Car Accident Bodily Injury Claims
If you are injured in an auto accident in North Carolina, you may be entitled to compensation for the following bodily injury claims:
Damages that can be proven as specific financial losses
- Past and Future Medical Bills
Compensation for medical treatment is typically proven by providing a copy of all medical documentation, including copies of your medical records and bills from ambulance services, doctors, specialists, clinics, and hospitals. Documentation may also include oral or written testimony from your doctors or medical providers—our North Carolina auto accident lawyers will collect these on your behalf.
- Lost Wages
Keep all documents regarding lost wages, such as paycheck stubs, canceled checks, written orders that were unable to be fulfilled, affidavits from customers or employers for whom you could not perform work, tax returns, or any documented difference in what you made before and after the accident. Without proper documentation, you may be unable to prove your lost wages.
- Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Out-of-pocket losses may include transportation costs, prescriptions, medical equipment, daily care, medical or domestic helpers, bandages, wheelchairs, and other similar items. It’s important to keep records of any costs you paid with or without the assistance of your insurance company.
Damages that cannot be proven as specific out-of-pocket losses
- Physical Pain and Mental Suffering/Permanent Disability
You may also be entitled to compensation for scars, disfigurement, and other permanent injuries depending on the specific facts of your case. If a lawsuit is filed for non-economic damages, either a judge or a jury must decide the total amount of these losses—there is no exact formula for the calculation of these items.
As your North Carolina auto accident attorneys, it’s our job to attempt to quantify and explain these losses by using photographs, videos, testimonies from friends, family, doctors, and medical providers.
Medical Payments Coverage
Medical payments coverage—or “med pay”—is an additional type of coverage that you may have purchased as part of your auto insurance policy to help cover medical bills in the event of an accident.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be able to collect med pay from:
- your own insurance policy,
- the insurance policy that covered the car you were riding in at the time of the wreck,
- or the insurance policies of family members who live in your house (with some exceptions).
This coverage is available to you regardless of who was at fault in the wreck. Even if you were negligent and caused the wreck, you can still collect med pay. A North Carolina auto accident attorney at Henson Fuerst can help you determine if you can collect med-pay benefits.
How to Collect Med Pay Coverage
To collect med pay, you need to submit copies of your medical bills to the insurance carrier. We can help you gather and submit the documents you need to:
- Collect Your Med Pay Coverage
Your insurance company should pay you the amount of your medical bills, up to the limit of your coverage. Many policies have $1,000 or $2,000 of med pay coverage, while others have up to $10,000.
- Collect Med Pay Coverage from More Than One Policy
In some circumstances, it’s possible to collect med pay from more than one policy. If your medical bills exceed the amount of the med pay coverage on the vehicle you were riding in at the time of the wreck, you may be able to submit an “excess med pay” claim to your own insurance policy (if it is different than the policy of the car you were riding in at the time of the wreck) or to a family member’s insurance policy.
There are a number of rules and exceptions that you must navigate to make sure you get all of the benefits you’re owed. Our North Carolina auto accident attorneys can help.
Collision & Comprehensive Coverage
Collision property damage coverage pays to fix or replace your car in the event that your vehicle is damaged in a car wreck—whether the accident is your fault or the fault is disputed. In North Carolina, collision coverage is not required and is only provided if the insured chooses to pay for this optional coverage.
If you are involved in a wreck where a property damage claim is being made against you or where the insurance companies are fighting over who is responsible for the accident, you may need to consider making a claim against your own collision coverage. In such cases, it’s usually fastest and easiest to make a claim against your own insurance policy in order to get your car fixed or replaced.
Comprehensive Property Damage Coverage
When your car is damaged in an accident other than a car accident through no fault of your own, you will need to make a claim under the comprehensive property damage coverage of your auto policy—also known as “other than collision” coverage. This coverage may include damage caused by:
- broken glass,
- explosions or earthquakes,
- falling objects or projectiles,
- hail, water, or floods,
- thefts or larceny,
- or windstorms.
Under both collision and comprehensive coverage, there is typically a deductible amount, which means that your insurance company will pay you for the amount of damage done to your car, less the deductible amount.
The Negotiation Process
Generally, before we file a lawsuit on your behalf, our North Carolina auto accident attorneys will attempt to negotiate with the insurance company to reach a settlement. In the majority of cases we handle, we do not begin negotiating your case until you’re done healing. This way, we are aware of all of the damages and losses related to your injuries and how those damages will affect your quality of life.
At Henson Fuerst, it’s our goal to resolve your case for the maximum value in the quickest possible time; however, sometimes it takes longer to negotiate a case to its ultimate value. It’s important to note that each case is different, and there is no fixed timeline. Get help today by calling (919) 781-1107 or completing a free initial consultation form.
Materials Needed to Negotiate
To maximize the settlement value of your case in the shortest amount of time, it’s critical that all pertinent materials are sent to the insurance company at the beginning of the process. These materials include:
- copies of all related medical records and bills,
- documentation of lost wages,
- and photographs of your injuries.
Depending on the case, our North Carolina auto accident lawyers may send additional materials, such as:
- impact statements from people who have seen how the wreck affected you,
- photographs of the roadway or vehicles involved,
- permanent impairment ratings from your physicians,
- estimates of necessary future medical care,
- and reports from experts, such as life care planners or economists.
Any materials that explain how the injury has changed your life can affect the insurance adjuster’s evaluation of your claim.
Insurance Adjuster’s Evaluation
Once all materials have been sent to the insurance adjuster, it typically takes the adjuster several weeks to review them. During this time, many insurance companies also have your file reviewed by the adjuster’s supervisor, nurses, doctors, and claims evaluators. The total review by the insurance company usually takes two to six weeks.
Once the adjuster is ready to negotiate, we begin “trading numbers”:
- The adjuster makes an offer on your case.
He or she cites the reasons why that amount of compensation is appropriate.
- Your attorney will contact you.
We will review the offer and explain the positive and negative elements of the insurance adjuster’s offer.
- We counter-offer—or make a demand.
Your North Carolina auto accident attorney will then respond to the adjuster with a number you and your attorney believe is appropriate. This process typically goes through several rounds.
- The insurance company makes a “final offer.”
At that point, we meet with you to explain all of the alternatives, along with the risks and benefits of each option, so you can make an informed and educated decision about whether to settle your claim or consider filing a lawsuit.
Seeing the Doctor
Depending on the severity of your accident and initial injuries, you will either see an emergency room doctor or your primary care physician. Regardless, the North Carolina auto accident lawyers at Henson Fuerst recommend you see a doctor immediately after your accident.
When you talk to doctors, make sure they understand the full extent of your injuries:
- Tell them everything that is bothering you.
- Don’t be embarrassed.
- Don’t feel like you’re complaining.
Our North Carolina auto accident lawyers have found that many emergency room doctors and primary care physicians are overworked and rush to treat patients so they can move on to the next patient. That means they may fail to consider all of the underlying problems that you may be having. Make sure that your doctors take the time to consider all of your injuries and concerns.
Paying for Your Care
Every time you visit doctors, hospitals, or clinics, provide them with your health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid information, and ask them to submit those bills to your health insurance carrier immediately. It’s important that your medical bills are submitted to your health insurance carrier for two reasons:
- To Get Medical Treatment
Most doctors will not see you if you don’t have insurance or can’t afford to pay for the medical bills out of your own pocket. If you are hurt, you need to get medical treatment immediately.
- To Pay Medical Bills Quickly
Many doctors will refuse to continue treatment if their bills haven’t been paid. Avoid this problem by having your health insurance pay the bills quickly.
Billed vs. Paid Medical Treatment
Due to legislation passed by the North Carolina Legislature, for all cases that occur after October 1, 2011, you can no longer submit to a jury your full billed amount of medical bills if your health insurance is paying the bills for you. Instead, you can only submit what actually was or will be paid on the bills—or only the actual amount paid or will be paid to your medical provider by your insurance company after adjustments.
Because many medical providers have contracts with health insurance companies, healthcare providers agree to accept a lower amount of payment from the insurance company for medical treatment administered. This practice is known as an “adjustment.” These adjustments affect your case by lowering the amount of damages you can claim for your medical bills.
Despite these reductions in the amount that you may claim as medical bills, in the vast majority of cases, we still recommend that our clients submit all of their medical bills to their health insurance. This is the best way to ensure that you have access to medical care and that your bills are paid. We recommend that you talk with one of our lawyers for a more detailed explanation on this complicated law change. Contact the Raleigh auto accident lawyers at Henson Fuerst by calling (919) 781-1107 or completing a free initial consultation form. We’re here to protect your best interests.