The Most Common Defenses In North Carolina Car Crash Cases
In any negligence case, a car wreck attorney is committed to maximum compensation for victims. Typically, that compensation includes money for medical bills, property damages, lost wages, and other economic losses, as well as loss of consortium (companionship), pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and other noneconomic losses.
Lawyers on the other side, who represent the insurance company, have the exact opposite mindset. These companies make money by collecting premiums from policyholders and not by paying claims to non-policyholders. As a result, the insurance company is never “on your side” in a Winston-Salem vehicle collision claim.
To accomplish this goal, the insurance company can use a variety of defenses. But the facts in a case can defeat almost all of them.
Is The Seat Belt Defense Available in North Carolina?
Because North Carolina law requires people to buckle up, many people assume they cannot obtain compensation if they were not wearing their seatbelts. But that’s simply not true.
State law specifically states that the failure to wear a seat belt “shall not be admissible in any criminal or civil trial, action, or proceeding except in an action based on a violation of this section.” When they passed this provision, lawmakers correctly predicted what would probably happen if such evidence were allowed in negligence cases. Fairly straightforward and short North Carolina car crash cases would become complicated and drawn-out affairs that feature parades of expert witnesses. In a situation like that, no one wins except lawyers who charge by the hour.
Section 20-135.2A also applies to children and infants. While these individuals must be secured in age-appropriate car seats, the failure to do so does not constitute contributory negligence in Winston-Salem.
The Contributory Negligence Defense in Winston-Salem
In many car crash cases, both the victim/plaintiff and tortfeasor (negligent driver) contributed to the accident. For example, the victim/plaintiff may have made an illegal turn and the tortfeasor may have been drunk.
Contributory negligence claims usually involve a two-step process. First, the Winston-Salem judge must determine if there is enough evidence of joint fault for the defense to apply. Second, after hearing all the facts and legal arguments, the jury must apportion legal responsibility for the car wreck between the two parties.
North Carolina is one of only four pure contributory negligence jurisdictions. Even if the tortfeasor is 99 percent responsible for the crash, the victim/plaintiff cannot receive any damages. So, it’s very important for an attorney to be aggressive at both stages. Failure to do so often leaves victim/plaintiffs holding the financial bag.
This defense takes other forms as well, such as assumption of the risk and sudden emergency. The former usually only applies to passenger injury and premises liability cases.
Connect with Aggressive Attorneys
Insurance company lawyers will do what it takes to deny recovery. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in High Point, contact McAllister, Aldridge & Kreinbrink PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.