How Fault Is Determined In A North Carolina Car Accident Case | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Anyone who has been in an accident knows that one of the most important questions that needs to be answered is “Whose fault was it?” Keep reading to find out more about how fault is determined in a North Carolina car accident.

Fault and No-Fault States

Though it may come as a surprise to many drivers, not all states have fault-based insurance systems. What does this mean exactly? In fault-based states, the driver who is at-fault (and his or her insurance carrier) will be responsible for paying for the repairs, medical expenses and other damages that result from the car accident.


In no-fault states, drivers are required to carry personal injury protection insurance policies that pay for the insured’s medical expenses, regardless of which driver is at-fault. However, property damage in these states is still handled on a fault-basis, meaning the at-fault driver will be responsible for covering damage to the other person’s car.

North Carolina is a fault-based state, meaning the person who is responsible for the car accident will bear the liability for property damage and physical injuries that result from it.

Who Is at Fault?

Usually, the person who is at fault is the driver that behaved illegally, recklessly or otherwise irresponsibly. The person whose actions led to the wreck is generally the one who will be held financially responsible for the damage. While these rules work in relatively simple accidents, like a missed stop sign, they may not be helpful in determining fault in more complicated accidents.

In other cases, police officers and insurance companies look to see whether the driver made an attempt to avoid the accident. If not, it’s possible that even a driver who may not have been the cause of the accident could become responsible for the damage that resulted from the wreck.

Some advice

When gathered at the accident scene, remember that you must cooperate with the officers who are investigating the accident. However, this does not mean you should admit fault. Even if you think you may be responsible, it’s possible that the real cause was something you were unaware of, like another driver’s actions that set off a chain reaction. Claiming responsibility can later be used against you and end up costing you a lot of money. 

Here’s a YouTube video where one of our clients discusses the injuries he received from a car accident and how he sought compensation from the responsible party: