This post discusses the overview of a NC Personal Injury case from injury to litigation. The Bishop Law Firm represents personal injury clients in Raleigh, NC and several surrounding areas and we do not get paid unless you win. Call us today for a free case evaluation, (919) 615-3095.
**Please note that your case can settle at any stage below. Your case can settle after a complaint has been filed, after mediation or even after a trial (but before final judgement).**
Your injury can happen in a car accident, slip & fall or through hospital negligence. After your injury, you should seek medical treatment and continue to follow your doctor’s advice. If the injured party dies because of the injury, it is classified as a wrongful death case.
In order to have an actionable personal injury case in NC, you must sustain an injury through no fault of your own. In some cases, it is clear who is at-fault for the accident. In other cases, the at-fault party can be harder to identify. Fault is a serious impediment to NC Personal Injury Cases because NC is a contributory negligence state.
After the injury, you need to inform the at-fault party or their insurance about your injury. Sometimes this can be a difficult task if you are dealing with an individual or business who doesn’t want to give you their insurance information. If you successfully contact the insurance company, they will open a claim for you. Your claim will be assigned to an adjuster who will contact you by phone or mail. The adjuster will want to communicate with you about the accident, your injuries, and your medical treatment. This communication can be informal or it can be handled during a recorded statement.
The question of how much information to give the adjuster depends on the circumstances of your case. Adjusters can use the information you give them against you, but not giving them any information will result in a denial of your claim. This can be tricky. Your medical treatment, accident-related expenses, missed time from work, and travel expenses should be reported to the adjuster.
If you are unsure what information, if any, you should provide to the adjuster, contact a NC personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the process.
After you have completed medical treatment, the insurance adjuster will usually make a first low-ball offer in an attempt to get your claim off their desk. Sometimes, adjusters make offers before you are finished treating because they are trying to avoid having to pay for all the medical treatment that you need.
If you are willing to accept the insurance adjuster’s offer, you are done. But proceed with caution. You need to ensure that all your expenses will be paid by the settlement they are offering. Many do-it-your-selfers find that medical bills continue to roll in long after the settlement, which actually means you are going to have to pay twice for someone else’s negligence.
Litigation – Starting the Lawsuit
If you are unwilling to accept the insurance adjuster’s offer, your next move is to file a court case. This is accomplished by filing a complaint in the NC county court in which the accident occurred. Superior courts handle matters in excess of $25,000. Any lower dollar amounts are held in District Court. You do not have to know the exact dollar amount to know where to file. You simply have to allege what is in your best belief. In this case, you are the plaintiff and the at-fault party is the defendant.
In addition to a complaint, you need a civil summons and discovery to get your court case going. After you file your Complaint and pay the $200 filing fee to the Clerk of Court and $30 service fee to the county Sheriff’s office, the sheriffs will attempt to achieve service on your defendant. They have 30 days to serve the Complaint on your defendant. If service is not completed in 30 days, you will have to find a new address, refile the civil summons, and pay the $15 service fee in order to direct the sheriffs to the correct place to attempt to serve your defendant with the Complaint.
After the defendant has been served (essentially meaning that they have been informed that you are suing them) they have 30 days to reply with their defenses to your complaint. Depending on what is in the defendant’s responses you may have to reply to their responses in 30 days.
Litigation – Discovery
In the Discovery phase, both sides share information before trial. There are four main ways to pass this information: Request for Admission, Interrogatories, Request for Production of Documents and Depositions. You must respond to the defendant’s requests and they must respond to yours. You are allowed to ask for clarifications of their answers if their meaning is not clear.
Litigation – Mediation
For District court cases, mediation is voluntary. If your case is filed in Superior court, mediation is mandatory. The mediation is called a “mediated settlement conference.” A mediator (a neutral attorney) is assigned to your case by the court. Hopefully, you and defendant can mutually agree on a mediator. If you cannot, the court will assign one to your case. If your case settles or does not settle at mediation, the mediator files a report with the court. If you settle, you are done…if not you have to proceed to trial.
Ligation- Jury Trial
We have all seen jury trials on television. Fortunately, real life trials are not full of angry judges, attorneys, jurors and clients but trials are complex none the less. Jury selection, motions and postponements are all important aspects of your case that should be discussed with a lawyer.
The Bishop Law Firm can help if you need a NC Personal Injury Lawyer. We represent clients in Raleigh, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Fayetteville, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today for a free case evaluation, (919) 615-3095.