Insurance companies are for-profit companies that have a vested interest in denying personal injury claims, and many of them have gotten quite good at it. At Myers Law Firm, we’ve represented accident victims for decades, and we’ve dealt with all the tactics and strategies that insurance companies tend to use time and again when defending cases.
In this article, we’ll share some of the knowledge we’ve gained and outline the most common ways that insurance companies try to deny or devalue claims from injured victims in North Carolina.
Shifting the Blame to You
North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, which means an accident victim cannot receive damages if his or her own negligence contributed to the accident. This means that in our state, if a court finds you are even 1 percent at fault for the accident that injured you, you can’t receive compensation for your injuries.
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What this means in practice is that the other driver’s insurance company will often try to convince you that your claim has no value because your actions played some role in the accident. However, just because they tell you that you were at fault and deny your claim doesn’t give them the final word. It simply means that you need to get a lawyer who can evaluate your case and help you examine your legal options to get fair compensation for your injuries.
If the insurance company denies your claim for a minor mistake you made, contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. An experienced injury lawyer should be able to evaluate the facts of your case, examine how the law applies, and create a strategy that addresses the insurance company’s contributory negligence defense.
Focusing on a Pre-Existing Medical Condition
Most personal injury claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. This means that you must show that not only did the other party do something reckless or irresponsible but also that their irresponsible actions caused your injuries. One way that insurance companies often try to dispute personal injury claims is by capitalizing on the second requirement and arguing that the victim’s injury was pre-existing rather than caused by the negligent party.
RELATED ARTICLE: Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Personal Injury Claims?
For example, suppose you were stopped at a red light when another car suddenly rear-ended you. In the past, you had occasionally complained of back pain to your doctor and visited a chiropractor for relief. A post-accident MRI shows new degenerative changes in your spine along with a disc herniation (which is where the gel-like inside of a spinal disc pushes through its fibrous exterior, causing pain and nerve damage).
Next, the insurance company combs through your medical records prior to the wreck and looks for any little thing they can blame your injuries on besides the collision. It doesn’t matter that you’ve had no health problems or injury issues for a long time prior to the wreck. The insurance company denies your claim, arguing that your herniated disc was present before the injury.
So how can you respond to this argument? Unfortunately, proving that an injury didn’t exist before a crash or that a crash made an injury worse can be a tricky and complex process. The best option is to work with an experienced lawyer who can carefully assess your medical records, collaborate with credible expert witnesses, and apply North Carolina’s laws to the facts of your case.
Questioning Your Credibility
After suffering injuries in a wreck and filing a claim, you might feel like you’re the one on trial. Insurance adjusters will scrutinize your motives and credibility, tracking your whereabouts and looking at your social media feeds to find anything they can use against you. If they find inconsistencies in your information — even ones that have innocent explanations — they’ll most likely deny your claim or use that information to offer you a low settlement amount.
It’s always in your best interest to give the insurance company and your doctors honest and accurate information. However, even if you’re being truthful, the insurance company can spin your activities and statements to seem like you have ulterior motives. (That’s why we always recommend that injured victims consult an attorney before they have any post-crash contact with the other driver’s insurance company.)
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Thankfully, a skilled personal injury lawyer should be able to uncover all the relevant evidence so they can help clarify your situation and rebuild your credibility after such a defense. Your lawyer should be able to analyze the facts, point out weaknesses in the surveillance and other data, and help paint a truthful and accurate picture of your situation.
Searching for Procedural Mistakes
Unless you’re familiar with North Carolina civil law procedures, it’s easy to make mistakes that can reduce or eliminate your damages. North Carolina, like all states, has a strict set of rules that you must follow when you file a lawsuit. They include:
- Statutes of limitations: The law creates strict filing deadlines for most types of claims. The statute of limitations for North Carolina negligence claims is typically three years (two years for wrongful death claims).
- Jurisdiction and venue issues: You must file your lawsuit in a court that has the legal authority to hear your claim.
- Insufficient pleadings: In your complaint, you must properly allege a legal claim against the correct parties.
The courts can dismiss your claim due to a single mistake in any of these areas, resulting in your case being delayed or you permanently losing your right to compensation.
Rather than risk losing your claim on a technicality, it’s almost always in your best interest to consult an attorney. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you comply with North Carolina’s litigation processes and avoid costly errors.
Pressuring You to Settle Before You Contact a Lawyer
Sometimes, the insurance adjuster will offer you a settlement and then try to convince you that hiring a personal injury lawyer isn’t worth the expense and effort. Instead, they will say, you should just take the money they offer you and move on with your life.
However, when you negotiate and accept a settlement without help from a skilled injury lawyer, you can miss important claims and undervalue your damages. There’s a very good chance that when you take a settlement offer from the insurance company without talking to a lawyer first, you’ll end up accepting too little and discovering later that your settlement doesn’t cover the full long-term costs of your injuries.
RELATED ARTICLE: How Do I Know if the Insurance Company’s Settlement Offer Is Fair?
Unlike the insurance adjuster, your personal injury lawyer should always have your best interests in mind and strongly advocate on your behalf. At Myers Law Firm, we help our clients calculate their damages accurately and educate them about their legal rights. And when you work with us, you won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless you make a financial recovery.
Myers Law Firm: We Fight for Accident Victims in North Carolina
If someone’s negligence caused injuries to you or a loved one, contact Myers Law Firm for a free, no-risk consultation. We advocate for accident victims in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, demanding justice and fair compensation for their injuries. To schedule an appointment, either call us at 704-376-3000 or complete our online form.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.