Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage
Hurt by an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver?
North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Can Represent Your Uninsured Motorist Claim
North Carolina state law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance to cover the damages they may cause in the event of a car crash. However, many drivers who cause car accidents in this state do not carry enough coverage or have no insurance at all. As a result, in these circumstances you will likely be unable to recover compensation from the at-fault driver. Instead, you can usually file a claim with your own insurance company using your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy (UM/UIM).
Still, even though you file this kind of car crash claim with your own provider, it can be difficult to get a fair settlement without an attorney on your side. At Riddle & Brantley, our North Carolina car accident lawyers understand how to help injury victims like you. We can assist you in filing your uninsured or underinsured motorist claim and help ensure you get the compensation you deserve. For more than 30 years, we have represented clients in Raleigh, Jacksonville, Goldsboro, Kinston, and throughout Eastern North Carolina. We offer free case consultations with no obligation to prospective clients.
Are Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers Common in North Carolina?
The Insurance Research Council (IRC) and the Insurance Information Institute (III) report in a 2014 study that the percentage of uninsured motorists in the U.S. dropped from 13.8 percent in 2009 to 12.6 percent in 2012. However, despite this drop, uninsured motorists are still a major problem on America’s roadways.
In North Carolina, uninsured motorist statistics for 2012 are better than the national average, as reported by III, ranking 35th in the nation, with a 9.1 percent. As far back as 1989, North Carolina has had one of the highest financial responsibility compliance rates (96.6 percent) and one of the swiftest and most effective enforcement systems in the nation.
Still, the minimum amount of liability coverage required in North Carolina is $30,000 for per person and $60,000 per accident for personal injury as well as $25,000 for property damage. Often, a car accident victim’s injuries and damages may exceed these limits. This means that even if a driver is in compliance with car insurance laws, you may then be unable to recover the full amount of compensation you deserve after a car crash. In these cases, you may be able to use your own UIM policy to cover additional costs.
Can I Stack Insurance Policies?
Uninsured and underinsured coverage in North Carolina is defined and explained in North Carolina General Statute section 20-279.21. These laws are very complicated and have been litigated for meaning and interpretation for over the 40 years. This is why you need an experienced attorney like those at Riddle & Brantley handling your claim. We understand UM/UIM laws and know how to handle these cases. We have litigated them for over 30 years. In that time, we have handled hit and run cases, cases where the at-fault driver had no insurance at all, and we have handled cases where the at-fault driver had insufficient coverage to pay for our clients’ damages.
There are many issues involved in these cases including how to identify other coverages and how to stack policies of other coverages for maximum recovery. We see multiple underinsured cases every month where the at-fault driver has minimum coverage but we are (in most cases) able to locate more coverage to help pay for our clients’ damages. Sometimes we find excess or underinsured coverage of $1,000,000 or more. This is exactly what happened when Gene Riddle represented an injured lady in a motorcycle wreck. He found two underinsured policies, one for $50,000 and the other for $1,000,000. He was able to stack them for a combined recovery of $1,050,000.
Is UM/UIM Coverage Optional in North Carolina?
After an automobile accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance typically pays for the damages. This may include your property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages, among other costs. When the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, you could be dealing with a lack of coverage for those damages. The same is true in hit and run accidents.
Fortunately for motorists in North Carolina, UM/UIM coverage is mandatory in our state unless you follow specific procedures to reject it. Most owners and drivers have coverage and may not even know it. So, if you sustain injuries in an accident caused by an uninsured driver or a hit and run driver, you may collect uninsured motorist benefits under your own policy. In effect, you are insured against the other driver’s lack of insurance!
Minimum UM/UIM limits in North Carolina are equal to the minimum liability requirements, often stated as “30/60/25”. This means that you can recover up to $30,000 per injured person in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. The minimum coverage for personal injuries per accident is $60,000, plus $25,000 for property damage.
Note that you have the option to buy more UM/UIM insurance, which is strongly advised. You and your loved ones could greatly benefit from the small expense of that extra coverage.
What Happens If an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver Hits Me?
If you have car insurance in North Carolina, you also have UM/UIM coverage. However, the amount you collect from your policy will depend on the type of car crash and the other driver. Possible claims include:
- The at-fault driver had no insurance. In these cases, you may file an uninsured motorist claim and collect compensation for your personal injuries and property damage up to your policy limits. These claims are very similar to a regular claim with the at-fault driver’s provider. However, your insurance premium will typically not increase for a UM claim where you did not contribute to the collision.
- The at-fault driver had minimal insurance. If the other driver has insurance, but not enough to cover all of your damages, then you may file an underinsured motorist claim. However, you may only claim the difference between the total amount the at-fault driver’s insurance paid and your policy limits. As a result, you cannot collect more total compensation than your policy limits.
- Hit and run accidents. Insurance claims for hit and run accidents in North Carolina depend on whether law enforcement identifies the driver. If the driver is found, then you may file an insurance claim with his or her provider. If the driver has no insurance, then your uninsured motorist claim proceeds as normal. For hit and run accidents where the driver is never found, you may still file an uninsured motorist claim. However, you can only recover compensation for your personal injuries in this kind of case. You cannot make a claim for property damage.
Uninsured Motorist Claims Handled By Our Car Accident Lawyers
The car accident lawyers at Riddle & Brantley have experience representing victims of car accident injuries in UM/UIM claims, including claims for hit and run accidents. For example, we represented a 30-year-old male who was a guest passenger in a vehicle. An 18-wheeler hit the vehicle, pushing it off the road. The truck driver did not stop for the accident and law enforcement obtained no identifiable information. We pursued an uninsured motorist claim against Geico for our client’s injuries, who suffered back, neck and shoulder pain. He also suffered a rib injury. Our client received treatment conservatively with a local chiropractor. Jonathan Smith was the handling attorney and resolved the case through negotiations.
Our law firm also represented a 67-year-old male involved in a motorcycle crash in Wilmington, NC. Another motorist pulled out in front of the motorcycle, causing him to lose control of his bike and overturn. The other motorist fled the scene. All that was identifiable about the other vehicle was that it was a commercial fishing truck. We pursued an uninsured motorist claim against Progressive for our client’s injuries. These included a broken pelvis, a broken collarbone and a right arm injury. Gene Riddle was the handling attorney and resolved the case through negotiations.
Questions on UM/UIM Claims? Contact Our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers
Even though you have UM/UIM benefits under your own automobile policy, you may have a hard time collecting a settlement. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. This means they have a vested interest in minimizing the amounts they pay out in claims—even to their own clients. Insurance adjusters are professionals at negotiating claims, and they are looking out for the company’s interests, not yours.
At Riddle & Brantley, we deal with insurance adjusters all day long. We know their tricks and strategies, and we know how to read your policy to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. We serve clients throughout North Carolina and nationwide from our offices in Goldsboro, Raleigh, Jacksonville and Kinston. If you sustained injuries in a car crash caused by an uninsured driver, contact our attorneys today to schedule a free initial consultation.