Auto Accidents and Understanding North Carolina Insurance Coverage

According to the Nation Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 33,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 and an estimated 2.217 million people were injured in automobile accidents in the same year. These may range from the parking lot fender bender leaving the Carolina Panthers stadium to the fatal tractor-trailer crash on Interstate 77. Although the number of fatal accidents is trending slightly downward in 2010, that still means, every minute, four or more individuals are left to deal with difficult issues often times caused by someone else’s negligent conduct. In the best-case scenario, an accident victim has a minor injury that resolves with minimal treatment and only has to deal with payment of a few medical bills and car repairs. In the worst-case scenario, a family has lost a loved one; his or her companionship, support and income and is left with large sums of unpaid medical bills. Understanding available insurance coverage and interaction between the types of coverage is important in every case and can be the difference between fully covered medical expenses and car repairs and severe financial hardship.

Terms often heard when discussing insurance coverage include, full coverage, property damage coverage, liability coverage, medical payments coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and underinsured motorist coverage. Insurance statutes are found in Chapters 58 and 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes. These provide among other things regulations for the insurance industry and requirements for automobile liability coverage.

Full coverage is not defined anywhere in the North Carolina General Statutes. Rather, the statutes set forth the minimum coverage motorists are required to carry when operating a motor vehicle in North Carolina. The minimum financial responsibility limits or liability coverage are $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage. In the case of a person involved in fender bender struck by someone carrying the minimum coverage allowed, this should be sufficient coverage to cover medical bills, property damage and injury related damages. In the case of a more severe or catastrophic accident, this minimum coverage will be insufficient to fully compensate an accident victim. Often times a victim is struck by someone who does not carry any insurance and is uninsured. Regardless of the scenario, it is important to understand the types coverage, the amount of coverage available, and the number of persons making claims against the coverage. It is just as important to understand the interaction between the coverage available not just to the person who caused the accident, but the victim of the accident.

The attorneys at Hull & Chandler have extensive experience in analyzing available insurance coverage. We routinely advise accident victims on insurance coverage to maximize their recovery to make sure their needs are met. If you would like to learn more or need assistance with your case, please feel free to contact us at Hull & Chandler, P.A.