When a motor vehicle collision happens in North Carolina, it’s not always the driver who suffers the worst. Side-impact crashes, rollover accidents, and truck jackknife incidents often inflict the worst damage on the passengers of the vehicles involved. The results can include neck and spine injuries, broken bones, ruptured internal organs, paralysis, and even death.
While personal injury lawyers in North Carolina often stress the opportunities to seek a legal recovery for drivers in traffic accidents, too often passengers who have been injured are overlooked. Yet the plain fact is that a passenger hurt in a North Carolina traffic crash has the same legal rights as anyone who has suffered a loss due to another person’s negligence—and possibly greater protection.
North Carolina legal liability rules
As any North Carolina injury lawyer will tell you, determining who is at fault in a traffic accident is one of the key questions that must be answered in the initial stages of a lawyer’s investigation. The matter is especially crucial here in the Tar Heel State because of North Carolina’s contributory negligence law. This rule says that a person who has any responsibility at all for his injuries is unable to collect compensation in a lawsuit. So if two drivers collided, and the accident was 95 percent the fault of Driver A and five percent the fault of Driver B, neither driver would be eligible to collect by suing the other.
However, consider the passenger in Driver A’s vehicle. Except in rare and peculiar circumstances, such as her reaching out to grab the steering wheel, the passenger will have no responsibility for the accident. That means she is conceivably in a position to collect money from both Driver A and Driver B (or, more likely, their insurance companies). Although the total she can get in compensation cannot exceed the total value of her injuries, if she gets too little from one driver to make her whole she can ask the second driver for the balance.
Dealing with insurance companies
When you file a claim against a driver’s insurance, the company will assign a representative—an insurance adjuster—to investigate your case. The adjuster will read the police report and may interview witnesses. If he finds that you were indeed harmed through the negligence of one of his company’s policyholders, he will make you a settlement offer: a specific amount of money to compensate you for your injuries.
It’s at this point you really need the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. Insurance adjusters are known for offering initial settlement terms that may seem generous—but ultimately prove to be too little. Don’t accept a settlement without consulting with a Wilmington traffic accident lawyer who knows insurance adjuster tricks.
Speaks Law Firm has the depth of experience not to be fooled by insurance adjusters, and we’re eager to pursue a claim for a client all the way to a jury award. Call our legal team at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 to schedule a free, confidential appointment, and we will send you a FREE copy of our law firm book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book. Contact us today and we can work to get you the full compensation you deserve.