North Carolina Appellate Court Discusses UIM Coverage in Accidents Involving Multiple At-Fault Parties

Insurance issues often arise in motor vehicle accidents especially when multiple drivers, vehicles, and victims are involved in the crash. While you are dealing with your injuries and trying to handle the stress and disruption that the accident has caused in your life, the last thing you probably want to handle is an insurance claim and negotiation process. At Maurer Law, our seasoned team of Charlotte car accident lawyers is prepared to assist you with ensuring that you are treated fairly throughout this process. Contact us immediately to learn about your potential right to recovery.

A North Carolina appellate opinion provides an example of a common insurance dispute that can arise following a personal injury accident. The main issue in the case involved accidents where there is more than one at-fault driver. The court was asked to decide whether the injured party was required to exhaust only one liability insurance coverage of one of the at-fault motorists in order to trigger the insurer’s obligation to provide underinsured motorist benefits.

In the accident, a truck driver lost control of his vehicle while traveling on a freeway causing it to strike the median barrier and flip. A volunteer firefighter responded to the scene and found that the driver was injured, and that fuel was leaking from the vehicle. The firefighter was later struck by a vehicle that swerved in an attempt to avoid colliding with another vehicle that has slowed suddenly as it approached the area where the accident took place. The firefighter was dragged beneath the vehicle, sustaining severe injuries including broken bones, lacerations, and internal injuries.

The truck driver’s employer carried a motor vehicle insurance policy that provided liability coverage limits of $1 million. The second driver that struck the firefighter carried an insurance policy with liability coverage of $50,000. The firefighter held two policies that each provided uninsured motorist coverage totaling $300,000 and $100,000 respectively. The firefighter sought underinsured motorist benefits, but his insurer argued that because the other policies had not been triggered it was too early for it to provide underinsured motorist benefits.

The court ultimately concluded that only one liability insurance coverage policy must be exhausted to trigger an insurer’s obligation to provide underinsured motorist coverage where an injury accident involves multiple at-fault parties. The court reasoned that an insured should not be required to sue several parties and litigate the outcome of those efforts while waiting to obtain underinsured motorist benefits just because there are other at-fault parties who also have auto insurance policies. This type of outcome would require insured persons with underinsured motorist policies to wait in limbo to obtain the benefits that they are owed.

If you were injured in a car accident you may be entitled to insurance benefits as well as compensation from the person who caused you harm. This is often a long and complex process that can be incredibly stressful for an injured party, especially if they have never been involved in a car accident situation. Our team of seasoned Charlotte personal injury lawyers provides a free consultation to discuss your situation and whether we may be able to assist you. Contact us now at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

Contact Information