North Carolina Attorneys Guide You Through the Personal Injury Process
Dedicated attorneys manage your case from start to finish
If you are ever seriously hurt in North Carolina due to an auto accident or some other act of negligence, an experienced and concerned attorney at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban is ready to help you through every step of the civil claims process. On this page, we explain what you can expect when we assist you with a claim for a serious personal injury.
Step by step with your North Carolina accident claim
You’re driving home from work and reach a major intersection, where you turn left on a green arrow. But a vehicle in the farthest lane of oncoming traffic runs the red light and smashes into you broadside. The impact slams you against your car door, breaking your left arm in two places, giving you a concussion, and causing trauma up and down your spine. Police respond to the scene and you are taken, dazed, to an emergency room, where you are treated. Now what should you do?
- You call us — The law does not require you to hire an attorney, but imagine trying to focus on anything other than your physical recovery at this moment. Studies have shown that injured parties with professional representation recover three times more compensation than unrepresented parties. So, you make the right decision and call us.
- We come to you — If you have a serious injury that prevents you from visiting our office, we come to your home or hospital room. There is no additional charge for this service. In fact, as we explain at our first meeting, we work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have to pay any upfront attorney fees, and we get nothing until we obtain compensation through a settlement you approve or a trial verdict. So, again you make the right decision: you retain our services.
- We investigate — We employ full-time investigators and work with qualified experts in accident reconstruction who examine the physical evidence of your crash. We also examine the police report, track down witnesses to interview them, and we talk to the other driver or their legal representative. Then we consult with your doctors and other medical experts to get an accurate assessment of your prognosis. This can take time, especially with serious injuries, but we want to fully understand the extent of your injuries, because we need to know the true value of your personal injury claim before moving to the next step.
- Demand letter — Before filing a lawsuit, we send a letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, stating the basis for your claim and how much compensation you deserve for your various losses.
- Reply — The insurance company replies to our letter with an offer of settlement, a denial of liability, and/or a counterclaim. A counterclaim basically means the other driver is blaming you for the accident. This is a serious allegation in North Carolina, because even the slightest fault on your part can bar you from recovering any compensation. So, if in our example, the driver charges you made an illegal left turn, and he had the right of way, you must have sufficient evidence to refute that claim.
- Meet and confer — In the beginning of any litigation, it’s common for attorneys representing opposing sides to meet in person, speak over the phone, or correspond to try to move the negotiations forward. These discussions continue as long as they seem fruitful, but we must be mindful of the statute of limitations. In North Carolina, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
- Filing the lawsuit — Filing the suit has three major consequences. We no longer have to worry about the statute of limitations. We turn up the heat on the opposing party. And we can make demands through the discovery process. We draft a Complaint and file it in the court of the county where the accident occurred or where the defendant lives. Then we arrange service of process. After receiving a Summons and a copy of the Complaint, the defendant must file an Answer with the court. Like the reply to the demand letter, the Answer can contain a counterclaim.
- Discovery — Once we file suit, we have subpoena power. For example, we can demand to see the other driver’s cellphone records to determine whether he might have been distracted immediately before the crash. Discovery can often reveal new evidence that strengthens the case and forces the defendant to increase the settlement offer.
- Negotiations — There is generally a long wait for a trial date, so the court orders attorneys for the party to continue to meet and confer in the hopes of reaching a settlement.
- Settlement — When the opposing party makes a settlement offer, we present the offer to you, along with our recommendations of whether you should accept or decline. You have many factors to weigh when deciding whether to take the offer, not the least of which is the finality of the agreement. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you relinquish your rights forever in exchange for the payment.
- Trial — Although the overwhelming number of accident cases settle, some go to trial before a judge or jury. The length of the trial depends on the complexity of the evidence. Once a jury is impaneled, auto accident cases usually take no more than three to five days.
- Appeal — If you win, the defendant may try to appeal the verdict, especially if the damage award is so high that it seems to be the product of the jury’s emotion rather than reason. However, an appeal is far from automatic; the appealing party has to allege that the judge made an error in applying the law and that error was prejudicial to the outcome. Either side can threaten to appeal to compel the other side to reopen negotiations rather than go with the verdict.
As you can see, the process is detailed and potentially very complex. Fortunately, when you retain our services, you get dedicated assistance from highly experienced lawyers who are determined to deliver excellent results.
Contact a determined personal injury attorney in North Carolina
Our team consists of skilled attorneys, full-time investigators, and dedicated paralegals who are invested in the success of your case. Schedule a free consultation and case evaluation today by calling Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban at (888) 351-1038 or contacting our office online.