Commuting is a fact of life for most North Carolinians. A big portion of our days is often spent in our cars. The frequency with which we are behind the wheel leads to the inevitable accidents that tend to happen. 

Car accidents can be minor inconveniences or devastating occurrences. No matter the consequences of a car accident, it is recommended that you have a Durham car accident lawyer by your side. At the Ricci Law Firm, we can help you mitigate the claims process, whether you are dealing with a fender bender or a car that is damaged beyond repair, minor injuries, catastrophic injuries, or even a car accident that ended with a tragic fatality. 

If you were injured in an automobile accident due to another driver’s negligence, you may be owed compensation. An auto accident lawyer in Durham, NC, with the Ricci Law Firm, can assess your case and determine the damages you should pursue. We will work hard to protect your rights while persistently fighting for the maximum compensation you are entitled to receive. 

Durham, NC Car Accidents

As the population grows and businesses are opening around the area, there are more cars than ever sharing the road. Avoidable accidents happen daily. Typically, most accidents are avoidable. 

Listed below are some of the factors that cause most preventable car accidents in the Durham area:

  • Distracted driving puts everyone in danger. Drivers often are distracted by the passengers in their car, their telephones, GPS directions, texting while driving, and even using social media. This creates hazards for everyone on the road.
  • Reckless driving is another major cause of accidents in NC. Drivers who are aggressive, reckless, and careless put other drivers and themselves at risk because of their behavior.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) causes hundreds of fatalities a year in North Carolina.
  • Failure to follow traffic laws is the reason for most traffic accidents.
  • Animals are another cause of accidents in Durham. Whether they are wild animals or pets, the driver’s first instinct is t try and avoid them by swerving or braking, which can cause an accident.
  • Driver fatigue is another major contributor to car accidents. Their motor skills and reaction times are often compromised by exhaustion, causing traffic accidents.
  • Weather conditions are a contributing factor to Durham accidents. This could be rain, ice, fog, flooding, or snow. 
  • Road debris like trash, limbs, branches, shredded tractor-trailer tires, and similar can cause hazards that lead to accidents. 
  • Lack of vehicle maintenance can also cause accidents when tires are slick, brakes are worn, and headlights, signal lights, and tail lights do not work. 

Other Causes of Accidents

You may think that you caused an automobile accident that you are involved in, but it is important to have an experienced Durham car accident attorney look closely at your case. Yours could have a number of causes that are not necessarily because of your driving. Listed below are some problems that could have caused the accident: 

  • You may share the blame with another driver. 
  • Your auto repair mechanic may have created a problem by not performing the repair or maintenance properly. They could have even ignored a problem that they should have addressed.
  • If there was a missing stop sign or a traffic light that was defective, the accident you were involved in may not be the fault of either driver.

Our team of experienced car accident lawyers understands the laws and the area and will provide you with insight into the best way to proceed with your case. Maximum compensation is our goal for you.

Who Pays For Damages in a Durham Car Accident Case? 

North Carolina is an at-fault state for automobile accident insurance claims. This means the person responsible or at fault pays for the damages caused by the accident. North Carolina also utilizes a pure contributory negligence rule.

Contributory Negligence Rule

Contributory negligence simply means that when filing a claim, if you hold some responsibility for the accident, you are unable to seek damages for that portion of the claim. For example, if you are in a car accident and you were found 20% responsible for the accident, then if you win your claim, you will only be entitled to 80% of the amount of money awarded. 

Constructing a Case 

Your car wreck attorney with the Ricci Law Firm will assess the details of your accident, will analyze the circumstances, review the evidence, listen to witness testimony, and determine who was at fault. Your attorney will then use these details to build a compelling narrative that describes the details of the accident and proves who was liable for your wreck. 

Many of us think that our insurance company will step up and take care of us when we need them following an automobile accident. It is rarely so simple. The insurance company’s goal is not to care for their clients but to profit from them. 

Durham’s contributory negligence rule means that if you are to blame for any portion of the accident, you do not get paid. Your insurance company wants to use this in their favor. Both insurance companies want your claim diminished or dismissed.

Your Ricci Law Firm, a car crash lawyer, will hold the insurance companies accountable so that they do not try to shirk their obligations, which is so often the case. We will work to ensure that your story is effectively told so that you are not cheated out of the compensation you are due.

Four Elements of Negligence That Must Be Demonstrated

When you or someone you care about has been hurt in a car accident, your legal team has the job of showing that the defendant who harmed you shoulders the entire blame. The attorneys for the defense will try to show that you are at fault. 

The skilled car wreck lawyers at Ricci Law Firm understand how to demonstrate negligence on the part of the person who caused your injuries by outlining the four elements of negligence on your behalf. These elements are as follows: 

1. Duty of Care

To prove negligence, you must show that the defendant had a duty of care to you in the specific situation that caused your accident. Your car crash lawyer must show that the defendant’s actions were outside of this scope. This could mean following the rules of the road to keep others safe. 

2. Breach of Duty of Care

Once it has been proven that a duty of care was owed to the plaintiff, it must be shown that the defendant breached that duty of care. In the case of a car accident, this may mean that they were not using the caution that most other reasonable people would have practiced. This might mean they were driving at excessive speed, impaired, or distracted, therefore endangering others.

Your attorney will show the court that if they had behaved in a way that was in line with how others would behave in the same circumstances, then the accident would not have occurred. 

3. Causation

The third element that must be demonstrated when proving negligence is causation. Your attorney will already have demonstrated that the driver had a duty of care, and they chose to breach it. Now, it must be shown that their behavior caused the accident that left you injured.

Practicing negligence does not always mean that it caused the accident that caused your injuries. Your skilled car crash lawyer will need to show the court that the defendant’s actions caused the accident. 

4. Damages

The last element that must be demonstrated when filing a lawsuit because of the negligence of another driver is proof of damages. This means that you must show the court that not only were you in an accident caused by someone who chose to breach the duty of care they were supposed to provide that there were damages. 

You must be able to show that you were financially harmed due to the accident. Without proof of financial damages, there is nothing to compensate.

Gathering Evidence to Prove Your Case

Our legal team at Ricci Law Firm is skilled at combing through every detail of a car accident to find evidence to back up our claims and evidence to debunk any negative claims made against our clients. Our investigators will assemble evidence from every area possible, such as the evidence listed below: 

  • Photos and videos of the accident
  • The police report from the accident
  • Testimony and statements from eyewitnesses and those involved in the accident
  • Existing road conditions and weather conditions surrounding the accident
  • Photographs of injuries
  • Property damage photographs
  • Mobile phone records that may give information about the apps or phone usage and data being utilized when the accident happened.
  • Vehicle maintenance and repair logs 
  • Security video, traffic cameras, and dash cam videos that were recorded during the accident.

When necessary, our firm has the resources to hire independent accident investigators so that we can objectively assess liability for the accident.

Auto Insurance in Durham, NC

North Carolina drivers must carry liability insurance that covers the damages that they may cause if they are involved in a car accident. The state minimums are listed as follows: 

  • They must carry $30,000 per person and $60,000 for two or more passengers in case there is a bodily injury liability.
  • Drivers have to carry a minimum of $25,000 per incident to cover property damage.

Though it may not be legal, at times, North Carolina drivers operate their vehicles without adequate insurance. This can mean a driver has an accident with an under or uninsured driver, leaving you with little hope of being compensated, even though the accident was not your fault. 

If the plaintiff has a policy addition known as uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UIM), they will be protected by their own insurance. If your injuries are more serious and expensive than your typical policy or the policy of the other driver is equipped to cover, a UM/UIM policy may be a lifesaver.

If insurance is not going to pay the full amount of damages sustained, the plaintiff may need to file a personal injury suit to recover compensation above what the insurance company will pay.

Significant Injuries Caused by Automobile Accidents

Car accidents can leave their victims terribly injured or just bruised and shaken. Sometimes, injuries are immediately evident at the time of the car crash, but other times, they are masked by shock and adrenaline or are closed injuries, so they are not yet presenting themselves.

In the best-case scenario, you are treated soon after the accident by the first responders on the scene, and then you are given additional treatment at the hospital emergency room. 

In minor fender bender-type accidents, you may not realize the extent of your injuries, and since you do not see blood, you may choose not to seek medical care. However, it is always advisable to seek medical assistance, no matter how minor the accident seems.

Injuries can show up over time, and you may experience injuries such as whiplash, which can get worse over the days and weeks that follow an accident. Head injuries may not immediately seem like a big deal, but you could become nauseated, dizzy, or disoriented after you get home. If you return home without medical attention and then experience symptoms, the insurance companies will seek to attribute your injuries to something you caused after the accident. 

How to Calculate the Value of Your Car Accident Claim

Bills pile up quickly following a car crash. If the accident was not your fault, you should not have to suffer the financial consequences of the wreck. Your car crash lawyer in Durham will be there to help you determine the value of your compensation claim. 

You could be entitled to economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Examples of these damages are discussed in depth below: 

Economic Damages

Economic damages account for the financial damages that the victim of a car accident suffers following a crash. These include the following: 

  • Medical expenses: Medical costs cover everything from travel to the hospital by ambulance or helicopter to the emergency room bills, intensive care unit and hospital stays, and diagnostic tests like X-rays and CT scans, surgeries, procedures, and medications. Other expenses include prosthetics, rehabilitation, follow-up care, specialists, therapy, visits from home healthcare agencies, psychological support, and medical devices.
  • Travel: Traveling to and from doctors and hospitals for care is an additional and unexpected expense.
  • Lost wages: When you are injured and unable to attend work, bills come in, but your income does not, making for an incredibly stressful situation.
  • Loss of future wages: If you are not able to return to work or are not able to pursue the job you were trying to get, the loss of those future earnings can be financially crippling. 
  • Property damage: This could mean damage to your vehicle, your phone, computer, car seats, strollers, bikes, or anything else that was damaged inside your vehicle. 
  • Cost of therapy and rehabilitation costs: If you have sustained a significant injury, you may need physical and occupational therapy.
  • Psychological care: Psychological help after a serious accident is another expense you might be facing.
  • Home alterations: Depending on your injuries, your home may need to be altered to accommodate your injuries. This could mean the addition of ramps, lifts, handrails, grab bars, lowered countertops, wider entryways and doorways, roll-in showers, walk-in tubs, and enlarged bathrooms.
  • Mobility devices: Depending on your injuries, you may need a wheelchair, scooter, crutches, a walker, or a cane.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages do not have a direct price tag on them the way that economic damages do. A few that you might be entitled to are as follows: 

  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Disfigurement
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Isolation
  • Pain and suffering

Emotional and physical damages are equally important to our clients, and while non-economic damages may be harder to calculate, our team understands how to do this so that you are fairly compensated for your damages.

Contact the Ricci Law Firm Today

Our team negotiates and litigates on behalf of our clients when facing claims against big insurance companies all the time. We are skilled negotiators and can often secure a successful resolution without going to court. But our litigation skills are just as keen, and if we must go to court, we gladly accept the challenge if that is what it takes to secure a generous judgment on your behalf. 

Car accidents and the injuries and damages that follow can leave you exhausted and overwhelmed. Our experienced car crash attorneys at the Ricci Law Firm in Durham, NC, can help you navigate the challenges that come with filing a car accident claim. We will work without ceasing to see that you can focus your energies on healing while we focus on securing the maximum benefits possible for you. 

Contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation. We will help you pursue the damages you are entitled to while protecting your rights along the way.