The law in NC dealing with property damage is controlled by statute, case law (rules laid down by judges), the individual NC insurance policy, and the North Carolina Insurance Commission ( www.ncdoi.com ). With the controlling law scattered in so many different places it is no wonder people feel like they are being taken advantage of by the insurance companies when they handle their own property damage.
When an accident happens as a result of another’s negligence you have the right to have your vehicle repaired and paid for by their insurance company. The insurance company has the right to do an estimate of your vehicle to determine what it would cost to repair it. However, the insurance company has no right to tell you where to get your car fixed (NC Gen Stat 58-3-180). That said, however, if you take you vehicle to another shop which costs more to fix it then the insurance company’s estimate you might be responsible for the difference.
Once the claim is filed the insurance company has 30 days in which to pay the claim make an offer of settlement, deny the claim or advise the claimant that the investigation of the claim is ongoing. Loss and claim payments should be mailed or delivered within 10 business days after the claim is settled.
There is no law or statute which requires the insurance company to furnish you a rental vehicle while your vehicle is not drivable or being repaired. However, the law has evolved to allow individuals Loss of Use payments. As such, when your vehicle is damaged to the point where it is no longer usable as an instrument of conveyance or while it is being repaired to where the injured party would be best served in buying another car, he/she is entitled to loss of use.
Simply stated, when you can’t drive your vehicle or while it is being repaired, if the insurance company doesn’t furnish you with a rental vehicle, you have a claim of Loss of Use. Since the insurance companies do a large amount of business with rental companies they can get rental vehicles much cheaper then any one individual. As such, it would cost them more to pay you back for the Loss of Use, i.e. you getting a rental vehicle, then it would for them to just get you a rental vehicle.
There is no requirement that forces insurance companies to use factory new parts. They are allowed to use pre-owned or refurbished parts from other vehicles. However, if the reused parts are modified in anyway, evidence of the same must be disclosed in the estimate.
The other side of property damage deals with when the vehicle is deemed a total loss. A vehicle is deemed a total loss when the cost to repair the vehicle is equivalent to 75% of the actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle. Once that determination is made the next step is determining how much the insurance company will pay you for the vehicle.
The insurance company, regardless of whether it is your own or the insurance of the negligent party, is required to furnish you the ACV of the vehicle. The ACV is also known as the fair market value. This does not mean the trade in value or the retail value from a dealership but what another person would pay you for the vehicle.
There are a number of sources available to help you find the fair market value of your vehicle. Some sources include www.nada.com , www.edmunds.com , www.ebay.com , www.kbb.com , or even your local newspaper.
To increase your vehicle’s fair market value, and thereby the insurance company’s offer, you must be able to provide evidence on the value of the vehicle. Any improvements to the vehicle which increased its value will increase its fair market value. For example a new engine would increase the value of the vehicle while an oil change would not.
When dealing with your own insurance company you have the right elect the appraisal portion of your policy. While your individual NC policy may differ, both you and the insurance company select independent appraisers. The two appraisers will then select an umpire. The appraisers will state separately the ACV and the amount of loss. If they do not agree, they will submit their differences to the umpire. A decision by any two will be binding. However, it should be noted that you are responsible for the cost of your appraiser as well as your share of the umpire fee.
When dealing with the negligent party’s insurance company you have the right to pursue legal redress in the court system. You also have the right to keep your totaled vehicle. If you do this the insurance company will deduct the salvage value from the ACV. If requested, the insurance company must furnish you with the name and address of a salvage dealer who will purchase the salvage for the amount deducted. However, there are a number of issues with keeping a salvaged vehicle that the individual needs to be aware of including North Carolina ‘s stringent registration laws.
More information on property damage law in North Carolina is available by contacting the personal injury lawyers of Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC at (704) 714-1450.
At Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC our personal injury lawyers provide exceptional legal representation without prohibitive cost. Although the fee arrangement varies according to the type of case, we pride ourselves on being very clear about the costs at the outset of representation. We know that an informed client is a satisfied client.
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