Clayton, NC asked in Traffic Tickets and Car Accidents for North Carolina

Q: The officer said to bring a letter from the insurance company when I went to court, but I don't know what letter I need.

The ticket is for failing to maintain my lane. I hit a guard rail and totaled my car, but no other vehicles were involved. The state trooper said that if I brought in a letter from my insurance company, the ticket would probably be dismissed, but I have no clue what letter that would need to be.

3 Lawyer Answers
Kristen Dewar
Kristen Dewar
Answered
  • Traffic Tickets Lawyer
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: Contact your insurance company, and ask them for a letter confirming that your insurance company is covering the financial costs of your accident. They are very familiar with these types of letters; they issue them all the time. Bring that letter with you to court, and the ticket will likely be dismissed. For once, the officer was right.

Bill Powers agrees with this answer

Amanda Bowden Houser
Amanda Bowden Houser
Answered
  • Traffic Tickets Lawyer
  • Jacksonville, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: You need a letter from your insurance company that says 'all claims have been paid' or words to that effect. Because your accident involved damage to state property, that is what the ADA will likely going to be concerned with (not the damage to your car). So be sure the letter clearly states the damage to guard rail was resolved.

Bill Powers agrees with this answer

Bill Powers
Bill Powers
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Traffic Tickets Lawyer
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: You really would benefit from talking to a lawyer. While a person charged with a moving violation or traffic offense can always serve as their own attorney, it can be a tricky process.

Normally a lawyer would want to get a "coverage letter" from the carrier on an MVA (motor vehicle accident) infraction or citation. That's true whether it's a single or multiple car wreck.

If it involves a single-car wreck, that may be complicated depending on what agency (state or local) wants to get paid back for damaged guard rail. One would assume, with Highway Patrol being involved, that would be the State of North Carolina.

It's not unusual for lawyers to call the carrier, explain the exact language they need, and help expedite the process with the carrier and ultimately the District Attorney's Office.

Thereafter, and this largely depends on the specific jurisdiction, the lawyer may want to approach the DA's Office, even before the court date, to seek a dismissal.

Couple of important points:

1. A dismissal is not automatic, a lot depends on the jurisdiction and the policies of the local District Attorney's office.

2. A dismissal is not guaranteed in every instance, there are times where the prosecutor may want to consider things like the cause of the wreck, the driver's driving record and prior history of wreck(s), and the level of damages before agreeing to anything.

3. Sometimes a dismissal may require more than an insurance coverage letter. That may mean the prosecutor can also include additional things like driving school and maybe, in the worst instances where the driving was exceptionally reckless or dangerous, some sort of completion of community service.

4. Dismissal of the charges does NOT necessarily mean your insurance rates can't and won't go up. The laws in North Carolina regarding insurance rates, the SDIP program, wrecks, etc., are notoriously complicated.

5. Insurance Companies sometimes won't automatically issue a letter.

(As an aside, that is true in complicated or serious wrecks, where multiple people are involved or serious bodily injuries have resulted. Furthermore, sometimes coverage is denied, resulting in civil litigation. If there is a dispute about the wreck, who is at-fault, or long-term injuries requiring extensive medical treatment has resulted, getting that letter, if at all, can take time. That doesn't seem to be the case here though.)

With all that, and further considering you may be required to go to court on more than one instance, it may makes sense to talk to a lawyer. Many lawyers offer a free, confidential consultation. It may be cheaper and easier, in the long-run, to retain a lawyer to help.

GREAT question though. Happens all the time.

Bill Powers

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