You have been hurt in an automobile accident and it is not your fault. What are you entitled to recover?
This is a telephone call we routinely get after a person has been involved in an accident causing them injury. While each case is different, I would like to discuss a basic answer for the above question.
The liability insurance company that insures the responsible party is generally supposed to reimburse you for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
I will discuss each of these elements of damages individually below.
Prior to October 1, 2011, you would be reimbursed by the liability insurance company dollar for dollar for any medical bill you incurred as a result of the accident. On October 1, 2011, our North Carolina Legislature enacted a law as part of a Tort Reform Package which now only requires the liability insurance company to reimburse you for medical bills that were actually paid, and/or owed. For example, if you had health insurance and they paid a discounted amount on the bill, the liability insurance company would only have to reimburse you for that discounted amount. In essence, you are penalized by the fact that you have health insurance. If you do not health insurance, the entire bill should be reimbursed by the liability carrier.
The liability insurance company is supposed to pay you for any wages that you lost as a result of being out of work. The liability insurance company cannot consider that you had sick leave or vacation leave in reimbursing you for your lost wages. The liability insurance company usually requires clear documentation and verification by an employer when reimbursing you for your lost wages.
Pain and Suffering:
Obviously, when you are in a significant accident, your life is disrupted, whether it is you having to get continued medical treatment, or, the fact that you are unable to do your normal activities without pain. This is an area that the liability insurance company is required to consider when settling your claim. Unlike medical bills and lost wages, pain and suffering can be hard to quantify and it is usually an area of disagreement with the liability insurance company.
A liability insurance company will consider all of the above-referenced damages, and will make a lump sum offer, which will be paid only after you sign a complete release, releasing them from any further payments. Once a release is signed, you are barred from ever obtaining any additional compensation from the liability insurance company.
Again, it is important to note that the above discussion only covers the basic damages in a North Carolina personal injury case. There are other elements of damages that can be considered if presented in serious injury cases, including, prospective lost wages, permanent disability, and disfigurement.
Normally, after you have been injured in an accident, it is a good idea to contact an attorney to find out your rights. In most cases, the initial contact and initial consultation with an attorney is free when it involves a personal injury case.
Talk with a Personal Injury Lawyer in Wendell
Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas has experienced personal injury lawyers on staff in Raleigh and Wendell, NC. If you or someone you know has suffered serious personal injury on another’s property, we are glad to speak to you about it. Our consultation is free and we are happy to discuss your options with you. Feel free to give us a call at 919-615-2473. Request a case review today!
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