Have you been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle accident? Are you a pedestrian who has been hit by a car? Don’t let the insurance companies talk you into anything until you talk to a lawyer. In addition to recovery for your property damage, you may be able to obtain compensation for related medical bills, lost wages, over the counter and out of pocket expenses, and just compensation for your pain and suffering.
And while it may have been an “accident” (as in, it was not intentional) if it was someone else’s fault, you shouldn’t have to pay.
North Carolina has one of the largest publicly-maintained highway systems in the country – with nearly 80,000 miles statewide. And we’ve got 7.6 million licensed drivers, using 9.3 million registered vehicles. In Wake County alone, in 2016, there were over 30,000 crashes, with 79 fatalities and nearly 13,000 other injuries.
For statistics on other NC counties, see:
An estimated 1 in 3 collisions is linked to cell phone use. Even hands-free talking increases the risk of injury due to a crash. Some compare the danger of using a phone while driving to driving drunk. The results can be similar – and deadly.
Hit and Run
Data from the North Carolina Highway Patrol show a steady increase in hit-and-run crashes.
There were about 10,000 hit-and-runs in NC in 2012 and more than 15,000 in 2016. During that five-year period, 105 people died in NC hit and run incidents.
Uninsured and Underinsured claims – “UM/UIM”
According to various insurance research groups, about one in eight drivers is uninsured. That means that even if you aren’t at fault, your own insurer is on the hook if you are injured. In North Carolina, minimum required liability limits are $30,000 for bodily injury per person, $60,000 bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damages. If someone carries only the minimum, an extensive ER visit with an MRI and some specialty consults could eat up that minimum before you even get treatment. Hire an attorney who understands UM/UIM claims and has experience with the Arbitration required for most such cases.
Medical Payments – “Med pay”
Do you know whether your own auto insurance has “medical payment” coverage? What happens if you use it when the other guy was at fault? “Med pay” is an extra coverage you can pay for and use, regardless of whether you are at fault. And your insurer cannot increase your rates as a result of your making a med pay claim.
Billed versus Paid
How many friends have told you they got “three times the medical bills” for a settlement? Maybe they did – 10 years ago – but that isn’t the state of things today.
In 2010, our legislature passed something called “billed versus paid.” It effectively changed the rules for how damages are calculated in car wreck cases. It used to be, for example, that if the hospital ER billed you $10,000, you could talk about that $10,000 in front of a jury. Now, if the bill is $10,000, but your health insurance (or Medicare or Medicaid) “discounts” the bill and only pays $3,000… you are limited to introducing into evidence only that amount – what was “required to satisfy” the bill. So if you have “bad” insurance that doesn’t pay much, the value of your injuries just went down. Hire an attorney who knows how to navigate this major evidentiary change to maximize your recovery.
Do you know that some medical providers may have liens against any settlement you get? Your health insurer (including Medicare or Medicaid) likely has one, too. I am experienced with investigating and negotiating the various types of liens involved in personal injury litigation to maximize what goes in your pocket.