Make sure everyone who owes for your car accident claims is brought in to participate in payment. In serious injury cases, you must always look behind the scenes to make sure that all parties who contributed slightly to causing the accident are involved in contributing toward your losses. You then must unravel all layers of insurance coverage that should apply to provide payment of your claims. Insurance coverage types and money sources are listed in chapter 1. Before you look for insurance sources, you must first identify those who contributed to causing the accident. The following at-fault parties should be considered in every case:
- All Drivers Involved in the Accident — This would include drivers of noncontact vehicles if they contributed to causing the collision. If two or more drivers both committed errors, they can be held jointly liable. Further, both of their insurance carriers would be required to open their coverage and participate in claims payment.
- Vehicle Owners — North Carolina law provides a “family purpose” doctrine that says that if the car owner provides the vehicle for the general use and enjoyment of the family, he or she is liable just as though the driver was an employee of the owner. Similarly, if the owner of a vehicle is negligent in entrusting the use of the car to the driver, this allows you to reach the insurance coverage and assets of the owner as well.
- Bar Owners and Providers of Alcohol — If the accident is caused by a drunk driver, North Carolina law allows you to reach the servers, vendors, pubs, and restaurants who served the alcohol if you can show that they knew or should have known that the person drinking would take the wheel while intoxicated.
- Principals and Employers — If the at-fault driver(s) was working at the time of the accident and if his or her journey was in the “scope of employment,” then the company that employs the driver is also fully liable and legally responsible to pay for your accident claims.
- Negligent Medical Providers — Under North Carolina law, medical errors are the foreseeable result of the need for medical care. If your injuries and condition are worsened because of medical errors, the original driver owes for these complications. However, in some cases, it is necessary to bring the doctors or medical facilities into the case if medical malpractice results in a significant worsening of the victim’s condition.
- NC Department of Transportation and Road Managers — If an intersection is dangerous or defective or if the road is poorly maintained and dangerous, state or municipal agencies may be brought into the victim’s personal injury case.
- Vehicle Maintenance Personnel — If the accident results from negligent maintenance of the motorcycle or the other vehicles involved, we can identify and bring in the parties who failed to use due and proper care to identify and correct mechanical defects.
- Product and Vehicle Manufacturers — If the accident is caused or worsened by a defective vehicle component (e.g., faulty tires, brakes), the manufacturer and sellers of the product can be joined as defendants and compelled to contribute toward payment of injury claims.
North Carolina follows the law of joint and several liability. This allows an innocent victim to collect for his or her losses from every person or business that contributed to causing the accident. In serious and permanent injury cases, identifying all parties and all layers of insurance coverage is essential to allow you to collect full compensation for all past and future medical care costs, for all lost income, and for all of the physical pain and emotional suffering arising from your accident.