WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAR INSURANCE
North Carolina requires every driver to carry a minimum of $30,000.00 of liability insurance. Insurance companies seldom encourage a potential policy holder to buy more than the minimum limits. However, you should get quotes for additional liability coverage since the cost for additional coverage is minimal.
In case you are hit by an uninsured driver or a driver with minimum automobile coverage, you can protect yourself by purchasing uninsured insurance coverage or underinsurance coverage that will protect you in the event you are involved in an automobile accident and you incur medical bills and lost wages that exceed the defendant’s minimum coverage.
The problem often encountered is that if the Defendant driver has minimum liability coverage, most insurance companies are not at a great risk to try the case and not settle the case because most trials take 12 to 18 months before you are given a trial date once you institute a lawsuit. After all, no matter what verdict you receive, the insurance company has to pay only the minimum policy limits. As a result, more cases now require a jury trial. Many clients cannot afford the costs of depositions, filing fees and expert fees to prepare their case whereas the insurance companies have unlimited funds to defend these cases. The insurance carriers now bid their defense work to lawyers so they pay the same legal fee no matter how long an insured person pursues their claim. As a result, our court dockets are filling up with cases that were previously settled – a cost to the taxpayers for Judges and clerical staff.
A classic case: A Plaintiff is injured going through an intersection and as a result of a collision with the Defendant received a broken arm, broken ribs and contusions to her chest. The liability insurance company denied the claim and therefore the Plaintiff instituted a lawsuit. At mediation, which is required on all civil cases in North Carolina prior to a trial, the liability insurance company offered to pay nothing. It should be noted that all the Plaintiff wanted and agreed to take was reimbursement of her medical bills of $17,500.00 and $9,500.00 for her car. Once the trial began, the Defendant still refused to pay any money for the settlement of this claim, even with the Judge urging the liability insurance company to pay. The case was tried which lasted 3 days and the result was the jury returning a verdict of $150,000.00 for the Plaintiff. The Defendant has absconded and has no assets.
The liability insurance company will have to pay the $30,000.00 policy limits inclusive of interest and some costs incurred by the Plaintiff to try the case. There are no provisions in the minimum policy coverage for the liability insurance company to pay for the Plaintiff’s attorney fees.
More and more individuals continue to only carry minimum policy limits automobile coverage and therefore you need to take a few minutes and review your individual policy to make certain you and your family take the measures to protect yourselves in the event you are involved in an automobile accident.
Eddie Knox practices with the law firm of Knox Law Center in Charlotte. The firm has other convenient offices located in Cornelius and Denver. Please visit the firm’s website at www.knoxlawcenter.com to learn more information.
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