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At fault driver can't be located

(North Carolina)

A drunk driver crossed the center line, hit me head-on and totaled my car. Before he hit me, he caused two other cars to collide to avoid him and sideswiped another car. The driver is uninsured.

The owner of the car is insured. Neither the driver or the owner of the car can be located, at least according to the insurance company of the owner of the car. I used my collision coverage to pay off the car loan. I have one emergency room bill that's in limbo because the owner of the car's insurance company has not accepted or denied coverage.

My insurance company claims their hands are tied until the other insurance company makes a decision. It has been 34 days since I filed the claim. What is the time frame for making a decision about liability? The owner of the car's insurance company says they must make contact with the policy holder. Thanks so much for your help. I'm stuck with an $8,000 emergency room bill and no idea who's going to pay it..


Hello there,

Most of the time, insurance companies have 30 days to make a determination regarding liability and coverage. However, insurance companies are only required explain in writing why they are not making a determination (i.e. their driver cannot be located).

Most insurance companies do make a determination without their client’s input if the damages and liability can be established by other evidence. If a police report, for example, is clear about who was at fault, the insurance company would have enough evidence to make a determination at the 30 day mark. If the accident facts are somewhat difficult to establish (many vehicles), then the insurance company has a “longer reasonable” time to make this determination.

Some insurance companies will simply deny your claim and argue that their policy was breached because their client failed to cooperate. Most insurance policies have duty to cooperate clauses on them and some insurance companies will let you pay for you $8,000 out of pocket.

In any event, it looks like you would have an injury claim here. Visit our section on how to document your claim. Also consider hiring an attorney. Most insurance companies will make a decision to pay for damages if they see that if they do not, their possible payments will increase if you have secured an attorney.

This is not the best cause of action, but given the fact that the insurance company can “deny” the claim by claiming failure to cooperate, you are better of to get yourself an attorney.

To find a lawyer near you, click here.

Good Luck

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