North Carolina Supreme Court Discusses Whether Defendant Can Use Insurance Payment as Credit Against Judgment in Car Accident Case

If you are hurt in a car accident, you probably are wondering whether you can receive benefits through any applicable insurance policies as well as compensation in a civil claim. The answer largely depends on many factors and your specific situation. There are a number of rules that insurers and injured parties must follow, which can get confusing for many people who simply want to move on with their lives. At Maurer Law, our Raleigh car accident lawyers can help you understand your rights after an accident. We will negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and make sure that you receive the full amount of insurance benefits and compensation that you deserve.

In a recent opinion, the North Carolina Supreme Court considered whether a lower court made a mistake when it credited a payment made to the plaintiff pursuant to his own underinsured motorist coverage against the judgment that he obtained from the person who caused the accident that injured him. At the time the plaintiff and defendant were involved in the crash, the plaintiff had an insurance policy that included underinsured motorist coverage with a limit of $250,000 per person. The defendant also had an insurance policy that had a liability limit of $100,000 per person.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury complaint against the defendant, stating that the defendant was responsible for the crash and sought damages for past and future medical bills, lost wages, permanent injuries, and more. The jury returned a verdict finding that the defendant was negligent and awarded the plaintiff $263,000 in damages for his personal injuries. A few months later, his insurance company issued a check in the amount of $145,000 pursuant to his auto policy.

The defendant filed a motion asking the court to determine whether the damages award from the trial should be offset by the insurance benefit proceeds as well as some other payments the plaintiff had received. The lower court entered an order stating that the parties agree that the defendant was allowed to credit other payments against the judgment. It relied on the fact that the plaintiff’s insurer had waived its right to be subrogated to the plaintiff’s rights against the defendant.

The plaintiff appealed, and the appellate court reached a divided decision but ultimately affirmed the lower court’s treatment of the other payments as a credit against the judgment. The issue was then sent to the North Carolina Supreme Court to determine how the payments should be treated. Ultimately, the Supreme Court concluded that the payments that the plaintiff received from his insurance company should not be treated as credits against the judgment. The court saw no reason to treat the defendant differently, simply based on the fact that the insurer waived its right to subrogation.

If you were hurt in a car accident, you do not need to navigate the insurance claims and legal process by yourself. At Maurer Law, you can work with a Raleigh car accident lawyer to seek the benefits and compensation that you deserve for your injuries. For a free consultation, call 1-888-258-1087 now or contact us online.

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