North Carolina Appellate Court Issues Decision in UIM Dispute Involving Fatality

As Asheville car accident lawyers, we often handle cases involving complex insurance policies and questions about whether coverage will be provided for an accident. If you have severe injuries following a crash that wasn’t your fault, you probably also have severe medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses associated with the accident. In addition to helping you assert your right to compensation from the driver who injured you, we are prepared to help you ensure that insurance companies treat you and your family fairly during this challenging time.

A recent case from the North Carolina Court of Appeal highlights some of the key aspects of knowing your rights in an insurance policy dispute. The plaintiff in the case filed a declaratory judgment action to determine the extent of the plaintiff’s liability to the defendant for an automobile accident in which the defendant was injured and his wife was killed. The decedent had an insurance policy that provided underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident. The other driver involved in the accident had an insurance policy providing coverage of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.

The other driver’s insurer tendered the full policy limits of $100,000 per accident divided among the four parties in the accident. The decedent’s insurer paid the surviving husband $68,000, which represented the $100,000 policy limit minus the amount he received from the other driver’s insurer. It also paid a sum to the decedent’s estate. The surviving husband argued in court that he was entitled to receive UIM policy limits. The husband ultimately won this argument and the insurer appealed.

On review, the appellate court began by reviewing some of the rules regarding UIM coverage. If a court is faced with a question of how much UIM coverage is available, the court must first assess whether the coverage is even available. If it is, the court must then determine how much the parties seeking coverage are eligible to receive based on two factors. First, the number of claimants in the litigation who are seeking coverage under the UIM policy, as well as whether the negligent driver has a policy that has been exhausted according to the per-person and per-accident caps.

Based on this rule and the evidence in the record, the appellate concluded that the lower court properly awarded UIM benefits to the surviving husband. There were only two parties seeking benefits, the husband and the decedent’s estate, and the negligent driver’s policy had been exhausted.

If you were injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. At Maurer Law, our team of diligent Asheville car accident attorneys is waiting to assist you with navigating the legal process and the insurance claims process. We understand how stressful this time can be for you and your family particularly if you are suffering from painful injuries or mourning the unnecessary and sudden loss of a loved one. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started. Don’t wait, time may be running out on your claim.