More than 13 percent of drivers on the road today do not carry any liability insurance. In North Carolina, it’s about 6.5 percent. We all know that the hit-and-run driver is all too common.
If you have an accident — with an uninsured vehicle or a hit-and-run driver — the place to turn for compensation for your injuries is the uninsured motorist or UM coverage on your own vehicle insurance policy. However, uninsured motorist coverage does not include property damage to your vehicle, unless the operator of the other vehicle can be identified. If the operator of the other vehicle cannot be identified, then damage to your vehicle caused by an uninsured motorist will be covered by the collision coverage on your own policy if you have it.
Your UM policy will cover anyone else driving your insured vehicle with your permission and anyone else riding in your insured vehicle. Furthermore, UM coverage also extends to cover any other vehicle you are driving but that you do not own.
Your UM policy may pay for injuries to members of your household other than yourself. For example, your UM policy may pay for injuries to a relative who lives with you. But this is not true of all policies; it’ s important to check yours.
UM coverage usually has rules limiting your ability to collect compensation and the amount you receive. If your accident is with a hit-and-run driver, you must notify the police within 24 hours of the accident. The law also requires that you or your vehicle actually be hit by the other car. Being forced off the road by a driver who disappears is not sufficient.
Also, if you are injured while on the job, your UM payments may be reduced by any workers’ compensation or other disability payments you receive. Furthermore, if you receive payments for medical bills from your own insurance company under medical payments coverage, the amount you are entitled to recover under UM coverage may be reduced by the amount of those medical payments.
If you or a relative is injured by an uninsured motorist while you are in another’s car, the UM coverage of that other car’s owner is the primary coverage and your own UM coverage is secondary. You can collect from your own UM coverage only to the extent your damages are not covered by that car owner’s’ UM policy. If you file a claim under your UM coverage, an insurance adjuster from your insurance company will handle your claim just as if it were a regular liability claim. You will negotiate with the adjuster about the other person’s liability, the extent of your own negligence, and the extent of your injuries and other damages.
In choosing an attorney, it is important that you hire one experienced in uninsured motorist claims to ensure that your claim for damages is properly protected. As with any insurance coverage, uninsured motorist coverages are complex and it is best to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. You can learn more about insurance coverage and how much you need in our video gallery.
If you would like to talk with an experienced uninsured motorist attorney, please contact us.
Related: What is Medical Payments Coverage?