There are different types of car accident insurance. This article will examine the interaction between the injured party and the at fault party’s insurance.
The first place to start in examining how a claim works is to define the different players. When you are involved in a Charlotte car wreck and file a claim against the other person’s insurance you are called the claimant. The other person’s insurance is referred to as the liability carrier. The claim itself is referred to as the third party claim (commonly referred to as a personal injury claim). Your own insurance is referred to first party insurance. You can also interact with your own insurance via your uninsured motorist coverage (UM) or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).
When a claim is reported to the liability carrier the first thing they will do is research coverage. If the policy was not active at the time of the accident they will not pay out on the claim. Many clients are surprised when this is brought up at the inital consultation considering the insurance information is listed in the standard North Carolina police report. The insurance information listed is tied to the license plate of the vehicle involved in the wreck. That information is stored by the NC DMV. When the police officer pulls up the DMV information on their computer it automatically populates with the insurance information. However, there is no way to ensure that the DMV’s information is up-to-date or correct. The only way to determine coverage is to speak with the carrier.
Insurance companies’ profits are determined by the amount of premiums they take in minus claims. As such, there is a large financial incentive to not paying out claims. A common way to disclaim coverage is to argue non-permissive use. Basically, this means that the owner of the vehicle did not give permission to the driver to use the vehicle, and as such, coverage should be denied. This is an affirmative defense which means the insurance company has the burden to prove this argument. Typically, our personal injury lawyers can defeat this argument especially if the owner of the vehicle did not report the vehicle stolen prior to the accident.
If coverage is active the carrier will next look to avoid paying based on liability. Liability deals with the negligence of their insured. The carrier will typically want to review the police report and speak with their insured before making a decision on liability. For more complex cases or those involving significant injury a liability determination can take a significant amount of time. For some cases the insurance company may bring in an engineer to reconstruct the accident to determine the negligence of their insured. If the carrier believes their insured is not negligent or that the plaintiff will have a hard time proving negligence they will deny the claim.
One of the most common misunderstandings about insurance deals with the question of negligence. In North Carolina you do not sue an insurance company directly, you sue their insured. For example, lets assume you are involved in a Charlotte Car accident with a person named Bob. Let’s also assume that Bob is insured by Allstate Insurance and Allstate denies the claim. Many clients want to sue Allstate, however, in North Carolina you have to file suit against Bob, not Allstate. As such, you will have to convince a jury that Bob was negligent. Further, you are unable to introduce any evidence of liability insurance (Allstate) to the jury.
If the carrier believes there is enough evidence to prove negligence against their insured they will next look to any allegation of contributory negligence against the claimant. In North Carolina contributory negligence can serve as a complete bar to recovery. Many adjusters like to quote the 1% rule – “if the claimant is just 1% negligent they can’t recover anything.” This is a misstatement and misunderstanding of the law. However, if the carrier believes there is contributory negligence they will deny the claim. If they believe there is not enough evidence of contributory negligence the claim will be accepted.
While all this is going on the most important thing for the claimant to consider is their health. Failing to make their health a priority can have disastrous consequences both for their long term health as well as their claim. Our personal injury attorneys do not submit demands to the insurance company until our clients have finished treating. There are two reasons for this. First, there is no way to fully know the extent of your injuries until you have completed all of your treatment. Failure to know the full extent of your injuries may result in settling your claim for less then full value. Second, once a case is settled in North Carolina it can not be reopened. This is why we tell our clients to take their time regarding their treatment. The insurance carrier does not have the right to direct your treatment. Any attempt by the carrier to direct your treatment is a statutory violation and should be reported immediately.
Once the client has finished their treatment a demand package is created and forwarded to the liability carrier. The package includes all claims, allegations, medical history and monetary demand for settlement. The carrier upon receipt of the package will review the same and make an offer. One of the most important aspects of an experienced personal injury attorney is explaining to their clients how insurance companies determine the value of claims. Many times, the aspects of your case that you consider the least significant can have the most influence on the value of your case.
Call (704) 714-1450 to make an appointment to speak with a Charlotte personal injury attorney or stop by the office during regular business hours. We understand that the last thing you need to do at this time is miss a doctor’s appointment or more time from work. We will schedule an appointment that fits your needs. There is no fee for the initial consultation. Whether you call, come in the office or request a home visit you will speak directly with a personal injury attorney who can answer your questions.
“I am very pleased with the professionalism, courtesy and timely response to my accident claim. I will certainly use Matt Fleishman’s services if the need arises in the future.”
Glenda Nance (Charlotte, NC)