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Who Determines Fault in an Accident in North Carolina?

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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On the surface, it may seem like determining fault for a car accident is a straightforward concept. One driver must have made an error that caused the accident. However, it’s not always that simple, and when it comes to a Charlotte car accident lawyer seeking restitution for their client, they must be able to clearly demonstrate exactly what caused the accident and injuries.

Sometimes, this may be another driver, but there are also other ways an accident could be caused, such as an issue with roads, traffic lights, or a malfunctioning vehicle part.

Who determines fault in an accident in North Carolina?

Who Determines Fault in a Car Accident?

There are a few different parties that will take a look at a car accident and attempt to determine who is at fault for what happened. This begins with the law enforcement officers who are called to the scene of the accident. They will be responsible for an investigation of the accident and will file an official report on what occurred.

Usually, insurance companies will also want to investigate the accident. The police report will often be an important component of that investigation, but they will likely also conduct some investigative measures of their own, usually at least talking with the drivers involved. Since they are going to be responsible for compensation to the victims of the accident, they want to be sure that their policyholder is truly at fault for the accident.

Any attorneys involved in representing victims of the crash will also investigate the accident to determine who they believe is at fault. They will want to be sure that they are seeking restitution from the proper party or parties, so identifying fault is a major component of their process. Again, they may make use of the police report but could also conduct their own investigative measures.

The ultimate determiner of fault, though, is the court system. This, of course, doesn’t mean that every accident will end up in court, as many will be settled before it gets that far. However, should it be necessary, a car accident claim could be argued before the court, with the plaintiff arguing that the defendant was at fault and the defendant arguing against the claim. The court will then decide whether or not the defendant is actually at fault and whether or not restitution is required of them.

How Fault Is Demonstrated in a Car Accident Claim

Fault is not determined merely based on how things look or feel after assessing the evidence and testimony. There are components to fault, or negligence, that each needs to be proven to determine that someone was responsible for the accident and the injuries that resulted from it. These components are:

  • Duty of Care. The defendant needed to be responsible to the plaintiff to ensure that their actions wouldn’t create an excess danger or threat for the plaintiff. When it comes to motor vehicles, it’s generally well-understood that anyone involved has a duty to exercise reasonable precautions because of the inherent danger and risk.
  • Breach of Duty. The defendant will need to have failed to meet their duty of care in some way. If the defendant is another driver, this usually means failing to follow traffic laws.
  • Cause of Injury. The breach must then be shown to be the direct cause of the accident and injuries that the plaintiff suffered.


Q: Who Could be at Fault for a Car Accident?

A: Car accidents can be more complex than they may seem on the surface. There are times when they are caused by something more than driver negligence and could be caused by issues, such as a truck driver employer with unreasonable delivery expectations, roads that haven’t been properly maintained, or a part that wasn’t installed correctly.

Responsibility for these kinds of issues doesn’t fall to a driver but rather to other entities. That’s why some of the parties who could potentially be at fault for an accident include:

  • Other Drivers
  • Government
  • A Driver’s Employer
  • A Parts Manufacturer
  • A Maintenance Provider

Q: Is North Carolina a No-Fault State?

A: North Carolina is not a no-fault state but is a fault state instead. In no-fault states, any drivers involved in a car accident will have to file a claim to their own insurance provider to cover the costs of the accident. However, in North Carolina, victims can identify who is at fault for an accident and attempt to seek compensation from that party.

Q: When Do You Need to File a Claim?

A: Car accident claims in North Carolina will generally need to be filed within three years of the accident. There may be some factors that could alter the timeline, including who you are seeking to hold liable and whether or not any minors were involved. It’s important to get in contact with a lawyer soon after your accident, as they can help identify the appropriate deadline for your claim.

Q: What Is Covered in a North Carolina Car Accident Claim?

A: Car accident claims should cover those costs that directly result from the accident and injuries that were suffered in the accident. They are paid through economic damages and non-economic damages. The economic damages cover the clear financial costs, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages, whereas the non-economic damages cover costs that are more psychological or emotional, such as pain and suffering and mental anguish.

A Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Can Help Prove Fault for Your Claim

There are several parties that consider the matter of fault for a car accident, but the ultimate decision could come down to the court. It’s possible, though, that a claim could be settled before even making it that far. In any case, it’s critical that those seeking restitution for the injuries suffered in the accident have a Charlotte car accident lawyer that they trust.

At Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, we can rely on our experience and knowledge to help both identify those at fault for an accident and argue for their fault in court. We’ve handled many car accident claims before and understand everything from how to investigate where fault lies to how to negotiate for compensation, as well as how to make your strongest argument in court. Contact us today for help in identifying fault and seeking restitution for your car accident.