Raleigh Hit-and-Run Automobile Accidents and North Carolina Uninsured Motorist Coverage
October 3, 2012
Most people find that the automobile accident claims process is quite frustrating. From negotiating with unsympathetic insurance adjusters to dealing with aggressive bill collectors, it is not a pleasant experience. It can be even more frustrating when you cannot determine the identity of the party that caused the collision. In so-called “hit-and-run” cases, the driver that has struck your car flees the scene, even though doing so is a crime under North Carolina law. If you have sustained personal injury in an accident involving a hit-and-run driver, you may proceed directly against your own automobile insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage (UM). The UM process can be complicated and should be approached with caution. In most situations, you would be best served to speak with a knowledge automobile accident attorney prior to handling your own UM claim.
By default, all personal automobile insurance policies in North Carolina contain uninsured motorist coverage. UM is applicable in two primary situations, the first being where you are able to identify who caused the collision but that person has unlawfully failed to obtain insurance. The second situation arises when a negligent driver makes contact with your vehicle causing a collision but you are unable to identify him or her after they flee the scene.
One of the more important aspects of UM coverage is that in North Carolina there is a physical contact rule that requires that the other driver cause his or her vehicle to collide with yours. “Miss-and-run” cases are not required to be covered in North Carolina. An example of a “miss-and-run” case would be where a negligent driver veers into your path of travel, but does not strike your vehicle, and you swerve off the road into a collision with a tree. In this situation, North Carolina law does not require your policy to contain coverage.
The primary exception to the physical contact rule involves chain collisions. Assume that a negligent driver strikes an intermediary vehicle and propels it into your vehicle. That negligent driver then flees the scene. Even though technically the negligent driver did not strike your vehicle, North Carolina law still permits a recovery under your uninsured motorist coverage.
One of the areas of UM coverage currently being litigated is the situation where a plaintiff is injured because of unrestrained, flying cargo. In the recent case North Carolina Court of Appeals case Prouse v. Bituminous Casualty Insurance Co., the Court determined that Prouse could not recover under his UM policy when a tire flew off the back of a cargo truck carrying tires and then flew into the Prouse vehicle, causing the vehicle to overturn and Prouse to sustain serious injury. The case will soon be heard by the North Carolina Supreme Court on appeal.
The Raleigh car accident attorneys of Maginnis Law represent injured persons against at-fault driver, as well as, their own automobile insurance companies. All personal injury matters are handled on a contingency basis – this means that you do not pay any attorneys’ fee unless and until we make a recovery on your behalf. We offer free consultations from our downtown Raleigh office. You may call the Raleigh uninsured motorist coverage lawyers of Maginnis Law at 919.480.8526. Email inquiries may be sent utilizing our contact page. The firm represents clients throughout the Triangle, including Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Apex, Garner, Holly Springs, and Wake Forest.