What to Do When Hit by an Uninsured or Under-Insured Driver
April 18, 2023
Being injured in a car accident can be an incredibly frustrating experience. Medical expenses coupled with lost income may seem insurmountable. You will probably hope that the driver who caused the crash has sufficient auto insurance liability limits to fully compensate you for your losses.
What if they don’t? What if the person at fault has no auto insurance or not enough insurance? It might happen more often than you think.
In 2022, 7.4% of drivers in North Carolina were uninsured. That may not sound like too many, but given the fact that there are more than 7.7 million licensed drivers in the state, that’s nearly 570,000 drivers on the roadways without liability insurance.
At Robert Louis Armstrong Personal Injury Attorney, I have devoted my career to representing injury victims and their families. Every single case I handle receives my personalized attention and strong advocacy. I represent clients injured in North Carolina car accidents and those who live in Wilmington and throughout the state, including New Hanover, Brunswick, Onslow, and Pender counties. Set up a consultation with me today.
What Are North Carolina’s Insurance Requirements?
Auto owners in North Carolina are required by law to carry minimum limits of liability coverage. That is the coverage that pays for the injuries and damages you cause if your negligence results in an accident.
Minimum liability limits are $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident involving injury to more than one person, and $25,000 for property damage. Moreover, insurance companies must provide an equal sum of uninsured motorist coverage as the policyholder has in liability coverage.
If you purchase a policy with the minimum liability coverage, you also have $30,000 in uninsured motorist coverage.
Whose Insurance Pays for Accidents in North Carolina?
North Carolina is a fault state for auto insurance. Simply put, that means the person who causes an accident is financially responsible for compensating those they injure in the crash, up to policy limits.
Keep in mind, though, that North Carolina observes contributory negligence. If the other driver can prove that you bore any amount of fault for the crash, you are prohibited from receiving any recovery from them, even if they were 99% at fault and you were 1% at fault.
Contributory negligence can also affect your uninsured motorist claim if the person primarily responsible does not have liability coverage. Your personal injury attorney will need to go the extra mile to prove you shared no fault for the accident to protect your ability to recover compensation.
If the other driver has no insurance, there are two avenues for possibly recovering compensation. First, if you have medical payment benefits included with your policy, you can access those to help pay for your medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the crash. Second, you can file a claim with your own insurance company for compensation under your uninsured motorist benefits.
Just because you file a claim against your own coverage, don’t think it won’t be a fight to get them. Insurance companies do not like to pay settlements, even those that benefit their own policyholders. Working with a tenacious car accident attorney is your best option to garner a recovery.
What Is North Carolina’s Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Provision?
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage comes with your auto liability policy. The policy limits you pay for liability are also those you have in uninsured motorist coverage.
Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is optional. If you purchase a liability policy, you can add UIM coverage to it for an additional cost. Again, the limits of your UIM coverage will be equal to the limits of your liability coverage.
What Steps Should I Take if I’m Hit by an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist?
Law enforcement will request proof of insurance from every vehicle driver at the scene of the crash. You should know that sometimes, an uninsured driver will produce proof; however, their policy may be lapsed or not apply to the vehicle they are operating at the time. So, you may not know right away that the driver is uninsured.
Moreover, because you will not know the extent of your damages at the time of the crash or the liability limits of the at-fault driver, you will not know right away whether their limits are sufficient to fully compensate you.
If you need to file a claim against your UM/UIM coverage, your insurance company will demand proof of fault. Your insurer will also require proof that the person at fault either doesn’t have liability insurance, in the case of a UM claim, or proof that your damages exceed the value of the other driver’s liability coverage in the case of a UIM claim.
Your first step after seeking medical attention after an accident should be to consult an experienced personal injury attorney about your case. Your attorney will ensure that your insurance company is operating in good faith with respect to your claim, and your attorney will know what measures to take if it does not.
Let Me Advocate for You
When you are injured in a car accident, you will need a legal advocate who protects your interests no matter what. While I am upholding your legal rights, you can focus on recovering from your injuries. You still make all the decisions necessary to advance your claim—but I can give you all the information and guidance you need to make educated decisions.
Reach out to my office, Robert Louis Armstrong Personal Injury Attorney, in Wilmington, North Carolina as soon as possible. Your consultation is free, and I get paid nothing unless you recover a settlement.