I don't know his policy limit, but I have 100k underinsured coverage. $10,000 in property damage already paid by his insurance company. Around 15k lost wages, and 15k in hospital bills. If I were to assume that his policy limits 100k, what kind of settlement could I expect? Using a multiplier of 3x, it would seem to go over the limit. Can I expect any compensation over his/my policy limit? I read a little about NC punitive damages, but don't think the guy has any personal assets. Thanks in advance
In North Carolina, you can only recover from your underinsured coverage to the extent that it exceeds the coverage of the liable driver. For example, you have $100k in underinsured coverage and the drunk driver has $50k in liability coverage. You, assuming that your case is worth $100k or more, would collect $50k from the drunk driver and then $50k from your own policy. If this person has no personal assets, then you should assume that the insurance coverage is the most you'll ever see in recovery. I'd recommend scheduling a consultation with a local attorney who specializes in car accidents to help you navigate the waters. Cases involving drunk drivers always seem straightforward at the outset, but there are a number of ways that they can go wrong if you do not have an experienced advocate on your side.
You need to speak (and subsequently meet) with a qualified attorney for a free consultation on the matter. Given the potential exposure for punitive damages, if the case involves an "at fault" driver who was driving while impaired/drunk/DWI, you should NOT attempt to handle the case on your own. There are occasions in which it makes sense to resolve a wreck claim without an attorney. If the case involves a DWI, it is NOT one of those occasions.
Best not to play lawyer, but to retain one. Only a personal injury lawyer will obtain maximum Money damages. Why be unrepresented, and settle your claim for a tiny nuisance settlement, and have the liens far exceed your recovery, leaving you owing thousands?
Get thee to counsel to help you as there are many risks in filing for your own underinsurance coverage benefits as well as getting the limits of the drunk drivers policy.
I would not recommend speaking with adjuster yourself. Hiring an attorney will show that you are serious about your claim and being fairly compensated for what you have had to endure.
This answer is being posted as public information for the general public and is not case specific. Brandon R. Roseman is lawyer licensed to practice in North Carolina, laws very between States, you should consult your local laws and a local attorney for specific answers to your particular case. This message is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship and is not being offered as legal advice. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.
It appears you have a good case. Why are you trying to represent yourself? To save on the attorney's fee? Studies have shown that accident victims end up with more money when represented, even after the lawyer's fee is taken into account. If I were you, I'd contact a personal injury lawyer in your area for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and potentiality much to gain.
This answer is intended for informational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of this site. Nothing on this site is intended to be, nor takes the place of, legal advice.
You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. The Guides can be accessed through my profile page on Avvo.com.
If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
Legal Disclaimer: If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
You will not get compensation over his/your policy limit without the assistance of an attorney with extensive experience in motor vehicle negligence cases, who is both willing and able to insist that punitive damages are a significant part of your claim and is prepared to make that argument in front of a jury.
Insurance company adjusters will tell you that the punitive damages claim does not have much value - I disagree and depending upon how egregious the other driver's conduct was (high BAC (blood alcohol content), prior DWIs, physical condition, whether the driver accepts responsibility for the DWI and the crash, etc.), the punitive damages may exceed the value of your claim for medical bills, lost wages and other elements of compensatory damages.
For the purpose of punitives, knowing the other driver's liability limits is important because you cannot recover punitive damages from your UIM coverage. Punitive damages should punish a defendant for his conduct and should also serve as a deterrent to others to engage in similar conduct - personal financial responsibility as a result of a verdict in excess of the policy limits may be the only true deterrent to drunk driving.
You need an attorney to help you with the multiple issues that must be considered, if for no other reason than to tell you there is no such thing as a 3x multiplier when trying to determine the value of your claim - and, if there was a multiplier, 3x might not be large enough considering the claim for punitive damages.
Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about personal injury law.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline