You are driving on Juniper Trail in Kitty Hawk when you get rear-ended by a vehicle. Your car is damaged and you suffered serious neck and back injuries. Unfortunately, you discover that the auto insurance coverage of the other driver is minimal or, even worse, the other driver does not have auto insurance coverage. What do you do? Who will pay for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.? This is where uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM Coverage) through your own auto insurance policy can be a huge help.
In North Carolina, if a victim is involved in a car accident as a result of a negligent driver, the at-fault driver’s insurer will typically be responsible for any injuries and or losses that the victim endured. These losses can include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. At a minimum, a person with liability insurance coverage must have at least $30,000 for personal injuries to an individual and $60,000 per accident (for two or more persons in any one accident), and $25,000 for property damage in any one accident. If your damages exceed the other driver's coverage, you can file an underinsured motorist claim through your auto insurance policy.
Let's take a look at each type of coverage:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
North Carolina statute § 20-279.21 requires that Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) be included in any auto insurance policy for bodily injuries. This is required coverage to help protect people who are victims of a hit-and-run or the other driver was operating a vehocle without auto insurance coverage. More specifically, UM coverage kicks in when there is:
- no bodily injury liability insurance in at least the amount required by law, $30,000 per person / $60,000 per accident;
- there is no property damage liability insurance in at least the amount of $25,000; and/or
- the vehicle causing your accident, and/or its operator or owner, cannot be identified, i.e. a hit and run accident.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
UIM coverage is a huge help when the other driver has auto insurance, but the amount of coverage is insufficient to properly compensate you for your harms and losses. For example, let’s say you are seriously injured in a car accident and your monetary damages total $45,000. Unfortunately, the at-fault driver only has a $30,000 liability policy. There is a $15,000 gap in coverage. An experienced Outer Banks car accident attorney can review your auto insurance policy and it's possible you have $50,000 in UIM coverage. In this scenario, the at-fault insurer would pay up to their policy limits (i.e. $30,000) and your UIM coverage would cover the remaining $15,000 in damages.
In order to purchase UIM coverage, you must have a policy with limits greater than $30,000 for personal injuries to an individual, and $60,000 per accident. All policies that exceed the statutory limitation are required to provide underinsured motorist coverage. Our North Carolina personal injury law firm encourages all drivers to get as much coverage as they can afford. Why? Because you never know when or if a major car accident occurs or if you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident.
Speak to an Experienced Outer Banks Car Accident Attorney
As you can see, pursuing coverage through the uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist provisions of your auto insurance policy can get complicated. There are notice requirements and negotiations with multiple insurers. This is why you should contact an experienced Outer Banks personal injury lawyer to discuss your potential case.