Can I Use Maryland Lawyer for Accident that Happened in North Carolina?

Can I use a Maryland lawyer for an accident that happened in North Carolina?

Yes. If you live in Maryland but were in an accident while you were North Carolina, The Law Office of Marc Atas and Associates will represent you for your personal injury, car accident, truck accident, automobile accident, and property damage claims. While we are only licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland, we can do the following legal activities on your behalf. The Law Office of Marc Atas and Associates can resolve your car damage claim, diminished value of car claim, make sure you receive timely medical treatment, aid the insurance company in accepting liability, take statements from witnesses, obtain police reports and finally attempt to settle your claim. If we are unable to settle your claim, we will locate counsel in the appropriate state to file suit and go to court on your behalf. The attorney fee arrangement will remain the same even if additional counsel is necessary and will not result in any additional fee. The personal injury, car accident, truck accident, and automobile accident laws in North Carolina are complicated. I have outlined the basic laws that apply when involved in personal injury, car accident, truck accident, or automobile accident in North Carolina.

NORTH CAROLINA

Negligence / Personal Injury

3 Years from the act or discovery but no longer than 10 years

Wrongful Death

2 Years- All wrongful death actions are subject to a 2-year statute of limitations and accrue at the date of death (shorter limitation period than for personal injuries).  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-53(4); N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-53(1), (4). Can be extended by fraudulent concealment; Friedland v. Gales, 131 N.C. App. 802 (1998). Not more than 10 years from defendant’s last act giving rise to the cause of action; N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52(16), also note statute of repose as to products (see below).

Medical Malpractice

3 Years with Discovery Rule (1 year from reasonable discovery), but no more than 4 years from last act, unless foreign object, then 1 year from discovery, never more than 10 years. 1 year if discovered 2 or more years after occurrence. Minors: until age 19.

Malpractice (Other Professions)

Products Liability

6 Years maximum from date of initial purchase by consumer.

Intentional Torts

1 Year

Fraud

3 Years time running from discovery of acts constituting fraud or mistake.

Municipal Liability/Sovereign Immunity

2 Years unless statute states otherwise.

North Carolina, along with Virginia, is one of four remaining states or jurisdictions that follow the rule that contributory negligence is a complete bar to recovery by the plaintiff, burden of proof on defendant to prove by the greater weight of the evidence.  The doctrine was judicially established in North Carolina

Comparative Negligence-No comparative negligence.

Charitable Immunity

Abolished

Disabilities

Infants (18th birthday + 3 years maximum), incompetents, or insane persons granted normal SOL upon removal of disability, except in malpractice where if infant, maximum is age 19.

Punitive Damages

May be awarded in discretion of jury where defendant is liable for compensatory damages and aggravating factor of fraud, malice, or willful, wanton conduct is present. Cap: Three times compensatory damages or $250,000. Punitive damages have been a subject of limitations since 1996.  N.C. Gen. Stat. Chapter 1D.  In personal injury actions they must be proved by clear and convincing evidence of actual fraud, malice or willful or wanton conduct related to the injury upon a showing first of compensatory damages.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1D-15(a)-(b) & 1D-5(4).  The conduct must be more than gross negligence.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1D-5(7).  The punitive damages claim must be specifically pled in detail in the complaint or in a supplemental pleading.

Award limited to three times compensatory damages or $250,000.00.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1D-25(b)-(c).  Note: an exception for driving-while-impaired cases exists.

A separate trial on punitive damages can be required on defendant’s motion.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1D-30.

No-Fault Insurance

None

Generally, no caps apply to personal injury or wrongful death claims for compensatory damages purposes (excluding medical malpractice claims).

Like a number of states, North Carolina has placed some limits on the kinds of damages that an injured person can receive in a court case (via a jury award after a finding that the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries).

In North Carolina, in medical malpractice cases only, non-economic damages (like compensation that is awarded for pain and suffering) in most cases are capped at $500,000. This cap does not apply to other injury cases that don’t stem from medical malpractice.

And in all types of injury cases in North Carolina, punitive damages cannot exceed the greater of three times the amount of actual (compensatory) damages or $250,000.

In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a “one bite” rule. In North Carolina however, a specific statute (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 67-4.4) makes the owner “strictly liable”, meaning regardless of the animal’s past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog.

Claims against the Government

An injury claim against the North Carolina government or its employees must be filed with the state’s Industrial Commission within three years of the injury, according to N.C. Gen. Stat. section 143-299.

Damages in wrongful death case. To be distributed under the North Carolina Intestate Succession Act (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-18-2(a) including the following recoverable damages:  (1) expenses for care incident to the injury causing death; (2) compensation for pain and suffering of decedent; (3) reasonable funeral expenses; (4) present monetary value to statutory beneficiaries of reasonably expected – net income of decedent; services, protection and care from decedent and society and companionship from decedent, punitive damages meeting other necessary requisites and nominal damages.

North Carolina provides that the surviving spouse receives the first $60,000 of (personal property) proceeds and the remaining statutory beneficiaries share under a mathematical formula set forth by statute. (N.C. G.S. 29-14-16).  Notably, a 2016 North Carolina Court of Appeals case held that an illegitimate child not legitimized within one year of birth does not qualify as beneficiary.  In re Estate of Williams (N.C. App. 2016) (N.C. G.S. 29-19).

 

  1. Liability and Damages Tried Separately –In tort actions seeking $150,000 or more, the court must order separate trials on liability and damages unless it finds good cause for a single trial. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rules of Civ. Pro., Rule 42(b)(3) (defendants in medical malpractice actions generally will not waive the mandate).

North Carolina imposes joint and several liability on joint tortfeasors. Young v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 266 N.C. 458, 465, 146 S.E.2d 441, 446 (1966); N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1B-1. Thus, any joint tortfeasor against whom judgment is entered is liable to the claimant for the entire amount of the judgment, regardless of the tortfeasor’s share of fault.

Prior to the enactment of House Bill 542, a plaintiff could introduce evidence of past medical expenses by offering to the jury the amount charged by a health care provider.  Often this amount was greater than the amount actually accepted by the health care provider due, in large part, to the provider’s agreement with the injured plaintiff’s health insurance company to accept a lower, or discounted, payment.  Insurance companies and defense counsel argued that introducing evidence of the actual amount charged by the health care provider artificially inflated the amount of a plaintiff’s damages.  To address this perceived false and misleading impression, one provision of House Bill 542 restricted the introduction of medical expense evidence to the discounted amount, rather than the original, undiscounted amount charged.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist claims

North Carolina is an “offset” state with regard to how it computes undersinsured motorist coverage that may apply in excess of liability coverage or coverages.  As of 2016, the minimum bodily injury and UM limits are $30,000.00.

UM/UIM arbitration – North Carolina has a unique scheme that sets forth a statutory basis available to (only) the plaintiff to pursue normal injury litigation involving underinsured motorist coverage, or by statute, a plaintiff may instead invoke arbitration, involving a three-judge panel of arbitrators to decide any underinsured motorist claim.  N.C.G.S. sec 20-279.21.  Each side selects one arbitrator, and the two arbitrators select the third if there is not an agreement to the third arbitrator. A UM/UIM carrier, to retain subrogation rights, must tender the policy limit of the underlying liability carrier upon written notice from Plaintiff, or the carrier risks waiver of subrogation.

North Carolina is a “contact” UM state for hit and run claims, meaning there must be a collision between vehicles, and the claim must be corroborated.

Inter-policy stacking of UM/UIM generally applies to nonfleet private passenger motor vehicles. N.C.G.S. sec 20-279.21 (b)(3) and (4).

Work related injuries-Exceptions to exclusive remedy – A narrow exception to the exclusive remedy is when the employer’s conduct is intentional and substantially certain to the cause the injury or death (called a “Woodson” claim).  Woodson v. Rowland, 329 N.C. 330, 407 S.E.2d 222 (N.C., 1991.

N.C.G.S. 97-10.2 sets forth a statutory scheme for having a judge determine the amount of  the workers compensation lien, including various reductions.  The lien may be eliminated or reduced on various grounds, for example, if the employer’s own negligence was a contributing factor in the accidental injury.

Application of Tort Options

Prior to the enactment of House Bill 542, a plaintiff could introduce evidence of past medical expenses by offering to the jury the amount charged by a health care provider.  Often this amount was greater than the amount actually accepted by the health care provider due, in large part, to the provider’s agreement with the injured plaintiff’s health insurance company to accept a lower, or discounted, payment.  Insurance companies and defense counsel argued that introducing evidence of the actual amount charged by the health care provider artificially inflated the amount of a plaintiff’s damages.  To address this perceived false and misleading impression, one provision of House Bill 542 restricted the introduction of medical expense evidence to the discounted amount, rather than the original, undiscounted amount charged.

Senate Bill 33 also included a significant reform to the trial of tort actions.  Specifically, it changed the rule regarding bifurcation of a trial.  Generally speaking, trial of a tort action requires that two separate questions be answered:

  • Was the plaintiff injured by an act of the defendant, legally entitling the plaintiff to recover damages (the “liability” question); and,
  • If so, what is the dollar amount the defendant must pay the plaintiff to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries (the “damages” question).

Bifurcation refers to the division of the liability question and the damages question into separate and distinct trials.  One variation of bifurcation occurs when a single jury first hears evidence only as to liability and makes a decision on the liability question; then, if the defendant is found liable, the jury for the first time hears evidence regarding the plaintiff’s damages.

Prior to the enactment of Senate Bill 33, it was within a North Carolina trial court’s discretion as to whether a trial would be bifurcated.  Senate Bill 33 creates a presumption that the trial of tort actions will be bifurcated in all cases where the plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $150,000.

Senate Bill 33 applies to all tort claims arising after October 11, 2011.  Thus, many personal injury trials now and in the future will be subject to the bifurcation presumption.  The end result is that a jury will hear nothing about the issue of damages until after the issue of liability is decided.



FREE CASE EVALUATION
close slider

FREE CASE EVALUATION EASY. QUICK. CONFIDENTIAL.