In this car accident claims article, our lawyer covered 5 reasons why your car accident claim in North Carolina might be denied.
Here are 5 more reasons:
As a state with at-fault automobile insurance laws, North Carolina places financial responsibility for damages on the driver who causes the accident. The driver and/or passengers injured by the at-fault driver will turn to that driver’s insurance policy to recover compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and other losses.
Unfortunately, approval of a car accident claim is not guaranteed. A claimant may need to consult a car accident attorney about what to expect. Without legal guidance, the following reasons for denials could blindside a person who anticipates an insurance settlement.
1. Inactive Insurance Policy
When a driver skips a payment, the policy lapses. The sheet of paper presented at the accident scene may look valid, but, once the insurance claim goes through, the adjuster has the perfect reason to deny the car accident claim. There is simply no coverage in effect at the time of the crash.
2. Insufficient Insurance Coverage
North Carolina sets minimum coverage amounts for automobile policies. According to G.S. 20-279.21, a policy must provide minimum coverage of:
- $30,000 for bodily injury of one person
- $60,000 for bodily injury of two or more people
- $25,000 for property damage
- $30,000/$60,000 for uninsured motorist bodily injury
- $25,000 for uninsured motorist property damage
Drivers frequently choose policies with the minimum coverage required by law to keep their premiums low. In this day and age, these minimums could easily fall short of covering a victim’s expenses after a bad wreck. Severe motor vehicle accidents can produce six or seven figures worth of medical bills and lost income.
A letter citing coverage limits amounts to a partial denial. The insurer can only approve the claim up to the available coverage.
3. Excluded Driver
Auto owners have the option of specifically excluding a driver from a policy. An accident caused by a driver who was named as excluded on the vehicle owner’s policy will result in a claim denial. The policy does not cover the person behind the wheel of that vehicle.
In the absence of a named exclusion on the policy, an insurer might deny a claim if it determined that the driver did not have permission to drive that vehicle.
4. Sudden Emergency Doctrine
The sudden emergency doctrine can relieve a party responsible for a crash if an unforeseeable emergency, not caused by the driver, forced the driver to do something that injured someone else. An example of a sudden emergency could be when a vehicle veers in front of a driver on the freeway, and the driver swerves to avoid a collision but then hits another vehicle. That scenario might meet the criteria of a sudden emergency, and the insurer may avoid payment.
5. Contributory Negligence
Insurers in North Carolina have a big friend in the state’s contributory negligence law. Claim denial letters are very likely to cite this reason for refusing to pay. Contributory negligence prevents collection of compensation when drivers bear any amount of fault for the crash.
Many issues could undermine a victim’s ability to place all blame on the other driver, such as:
- Speeding, even slightly
- Pre-existing medical condition
- Proof of driver distraction
Even seemingly innocent comments made during an accident investigation could give an adjuster ammunition to leverage contributory negligence law.
For this reason, representation from a North Carolina car accident law firm is highly recommended, especially for people facing substantial medical costs. A car accident attorney could challenge unreasonable insurance denials.