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North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

A personal injury lawsuit in North Carolina involves legal procedures designed to compensate individuals who have suffered harm due to the negligence or intentional actions of another party. Personal injury lawsuits can include motor vehicle wrecks, trucking collisions, products liability, pharmaceutical and medical device, including Exactech and Cartiva, and nursing home cases. KBA Attorneys’ Partner, Whitney Butcher has more than a decade of experience in various personal injury cases in North Carolina.

If you have been injured due to the fault of another, read on for a general overview of how the process works:

1. Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney

  • Initial Meeting: The process typically begins with the injured party (plaintiff) consulting a personal injury attorney to discuss the case details, including the circumstances of the injury, the extent of harm, and potential legal options. It’s important to speak with an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
  • Case Evaluation: The attorney evaluates the case to determine its viability, considering factors like negligence, causation, and damages, and other areas of the law that may be specific to North Carolina.

2. Filing the Lawsuit or Submitting a Claim

  • Pre-suit Settlement: Sometimes personal injury attorneys in North Carolina will submit a claim to the anticipated defendant or its insurer before filing a lawsuit. This confidential process can save time and money for personal injury victims if the defendant or its insurer is amenable to it. Experienced personal injury attorneys can sometimes settle claims without having to go to court directly, or through alternative dispute resolution methods including mediation and arbitration.
  • Complaint: If the case is considered viable and a pre-suit resolution cannot be reached, the attorney will file a complaint in the appropriate North Carolina court. The complaint outlines the legal and factual basis of the claim against the defendant (the party alleged to be responsible for the injury).
  • Service of Process: The defendant is served with the complaint and a summons, notifying them of the lawsuit and requiring them to respond.

3. Discovery Phase

  • Exchange of Information: Both parties engage in the discovery process, exchanging documents and evidence related to the case. This may include medical records, witness statements, and other pertinent information.
  • Depositions: Witnesses and involved parties may be deposed to gather sworn testimony.
  • Experts: Many times, the parties must engage experts to address complicated issues in the case. This can concern the standard of care, or causation – whether the incident at issue caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries.

4. Pre-Trial Motions and Settlement Negotiations

  • Motions: Parties may file motions to resolve or narrow the issues before trial, such as motions for summary judgment. These motions seek to end the case entirely or limit evidence that a party can introduce at trial.
  • Settlement: Many, but not all, personal injury cases are settled out of court. The parties may negotiate a settlement at any time during the process, often with the assistance of mediators.

5. Trial

  • Presentation of Evidence: If the case goes to trial, both sides present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury.
  • Verdict: The judge or jury makes a decision on liability and, if applicable, the amount of damages to be awarded to the plaintiff.

6. Appeal

  • Right to Appeal: Either party may appeal the trial court’s decision to a higher court if they believe a legal error has affected the outcome.

Important Considerations in North Carolina

  • Contributory Negligence: North Carolina follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which means if the plaintiff is found even slightly at fault for their own injury – even as little as 1% – it can be a complete bar to their ability to recover any damages.
  • Statute of Limitations and Statutes of Repose: There is a time limit for filing a personal injury lawsuit in North Carolina. Failing to file a complaint or assert a claim within this period can result in the loss of the right to sue.
  • Admitted Liability: One of the things that is unique to North Carolina is the fact that a defendant can admit liability and then at trial, get to present their closing argument to the jury last. When there is a trial before a jury, usually the plaintiff’s attorney gets to present a closing argument first. The defense lawyer goes second. The plaintiff’s lawyer then gets to go again, to respond in a rebuttal closing argument. However, in North Carolina, if the defendant admits it was liable, the defense lawyer would actually get the last word. This can provide a strategic advantage to the defendant in such cases.

North Carolina Nursing Home Lawyer

Unfortunately, some residents of nursing homes are injured due to the negligence or neglect of the nursing home. Injuries from falls, bed sores, pressure ulcers, assault, and wrongful death could all be indicators that your loved one has suffered due to the errors of a nursing home.

Given the complexity of personal injury law and the nuances of each case, individuals considering a lawsuit are advised to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney who can provide guidance specific to their situation and help navigate the legal process in North Carolina. Specific types of cases, such as nursing home and other medical malpractice cases, catastrophic injury, or products liability cases such as failed hip implants or toe implants, have additional nuances. Contact a North Carolina personal injury attorney at KBA to see what we can do to help.