Gastonia Personal Injury Lawyer

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Gastonia Personal Injury Attorney

Gastonia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you live in Gastonia, NC, and believe that your recent accident was the fault of a third party and could’ve been avoided if they didn’t act so carelessly, you may have a viable claim for personal injury. Allow a Gastonia personal injury lawyer to assess the circumstances of your situation. We can find out if you can recover financial compensation for the damages you suffered or are still actively suffering from.

Personal injury attorneys at The Schweppe Law Firm, P.A., represent residents of Gastonia, the county seat of Gaston County and its most populous city. We can ensure that each one of our clients feels taken care of during the entire process of their injury claim. Contact us to see how your legal counsel can take the time to answer all your questions, keep you updated on the progress of your case, and offer quality advice.

What Does It Mean to File a Personal Injury Claim in North Carolina?

When you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault but was, in fact, due to someone else’s negligence, you may have a personal injury claim. By filing a claim, you are taking legal action against the at-fault party that is responsible for your injury and other damages. In addition, you are claiming your right to recover compensatory damages from that negligent party for your losses.

The goal in pursuing a personal injury claim isn’t for the injured party to get paid “for their troubles.” It is also a process that holds the at-fault party legally accountable for their neglectful or careless behavior. A claim also aims to help the victim pay for or replace expenses that they wouldn’t have endured if the accident did not occur. Hospital bills, loss of income, along with pain and suffering are considered compensatory damages, which are separate from punitive damages.

How Does a Personal Injury Attorney Prove Negligence?

In any case of personal injury in Gastonia, NC, it is the job of the injured party’s lawyer to sufficiently prove that the accident that resulted in their bodily harm and other losses was indeed caused by the negligence of the defendant (the accused third party, which is usually a person, corporate entity, or some other organization). Negligence simply refers to a level of carelessness or malicious conduct on the part of the at-fault person that directly resulted in an injury, which they are liable or responsible for.

To adequately establish the existence of negligence, there are specific elements of the personal injury case that the plaintiff’s attorney must prove. The first is that the defendant owed a duty to the injured victim to act in a certain manner or refrain from committing a certain act. An example would be a driver owing a duty to nearby pedestrians to yield to them and not cause them physical harm.

The other required elements are proving that the defendant breached their duty and that doing so directly caused injury to the plaintiff. This means that there is convincing evidence establishing that the accused party’s actions or inaction was the proximate reason, or reasonable cause, of the accident that led to the victim’s injury. It must also be proven that the injured plaintiff suffered actual damages, which can be established by medical bills, lost income, etc.

A capable personal injury lawyer may use several different sources of evidence to effectively prove that the elements of a negligence case were met, such as:

  • Police reports
  • Eyewitness testimonies
  • Photographic evidence
  • Hospital records, including physicians’ diagnoses of the harm sustained
  • Maintenance and inspection documents
  • Expert analysis and opinion of the incident

Pure Contributory Negligence Laws in North Carolina

In many states, victims of a personal injury accident are able to recover partial compensation for damages, even if they are found to be partly at fault for the incident. For example, if the plaintiff is proven to have been approximately 20 percent liable for the circumstances surrounding their accident, they can still pursue up to 80 percent of their total damages and losses. This policy is known as comparative negligence. However, that is not the case under North Carolina law.

North Carolina is one of the few states to recognize pure contributory negligence in cases of personal injury. What this means is that if it’s established by the accused party’s attorney that the injured person is even one percent at fault for their accident, they are barred from recovering any recompense for their endured damages. The defendant’s legal representation has a burden to provide sufficient evidence to prove the plaintiff’s partial liability.

What Damages Can I Receive Compensation for in NC?

North Carolina’s personal injury laws allow personal injury victims to recover compensatory damages to make them “whole.” The settlement or compensation payout is the state’s effort to “balance the harm” inflicted upon the victim.

An individual who was harmed by another party’s negligence is able to seek compensatory damages, which encompasses several expenses and other losses. These may include:

  • Incurred and future medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished ability to earn income
  • Physical pain
  • Emotional or psychological suffering
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Loss of function in a body part
  • Other expenses or losses related to any continuing injury

Punitive damages serve a different purpose in personal injury cases and are not meant to recompense the victim. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for their criminal misconduct. In addition, they are meant to deter them, and others, from committing or repeating their behavior or similarly negligent actions.

Are Punitive Damages Applicable to Every Personal Injury Case?

The policy of punitive damages is designed to benefit society and prevent future harm from occurring. It sets a precedent that such wrongful offenses are punishable by required additional payment for damages. However, for punitive damages to apply to a case, there must be certain aggravating factors present that are beyond “gross negligence.”

Qualifying egregious behaviors include fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct. It can be any intentional disregard and indifference to the rights and safety of others that the offender knows, or should know, is reasonably likely to cause injury, damage, or other harm. Punitive damages can potentially apply to any case that involves one of these elements, but the presence of any such misconduct must be proven with strong and clear evidence.

North Carolina case law has developed to further specify which scenarios are likely to be appropriate for punitive damages. One example of an applicable circumstance is a drunk driving accident, especially among repeat offenders, that involves an element of racing or dangerous/excessive speeding.

Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

There are numerous types of accidents and negligent conduct that may lead to a personal injury of varying degrees. The following are some frequently reported incidents known to cause bodily harm to unsuspecting victims:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: Automobile accidents are the most common type of personal injury case, with numerous potential reasons for the at-fault driver’s negligence, such as intoxicated or distracted driving, speeding, and reckless driving. These include car accidents, collisions involving motorcycles, buses, and trucks. Related areas of personal injury include pedestrian and bicyclist accidents.
  • Animal Attacks: Animal attacks, particularly dog bites, are more commonplace–and dangerous–than you may think. Bites, scratches, and other bodily attacks have the potential to be substantial and even susceptible to infection. In certain situations, victims of a dog attack may be able to pursue compensatory damages.
  • Premises Liability/Slip-and-Falls: Premises liability refers to the lawful responsibility put on property owners to maintain their premises in a manner that keeps any visitors safe from potential injury. Slip-and-fall accidents are another common type of personal injury. These can occur from an unattended spill or debris on public or private property.
  • Workplace Injury: Some professions naturally put employees in danger of injury or death, such as construction or natural resources extraction. Injured workers may have the option to file for workers’ compensation in addition to a personal injury claim, both of which an injury attorney can assist with.
  • Medical Malpractice: Medical negligence or malpractice occurs when a physician or medical support staff fails to treat their patient according to the accepted standard of care, which can result in significant injury. Examples include surgical errors, inaccurate medication prescription or dosage, and misdiagnosis.
  • Wrongful Death: In some cases, the victim of an accident that was caused by someone’s negligence does not survive their injuries. When this occurs, it’s possible for the family of the deceased to seek compensation for damages resulting from the wrongful death of their loved one.
  • Product Liability: If a product is defective or flawed in its design or manufacturing, the seller or manufacturer may be held liable if the dangerous faulty product led to someone’s bodily harm when used for its intended purpose. Additionally, if there was a lack of sufficient warning on the product, victims may also pursue recompense.

Different Serious Injuries That Could Result From Negligent Misconduct

It is possible for victims of a personal injury accident to seek compensatory damages if their injuries were minor to moderate. This also applies in cases where bodily harm isn’t apparent until it develops over time or is a primarily internal issue, such as brain damage.

However, some accidents are so severe that the injured person is left with serious physical injuries that require extensive medical treatment and time to fully recover from. In some circumstances, the victim may even endure long-term or permanent effects that alter their life, severely limiting their ability to function and/or carry out daily tasks.

Examples of such serious or catastrophic injuries include:

  • Damage to the spinal cord
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe harm to muscles, joints, or ligaments
  • Fractured or shattered bones
  • Permanent disfigurement, such as scars from burns or lacerations
  • Organ damage
  • Eye injuries
  • Loss of vision or hearing
  • Dismemberment or amputation of a limb or other extremities
  • Partial or full paralysis
  • Newly acquired conditions from the incident, such as neurological disorders (e.g., epilepsy, seizures)

Will a Personal Injury Case Have a Criminal Trial or a Civil Trial?

A legal trial has the potential to either be criminal and tried in criminal court or civil litigation, which is conducted within civil court.

Criminal cases entail the accused offender being prosecuted by the state or federal government for breaking the law. Usually, the district attorney is responsible for prosecuting all criminal offenses. These trials may result in the defendant being sentenced to a range of potential penalties. These include fines, incarceration, and other penalties that are dependent on the exact crime.

In contrast, a civil trial involves the legal claim of one party against the other. The aim of a civil litigation case is for the afflicted individual to recover monetary compensation from the defendant or their insurance company for the damages and injury that the plaintiff endured. It is the responsibility of the person filing the personal injury claim to pursue the case and acquire legal counsel if they don’t plan to represent themselves in court.

It is possible, under some circumstances, for there to be both criminal charges and a civil trial for the same incident. An example is if a person was injured or their property was damaged during a criminal act, such as robbery, that allows the victim to pursue compensation from the offender. However, the cases will remain completely separate from one another, as their purposes are different and involve disparate areas of the law.

Do I Pay Upfront for the Services of a Personal Injury Attorney in NC?

The majority of legal professionals who represent clients within personal injury law work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they do not take payment from you unless they are able to secure compensation for damages; the lawyer’s fees are “contingent” upon their ability to recover their client’s losses.

This also means that, upon the awarding of compensatory damages, the payment for their fees comes from a percentage of the total settlement or compensation payout. The reason for this is to not put the injured party at further financial risk, thereby encouraging afflicted individuals to pursue a claim to obtain the financial compensation they are entitled to.

Most North Carolina injury lawyers claim between 33.3 and 40 percent of their client’s total compensation amount, depending on the complexity of the case and their experience, among other factors. Your personal injury attorney in Gastonia will make sure to discuss their percentage before they take your case. That way, you both can agree on the amount and not worry about it during the legal proceedings.


Q: When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in NC?

A: You should hire a personal injury lawyer when your significant bodily injury was caused by another party’s carelessness. Often, such harmful accidents are unavoidable and leave the victim with:

  • Medical expenses
  • Recovery time that prevents them from earning income
  • Physical pain
  • Mental suffering

It’s important to seek counsel from an injury attorney within the statute of limitations that North Carolina imposes on personal injury claims. Ideally, you should contact one as soon as possible, as the evidence will be fresher.

Q: What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in North Carolina?

A: The statute of limitations for personal injury in North Carolina is three years from the date of the accident that resulted in injury and/or property damage. For a developing or obscure injury, the timeframe starts when the physical harm becomes apparent to the plaintiff.

This means that the afflicted individual must file the official claim of personal injury with the court within three years to avoid the defendant filing a “motion to dismiss,” which is likely to be granted due to the statute of limitations.

Q: Can You Sue Someone for Loss of Enjoyment of Life in NC?

A: Yes, you can sue someone for loss of enjoyment of life in NC. Loss of enjoyment of life refers to when an injured person has been harmed or affected to the degree that they lose some level of ability to do the activities that they enjoyed prior to their accident.

Numerous victims may have experienced loss of enjoyment but to receive compensatory damages, it must be sufficiently proven with convincing evidence that speaks to the extent of their suffering.

Q: What Are Compensatory Damages in NC?

A: In North Carolina, compensatory damages refers to the financial compensation that a personal injury victim has the legal right to seek from the party that is liable, or at fault, for the accident that resulted in their bodily harm and other losses.

Compensatory damages include economic (loss of income, medical expenses) and noneconomic (pain and suffering) losses. These are separate from punitive damages that are also applied in some personal injury cases, which are meant to punish the offender and deter further negligence.

If You Were Injured or Endured Property Damage, Speak With a Qualified Injury Attorney

At The Schweppe Law Firm, P.A., our skilled team of lawyers offers a breadth of legal knowledge and experience. We serve each client with the attention and effort that their personal injury claim deserves. Reach out to us today to schedule a meeting with one of our injury lawyers. We are ready to listen to you and review the details of your case.