North Carolina Supreme Court Requires Insurer to Pay Underinsured Motorist Benefits in Multi-Car Accident Dispute

When you are involved in an auto accident you will likely contact your insurance company to see whether your injuries and damages are covered. The other driver involved in the accident or multiple drivers will likely do the same. Many issues can arise when insurance companies are involved in a motor vehicle accident resolution. Attorney Jason Burton proudly represents Raleigh car accident victims and helps them protect their rights. This includes negotiating with insurance companies and ensuring that they play by the rules. If you were injured in a car accident, call Attorney Burton as soon as possible.

In a recent case, the North Carolina Supreme Court discussed a common dispute that arises in personal injury accidents involving insurance companies. When there are more than two parties involved in a crash, there can be a serious debate about who is responsible for the damages and which insurance company should provide coverage. The accident in question began when a truck driver lost control of the truck that he was driving while traveling along the interstate. The truck hit a median barrier and flipped. A volunteer firefighter responded to the accident and determined that the driver of the truck had suffered injuries. He also observed that fuel was leaking from the damaged truck and that the driver needed to be removed immediately.

Traffic had slowed near the accident but a vehicle approaching the scene failed to observe this. The driver swerved at the last minute to avoid colliding with other cars and ended up striking the firefighter and dragging him beneath the vehicle. The firefighter suffered serious injuries including lacerations, broken bones, and internal damage.

The driver of the truck was employed by a company that carried a $1 million insurance policy. The driver of the vehicle that hit the firefighter also had insurance with liability coverage of $50,000. The firefighter also had two insurance policies that provided $100,000 and $300,000 in coverage each. When the firefighter applied for underinsured motorist coverage under his own auto insurance policy, his insurance company rejected the claim and stated that because he had not applied for coverage through the other insurance policies it was not yet required to provide underinsured motorist coverage under his policy.

The appellate court reviewed the evidence in the case and concluded that only one at-fault party’s liability insurance policy must be exhausted in order for the driver to be entitled to underinsured motorist benefits in cases where there are potentially multiple parties at-fault. The court reached this conclusion on the basis that an insured should not bear the burden of having to sue each potentially responsible party and reach a final outcome in the litigation before he or she receives underinsured motorist coverage under his own policy. If the insured were required to do this, he or she would have to wait in limbo for a very long time without receiving the benefit of the underinsured motorist coverage paid for under his policy.

If you were injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to coverage benefits under your insurance policy or under an insurance policy held by another person involved in the accident. Attorney Jason Burton is prepared to review your potential case and help you assert your rights. He offers a free consultation to discuss your situation. Call him today at 833-623-0042 or contact him online to get started.