If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you may have been told that you have a “claim.” Many injured North Carolinians use this term without really understanding what it means. All they know is that the at-fault driver’s insurance company is sometimes willing to pay compensation for such “claims.” A “claim” is the right to demand compensation from an at-fault driver’s insurer because he or she caused your injuries. Claims exist so that you can file a negligence lawsuit against the at-fault driver if the insurer won’t pay. If you win, the jury awards a verdict and the at-fault driver’s insurance company must pay the verdict amount. The jury can award up to the liability limit contained in the at-fault driver’s policy. An insurer may offer to settle prior to the filing of a lawsuit to avoid paying for a defense attorney.
In order to get a fair settlement from the insurance company prior to suit, it is important that your attorneys present the case properly. The first thing you must do is convince the insurer why its insured is responsible, i.e. what he or she did wrong. In rear-end automobile collision cases, “liability” is relatively straight forward. In other cases, it may not be so obvious. For instance, our firm earlier this year obtained a $200,000.00 settlement for a man injured in a motorcycle wreck caused by his mechanic failing to adequately torque a bolt on the caliper of his motorcycle. We hired an accident reconstruction engineer who provided an opinion that the bolt had not been torqued properly and that the mechanic’s failure to do so had caused the injury. The mechanic’s insurer paid what we and our client considered fair compensation prior to the filing of a lawsuit.
The second thing you must establish with the insurer is “damages.” This word is simply a legal term that means “how have you been hurt.” The first place to start is usually hospital, pharmaceutical, and other medical costs. You may also have missed out on wages or other compensation you could have earned if not for your injuries. Then, there are the other ways you’ve been hurt – such as your physical and mental pain and suffering and temporary or permanent disability. These damages are not subject to an exact calculation, but insurers know the obvious – the more serious the injury, the more a jury would likely award.
Ultimately, negotiating with the insurance company is a matter of forecasting the evidence that would be shown to a jury in an automobile negligence trial. Juries have to answer at least two questions in every automobile trial:
- Was the defendant negligent?
- What amount of damages does the insurance company owe?
You or your attorneys job in negotiating with the insurer is to show what you believe the jury would decide and why.
Representation for Automobile Negligence
The Raleigh lawyers of Maginnis Law represent North Carolinians in a variety of personal injury cases, including automobile negligence cases. While we typically attempt to negotiate pre-litigation, if the insurer fails to offer you fair compensation, we will file suit on your behalf and proceed to trial if necessary. Our firm offers free consultations from our Raleigh office. We also offer a contingency fee arrangement for any negligence case we accept. This means you don’t pay unless we win.
To discuss your automobile negligence claim, call us at (919) 526-0450 or send a confidential email through our contact page.