This blog is not to be construed as legal advice. This is an educational general overview of some of the practical issues involved in dealing with Auto Insurance claims in North Carolina.
If you have been involved in an accident in North Carolina, you will inevitably be required to deal with insurance companies to receive compensation for your personal injuries and property damage. As you can imagine, the accident claims process can often be a vexatious experience that could lead to you punching holes in your walls and blowing smoke out of your ears. To complicate matters further, you may have to deal with several insurance adjusters for the separate forms of compensation for your accident such as for bodily injuries, property damage and incidental expenses. Often your claim will lead to tense negotiations between you and insurance adjusters where they will drag you through obnoxious games and deny the objective and undeniable fault of their insured to try to weasel out of paying you for your injuries. Remember, the insurance companies would love for you to drop your claim or accept less compensation than you are entitled to. While the insurance companies may seem powerful the law provides a great equalizing force for injured claimants.
You and your passengers may be eligible to receive compensation from an insurance provider for: (1) medical bills; (2) lost wages from missed work; (3) pain and suffering including (i) during the accident; (ii) after the accident; and (iii) future pain and suffering; (4) any mental anguish incurred as a result of the accident; (5) costs of repair to or the replacement of a vehicle; (6) any diminution in the value of a vehicle; (7) damage to personal property that was located in a vehicle; (8) rental car expenses and; (9) other incidental fees such as towing expenses. In pursuing these damages, keep in mind that you will be required to provide proof of your claims. Also, remember that insurance adjusters will have their loyalty vested in the insurance companies’ bottom lines whether you are dealing with obtaining compensation from another motorist’s policy or from your own policy. We highly recommend that you seek the advice of a North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible after you’re involved in an accident to ensure that you obtain the maximum compensation possible.
North Carolina General Statute § 20-279.21 provides that motorists in the State of North Carolina must carry an active insurance policy that covers the motorist: (1) up to $30,000 for bodily injuries to one person or the death of one person in any single auto collision; (2) up to $60,000 for bodily injuries to two or more persons or the death of two or more persons in any single auto collision and; (3) coverage for the policy holder for bodily injury, sickness or disease and death resulting from the liability of uninsured motorists and hit-and-run motorists. However, the uninsured and hit-and-run coverage limits shall be equal to the highest of bodily injury liability coverage from any one vehicle insured under the policy, but this coverage may not exceed $1,000,000 per person and $1,000,000 per accident.
As you can see it’s usually worth dealing with the insurance companies because you can usually recover compensation from one or more insurance companies because all drivers in North Carolina are required to carry the minimum level of insurance coverage described in the statute. However, in North Carolina, you may only succeed in receiving compensation for damages from an auto accident if you were not fully or partially responsible for causing the accident. (Read our blog titled Contributory Negligence for more information).
As previously discussed, auto insurance companies frequently engage in roping you through games where they will drag their feet on accepting liability on behalf of their insured. Their adjusters will attempt to weasel out of paying you compensation that you are legally entitled to receive. Whether the insurance companies are trying to slip out of compensating you for the fair market value of your car or from covering your medical bills, they will often employ unscrupulous tactics such as denying liability through denial of coverage letters that assert contributory negligence defenses when it’s clear that their insured are solely at fault and by asserting legal theories and defenses that are inapplicable to the denied claims.
In pursuing an injured claimant’s claim for compensation from an at-fault motorist’s insurance carrier (a major national insurance carrier), an adjuster asserted the legal theory of Last Clear Chance as a reason why they refused to compensate the injured claimant for their injuries. This defense was asserted, notwithstanding its legal inapplicability to an alleged at-fault insured motorist in this scenario. It appears this adjuster is not familiar with how Contributory Negligence principals operate in North Carolina and that he was willing to use any reason to deny the injured claimant coverage.
In pursuing a different claim for compensation from an at-fault motorist’s insurance carrier (another major national insurance carrier), an adjuster asserted that the injured claimant who was stopped at a red light at the time of their accident, was partially responsible for causing their own injuries because the injured claimant failed to maintain a proper lookout while they were stopped at a red light when the insured motorist collided with the injured claimant.
As you can see, some major insurance companies will authorize their adjusters to assert blatant erroneous legal defenses in negotiations to “justify” denials of coverage to injured claimants. While many injured claimants process their own accident claims without hiring lawyers, they often erroneously accept denial of coverage letters without adequate legal review or they often erroneously accept substantially less compensation than they are legally entitled to receive. A Personal Injury Attorney can assist you in obtaining the maximum compensation that you are owed.
Finally, Personal Injury Attorneys have teeth to use in dealing with insurance companies, where the attorneys may sue insured motorists and prosecute civil actions against them to obtain court orders that require their insurance carriers to compensate the injured claimants. We sued the insured drivers in the erroneous denial of coverage scenarios described above to bypass their insurance carriers’ games because the law will recognize the liability of the insured drivers and the obligation of their insurance carriers to compensate the injured claimants.
If you’re tired of getting the run around in your accident claim, consider hiring a Personal Injury Attorney who is willing to go all the way. Remember, the insurance companies never lose even when they pay your claim because they raise their premiums on their insured afterwards. Why should you go uncompensated?
To schedule a consultation today, contact Biazzo & Panchenko Law, PLLC.