The first thing on your mind after a violent car accident is probably “How will my medical bills be paid?” When your body hurts, it can even affect your mind and cause you to feel worse overall. You may have difficulty doing your work and living your life in general. Who will pay for the lost work time, pain, and suffering? If you look to the North Carolina Department of Insurance for answers, they don’t have them. Let’s look at what you can do to get the compensation you deserve.

How Medical Bills Are Paid After a Car Accident

Many think that contacting their insurance agent is all they must do after an accident. However, expecting an insurance company to pay fairly is often a false hope. The adjuster is not on your side. You will need to negotiate with the adjuster to agree on amounts that are fair for reimbursement. Hiring an attorney to negotiate and work with your adjuster early on in the process is the best way to establish your rights from the beginning.

Insurance companies are looking at their bottom line and will pay only the bare minimum of what you may need to cover your bills. However, an attorney is always on your side and concerned with your rights over anyone else’s.

North Carolina At-Fault Law

In North Carolina, the determination of fault rests on contributory negligence laws. These laws make it possible to collect payments from the other driver’s insurance policy. However, you only receive compensation if they are proven at fault or admit to 100% of the responsibility. If they are only 50% at fault for the accident, you may get nothing from their insurance company unless you take action with an attorney.

It is a mistake to assume that an insurance adjuster will “inform you of any additional steps needed.” (1)  If you let your compensation rest on whether an insurance company will pay you fairly, you may be in for a surprise. Often, to get fair compensation, you must negotiate with the adjuster.

Your Insurance: Medical Payments Coverage

Your own insurance may include Medical Payments coverage. If you have that coverage, you may get assistance for your doctor and hospital bills, regardless of whose fault the accident was. Usually, this coverage is only for a couple of thousand dollars, though. It does not cover extensive injuries or extended hospital stays.

Bodily Injury Coverage

Bodily injury claims against the other person’s insurance can include doctor and hospital bills, laboratory fees, lost wages, and pain and suffering resulting from the accident up to the number of their policy limits. State law requires each vehicle owner to carry at least $30,000.00 of liability insurance coverage. However, many people carry $100,000 in liability coverage per person and $300,000 per occurrence.

If There is Limited or No Coverage

But what happens if the person you had an accident with only has the lowest coverage required by law. What if your medical bills are $100,000 and the other driver only has $30,000 Bodily Injury coverage? Who will pay for your bills then?

When this happens, you can file a lawsuit to get coverage for the rest of your bills. Then, you can go forward with an attorney who can advise you of the best way to proceed. 

What Recourse Do I Have?

There are no legal guidelines in North Carolina statutes determining or calculating how much you are owed for pain and suffering. According to the Insurance Commissioner, “If you and the insurance company cannot agree on the value of your claim you may wish to seek legal advice.” 

The dangers of not getting an attorney early on include

  • Getting named at fault or for more responsibility than you actually contributed
  • Sub-par payouts for damages to your vehicle and bodily injury
  • Not knowing how to negotiate with the insurance company for more
  • Not knowing how to negotiate down your medical bills or auto repairs

If you find yourself reaching the end of the limits on a policy and need more, you’ll want to discuss with an attorney whether it is worth suing for more. Many times, an insurance company pays a hefty sum for a claim to avoid court. This settlement often covers the extra bills and your pain and suffering. Insurance companies only agree to settlements such as this if you are not entirely at fault for the accident.

If the insurance is not satisfactory, you may sue for more than the coverage amounts from the person who caused the accident. An attorney can help you determine if the other driver has different kinds of insurance that may cover more or if they have assets that you could sue for. 

We Can Help

At Cape Fear Law, our experienced traffic attorneys know how to negotiate with insurance companies to reach a fair settlement for all involved parties. If you’re injured in a crash that is not your fault, and you want to seek justice, we will walk you through each step of the process until your medical bills and all other expenses are covered.

Contact us to find out how we can help you get the justice you deserve.