Chapter 4: Vehicle and Personal Property Damage Claims
Property damage claims are typically the first claims to be handled by the insurance carrier. While property loss is far less important than personal injury, the two claims are treated as two entirely separate types of claims in North Carolina. Thus, it is safe to handle property damage claims and be paid in full for all property loss immediately after the accident, and accepting property damage payment will not harm your right to be paid later for personal injury.
Lawyers Are Typically Not Necessary
If you have questions regarding specific property damage issues, personal injury attorneys should be happy to answer these questions through a free legal consultation. If you were injured and do hire a lawyer, your lawyer should gladly assist you with property damage claims with no legal fee for this service. Since the lawyer’s involvement typically would not increase the property damage payment, it simply doesn’t make sense to pay a lawyer any fee to help. If your injury lawyer does seek a fee for property damage, you should handle this portion of your case independently and without counsel. Frankly, a full-service personal injury lawyer should always stand ready to help you with no charge if this is your preference.
Property damage claims are relatively simple, and insurance companies have virtually no wiggle room to avoid payment. Our former insurance commissioner, Jim Long, and his staff worked hard to establish rules and guidelines that compel insurers to pay fairly for vehicle repairs and total loss claims. Simply put, you can expect the adjuster to provide full and fair payment on property damage claims. This is because our law now forces them to make fair payment. If property damage adjusters could underpay you, they would. Please understand that the adjuster’s open and fair dealings in the property damage claims do not mean that you will be treated fairly in the injury arena. The opposite is true. Injury adjusters have discretion and latitude to avoid payment, and they will not help you build your injury evidence or simply volunteer proper payment.
While you may not need a lawyer to handle your property damage claims, it is important to understand what the insurance company truly owes you. This chapter takes you through the property damage claim process in detail, explaining exactly what you are entitled to, what types of claims can be presented, and what type of documentation will be involved in the car repair and total loss claim process.