News & Resources
Charlotte Car Wreck: To What Damages Are You Entitled?
Tragically, Charlotte car wrecks happen daily and routinely. If you have been hurt in a car wreck through no fault of your own, you may be asking yourself: “What damages can I recover?” “Will I be able to pay the medical bills?” “What about the damage to my car?” Before going any further, you need to contact a skilled Charlotte auto injury lawyer who knows North Carolina law, knows the legal system, and is dedicated to helping you recover the full and fair amount of compensation for your injuries and damages.
Legal Principle — Tortfeasors In North Carolina are Responsible for All Damages
In North Carolina, a tortfeasor—the legal term for a person who acted negligently—is responsible for all damages directly and proximately caused by his or her negligent or wrongful conduct.
Medical Expenses In Charlotte
Among the most common categories of damages directly caused by a tortfeasor’s negligent or wrongful conduct are medical expenses and costs. A victim of a car wreck may recover for all medical expenses, including the amount required to satisfy all hospital fees, emergency room charges, doctors’ bills, drugs and medication, and physical and other therapies that are medically necessary. Further, all such expenses expected to be incurred in the future by the injured party are recoverable. The treatment need not be successful to make the expense recoverable. See Heath v. Kirkman, 240 N.C. 303 (1954).
In North Carolina, a victim of a car wreck is allowed to seek to recover the amount it took or will take to satisfy the medical bills they have incurred and not the full amount billed. For example, if the hospital bills the injured party $1,000 for the ER visit, but the hospital ultimately accepts less through health insurance or otherwise (say $700) to satisfy the bill, the injured party can only seek to recover $700 and not the full $1,000 billed. Additionally, the fact that the injured party’s medical expenses were paid by his or her medical insurance or some other collateral source does not deprive the injured party of his or her right to recover those medical expenses and costs. However, the injured party’s medical insurance may try to seek reimbursement for what it paid on behalf of the injured party out of any potential recovery.
Loss of Earnings in Charlotte — Past, Present, and Future
Damages for personal injury—such as a car wreck—also include fair compensation for the past, present, and future loss of time from employment, loss of the injured party’s ability to perform ordinary work or his or her reduced capacity to earn money. In determining “fair compensation,” a jury will be instructed to consider the injured party’s:
- Earnings history—value of wages and/or salary
- Present earnings
- Nature and extent of the injured party’s employment
- Loss of profits and income from injured party’s own personal business, if applicable and
- Any earning impact with respect to permanent loss of limb/loss of use
Loss of future earnings will be calculated using the injured party’s life expectancy.
Pain and Suffering In Charlotte
In addition, the injured party can seek to recover money damages for actual past, present, and future physical pain and mental suffering experienced as a proximate result of the negligence of the defendant. “Pain and suffering” can be difficult to quantify because there is no set basis for calculating their value. A Charlotte jury is instructed that “there is no fixed formula for placing a value on physical pain and mental suffering.” The jury will be instructed to apply logic and common sense to the evidence. However, the attorneys at Brown Moore & Associates know what evidence is necessary and how to best present that evidence to properly support and prove your pain and suffering claim.
Property Damage In Charlotte
You are also entitled to compensation for damage to your vehicle, whether the damage was minor, major or resulted in a total loss of the vehicle.
Wrongful Death In Charlotte
If the wreck resulted in death, the surviving members of the family are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. In general, the same sorts of damages discussed above can be claimed. In addition, the family may also be able to assert claims for funeral expenses and loss of companionship, advice, kindly offices, consortium, and society.
Loss of Society, Consortium, and Similar In Charlotte
Under some circumstances, car wrecks cause injuries that prevents the injured plaintiff from continuing a normal life including the ability to help his or her spouse with household upkeep, chores, and may prevent marital relations. In those cases, if sufficiently proven with competent evidence, the spouse or partner may be able recover damages loss of society and loss of consortium.
Emotional Distress In Charlotte
Under North Carolina law, emotional distress and mental suffering are deemed part of “pain and suffering.” Indeed, it has been held that emotional pain and suffering may be a discrete basis for recovery even absent proof of physical pain and suffering. “Pain and suffering damages are intended to redress a wide array of injuries ranging from physical pain to anxiety, depression, and the resulting adverse impact on the injured party’s lifestyle.” SeeIadanza v. Harper, 169 N.C. App. 776, 780, 611 S.E.2d 217, 222 (2005). Likewise, in some cases, mental pain and suffering can be inferred by the jury because of mutilation or disfigurement of the plaintiff. See King v. Britt, 267 N.C. 594, 598, 148 S.E.2d 594, 598 (1966).
Permanent Injury — Loss of Limb/Partial Loss of Limb/Body Part In Charlotte
If as a result of the defendant’s negligence, you have suffered the loss or partial loss of limb or use of a limb/body part, you may seek to recover for those permanent injuries. There is no fixed formula for placing a value on the loss or partial loss of use of a body part or limb. The jury will be instructed to determine what fair compensation is by applying logic and common sense to the evidence along with any disability or handicap caused, inconvenience, hardship or any other factor supported by the evidence. This category also includes permanent bone and/or muscle injury. In a car wreck, the loss of use or loss of a limb might be caused by fire, being ejected through the windshield, amputation, etc. A plaintiff is also entitled to seek to recover for scarring and disfigurement.
Other Possible Categories Of Damages In Charlotte
If your injuries are severe and there are injuries to essential organs, your North Carolina automobile accident attorneys might be able to argue that you should be able to recover for a significant shortening of your life expectancy. Similarly, permanent and severe mental injuries like PTSD and psychological trauma should be recoverable if they flow directly from and are proximately caused by the collision.
Punitive Damages In Charlotte
Punitive damages are sometimes recoverable in car accident cases, but not often. See N.C.G.S. § 1D-25.
Contact an Experienced Charlotte, North Carolina Car Crash Attorney Today!
If you and/or a loved one has been in a car wreck in Charlotte, North Carolina, contact an experienced and proven Charlotte automobile accident lawyer like those at Brown Moore & Associates. We offer free consultations!