I DON’T WANT TO SUE ANYONE. IS FILING A CLAIM THE RIGHT THING TO DO?
A: As a kid, I spent a lot of time on the water. I remember seeing a sign at a local marina that read, “DO RIGHT.” Simple and to the point, the message was clear. It was a message worth remembering. It is true that some folks want to do whatever they can get away with; but most of us want to do what is right. Most people who are injured in auto accidents want to do the right thing.
Filing a claim with the insurance company of the driver responsible for causing the accident is the right thing to do. First, filing is what the injured person is legally required to do. Second, it is the law, for fair and logical reasons.
Someone has to pay for the damage when a driver makes a mistakeand injures another person. Someone has to pay for the medical bills, lost wages, and permanent impairment. Who should pay?
Should it be the innocent driver—the person who was minding his own business and obeying all of the traffic laws? Should it be the state or federal government? Should the doctors, nurses, chiropractors, and other medical professionals have to volunteer their time, their resources, and their effort? No. It only makes sense that the insurance policy purchased by the responsible driver should pay for the damage.
Here are some things we often hear: “That is what is wrong withthis country. Everybody wants to sue everybody else” or “People are always looking for a handout” or “People should take responsibility for their own actions and handle their own responsibilities.” he law in North Carolina that relates to auto injuries is built on the premise that people should take responsibility for their own actions. As a civilized society, we have rejected archaic systems of justice and accountability such “as an eye for an eye.” We don’t form a mob and go to the responsible driver’s home and break his leg in retaliation. We simply require that driver to purchase insurance and then require their insurance company to pay for the damage that they have caused.
Isn’t that how it should be? For example, let’s say a father and his son are playing baseball in their yard. The son overthrows the father. CRASH! —The ball goes through the neighbor’s window. Does the man pull his cap down tightly over his eyes and escape quickly to the garage? Does he say to the neighbor, “Your window is in the wrong place!” or “Your window was already cracked.” No, of course not.The man would go next door and ring the doorbell. “I am sorry. We broke your window. We will pay to replace it and we apologize for the inconvenience.” That is what most of us would do, and what each of us would want in a civilized society. Each of us is responsible for paying for the damage we cause. That is what the law requires. That principle is the foundation for personal injury law in North Carolina.
And, since most of us don’t have a pile of money lying around in case we make a mistake that injures another person, lawmakers and judges have made sure that owners and operators of automobiles are legally required to purchase liability insurance. The liability insurance exists to pay when we make a mistake and injure another person. The liability insurance company employs adjusters to handle claims brought by injured people. In fact, it is the adjuster who calls the injured person immediately after an accident.