When you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company after a car accident, it’s important to remember that the insurance company does not represent you and is not on your side. They have a fiduciary duty to protect their insured. And, of course, they are typically a for-profit company that wants to make money for their shareholders. The payout of claims is a huge expense to an insurance company, so they want to avoid it whenever possible.
In North Carolina, it’s relatively easy for the insurance company to deny your claim based on the contributory negligence doctrine, which bars you from any recovery if you were even one percent at fault for the accident. If the insurance adjuster can come up with even one reason why you may have been partially at fault for the accident, they will deny your claim. This is why it’s so important not to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster without speaking to a personal injury lawyer first. The adjuster will ask you specific questions and try to manipulate your responses in an attempt to show that you were somehow negligent in the moments leading up to the accident.
Another reason your claim may be denied is that the at-fault driver did not have a valid auto insurance policy at the time of the accident. In this scenario, you can file a claim with your own insurance company for uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. In North Carolina, auto insurance policies are required by law to include at least $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in UM coverage. A similar type of coverage is underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, which can be used when the at-fault driver’s policy is not big enough to cover your losses.
In the rare case that neither you nor the at-fault driver had valid auto insurance at the time of the accident, you can file a lawsuit against the other driver directly, but that might not get you much money because the at-fault driver can avoid paying if they have insufficient assets. If the at-fault driver could not afford to pay car insurance premiums, chances are they do not have enough assets to compensate you adequately.
An insurance adjuster may also deny your claim if they can demonstrate that the accident was a “low impact” or “no impact” collision. In other words, the less property damage you have, the more likely your claim will be denied. If the vehicles appear mostly unharmed, the adjuster may assert that the collision could not have caused the injuries you are alleging.
Finally, the insurance adjuster will likely deny your claim if there are no damages. If you claim you were injured in the accident but do not seek any medical treatment, your bodily injury claim will likely be denied. This is one reason why it’s so important to go to the hospital or see a doctor as soon as possible following an accident. Keep in mind that you can often recover damages for even a minor injury, as long as you seek prompt medical treatment.
If you’ve been injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault but your insurance claim has been denied, you should speak to an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney right away. The insurance company’s denial doesn’t necessarily mean they are right. As an American citizen, you have a right to a jury trial if that’s what it takes to get the compensation you deserve. The car accident attorneys at Kreger Brodish LLP will thoroughly investigate your case and fight aggressively for you in court. Contact us today for a free consultation.