North Carolina Car Accident Laws & Resources

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.

One of the most devastating effects for Americans is the possibility of a car accident. A car accident has far reaching implications on the affected people. It could mean the end of a career, crippling health bills, loss of a job, injury, and even death. North Carolina has had its share of car accidents.

This article will help you to gain a deeper insight on the car accident laws in North Carolina, the statistics therein, the state’s car accident laws, a prescription on managing car accidents, and what you should do should you be involved in a car accident in the Tar Heel state.

North Carolina Car Accident Statute of Limitations

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.

The rationale behind the statute of limitation is to preserve evidence. The statute of limitations gives the timeline that a plaintiff must file the lawsuit, beyond which one is not allowed to bring the lawsuit. A car wreck falls in the category of a personal injury claim. The North Carolina General Statute 1-52, states that the statute of limitation is three years from the time of the accident. This refers to the cases where the pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcycle rider, driver, or passenger is hurt, or the vehicle is damaged. The North Carolina General Statutes 1-53, states that in case of wrongful death, the statute of limitation is two years, starting from the day of the death of an individual.

Should you proceed to file the lawsuit after the statute of limitation, the defendant will file a motion of dismissal, and most likely, he is going to receive a favorable hearing. It is only in very rare cases that the statute of limitation is extended. Simply put, do not rely on such an extension- prepare yourself well in advance because legal paperwork takes time. The sooner you file the lawsuit, the higher the quality of evidence, and the better the possible outcomes.

That notwithstanding, the discovery rule allows one to file a claim after the three years. This refers to a scenario where one got injured but did not realize upfront on the possibility of having being injured. Health practitioners have noted that some types of internal injuries take time to show the symptoms on the affected person. Therefore, if you are involved in an accident, however minor it is, seek a comprehensive examination from the doctor, and he will surely inform you on possible injury.

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.

In 2017, North Carolina ranked a poor 5th in cases of car accidents. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System which is prepared by the US Department of Transportation stated that, in 2019, there were 1321 fatal crashes in North Carolina, with 1437 deaths. This translates to 13.8 per 100, 000 people.

A typical observation across that US is that the new drivers and the young drivers are a major contributor to accidents’ statistics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently stated that individuals who have recently acquired a license, teenagers in particular, have a higher probability of causing an accident. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has cried foul over the high rate of teen accidents in North Carolina. In its 2017 report on car crashes, the department stated that teen drivers (aged 15 – 19), were involved in a whopping 52,385 accidents, leading to 88 deaths and 12,869 injuries.

The factors that contribute to a higher scale of car accidents among the teens are that this demographic group tend to have a peer judgment in making an assessment of the gaps during traffic. In addition to that, teens tend to get excited easily thereby leading to over-speeding. Most teens do not appreciate using the seat belts thereby endangering their lives in the aftermath of an accident.

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.

Typically, cities, when compared to the rural areas, are known to be accident dense. The obvious reason is a higher population, and thus an increased number of vehicles. Again, people living in cities have professional engagements that regularly need cars as compared to the rural areas which may not need travelling every now and then. As a result, it should come as no surprise that some of the highest incidence of car accidents and resulting injuries happened in the major cities in North Carolina. Charlotte, the largest city in NC, has seen record deaths due to auto accidents in each of the last 3 years:

Between 2012 and 2016 there were nearly 14,993 car accidents involving pedestrians, as well as 4677 accidents with bicyclists in North Carolina

The size of the personal injury settlement and wrongful death lawsuit has not been disclosed.

North Carolina Car Accident Settlement Calculator:

Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident or otherwise injured in North Carolina? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Injury Settlement Calculator.

North Carolina Accident Settlement Taxes

Compensation from a car accident settlement is not usually taxable in North Carolina because the settlement is usually for reimbursements such as medical expenses and out of pocket costs. But there are a few exceptions.

First, any lost wages that you are reimbursed for through your personal injury settlement must be claimed on your North Carolina state income tax as income. Thus, if you receive reimbursement for your lost wages and they have been itemized in your settlement, then they are taxable under North Carolina law.

Medical expenses covered or reimbursed are not usually taxable under state law. But if you took a deduction for a medical expense related to your injury claim, this may be taxable under North Carolina law.

Also, in most states, punitive damages are taxable as income in North Carolina.

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

Whether you get involved in a car accident or not, you need to be conversant with North Carolina car accident laws. A few states in the US use contributory negligence in order to assign fault in a car accident case, and these include North Carolina. The degree of fault is assigned to every car which is involved in an accident. What this means is that if the investigation finds you at fault, you might as well not receive compensation.

Now that North Carolina uses at-fault system, it means that the driver at fault pays damages to the driver or drivers who are involved in the accident. The compensation covers both economic and non-economic damages. In a car accident, non-economic damages include suffering, pain, and disfigurement.

Should you be involved in an accident, the most prudent thing is to call you 911. Should you be in need of an ambulance, inform dispatch on the same. Remember, you should think about your health first, and the health of anyone else involved in the accident. If you find that you are causing traffic, take photographs of the accident scene, in multiple angles, and then move your car. You need to know some information about other drivers, and lastly, contact your insurance company.

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

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.