Asheville Auto Accidents Lawyers
Hensley Cloninger & Greer has been working on behalf of those injured in auto accidents for over 30 years. We’ve seen the growth of our community here in Asheville and throughout North Carolina. The growth is terrific, but an unfortunate side effect is more cars on the road — and more accidents. We know that getting fair remuneration for all you’ve suffered requires a lot more legal work than many people realize.
The Asheville auto accident attorneys in our office are experienced in cases like yours and tenacious in doing the hard legal work necessary to win.
Call (828) 383-8414 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
What to Do After a Car Accident in North Carolina
The state of North Carolina has very specific laws about what drivers must do after an accident. Any driver involved with the collision must call law enforcement in the event of injury, death, or any damage valued at more than $1,000. The failure to report is a misdemeanor offense.
The police investigation into the accident may be crucial in how a potential car accident lawsuit shakes out. The police report can be drawn on in court. Any citations issued certainly point towards who may or may not have been at fault.
Even if calling in the police wasn’t required by law, it would still be the right step to take. Every piece of evidence helps when building a case for breach of duty.
Breach of Duty in Car Accident Cases
All drivers owe a duty of care to other drivers. But not all accidents are necessarily someone’s fault. A personal injury lawsuit requires demonstrating to the court that the other driver breached their duty.
What is a breach? It’s the failure to exercise a reasonable standard of care in how you drive your car. What is reasonable? That’s a subjective standard decided by the court in each particular circumstance. To illustrate how a breach might be understood in specific cases, let’s consider a hypothetical example.
You’re driving down I-40 and traffic is, while not jammed up, running slow. It’s tough to go more than a steady 40 mph. You reach a point where the traffic suddenly slows down because of an accident further ahead. You get rear-ended by the car behind you. There’s substantial damage to your vehicle. Is there a breach?
The court, in assessing a reasonable standard of care, will want to know how fast both cars were going. Did you stop suddenly when it might not have been necessary? Was the other driver following too closely — maybe trying to push the envelope at 50 mph when that really wasn’t appropriate for traffic conditions? Were there any weather issues, like rain, further complicating the situation?
It’s at least possible that nobody is at fault — both drivers were operating at a respectable speed for conditions and the distance between cars was appropriate. In short, both you and the other driver were acting reasonably.
If you believe the other driver was not reasonable, then that must be demonstrated in court. The police report will be one source of evidence. Gathering the information of other drivers who witnessed the collision and the lead-up to it is also necessary.
What Is Strict Contributory Negligence in North Carolina?
Most states allow courts to portion out the blame — that is, to assign a certain percentage of fault to different parties in a personal injury case. Most states then allow the plaintiff to collect in proportion to their share of fault (if you are ruled 10% at fault, you can collect 90% of the final damages).
North Carolina is not like most states. We are one of five states where if the plaintiff bears any responsibility — even 1% — then no damages can be collected.
This makes for a challenging legal environment for the plaintiff. But you can still win if the facts are on your side and your lawyer has both experience and tenacity. It takes experience to understand how to conduct an investigation and what questions to ask of witnesses. It takes tenacity to fight for your interests on every last detail of the case, because there is no room for error.
The 30+ years that Hensley Cloninger & Greer has been in practice speaks to our experience. Our extensive list victories speaks to our tenacity. Just because a fight is hard to win, doesn’t mean it can’t be won. You just need the right legal team on your side.