You know that you’re legally required to have auto insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone follows that rule. When you’re in a car crash, the at-fault driver’s insurance will cover your medical costs and car repairs. So, what happens when the person who hit you doesn’t have car insurance?
Car Insurance in North Carolina
You’re always required to carry a minimum level of car insurance to cover the costs of medical care and property damage in case you injure someone. In North Carolina, you must have minimum coverage of $30,000 for bodily injuries, $25,000 for property damage, $30,000 for injury caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, and $25,000 for property damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. The average cost for car insurance coverage in North Carolina is about $1150 per year.
So, if you have insurance in North Carolina, your own insurance will cover the cost of your medical care and property damage if the at-fault driver is uninsured. Your premiums won’t change because you weren’t at fault.
If both you and the at-fault party are uninsured, you’re out of luck. You’ll have to pay for your medical expenses and property damage out-of-pocket.
How do I get my compensation?
First, always call the police if there’s been an accident. They’ll make formal records of the scene and give an opinion about who was at fault. Your insurance company is going to want that information, because they can raise your premiums if you were partially at fault and may deny part of your claim if you don’t have proper documentation of the accident. If you’re able, you should also take your own photos of the site of the accident and any damage to your person or your vehicle.
Write a letter of notification to your insurance company informing them that you were injured in an accident with an uninsured driver. Include the date and location of the accident as well as your name and contact information. You don’t need to give a detailed account of the accident in this letter. It’s just to warn the insurance company that you’re going to be making a claim for compensation.
Next, you’ll need to keep records of any medical care you receive as a result of the accident. Keep records of the cost of car repairs as well – you should always get several quotes to show that you’re not using an unnecessarily expensive auto shop and keep all of your paperwork.
Once you’re received all of the medical care that you need, it’s time to file your claim with your insurance company. You can go it alone, but hiring an attorney is always the safer route, especially if your expenses are high. The insurance companies make money by paying out as little as possible. They will try to discount your claim by saying that you contributed to the accident, that you received unnecessary medical care, or that your injuries were actually preexisting conditions. Your attorney has experience dealing with all of these tactics and knows how to combat them to get you the highest possible settlement.
When you file an insurance claim in North Carolina, the insurance company has 30 days to respond to you. They may make payment, offer a settlement for less than your full claim, or deny your claim altogether. They may also inform you that they need to investigate your claim further, which will delay the process. If your insurance company simply pays your claim, the process ends. If they offer you a settlement, hire an attorney will be able to negotiate to try to get a higher offer. If they deny your claim, you may officially dispute their decision.
The cheapest and easiest solution to a denied claim is to try to convince the insurance company to pay out. If that doesn’t work, the next step is to hire an independent appraiser to evaluate your claim. The appraiser will send a copy of her findings to both you and the insurance company. That report alone may be enough to convince your insurance company to pay up.
If the independent appraiser isn’t enough, it’s time to hire an attorney. You may either submit to mediation (which is nonbinding) or arbitration (which is binding) in an attempt to resolve the dispute. In lieu of arbitration, you may choose to file suit against your insurer. Remember that all of these processes cost money. An appraiser, mediator, arbitrator, and attorney all charge fees for their services. The longer the process, the higher the fees. If your claim is for a relatively small amount, you may choose to go straight to small claims court and represent yourself, rather than bear the costs of arbitration or legal representation.
Will I get compensation for my injuries and property damage?
If you aren’t at fault, you are legally entitled to compensation for your accident-related expenses from either the at-fault driver’s insurance or your own insurance. Your own insurance company has to compensate you even if you’re partially at fault, although they can raise your premiums. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, take advantage of a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys to discuss your situation and learn how best to collect the compensation you deserve.