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Understanding North Carolina automobile insurance-Part I

Most residents of Wake County who drive carry valid motor vehicle insurance under the assumption that in the event of a car accident, their losses will be taken care of by their insurance carrier or by the carrier for the other driver. However, in many cases, the insurance companies try to avoid paying for damages following a car accident. It is important to have knowledge of the rights of North Carolina residents with respect to motor vehicle insurance.

According to North Carolina contributory negligence law, a driver who is partially at fault cannot collect personal injury damages from the other driver or the other driver's insurance company. After an accident, an insurance adjuster typically investigates the accident in order to establish who was at fault or whose negligence caused the crash. The injured party does not have to accept the adjuster's determination, however. The injured party has the right to go to court and try to prove the other party was at fault.

Following a car accident, it is the responsibility of the insurance carrier for the at-fault driver to repair the car if possible, subject to any deductible. However, insurance companies may not respect the car owner's wishes for a repair facility of their choice, and the car owner may have to pay the difference for repairs that the insurance company could have completed at a lower cost from another motor vehicle repair shop.

An insurance company cannot use after-market parts to repair a car if it affects the fit, quality, performance or warranty of the car. If it does not affect the vehicle, it can be included in the estimates. A driver may refuse the use of after-market parts in his or her car, but may need to pay any additional costs.

Source:, "A Consumer's Guide to Automobile Insurance from Your North Carolina Department of Insurance," Accessed on Feb. 27, 2015

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John McCabe wrote "The Investigation and Analysis of Personal Injury Cases" in the best-selling book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina. This is the book that other lawyers follow in handling personal injury cases.

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