Sometimes, the most important losses in a New Hanover County vehicle collision are the damages to your car and other personal property. This is, in fact, great news: it means nobody suffered a serious physical injury or fatality from the incident.
Only one problem remains. You want your stuff back.
North Carolina liability law
The law of liability in North Carolina is clear. While some North Carolina traffic accidents are purely matters of coincidence, many more occur because someone fails to take the prudent level that is required while driving motor vehicles. If you have suffered a loss because of the negligent or malicious actions of another person, then that person has a responsibility to make things right again. He owes it to you to restore you and your possessions to the condition they enjoyed before the accident.
When we consider property damage as a result of a traffic accident, the most significant claim you are likely to have is the damage to your vehicle. Other personal property with significant value—such as a laptop computer—can be damaged or destroyed in a traffic collision as well, of course.
Enter: the insurance companies
In most cases, the responsibility for repairing any damage to your car will be passed on to the company which provides auto insurance to the driver at fault in the crash. However, if that driver does not carry sufficient insurance coverage, you may have to collect compensation under the uninsured and underinsured motorist provisions of your own car insurance policy.
Depending on the provisions of the insurance policy, you—or the insurance adjuster—may need to get two or three estimates of how much money it will take to repair your vehicle. If a repair is financially viable, the adjuster will offer you a settlement based on the lowest estimate plus incidental costs, such as the expense of towing your car to the repair center and the cost of a rental vehicle while repairs are underway.
If repairs would be too expensive, the insurance adjuster will probably "total" your vehicle by paying you the value of the car before the accident, adjusted for the vehicle's age and condition. Each insurance company has its own rules for when repairs are too expensive, but the cost of repairs usually must exceed half the car's market value. When the insurance company totals your car, it takes possession of the vehicle for salvage; you get a check for the market value (minus any deductible amount, if your own insurance company is compensating you).
Are you getting a fair deal?
Vehicle repairs after a traffic accident are routine matters for insurance companies. Except in extraordinary cases, insurance adjusters know the amount of money they authorize to be paid will be relatively modest, and so they do not go to great lengths to take advantage of claimants. If you believe you are getting a fair deal from the insurance company, you can go ahead and accept the settlement offer.
However, there may be occasions in which the guidance of a North Carolina traffic accident law firm will best serve your interests. This is especially true if you have suffered physical injuries as well as property damage, and your personal attention is best reserved for obtaining the medical care you urgently need.
If you believe the settlement you have been offered for your damaged vehicle or other property is not sufficient, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit in Wilmington to seek the recovery you deserve. Contact the Speaks Law Firm today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 to schedule a FREE consultation to learn how we have helped other clients in the past.