Whose Insurance Pays for Car Accidents?

You have insurance in case you make a mistake and cause an accident. But whose insurance covers a car accident that wasn’t your fault? Said another way, is North Carolina a fault or no-fault state for car accidents and insurance claims?

This article will discuss whose insurance pays for property damage following a car wreck. For bodily damage, such as an injury to you or another occupant of the vehicle, you will likely not be seeking a settlement with the at-fault insurer until you have completed your full medical treatment. This may take a while, and you are responsible for paying your medical bills as they come in.

When in a Car Accident, Who Makes the Claim?

You, if they’re at fault. Them, if you’re at fault. Assuming you’re the victim, do you make the claim to your insurance or the at-fault driver’s? Both are options, as I’ll discuss below.

The law is clear: If you are injured in a car wreck or suffer property damage through the negligence of another, that driver’s insurance must pay for your harms and losses, up to the policy limits. That’s because North Carolina is a “fault” state. The one who’s at fault pays.

But life isn’t always as straightforward. Even if the other driver’s insurer is responsible, you may want to file through your own insurance. The at-fault insurer may stall and take a long time to acknowledge fault, depending on the type of accident and the circumstances of your claim.

If you go through your own insurance to pay for your repairs, this may allow you to get your car back more quickly and to avoid the potential hassle of dealing with an adjuster who may be less sympathetic than one who works at your own carrier. Your insurance can then seek reimbursement from the other insurer for the compensation they paid you (plus your deductible).

What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

If the other party does not have insurance, you will likely have to turn to your own insurance. While drivers are required to have insurance in North Carolina, some people still drive without it.

Fortunately, you already pay for something called uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy and can submit your claim for compensation under that coverage. If the other party has insurance but not enough to cover all your harms and losses, you may have underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), one of a few possible avenues for compensation from insurance coverage.

What if I’m Partially at Fault?

If the accident was partially your fault and partially the other driver’s, the other driver’s insurer will most likely deny your claim under North Carolina’s rules of contributory negligence. You may need to submit the claim to your own insurance, instead.

If I’m Not at Fault, Do I Need to Notify My Own Insurance?

As a general rule, most policies require that you notify your insurance carrier of any wrecks, particularly if liability may be in question or if any of your additional coverages (such as UIM and medical payments coverage) may come into play. You can then choose which avenue to pursue for recovery. Notifying your insurer is just one of many steps after a car wreck to take.

If you’ve been hurt in a wreck through no fault of your own, we can help you seek justice. As part of handling your injury claim, we can also handle your property damage claim. When appropriate, we’ll take the entire legal burden off of you so you can focus on getting better and back to normal. For a free case evaluation, call 1-866-900-7078 or submit this online form.

Michael Jordan

About the Author

Michael Jordan is an attorney at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin in North Carolina and has been practicing law for more than 20 years. Mike assists clients with their personal injury, workers’ compensation, eminent domain, products liability, medical malpractice, mass tort, and other cases. He’s a member of the American Association for Justice and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ), where he serves on the Legal Affairs Committee after previously serving on the Board of Governors. The NCAJ has recognized Mike’s active participation, service, and commitment by awarding him the “Order of Service” award most years since the award’s inception.

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