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 simply the right to demand compensation from an at-fault driver’s automobile insurance company because he or she negligently caused you injuries. The reason a “claim” exists is because if the insurance company doesn’t voluntarily pay compensation, you can file a negligence lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If you win and a jury awards a verdict, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will be responsible for paying the amount the jury gives, up to the liability limit contained in the at-fault driver’s policy. To avoid having to pay a defense attorney for a case that it’s likely to lose, an insurer may offer to settle prior to the filing of a lawsuit.
For you to obtain maximum compensation from the insurance company prior to suit, it is important that your case be properly presented. 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 that was 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: #1 – was the defendant negligent and #2 – what amount of damages is the plaintiff entitled to? You or your attorneys job in negotiating with the insurer is to show what you believe the jury would decide and why.
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 pay no attorneys’ fees unless and until we either settle your claim or obtain a judgment in court.
To discuss your North Carolina automobile negligence claim, contact attorney Shawn Howard at 919.480.8526 or send a confidential email inquiry using our contact page. Maginnis Law represents injured North Carolinians throughout the Triangle, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Apex, Wake Forest, Garner, Holly Springs, and Zebulon.