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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Is a personal injury attorney needed to file an injury claim or lawsuit on behalf of a minor child?
There is no law which requires a victim to hire a person al injury attorney to represent them in an injury claim or lawsuit, however, unless injuries were very minor, these cases can become complex, especially when they involve a minor child.
It is not uncommon for an insurance company to try to settle these cases as quickly and cheaply as possible, playing on parents’ emotions and offering them settlements far less than what the family deserves. By retaining the services of a personal injury attorney, you can be assured that attorney will work diligently to protect the rights of your child and family against the insurance company.
When does an injury claim or lawsuit have to be filed on behalf of a minor child?
North Carolina law says a child has until one year beyond their 18th birthday to file a claim against the negligent party, however, many in the legal field feel that is usually not a good idea to wait that long, especially if the child is very young at the time of injury. This is because critical evidence could be lost during that time, witnesses move away or die, and other changing factors that could impact the case.
Since the law does not recognize a minor child as being legally capable of filing a lawsuit on their own behalf, a guardian ad litem is appointed to be the child’s “voice” in any claim or lawsuit filed. This person can be a family member, attorney, or another third-party.
The law requires that any settlement be approved by a judge before it becomes enforceable. Failure to do could allow the child to file their own lawsuit when they turn 18 because the courts may declare the child is not bound by the terms of the original settlement since judicial approval was not obtained.
What should a parent do if a child is injured in an accident caused by another party?
When a child is injured, a parent’s first priority is to make sure that the child receives the medical treatment he or she needs to recover. Once the extent of the injury has been determined, as well as any long-term effects the injury may cause, the parent may decide to bring forth a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the party responsible for the injury.
Any claim or lawsuit pursued can result in the financial compensation for any losses the child and their family suffered because of the injury. This can include all medical expenses, as well as the lost income sustained by the parent if they were unable to work because they had to care for the child during the recovery process. There may be other damages that can be pursued, including pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and permanent scarring or disfigurement. North Carolina law requires that these be filed as two separate claims, one on behalf of the child and the other on behalf of the parent.
Will my personal injury case go to trial?
It depends on the facts of your particular personal injury case. Believe it or not, around five percent of personal injury cases go to trial. This means that the majority – a whopping 95 percent – are settled outside of court.
Most cases are settled outside of court because it’s easier and quicker. Victims in personal injury cases already have enough to worry about. Their main focus is on recovering from their injuries, and they prefer to get their legal issues over with quickly instead of having them drag out.
However, victims who were seriously injured and now face lifelong injuries cannot settle their cases quickly. It’s important for the discovery process to take place so that the extent of the injuries can be determined. This is helpful for the defendant, who may want to offer a settlement to the victim, but not without understanding the full value of the injuries sustained. In many cases, victims find out that their injuries are more severe than they originally thought, which means they can sue for more money and possibly receive higher award amounts.
If your case is unusual in nature or involves large amounts of money, then you’ll likely have to attend a trial and battle it out against the other party in court. However, most run of the mill injury cases tend to stay out of the courtroom.
Is it possible to sue entities other than individuals and companies?
Yes, you can sue any entity that has caused your injuries. This includes cities, counties and government agencies, as well as their employees.
It’s important to know, however, that these types of claims are a bit more complex since the claims process is different. The statute of limitations is often shorter, so you must act quickly. You should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following an injury claim involving a government agency. Once you miss the deadline, you’ll lose out on compensation forever.
How do I know that the settlement will be satisfactory to me for my personal injury case if you are my attorney?
In North Carolina, Virginia and most other states, an attorney, whether in a personal injury case or any other type of civil case, does not have the authority to act on a settlement offer or accept a settlement offer without the client's express approval so there will no settlement without your approval. As a matter of fact, if any settlement offer is made, attorneys must convey it to a client, and the get the client's permission before responding with a different settlement demand in response. And it is basic law that an attorney cannot accept a settlement from an insurance company or their lawyer without the client's permission.
In personal injury law, what is a contingency fee agreement?
The "contingency" is that the case must be successfully resolved, and the client is in charge of whether to accept a settlement offer or to go to trial and obtain a verdict. Unless the contingency of a recovery occurs, a client does not owe a legal fee or attorney's fee. This essentially helps level the playing field between individuals and large corporations or insurance companies.
Am I required to pay case expenses at the beginning or during the case?
No, our North Carolina personal injury law firm always advances the case expenses (medical record fees, filing fees, expert witness fees if any) on behalf of our clients, and the client is not asked to reimburse the law firm until settlement where the case expenses are repaid from the client's share of the recovery. This is a big advantage for our clients because some law firms do ask clients to contribute toward case expenses at the beginning or during the case.
What is the North Carolina personal injury statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in North Carolina is 3 years. (NC Gen. Stat. § 1-52). For claims involving personal injuries of all types, injured parties must bring a civil lawsuit within 3 years of sustaining their injuries. If claims are not brought within their statute of limitations period they will be time barred by the court. If you have questions about your personal injury claim within this time frame contact our firm.
What’s the difference between a personal injury claim and a class action claim?A class action claim is when a group of people file a complaint against a defendant, or group of defendants, for a similar grievance. A personal injury claim is smaller and usually only involves one or two plaintiffs taking action against a defendant, or defendants. The rules governing how each type of action is filed vary greatly as well.For example, in order for a group to file a class action suit, the group must share similar circumstances, injuries and damages against the defendant(s). There are other important requirements depending on the size of the class. In some circumstances, federal law applies under the Class Action Fainess Act. In contrast, a typical personal injury claim usually involves only state law.