any specialized equipment you may require due to the accident.
  • Lost wages from being unable to work as a result of the collision.
  • Reduced earning capacity due to your injuries.
  • Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering and emotional distress such as post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety.
  • Punitive damages are rare, but a possibility if the driver was driving recklessly or caused the collision on purpose.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

North Carolina allows three years to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations prevents any further action on the matter. The statute of limitations only applies to the date the claim is filed, not the date of completion.

What Is the Most Common Injury From a Rear-End Collision?

Being struck from behind is often unexpected, especially for passengers, as they do not have the use of the rearview mirror.

Whiplash is the most common injury sustained from a rear-end collision. Victims’ heads are forced back and forth like cracking a whip.

This injury causes pain and loss of range of motion in the neck and shoulders. Bone, muscle, ligaments, and nerves can all be injured depending on the severity of the injury.

The recovery time for whiplash typically ranges from days to weeks but sometimes lasts much longer.

Should I Accept a Settlement From the Responsible Driver’s Insurance Company?

Never accept the initial settlement offer from an insurance company. Although what they offer will likely be tempting, especially if you already have bills adding up, the first offer is always less than what you need to cover all your damages.

A personal injury lawyer skilled at handling drunk driving accidents will review all settlement offers and negotiate on your behalf to get you your entitled amount.

Insurance companies will try to pick apart your claims and place blame for the collision on you to avoid having to pay for your damages. It is best to let an experienced attorney handle these aggressive companies.

How Should I Prepare for a Lawsuit?

Your personal injury attorney will guide you through every step of your rear-end accident lawsuit.

Proof of Negligence

The first thing you will do is gather all evidence that proves the other driver is at fault and that their negligence caused the accident.

The most important piece of evidence is the police report. You will also want to use witness statements and possibly a report from an accident reconstruction specialist.

Gather Documentation

Collect all records of your expenses related to the accident. These records should include all medical bills, such as the following:

  • Hospital Stays
  • Prescription Medications
  • Surgeries
  • Follow Up Doctor Visits
  • Physical Therapy
  • Anticipated Future Medical Care

Also, include all financial losses you have experienced, such as lost wages from being unable to work during recovery and any reduced earning potential if you will no longer be able to work in the same capacity as before the collision.

Your lawyer will help you determine the value of your pain and suffering if you are no longer able to enjoy life as well as you could before.

You will also need documentation for the cost to repair or replace your vehicle as well as any other property you had that was damaged in the crash.

Your attorney will help you gather all the necessary paperwork. In the meantime, keep all the bills, receipts, pay stubs, and any other documents related to your accident. This relation means anything you would not have received if you had not been involved in the collision.

File the Complaint

After gathering all your documents, it is time to file your formal complaint. Work with your lawyer to explain what happened during the accident and the events surrounding the incident.

Describe how you were hurt, the full extent of your injuries, and all treatments you have had and will need. Finally, state your requested compensation amount.

After all this information is complete, file the claim with the court.

What Happens Next?

Once you file your complaint, the process of suing the other driver has officially begun.

Sometimes, making the process official is enough to show the negligent party that you are serious about obtaining the compensation you are entitled to receive. You may receive a fair settlement at this point. If not, your case continues to go to court.

Contact an Experienced Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Right Away

Contacting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a rear-end collision will benefit you by ensuring you take the necessary steps to get the best possible outcome.

Be sure to contact an attorney with expertise in dealing with drunk drivers so they can smoothly navigate the complexities of your case. Call Tatum & Atkinson at (800) LAW-0804 today for a free consultation to discuss your accident and your options.