Whether you drive in Asheville, Charlotte or Greensboro, they are plenty of exciting and beautiful places to explore on North Carolina’s roads. The highways of this growing state are used by nearly 7 million licensed drivers who travel nearly 11,000 miles per year on average. On those trips, there are thousands of accidents each year. It makes sense if you drive in North Carolina to know the rules of the road as well as the laws if you get in an accident.
Statistics and Notable Settlements
As the state is growing quickly, car accidents are a regular problem in North Carolina. According to a 2017 news report, more Americans are dying on roads across the country and in North Carolina. According to 2015 records, 1385 people died in car crashes in the state, and 1400 died in 2016. Another report from the National Safety Council found that traffic deaths had climbed 19% in North Carolina in 2015.
Public safety experts say that speed and distracted driving are the major reasons for the increase in crashes and deaths. They say that poor time management among drivers leads to speeding. When you add the use of cell phones on top of it, serious accidents are inevitable.
Drunk driving continues to be a problem in North Carolina. Drunk drivers in 2014 were responsible for only 5% of all the crashes – 10,769 – but they caused 32% of all fatalities. It also is estimated that distracted driving in 2013 caused 22% of all crashes. It is expected this number will rise when new data is available; the population has grown and cell phones are more advanced than ever.
Another major concern in North Carolina is the number of car accidents in work zones. It was reported in 2016 there were 5831 work zone accidents, and 3095 people were hurt in work zones that year. At least 26 people were killed in work zone accidents that year, and 80% of the work zone accidents happened in good weather.
Lane departure is a major cause of accidents in the state, with 60% of all fatal crashes involving this problem, especially paired with drunk driving.
A major legal settlement in recent years was concluded after a 2013 crash that killed six members of a church in the state. On Oct. 2, 2013, a church bus from Statesville NC crashed after it blew a tire on I-40 near the Tennessee border. The driver of a tractor trailer and a passenger in an SUV also died. A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Iredell County in 2014 by Front Street Baptist Church, as was a personal injury lawsuit for the 12 survivors. The suit alleged that the maker of the bus tires, Hankook Tire, was negligent in the design and manufacture of the tire that led to a catastrophic failure at highway speed. Investigators though that the tire struck an object about 50 miles before it failed.
The size of the personal injury settlement and wrongful death lawsuit has not been disclosed.
North Carolina Negligence Laws
North Carolina is an at fault state. This means that you can be reimbursed for your accident injuries and damages by the other party’s insurance company. However, North Carolina is one of the few states that has a strict policy of contributory negligence for car accidents. If you file a lawsuit for damages in this state, you cannot recover compensation if you are responsible in any way for the accident and your injuries. This means that even if you are 1% at fault, you cannot collect damages in North Carolina. Other states allow you to be partially at fault and still collect damages for your injuries, but you cannot do so in this state.
Car Insurance Requirements in North Carolina
You are required to carry a minimum level in insurance in the Tar Heel state. If you do not do so, you can be fined and even put in jail. The minimum insurance required in this state is as follows:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per accident per person
- $60,000 bodily injury for all people in each accident
- $25,000 in liability for property damage
- $30,000 and $60,000 for uninsured motorist bodily injury
- $25,000 underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage
Other North Carolina Driving Laws
Laws that govern driving and insurance in this state can change often. Below are some of the most recent changes to North Carolina driving laws that may affect you:
- All North Carolina drivers are banned from texting while driving. You can be fined up to $100 for violating this new law
- There is a cell phone ban for all novice drivers
- As of December 2013, the fine for passing a stopped school bus was increased to $500
- As of 2012, the move over law in this state has been extended to maintenance and utility crews
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in North Carolina
You have three years from your car accident injuries date to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. You also have three days from the date of the accident to file a claim for your property damages. For wrongful death, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the person’s date of death.
North Carolina Accident Resources
No matter how well prepared you are, getting in a car accident is always a stressful situation. The resources below can help you to get through this time so you know what to do to get compensation for your injuries.
- What is your personal injury claim worth? Our tools at Lawsuit Info Center can help you to determine what you may get in terms of compensation in a claim or lawsuit.
- If you were in a car accident in Raleigh, you can search for a copy of the accident report on their police department site.
- If you are in an accident in the state and need a copy of the accident report, you may find it with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
- You are required to report any car accident that causes death or serious injury, or property damage of at least $1000.