Auto Insurance Claims in North Carolina: Damage Caps and Time Limits


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Auto insurance claims in North Carolina are regulated by a set of laws that govern the amount of money that can be awarded and the time in which a personal injury suit must be filed. While insurance companies are also usually held to the same standards as those applicable to courts.

Compensatory Damages Explained

Unlike other states, in auto insurance claims in NC courts group all damages into “compensatory damages.” This single title refers to both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are those damages that compensate the injured party for tangible expenses incurred as a result of the accident. Noneconomic damages refer to other expenses, such as pain and suffering, which are not calculated based on receipts or other specified costs. There is no maximum amount an injured party can obtain in an auto insurance claim or lawsuit in North Carolina.

Punitive Damage Caps

North Carolina allows punitive damages to be levied against a wrongdoing party when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the party acted with malice. However, the amount of these awards is limited by statute. North Carolina statutes clearly state that punitive damages cannot exceed the greater of 1) two times compensatory damages or 2) $250,000. Compensatory damages include the aggregated damage awards for economic and noneconomic damages.

Statute of Limitations

North Carolina has established a statute of limitations during which a personal injury lawsuit must be filed to be considered by a court. This statute provides an injured party with three years to file his lawsuit or claim without it being denied or dismissed from court. This three year limit also applies to any property damage caused by the accident. However, a wrongful death suit must be filed or made within two years of the death of the individual.

While these rules do not expressly state that they are applicable to an insurance company, most insurance companies will abide by them for the sake of uniformity. Therefore, to avoid a claim being denied or a case being dismissed in court, an injured party or a party claiming the wrongful death of a family member must be brought within three or two years, respectively.

Getting Legal Help

If you are involved in an auto accident claim or lawsuit, seek legal assistance. An attorney will review the facts of your case, inform you about North Carolina laws regarding time limits and damage awards and advise you about the best course to take to obtain compensation for your injuries.

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