Insurance companies in North Carolina do not have a specific amount of time in which they must settle an insurance claim. Instead, state law requires them to settle claims "reasonably promptly".
Even though North Carolina does not require a specific timeframe for the resolution of insurance claims, you still have the right to an efficient settlement. If you think that your insurance company is violating the law or operating unethically, you can file a “bad faith” lawsuit, which can award you the original settlement amount with added interest and penalties.
With that being said, it’s important to remember that several factors can affect exactly how long it takes for an insurance company to settle a claim. For example, severe accidents, claims involving bodily injury, and poor communication between involved parties can all slow down the process.
It usually takes 30 days for insurance to pay out after a car accident. Most car insurance companies try to resolve accident claims as quickly as possible, which typically leads to a payout within a month of a claim being filed. However, it might take longer depending on several factors, including the state, the type of claim being filed, and the severity of damage or injuries.… read full answer
Some states have specific laws dictating how long an insurance company has to make a ruling and pay out on a claim. For example, insurers in California have 40 days to accept or deny a claim and 30 days to issue payment once the settlement has been accepted. And in Texas, insurers must decide on a claim within 45 days and make the payment within five days of approval.
Not all states provide exact timeframes, though. In Massachusetts, for example, insurance companies must pay claims where fault is clear within a “prompt and reasonable” period of time.
Factors That Affect the Claim Timeline
State timeframes for insurance claims (some states are stricter than others)
Type of claim being filed (bodily injury takes longer than property damage)
Extent of physical damage or injuries (severe accidents can take a long time to settle)
Communication between drivers, insurance companies, and adjusters (slow communication delays the claim timeline)
Understanding of policy and coverage (you might think your policy covers you in a situation when it really doesn’t)
Ability to pay insurance deductible (your insurance company won’t pay out until you’ve paid your deductible)
In particular, the type of claim being filed and the extent of the physical damage or injuries involved can significantly impact the payout timeline. Bodily injury claims take the longest to settle because multiple parties are involved, including your doctor, the car insurance company, and your health insurance provider.
Injury settlements usually have to wait until the patient has reached the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is when an individual has made a full recovery or has a full assessment of the extent of their injuries and the expected long-term medical costs. If it takes longer than 30 days for the patient to recover, then the settlement could be pushed back.
Conversely, a straightforward property damage claim where fault is clear can be settled in as little as two weeks.
If Your Insurance Company Is Not Cooperating
Even if your state doesn’t have specific laws establishing a claims timeline, you still have the right to be paid quickly and efficiently by the insurance company. If your insurance company is acting in an unethical manner and delaying payment without a clear reason, you can file a “bad faith” lawsuit. In addition to your original settlement amount, you could be paid extra for interest and penalties.
You can tell who is at fault in a car accident by considering driver and witness statements, dash cam footage, the location of vehicle damage, the position of the vehicles, or any citations issued after the accident. Insurance companies will also use adjustors and accident reconstruction experts to determine fault in car accidents. These expects consider factors such as the point of impact, evidence of sudden acceleration, and the angle of the steering wheel.… read full answer
How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident
Take pictures of the vehicle damage and accident scene.
Find witnesses who saw what happened.
Give your statement to the police and file a report, to aid in their investigation.
Provide the insurance adjuster with all of your evidence and information.
Who Determines Fault After a Car Accident?
When you file a claim after a car accident, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case. Adjustors evaluate all of the evidence related to the accident and determine who is at fault.
Insurance adjusters make this decision using the legal definition of negligence, which is when a driver fails to exercise the same amount of caution that a “reasonable person” would under the same circumstances.
States have different ways of handling at-fault accidents based on the degree of negligence shown by each driver. Each system affects how damages can be awarded differently, too.
State Negligence Laws & Fault in Car Accidents
Expenses are covered based on the degree of responsibility that each driver has for the accident. Used in 12 states, including California and Florida.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Your expenses will only be covered by the other driver’s insurance if you are less than 51% at fault. Used in 33 states, including Texas and Illinois.
You cannot recoup expenses at all if you share any blame for the accident. Used in five states, including Maryland and Virginia, plus the District of Columbia.
How to Make the Fault Determination Process Easier
The more information and evidence that you gather after a car accident, the easier the insurance adjuster’s job will be. Since liability can sometimes come down to your word versus the other driver’s, get the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Also, prior to leaving the scene, take plenty of pictures of the damage to both vehicles, the debris from the accident, and anything in your surroundings that could be relevant.
You might need to call the police and file a report, too, depending on the extent of any injuries and property damage. Officers might issue citations as they investigate the accident, and while a citation doesn’t legally prove who was at fault, it could be used as evidence of negligence in a lawsuit.
No, North Carolina is not a no-fault state. North Carolina is an at-fault (or “tort”) state, which means that the driver who causes an accident uses their insurance to pay for the other driver’s bills from the collision. Police and insurance companies use the available evidence to decide who is at fault for the accident. Then the at-fault driver’s insurance pays to cover the other driver’s damages. Depending on their coverage, they might have insurance for their own damages, too.… read full answer
“Fault” can be shared by drivers – for example, one driver could be 20% responsible for an accident while the second driver is 80% responsible. North Carolina has contributory negligence laws. That means after an accident, you can collect damages proportionate to your fault in causing the crash. For example, if you're 99% at fault, you can get 1% from the other driver.
Why You Should Care That North Carolina is a Tort/Fault State
In tort states like North Carolina, medical coverage only pays out after fault has been determined. That means there are more legal hoops to jump through and a longer waiting period before fault is decided and a driver can get reimbursed. This type of system has other implications for drivers, too, including some that vary by state due to nuances in local car insurance laws.
Here’s what tort insurance means for North Carolina drivers:
Tort insurance is typically cheaper than car insurance in no-fault states.
Drivers can sue the at-fault party for almost any type of loss after their collision. This includes lost wages, emotional distress, and hospital bills that exceed the at-fault driver’s coverage.
You can collect accident damages in proportion to your fault in the accident.
North Carolina has a statute of limitations of 3 years after a car accident. That means you have 3 years from the time of the car accident to sue the at-fault driver, or vice versa.
North Carolina vs. Other Tort/Fault States
Average Car Insurance Premium
$511 per year
$802 per year
$877 per year
Statute of Limitations
Rank Among Tort States (1 = cheapest)
Note: Rates are an approximation based on a North Carolina driver with minimum coverage and a clean driving record. Actual rates will vary.
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