After being involved in a car wreck many people turn to their own insurance for help. While this is reasonable considering all of the overly heartwarming commercials on TV, it is also a mistake. This article will examine the interaction between the injured party and their own insurance.
It is easiest to start this explanation by redefining the relationship between you and your insurance company. Insurance is nothing more than a contract. You pay company X money each month to perform certain services upon demand, i.e. a claim. However, the relationship can become adversarial quickly considering that company X’s profits go down upon paying out on a claim.
Assuming a claim has been denied by the liability carrier for lack of coverage the only way to get compensation for your injuries is through your own uninsured motorist coverage, “UM”. UM coverage must be offered to North Carolina policy holders since NC is a mandatory insurance state. The only way to not get UM coverage is to specifically sign a waiver disclaiming coverage. We counsel all of our clients to get as much UM coverage as they can afford considering there are a large number of individuals driving without insurance.
When a UM claim is filed your carrier steps into the shoes of the other driver and acts like their insurance company. This is why it is advisable not to speak with your insurance company. Anything you said to your carrier could be used against you at this time.
You insurance company is free to use any of the defenses available to the at fault party, including contributory negligence. Many times clients seek our counsel after their own insurance company has denied their case based on their original statement. Sometimes the statement can be fatal to their case. You have no legal obligation to speak with your insurance company following an accident. The NC policy does require that you cooperate with your carrier but cooperation is not defined in the policy.
There are a multitude of ways your carrier, especially the ones you see on TV all of the time, will attempt to take advantage of you. For example, your carrier will not explain that the NC statutes set the deductible rates under UM. For instance, if you used your collision coverage following an accident you may have paid your deductible, lets assume it was $1,000.00. However, if the claim is moved under UM the most the property damage deductible can be is $100.00. AS such, your carrier is required to refund you $900.00. Many times the carrier will “fail” to let their customers know this and our office will have to demand the money be refunded.
One of the most important attributes of a UM claim is the ability to arbitrate it. If you are unable to agree with your carrier on the value of the claim you can demand arbitration. Arbitration, unlike a jury trial, is an informal process which would take place in our office. You can think of an arbitration as a very simplified trial without a judge or jury. We present our case to a panel of arbitrators who render a binding decision on the value of your case. Our attorneys take the time to explain arbitration and how it can be used to maximize the value of your claim.
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.