Although people often associate personal injury cases with trial lawyers and notorious, woodenly acted television ads, law suits over injuries actually have a long and honorable tradition. Laws governing the compensation due when one person accidentally harms another have existed since ancient times. North Carolina still employs principles from the common law of negligence, which we inherited from England, to deal with most accidents resulting in bodily injury or damage to property. Saying a claim is for a personal injury is simply a common reference to a bodily injury caused in an accident, and the law governing this is usually the law of negligence.
Loosely speaking, the law of negligence offers a way to determine who is at fault for an accident (or incident) and the amount of money owed for any injuries or damages that it caused. The law must recognize (offer a remedy for) the harm a person claims before a suit can be pursued in court. Negligence law provides the basis for bringing a recognized claim. In a suit, this recognized claim is called a cause of action.
Some causes of action for injuries are created by statute (specifically passed by the legislature). Actions against employers for injuries caused at work can most often only be pursued as worker’s compensation claims, which are governed by statute and must be brought through the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Other actions may be brought as negligence claims, but are governed by specific statutory rules and definitions. Wrongful death and products liability actions, for instance, each have specific statutes that define how and when they may be brought before the court.
In addition to specific discussions of the law of negligence, worker’s compensation, wrongful death and products liability, this site offers information on common personal injury issues, including: truck accidents, drunk drivers and punitive damages, motorcycle accidents, dog bites, and traumatic brain injuries.
Personal Injury Claims
Most personal injury claims come from traffic accidents. The vast majority of traffic accident claims are resolved (or settled) with insurance companies and do not go to court. North Carolina law requires that every licensed driver has to be covered by insurance, so the investigating officer at the scene of an accident will get the insurance information from all drivers involved as part of his or her investigation and report procedure.
Very generally speaking, in insurance claims involving traffic accidents, a claimant with bodily injuries (caused by another driver) is entitled to reimbursement for his or her medical bills and compensation for the pain suffered from the injuries. The claimant is also entitled to reimbursement for wages lost because of his or her injuries. Liability coverage under the insurance policy covering the driver who caused the accident (the insured driver) is supposed to cover whatever the law would require the insured driver to pay, but only up to certain limits.
The limits available under a liability insurance policy differ depending upon how much coverage was purchased for that policy. Once an insurance company has paid its liability limits, it does not have to pay anything more. Many, many injured claimants in North Carolina have survived horrible trauma and incurred massive medical bills only to find that the most they could get from the liability insurance carrier was $30,000.00.
Finding adequate insurance coverage for a claim can be very complicated. Far too often, there is simply not remotely enough coverage to compensate injured claimants for what they have been through.
The personal injury claims process can also be intensely frustrating. Insurance companies train claims adjusters to find reasons not to pay claims or to limit the amount of money offered to settle them. For example, let’s assume that a middle-aged claimant injured his back in a car accident. The adjuster will look through the claimant’s medical records to find documentation of issues almost every middle-aged person has (such as degenerative changes in the spine) and use them as a reason to severely limit how much the company will pay.
Whether it is due to Madison Avenue marketing or some other reason, many people discover they had no idea how difficult things could get for those injured in car accidents until they had endured it themselves.
Insurance related issues are dealt with in greater depth on our Insurance page.
The attorneys at Draper & Wagner, PC have spent their careers handling personal injury cases, and we use that experience to offer our clients perspective on their cases and to map strategies to secure compensation for their injuries. Our attorneys (not just paralegals or secretaries) discuss personal injury cases over the phone with potential clients, and the initial consultation in our office is free.
Every potential new case our firm takes is reviewed by either Adam Draper or Larry Wagner. We only take cases we believe in. If the firm takes up the challenge, we intend to win. In fact, we only get paid in personal injury cases if we do win.
Personal injury cases can get complicated and intense. Long years of striving for clients provide our attorneys with wisdom and insight into which battles to engage and when to engage them. We walk with clients step by step, giving sound advice at each critical turn so that they can make informed ultimate decisions in their cases - the decisions that determine whether enough is enough or whether the time has come to press on to trial.
Through all the many paths cases take, our clients rely on our steady, seasoned attorneys who bring hard won experience to bear for them every step of the way. That is the hallmark of our firm. It is why our clients return, and why they repeatedly refer others to us.
We do not promise victory. No one can. We provide wise counsel and skilled effort.