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The questions on this page were answered by our team of lawyers. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car wrecks, medical malpractice, traumatic brain injuries, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.

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  • FAQs About North Carolina Car Insurance

    Is vehicle insurance required under North Carolina law?

    According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), every driver must have auto insurance to operate a vehicle. The state requires a minimum bodily injury liability coverage of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident. A minimum legal requirement of $25,000 for property damage liability is also required.

    Does North Carolina require vehicle owners to purchase uninsured motorist coverage?

    Yes, uninsured motorist coverage (UM) is required in North Carolina. UM coverage protects the driver if they are involved in a crash with another driver who does not have auto insurance. It also covers a policyholder if they are injured and/or have property damage in a hit and run accident. The minimum legal requirement for uninsured motorist bodily injury is $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident. For property damage, the minimum legal requirement is $25,000.

    The state also requires underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Many drivers in North Carolina choose to go with the lowest requirements of coverage the state requires - $30,000 per person bodily injury, $60,000 per accident, but medical expenses alone can quickly exceed those amounts, never mind all the other losses a car accident victim should be financially compensated for. UIM coverage can cover these other expenses once the at-fault driver’s liability limits have been reached.

    How does North Carolina handle “fault” in car accident claims?

    Some states require vehicle owners to carry no-fault auto insurance, but North Carolina is not one of them. The state allows insurance companies to use fault as a reason to deny a driver’s accident claim. Under what is known as “contributory negligence,” an injured victim can be prohibited from collecting any damages if it can be shown that they had any percentage of fault at all for the accident. An insurance company may try to assign partial blame to the victim in order to get out of paying the compensation the victim is entitled to. This is why many accident victims turn to a North Carolina car accident attorney in order to protect their right to damages.  

    How long does it take for an insurance company to process a car accident claim?

    North Carolina has a Prompt Pay Law that requires insurance companies to respond to in a timely manner to any insurance claim that is filed. Once a claim is filed, the insurance company has 30 days from the day the claims processor receives the claim to respond. The company must advise you in writing that your claim is being processed, pay the claim as submitted, offer a settlement amount, or deny the claim within that 30-day window. Once a claim is settled, the funds should be delivered to the victim within 10 business days.

    If the claim is denied, North Carolina law requires the insurance company to provide the victim with a written explanation as to why, including the citing of any applicable laws and/or language in their client’s policy.

    For more information regarding North Carolina car insurance laws, or if you have been injured in a crash, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to speak with one of our skilled North Carolina car accident attorneys.

  • What Are Three Factors Common in Car Accidents

    Car accidents are complex events, often involving multiple factors that act as contributing causes. In investigating your claim, our N.C. car accident attorney will thoroughly review witness statements, traffic videotape monitoring, the accident scene, and police reports, gathering the evidence needed to show the other driver was to blame. While the following are three common factors that make crashes and collisions more likely to occur, the fact is it is still generally the other driver’s reckless or negligent behavior that is ultimately to blame.

    1. Adverse Weather Conditions

    The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) reports that of the close to six million car accidents that occur each year in the United States, nearly a quarter involve rain, fog, icy roads, heavy winds, and other adverse weather conditions. While North Carolina may not get the snow and frequent freezing temperatures other areas deal with during the winter months, rain and wet conditions can be even more dangerous.

    Wet roads decrease tire traction and increase the amount of time needed to stop your vehicle, while fog or even a slight rain can impact a driver’s visibility. Drivers are encouraged to slow down when the weather is inclement, as speeding or driving too fast for conditions makes motor vehicle accidents more likely to occur.

    2. Road Construction

    Based on statistics collected by the Department of Transportation, the FHA reports that road construction-related car accidents occur roughly once every five minutes, resulting in close to 26,000 injuries and over 600 deaths each year. While road workers face significant risks, the majority of those injured or killed in these accidents are drivers and their passengers.

    Anyone who has driven through construction in Kitty Hawk or the surrounding areas knows how dangerous reduced speeds, changing lanes, and sudden stops can be, particularly if you are not paying attention. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accidents that occur in construction zones, and distracted driving is often the underlying factor.

    3. Heavy Traffic Conditions

    North Carolina drivers are no strangers to traffic tie-ups. Sitting in congestion on your way to or from work or when out on the weekends can easily get on your nerves. Instead of taking deep breathes, listening to music, and taking other steps to remain calm, some drivers end up letting their impatience and irritation get the best of them.

    Aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating, failure to yield, and laying on your horn, do nothing other than to make the situation tenser and increase your car accident risks. Sideswipe accidents and rear-end collisions are common in these scenarios, and while drivers may not be going fast, serious injuries can still result.

    Let a Carolinas Car Accident Attorney Help

    If you have been injured in a car accident, not only to you have to deal with the physical and emotional effects of the accident, but you are likely dealing with the financial consequences, as well. Injured victims often have high medical bills as a result of the treatments their injuries require. Depending on how serious those injuries are, recovery typically includes staying out of work until the injuries have healed. This means no weekly paycheck for many victims.

    If the crash was caused by another party who behaved recklessly or negligently, North Carolina allows victims to take legal action in order to be financially compensated for all of these financial expenses. Victims can also pursue damages for losses that are not economic, such as pain and suffering, scarring emotional anguish, and more.

    If you would like to discuss your situation, contact our office to speak with a seasoned North Carolina accident attorney. Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn has been advocating for accident victims for more than three decades and will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve.




  • How Do I Protect My Rights to Compensation in a Car Accident Claim?

    Car crashes are jarring, sudden, and expected events. The mere fact of being involved in a car accident, regardless of how severe, is enough to cause anyone to be disoriented or confused. Unfortunately, what you do and say in the minutes, hours, and days after your collision can make a major difference in getting the compensation needed to recover from your injuries.

    What to Do After a Car Accident in North Carolina

    Even a minor car accident can result in major injuries and property damages, and there are steps you need to take to protect yourself. The California Department of Insurance (DOI) urges motorists to do the following:

    • Stop immediately at the scene, being careful to avoid blocking traffic if possible.
    • Notify the state police or the local law enforcement agency.
    • Call 911 if anyone is injured at the scene.
    • Exchange personal contact information with other drivers, along with your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance numbers.
    • Get the names and contact information for any potential witnesses at the scene.
    • Use your cell phone to take photos of where the accident occurred and the damage to your vehicle.

    Even if you suspect your injuries are minor, seek medical treatment right away. There are many serious and potentially debilitating conditions that have symptoms that can take days or even weeks to appear. Failing to get medical care and to follow your doctor's instructions in regard to treatment and work or activity restrictions could jeopardize your rights to compensation.

    Dealing with Insurance Companies

    It is important to notify your insurance company as soon as possible after your accident, even if you were not at fault. In most cases, your insurer will work with you to settle your claim. If another driver is at fault, compensation will be sought through their insurance company.

    For most people, dealing with insurance companies can seem like a complicated process. You will likely be contacted by an insurance representative, seeking to get your version of events. While most people tend to think the insurance company is on their side, the fact is they are a for-profit business, and one of the ways they make money is by not paying out claims. Ways they may accomplish this include:

    • Disputing your version of events
    • Claiming you were partially at fault
    • Downplaying the extent of your injuries
    • Underestimating future treatment costs
    • Undervaluing your property damages

    Let a North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Help You

    Before making any statements, signing any documents, or accepting a settlement, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn first. We can arrange a consultation with one of our dedicated North Carolina car accident attorneys, who can advise you on the best course of action to get the total amount you are entitled to. You have one chance to get the compensation you need for the damages you suffered.

    If the crash was caused by another party who behaved recklessly or negligently, North Carolina allows victims to take legal action in order to be financially compensated for all of these financial expenses. Victims can also pursue damages for losses that are not economic, such as pain and suffering, scarring emotional anguish, and more.

    Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, and more.

    Our legal team has successfully advocated for many clients who suffered brain injuries in obtaining the financial compensation they deserved for their injuries, including a record-setting mild brain injury verdict for $60 million, which was settled while on appeal. Call or contact our office online today to get the professional legal representation you need.




  • Does Automotive Technology Help Prevent Car Crashes?

    It has been nothing short of amazing how much ever-advancing technology has changed our lives, making it easier and safer. Automobile manufacturers have also used many of these advancements to provide safer vehicles for drivers and passengers, designing vehicles that utilize components that provide hands-free vehicles.

    Some of the new technology in today’s vehicles include backup cameras and motion detection software. There are even vehicles that park themselves. These technologies do help reduce crashes, as well as help reduce the severity in certain situations. However, even with these technologies, not every driver practices safe driving behaviors and we are all still at risk when we are on the road.

    If you have been injured in a crash, the legal team at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn can help you pursue a claim for damages against the driver responsible for the crash. One of our North Carolina car accident attorneys can determine what the best legal options are to obtain the financial compensation you are entitled to for the losses your injuries have caused, including medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, scarring, and more.

    Vehicle Technology

    There are several different safety technology features that are becoming more standard in newer model vehicles. For example, many cars today have forward collision detection systems that prevent and reduce the impact of a vehicle accident. The system uses a camera, laser, and radar to detect an imminent crash. GPS sensors are able to detect any fixed objects, such as a parked vehicle or utility pole.

    Other safety technologies in today’s vehicles include:

    • Auto steering
    • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
    • Autonomous cruise control (ACC)
    • Back-up camera
    • Blindspot warning system
    • Forward collision warning (FCW) system

    One issue that can be a dangerous one with all this safety technology is the risk of there being a defective part or some kind of error or malfunction. If this occurs, the result can be a crash. This is also why it is critical for vehicle owners to maintain and have their vehicles inspected on a regular basis in order to make sure that there all systems are in good working order.

    Causes of Car Crashes

    The majority of car accidents occur because of driver error. One of the most frequent driving behavior resulting in accidents is distracted driving. In fact, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 25 percent of all crashes happen because a driver was using their cell phone (either talking or texting) while they were operating their vehicle, instead of keeping their entire focus on the road.

    Unfortunately, even if a vehicle is equipped with the latest safety technology, there is just so much protection these systems offer if the driver is engaged in distracted driving behaviors. These technologies also may not protect other commuters if the driver is driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving while fatigued, or speeding. In many of these situations, the result of these bad driving behaviors results in the injury or death of innocent victims.

    Contact a Carolinas Accident Attorney

    If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of another party’s negligent or reckless actions, contact a North Carolina car attorney from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn. It is critical to remember that North Carolina has placed a statute of limitation on how long victims have to file a claim for damages against those responsible for their injuries, so do not delay. Failure to file before that legal deadline could mean you lose any chance of ever filing your claim or getting justice against the person responsible for you or your loved one’s injuries.

    Contact our office today at 800-752-0042 to set up a free and confidential case evaluation with one of our dedicated North Carolina accident attorneys. As mentioned above, you may be entitled to financial compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, scarring, and disfigurement. Call our office to find out how we can help.


  • What’s the difference between a fact witness and an expert witness?

    A fact witness is someone who has personal knowledge of the circumstances and events of the case. They may have seen, heard, or have some other type of direct experience or first-hand knowledge that they can testify to.

    An expert witness is one who uses facts of the case, along with their own specialized knowledge, to form an opinion. Where the fact witness testimony is based on their experience of the event, expert witness testimony is based on their opinion of the event.

  • What are the responsibilities of an expert witness?

    An expert witness should review all the necessary materials, perform the pertinent tests, form an opinion about an issue of fact, and testify to that issue or issues during the trial, as well as sharing with the jury how the came to this opinion.

  • What makes someone an expert witness?

    An expert witness is someone who has sufficient knowledge, training, and/or experience that can help a jury reach a determination on an issue of fact. Every state has its own laws addressing what qualifies a witness as an expert.

    Under North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 8C Article 7. 1. Article 7, the following are the criteria for expert witness testimony:

    • The testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data.
    • The testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods.
    • The witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

  • The insurance company says I was partly to blame for causing the crash. Can I still pursue a personal injury claim?

    North Carolina personal injury law follows an archaic and unjust rule called contributory negligence. Under that rule, car insurance companies can deny injury coverage to people who are even 1 percent responsible for causing a crash.

    You can still pursue a personal injury claim when insurance company representatives accuse you of contributory negligence, but you will need to partner with an experienced car accident injury victim’s attorney who knows how to collect, organize and present evidence to end doubt over the other driver’s fault.


  • Will my car insurance company contest my uninsured motorist claim?

    My decades of experience as a North Carolina car accident injury victim attorney is that insurance companies treat uninsured motorist claims the same as claims from people who are insured by other companies. That is, no insurer welcomes a request to pay out on a personal injury claim.

    Insurance company representatives will definitely demand proof that a crash occurred, that injuries requiring medical treatment resulted directly from the crash and that you were not responsible for causing the crash. Insurance reps will also offer the lowest settlement they can justify. Some uninsured motorist claims even go to a civil jury trial because the insurance company believes it can make the case for offering no settlement.


  • What can I do when the police report is unclear on which driver caused the crash in which I got injured?

    North Carolina requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage, This coverage can be invoked when fault for a crash cannot be clearly established.

    Filing an uninsured motorist claim does not guarantee you will receive a settlement, however. State law requires proof that a collision actually occurred and that the collision directly inflicted an injury which required medical treatment. Your insurance company may also contest liability by arguing that sufficient evidence exists to show that you were responsible for causing the crash.

    Partnering with an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer while pursuing an uninsured motorist claim is generally a good idea.