After you’re injured in a car wreck, it’s bad enough you have to suffer as a result of your injuries. But the suffering gets even worse once the bills start pouring in – the ER visit, car repairs, X-rays, physical therapy, you name it.
Little wonder a common question we often hear is: “How much will I receive from the insurance company for my accident?”
While each case is specific to its own particulars, understanding a bit about how insurance policy limits work in North Carolina can offer valuable information in your financial recovery efforts.
Tip! Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer received 3.5 times* more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own.
How North Carolina’s “Fault” System Affects Your Bottom Line
After a car accident in North Carolina, authorities will assign fault to one or more drivers.
These drivers (and their insurance companies) bear liability for damages or injuries their actions caused. In other words, they may be responsible for paying medical bills, car repairs, time out of work, pain and suffering, and physical damages of those who were not at fault.
Some states assign percentages of blame, such as, say, 80% to one driver and 20% to the other. Everyone pays according to their percentage of fault.
Not so under North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule. This rule says that if you’re found to be even 1% at fault, you could be barred from recovering anything, even if the other driver was 99% at fault! (North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that still has this rule on the books.)
Tip! If you think you may have contributed to your accident even the slightest bit (speeding, jaywalking, texting, etc.), it would be prudent to talk with a personal injury representative right away.
Policy Limits in North Carolina
Who pays and how much gets paid can depend on what the at-fault driver’s policy limits are. All North Carolina drivers are required to carry a certain amount of auto insurance coverage. This coverage has maximum and minimum policy limits, which are used to cover damages.
So, for example, if you’re passing through an intersection and someone runs a red light and hits you (“their fault” scenario), their insurance company is responsible for paying your damages within the policy limits – but not one cent over.
What If My Damages are Greater Than the Policy Limits?
If your damages are greater than the limits on the policy of the at-fault driver, you do have options – options we highly recommend utilizing an experienced auto accident lawyer for. Some of those options include:
- Collect Through Uninsured and Underinsured (UM/UIM) Motorist Coverage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is required in North Carolina. This coverage protects you if another driver is at fault but does not have insurance, or have enough insurance to pay for your damages. Simply stated, UM/UIM coverage provides you with an additional means to collect damages for your injuries and other expenses incurred.
- Sue the defendant.
- Recover under an umbrella policy (an additional liability coverage many people have).
What if the other driver’s insurer claims that you contributed to the auto accident, even if you believe you didn’t? Or what if you suffered serious injuries, but the insurer is contesting the extent or costs of your medical treatment? What if you actually did contribute to the accident? No matter the scenario, it is prudent to let an experienced personal injury lawyer evaluate your situation.
North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help Collect
- In 2015, alone, we recovered over $75 million (gross) for over 2,700 clients1
- We have recovered over $600 million (gross) for over 30,000 clients since 19971
- These numbers don’t include the $1.25 billion we helped recover against the U.S. government for 18,400 claimants in a historic class action case1
- We’ve done this because we have quality professionals – many who’ve worked on the “other side” (insurance companies). Over 30 attorneys. Over 100 staff. Seven attorneys board certified in North Carolina in their fields – a differentiator that fewer than 4%3 of North Carolina attorneys can claim.
* Insurance Research Council 1999
3 Percentage calculated from figures supplied by the North Carolina State Bar, through December 31, 2015.