What Compensation is Available in a North Carolina Injury Case?
Compensation Available in North Carolina Injury Claims and Lawsuits
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you probably already expect the at-fault party’s insurance company to reimburse you for the costs of your reasonably related medical treatment. However, what you might not know is that personal injury claims often include compensation for a variety of other damages, both tangible and intangible. In North Carolina, there are two main types of compensation available in your personal injury claim: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Your attorney will review the facts and circumstances of your case to determine which types of damages you may be eligible to claim and advise you on what kind of evidence best provides support for your claim to compensation.
In this article, we’ll offer a brief guide to the types of compensation that may be available in your North Carolina personal injury claim or lawsuit, and what kind of evidence is needed to prove these damages.
Personal Injury Compensation – An Overview
If you are seeking an attorney to represent you in your NC car accident or other accident case, chances are that you have been hurt badly and need an attorney to fight on your behalf for your right to compensation for your injuries by the at-fault party. A personal injury lawsuit is designed to help obtain the compensation you need to recover physically, financially, and emotionally from your injuries. A North Carolina personal injury lawyer at Riddle & Brantley can help you secure the settlement you need and deserve.
Two Types of Compensation in Injury Cases
Personal Injury damages fall under two main types of compensation: compensatory damages and punitive damages. There are additional sub-categories of damages that fall under both types, such as wrongful death damages.
- Compensatory damages are designed to reimburse you for the financial costs associated with your injury. These damages are available in almost every personal injury case.
- Punitive damages are included in a personal injury settlement to punish the at-fault party who caused you harm. These damages apply in limited circumstances where the at-fault party was wanton or reckless in their actions, such as while driving under the influence or while street racing. Your attorney will review the facts and circumstances of your case to see whether punitive damages may apply.
Compensatory damages fall into two categories: special damages and general damages. Both types of compensatory damages are available in a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Your attorney will help review your case and evaluate your claim for both special and general damages.
Special Compensatory Damages (“Specials”)
Often referred to as “specials,” special compensatory damages involve an economic loss associated with a personal injury claim. Special compensatory damages for out-of-pocket expenses are typically itemized through bills or receipts. Special damages can be thought of as economic losses you have incurred from your accident.
Your personal injury attorney will probably ask you to keep track of the bills, receipts, or other documentation associated with the following types of special compensatory damages:
- Medical Expenses: The cost of medical care for treatment of your injuries can be substantial. These costs include expenses related to medical transportation, emergency room visits, surgeries, follow-up doctor visits, and rehabilitative care. Additionally, you can present the costs of items like prescription medications, medical devices, in-home medical modifications, long-term nursing care, and increased living expenses associated with your diagnoses. If your injury is life-altering or requires long-term medical care, an experienced attorney can help you recover compensation to offset the future cost of this medical care as well.
- Property Damage Expenses: You are entitled to recover not only the costs associated with repairing your vehicle after an accident caused by the fault of another driver, but also for the cost of other damaged property, such as a shattered cellphone or broken sunglasses. For example, if you were carrying your bike on your vehicle’s rear bike rack and it was damaged in a rear-end collision, an attorney can help you recover the cost of the property damage to your bicycle. You may also be able to recover compensation for your vehicle’s potential loss of value after an accident.
- Lost Wages or Lost Earning Capacity: If you were injured in a car accident or other accident, you may be entitled to reimbursement for days you had to miss work because of your injury. Even if you used paid time off, sick leave, or vacation days, your attorney will gather this information to seek reimbursement for the wages you lost while out of work. Additionally, if you’ve suffered a life-altering injury that will prevent you from working in the future, you may be able to recover compensation for wages you would have earned in the future if not for your injury.
General Compensatory Damages
While some costs, like medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage can be evidenced by bills and receipts, some costs borne by a victim cannot be as easily quantified. General compensatory damages cover these “intangible” damages associated with a personal injury claim.
Examples of general compensatory damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Compensation for physical disfigurement or impairments
Wrongful Death Damages
Losing a loved one through the negligent act of another party is a devastating experience. At Riddle & Brantley, our attorneys know how difficult this time will be for immediate family after the death of a loved one. A victim’s family is entitled to claim several types of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their loved one, both economic and noneconomic. Therefore, wrongful death damages can be thought of as a mixture of general and special compensatory damages.
Examples of wrongful death damages include:
- Funeral and burial costs to reimburse surviving family members for the expense of unexpectedly laying their loved one to rest.
- Medical expenses incurred for accident-related treatment rendered before the victim’s death.
- Damages to reimburse for the loss of financial contribution by the victim. Evidence of lost earning capacity is particularly helpful in recovering compensation that can help the victim’s spouse and children in the future.
- Loss of consortium or loss of companionship is designed to compensate for the emotional distress that comes with losing a treasured family member and may be awarded to the spouse or family members who lost a loved one in a personal injury accident.
- Compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish may be awarded to family members of the victim to help them move forward with their lives after the sudden loss of a loved one.
As the name suggests, punitive damages are designed to punish the at-fault party and deter others from committing a similar act. In North Carolina, punitive damages may be awarded in cases involving fraud, malice, or where the defendant exhibited willful or wanton conduct.
Willful or Wanton Conduct
Willful or wanton conduct is defined under North Carolina law as “the conscious and intentional disregard of an indifference to the rights and safety of others, which the defendant knows or should know is reasonably likely to result in injury, damage, or other harm.”
North Carolina courts have set a high bar for when conduct rises to this level, but NC courts will recognize punitive damages due to willful or wanton conduct in two types of auto accident cases:
- Accidents caused by a driver who is impaired by drugs or alcohol; or
- Accidents caused by a driver who is speeding in excess of 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit or is engaged in illegal road racing.
To collect punitive damages, a defendant’s conduct must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. Although this is a high bar to clear, an experienced car accident attorney can help you present your claims properly to meet your burden of proof.
Need a North Carolina Injury Attorney?
At Riddle & Brantley, our attorneys know that in the immediate aftermath of an accident, your primary focus is getting better. To heal both physically and emotionally, an accident victim must be adequately compensated for their injuries, both tangible and intangible.
Call for a FREE, No-Obligation Consultation
Our experienced NC personal injury attorneys have decades of experience fighting for maximum compensation, and we pride ourselves on pursuing significant settlements for our clients (see disclaimer below).
Call 1-800-525-7111 today for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our NC personal injury attorneys to review your claim for damages and discuss what type of compensation may be available to you for your personal injury claim.
There are no upfront costs, and we don’t get paid unless you do — if we don’t recover compensation for you, you won’t pay a dime in attorney fees. That’s our promise to you.
“They really care about the client’s welfare.”
–Miracle S., Riddle & Brantley client
Please call 1-800-525-7111 and let’s review your claim. You may be eligible for damages to compensate you for your losses, and we would love to help you if we can.
*** Disclaimer: The results mentioned are intended to illustrate the type of cases handled by the firm. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case.