If you’ve been in an accident and your vehicle has been damaged or totaled, you’re probably wondering who is responsible for paying damages after a car accident.
The answer is almost always automobile liability insurance. In North Carolina, car insurance covers property damage and injuries in the case of an auto accident that is your fault. If the accident was another driver’s fault, you will likely be dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance unless they have no coverage or insufficient coverage. In that case, you may have to deal with your own insurance to get money from your uninsured/underinsured coverage on your own policy.
If you’re unsure how to pursue these sources, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. The right personal injury lawyer can assist you by evaluating your case and helping you formulate a plan of action. Most personal injury lawyers don’t charge to talk to you, so it’s almost always a good idea to at least talk to one before agreeing to or signing anything from an insurance company.
Why Choose Lakota Denton
Lakota Denton is a trial lawyer in Asheville, North Carolina, who fights for the rights of injured people. He has won numerous jury trials for his clients.
Lakota has practiced law in Asheville since 2011. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Keene State College in New Hampshire in 2000 and played professional soccer after graduation. In 2011, he graduated Cum Laude from Western New England University School of Law, where he was a member of the American Association for Justice Moot Court Team. He also won the following awards during his time in law school:
- The CALI Excellence for the Future Award for Labor Law
- The Edward Cooley Award for Excellence in Labor Law
- The CALI Excellence for the Future Award for Trial Methods.
In 2013, Lakota started practicing in his own law firm. His sole focus is on personal injury law, including the following practice areas:
- Brain injury
- Car accidents
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Personal injury
- Truck accidents
- Wrongful death
- Fluoride accidents
- Negligent safety
- Pedestrian accidents
- Workers’ compensation
- Wrongful death.
Currently, Lakota is a member of the following:
- The American Association of Justice
- The North Carolina Bar Association
- The North Carolina Advocates for Justice
- The American Bar Association
- The National Trial Lawyers.
He has also received the following awards:
- 2014 Top 40 Lawyers Under 40
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers
- Avvo Clients’ Choice Award.
Lakota has had the following speaking engagements:
- Chair of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ) personal injury basics seminar on November 15 in Cary, NC
- Speaker at the National Business Institute’s Evidence seminar in September 2019 in Asheville, NC
- Speaker at the National Business Institute’s Auto Injury Litigation seminar on February 28, Charlotte, NC
- Speaker at the Asheville Paralegals Association Luncheon
- Member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Auto Torts leadership team in 2017.
He has participated in the following campaigns:
- “Serve Save, Drink Safe, Do the Right Thing” — Asheville Alcohol Safety Campaign
- “Slow down, Asheville” — Pedestrian Safety Campaign.
What Happens if the Insurance Company Won’t Pay Enough To Replace My Car?
It’s not uncommon for a driver and an adjuster to be at odds about how much compensation is appropriate for vehicle damage. Remember: an insurance adjuster’s job is to minimize the money they pay out on claims, and that applies to vehicle damage as well as injuries.
One of the larger challenges our law firm sees concerns cars that were damaged or totaled shortly after being purchased new from a dealer. You might say, “I bought this car a week ago for $25,000, so why aren’t they offering the purchase price?”
The answer is simple — once you drive your car off the lot, it immediately goes down in value. The insurance company will offer you the actual used value for your car, which is considerably less than you paid for it, even though it is essentially still new. This can leave many people making payments on a totaled car, because they’re still on the hook for the difference between what they owe and what they were offered.
This is why we recommend getting guaranteed auto protection or gap insurance as part of your new car purchase. Designed for just this situation, gap insurance will pay off the difference so you’re not “underwater” on your car loan. Gap insurance is also great for the following circumstances:
- You are buying a vehicle of significant value.
- You are buying a used or new vehicle without a large down payment.
- You do not have enough cash savings to cover the difference between the actual cash value and the amount you owe on your loan if your car is totaled or stolen.
You can buy gap insurance from your dealer or insurance companies.
Fair Market Value
If your car is totaled and the insurance company is not offering “fair market value,” your first step is to pull comparisons (or comps) from reputable used car sites and submit them to the insurance company as a way to show them the fair market value.
Be sure to find comps that are as similar as possible to yours regarding model, year, mileage, and optional features. This way, you are armed with a third-party assessment as a way to manage a discrepancy between your opinion and an adjuster’s. If an agreement on value cannot be reached, you may need to hire an expert to help you prove your car’s value.
A reliable personal injury lawyer can arrange this for you, since it’s part of getting the proper compensation value when there is a disagreement regarding a vehicle’s worth.
What a Car Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
If your car has been damaged or totaled after an accident, North Carolina personal injury lawyer Lakota Denton is here to help. Tenacious, knowledgeable, and compassionate, he can help you get the justice you deserve. Specifically, he will:
Tell You the Fair Value of Your Claim
Lakota can thoroughly analyze your claim to determine the amount you deserve for your damaged or totaled car. He will help you . . .
- Find comps and experts to prove your car’s market value
- Pinpoint other damages that you may be entitled to claim, such as your past, present, and future medical expenses, permanent disabilities, loss of income from missed work, diminished quality of life, and loss of property.
Handle Communications with Insurers
Talking to insurers can be tiring, especially when your car has been damaged or totaled. It’s especially stressful if you’re dealing with excruciating pain from the accident on top of that. What’s more, insurers usually don’t have your best interests in mind. As such, they may pressure you into accepting lowball payments.
Fortunately, Lakota can handle all communications on your behalf so you can focus on recovering from your physically and emotionally stressful accident. He will determine whether the insurer’s settlement offer is reasonable and fight for the amount you deserve.
Go To Trial
If an insurer refuses to agree to a fair settlement, Lakota will prepare to represent you in court to seek justice.
Ensure You Meet Deadlines on Time
If you decide to go to trial, you must be aware of North Carolina’s statute of limitations, which requires you to file your car accident claim within three years of the date of the accident. Failing to meet these deadlines may bar you from seeking compensation in court.
Lakota can help you submit all required paperwork on and ahead of time to ensure you meet North Carolina’s deadlines. He will also inform you of other deadlines as needed.
Things to Keep in Mind
Remember, the insurance agency is responsible for paying you fair market value for your damaged car, not what you owe on it or what you think it is worth. Insurers will not consider factors like sentimental value, and customizations and aftermarket upgrades can muddy the waters as well, making it difficult to come to an agreement in certain cases.
In almost all accident scenarios, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury lawyer can ensure you’re handling the situation the best way possible and, if necessary, represent you to help with your medical bills, medical treatments, and property value.
If you have questions, contact us or call us at 828-333-5996. We would be happy to speak with you.