What Can I do After I Suffer a Serious Personal Injury in Charlotte?

If you or someone you love has suffered a serious personal injury, the most important thing to do, first and foremost, is to focus on treating the injury and following the professional advice and recommendations of qualified medical providers.

While many people may view statutes of limitations as punitive—North Carolina’s three-year statue of limitations for personal injury claims allows injured persons to manage their priorities appropriately. Even those persons who have suffered the most serious kinds of injuries will, within three years of an incident, be able—with the help of qualified medical professionals—to ascertain the nature and extent of their injuries, and whether and to what extent they will require future medical treatment causally related to an incident.

Once an injured person has either completed treatment or has stabilized one’s physical condition such that one is able to carry on one’s life and business affairs—either personally or through a family member—the best thing the injured person can do regarding a potential personal injury claim is contact an experienced personal injury attorney to explore one’s legal options regarding the claim.

Pre-Litigation Settlements Are Common In Personal Injury Cases

In order to recover compensation in a personal injury case, an injured person must establish that another party was at fault, or liable, for the injured person’s injuries. In many cases, the “fault” part of a case is uncontested: the at-fault party admits liability. In these cases, an injured party may demand compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance carrier, and if the carrier is willing to pay an amount of money that is acceptable to the injured party, the claim can be settled out of court.

If an at-fault party denies liability, or if the at-fault party’s insurance company is unwilling to pay a fair amount to compensate an injured person, the injured person may have no choice but to bring a lawsuit or other technical claim such as a workers’ compensation claim or a Tort Claims Act claim.

Getting It Right: Litigation Process Demands Experience, Attention to Detail

Before a lawsuit or other technical legal claim is brought before a court, a plaintiff must consider matters such as the identification of proper parties, jurisdiction, venue, proper service upon parties, and other technical elements of a claim which—if not done correctly—can destroy an injured person’s chances of making a recovery.

Once a claim has been properly brought, the plaintiff and defendant will ask each other for evidence related to the incident. They will also depose witnesses by asking them questions about the incident on the record. Both sides will appear in court to give the judge status updates. This phase of pre-trial litigation is called discovery. In most personal injury suits, the discovery phase can take months, but discovery can go on for years in some complex cases.

At the end of the discovery process, a defendant can ask the judge for a summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff is not entitled to a trial because the plaintiff lacks evidence supporting one or more of the basic elements required to maintain a personal injury lawsuit. Most summary judgment motions are denied.

In North Carolina, parties to most lawsuits are required to mediate their cases before a neutral mediator before a case goes to trial. After mediation, the parties are required to tell the court if a case has settled. Cases that do not settle at mediation are placed on a trial calendar.

A trial in court typically lasts several days. A judge or jury, after receiving evidence from both sides, will first decide whether a defendant was at fault for an incident that caused a plaintiff’s injuries. If a defendant is found to be at fault, the same judge or jury will determine how much the defendant must pay to the plaintiff in damages. If either party disagrees with a court’s decision on liability or damages, the aggrieved party can file an appeal.

Arnold & Smith’s Team Is Experienced in Every Phase of the Litigation Process

The team of experienced professionals at Arnold & Smith, PLLC litigates cases from their inception in the pre-litigation phase through trials and on appeal, when necessary. Our professionals have argued cases in dozens of counties throughout North Carolina, in all of the state’s federal districts, have appeared before both of the state’s appellate courts, and have handled appellate matters in both the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and United States Supreme Court.

Call us today at 704.370.2828 to schedule a free consultation, or fill out our contact form online. With offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, Arnold & Smith, PLLC handles personal injury cases throughout the entire State of North Carolina.

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