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Oxford, North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

Personal Injury

Whether you are in Oxford, North Carolina, Virginia, or anywhere else in the U.S., it seems like almost every attorney handles personal injury cases. People who suffer harm caused by carelessness (negligence) or mistakes of others may be entitled to large sums of money. The amount of money depends on the fault and usually such other factors as medical/drug costs, lost wages and whether there are permanent injuries or loss of life (sometimes called "wrongful death"). A personal injury attorney can review your specific situation and determine whether or not you have a case.

The common types of personal injury cases include automobile wrecks, injuries on store premises (for example, slip and fall injuries), medical malpractice, product liability and other preventable injuries. What most of these have in common is a violation of the duty to avoid unnecessary harm to others or the violation of accepted safety standards—in short, negligence. If you have been injured by the negligence of another, you should take advantage of the free consultation offered by most law firms to have an attorney review the specifics of your injury and determine whether or not you have a case.

Not all lawyers do all types of personal injury cases. This office, for example, does not take medical malpractice cases. At times we will work with other specialized attorneys. Examples of cases where we co-counseled with other firms include accidents resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning and a defective construction crane. If we do not handle the type of case you have, we are happy to refer you to another law firm.

Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?

The burden of proof in an injury case always rests with the injured person; he or she must prove not only that the defendant is responsible for the injury but also justify the dollar amount of damages requested. An insurance adjuster or personal injury attorney will often reference the Pattern Jury Instructions document that is used in civil trials in North Carolina for personal injury cases (similar references exist in other states) to determine whether or not they believe you have a case. These Instructions are shown below and outline the legal definition of negligence as well as the types of "damages" or losses the law allows a jury to award.

You will also see the instructions for "contributory negligence". North Carolina is one of only two states that still use contributory negligence. This basically means that in North Carolina even though one is hurt by the negligence of another, the injured party may get nothing if he or she is found to have been partially at fault and contributed to the injury.

You may think that jury instructions are only for the courtroom. But make no mistake about it. Every adjuster or insurance investigator relies on these instructions from the first time he or she speaks to you on the telephone.

Pattern Jury Instructions


Negligence refers to a person’s failure to follow a duty of conduct imposed by law. Every person is under a duty to use ordinary care to protect himself and others from [injury] [damage]. Ordinary care means that degree of care which a reasonable and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances to protect himself and others from [injury] [damage]. A person’s failure to use ordinary care is negligence.

Every person is (also) under a duty to follow standards of conduct enacted as laws for the safety of the public. A standard of conduct established by a safety statute must be followed. A person’s failure to do so is negligence in and of itself.

A violation of this duty is negligence

Personal Injury Damages – in General

Actual damages are the fair compensation to be awarded to a person for any [past] [present] [future] injury proximately caused by the negligence of another.

In determining the amount, if any, you award the plaintiff, you will consider the evidence you have heard as to (each of the following types of damages):

  • medical expenses
  • loss of earnings
  • pain and suffering
  • scars or disfigurement
  • partial loss of use of part of the body
  • permanent injury
  • any other type of damage supported by the evidence

The total of all damages are to be awarded in one lump sum.

Contributory Negligence Issue – Burden of Proof – Definition

"Did the plaintiff, by his own negligence, contribute to his [injury] [damage]?"

On this issue the burden of proof is on the defendant. This means that the defendant must prove, by the greater weight of the evidence, that the plaintiff was negligent and that such negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s own [injury] [damage].

The test of what is negligence, as I have already defined and explained it, is the same for the plaintiff as for the defendant. If the plaintiff’s negligence joins with the negligence of the defendant in proximately causing the plaintiff’s own [injury] [damage], it is called contributory negligence, and the plaintiff cannot recover.

What Can I Do To Maximize My Settlement or Jury Award?

As personal injury attorneys, we prefer to collect information as though each case is going to trial. Jury instructions are something like a recipe, but information and facts are the fine seasoning. Sam Ervin, the Senator from North Carolina who presided over the Watergate hearings for President Nixon, had a saying "Salt the facts, the law will keep". Any lawyer worth his salt does his or her best with clients who can help get the facts and keep up with changes as these occur. Whether you are sure you need a lawyer or not, a telephone call early on may make all the difference. Contact a personal injury attorney at Watson Law, P.C. today.

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