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North Carolina Car Accident Compensation Laws

Whether in a minor accident or a severe head-on collision, determining who is at fault for the accident and how much to compensate the injured person is difficult. Relief for injuries usually refers to monetary compensation, also called "damages," which are generally broken down into economic and non-economic compensation. Like other states, North Carolina has its own laws that determine the amount of damages you can recover.

Read on to learn about the key North Carolina laws that could substantially affect your accident case.

North Carolina Car Insurance Requirement

North Carolina requires its drivers to carry a minimum car insurance policy on any vehicle they own or operate. This law allows individual liability coverage to pay for bodily injury and property damage when you become responsible for a car accident. The minimum coverage requirements in North Carolina are as follows:

  • $30,000 for the injury or death of a single person
  • $60,000 total for all damages for all persons from a single-car accident
  • $25,000 for any property damage caused by the accident

For details, contact your insurance company to check what is covered under your policy.

Damages Caps in North Carolina

Damages caps refer to limits on the amounts of damages you can recover from your opponent at trial. Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering and emotional distress, are usually capped in most states. In North Carolina, damages caps apply to medical malpractice cases and punitive damages only.

  Medical Malpractice Cases Non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering) in North Carolina are limited to $500,000. However, the cap does not apply if a jury determines that: the plaintiff suffered disfigurement; loss of use of part of the body; permanent injury; or death from the defendant's acts or failures, which are the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries, were committed in reckless disregard of the rights of others, grossly negligent, fraudulent, intentional, or with malice.
  All Other Types of Injury Cases There are no other types of damages caps in North Carolina.
  Punitive Damages Under § 1D-25, punitive damages are allowed for up to $250,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages.

Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of newly passed legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions and other means. You may want to contact a North Carolina personal injury attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

"Pure Contributory Negligence" in North Carolina

There are three different standards for measuring the amount of damages you can recover: contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence, and modified comparative negligence standards. While the majority of the states follow the comparative negligence standards, North Carolina applies the pure contributory negligence rule in a civil case. Under the contributory negligence rule, you are completely barred from recovering any damages if you were partially at fault for the accident.

For example, let's say that at trial, the jury determines you were only five percent at fault and the other driver was 95 percent at fault. In this case, you wouldn't be able to recover any damages, no matter what types of injuries you sustained.

Get Help from an Experienced Attorney

Have you been seriously injured in a car accident? Or maybe you were found partially at fault for a car accident? Are you unsure what to do next? Get a claim evaluation from an experienced car accident attorney in North Carolina to learn more about your legal options and the types of car accident compensation that may be available to you.

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