If you are injured by another motorist in a car accident, you probably have countless questions about your insurance coverage and whether the other motorist’s insurance will be sufficient to cover your losses and damages. Our dedicated North Carolina car accident attorneys have assisted many victims with navigating the insurance claims process after suffering injuries inflicted by a careless driver. We are also seasoned trial lawyers who are not afraid to take the matter to litigation if that is what is necessary to protect your rights.
In a recent appellate opinion, the court considered whether the primary underinsured motorist insurer can obtain an offset for any liability payments that it made to an accident victim when there are multiple underinsured motorist insurers involved. The underlying facts of the case are as follows. A man was driving his son’s vehicle with his wife as a passenger at the time of the incident. The man fell asleep while driving, and the car collided with a tree after veering off the roadway at a high speed. The man’s wife, unfortunately, died in the crash, and the son suffered serious injuries.
The son had three insurance policies with the same insurer. The policies each provided liability and underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $100,000 for each person and $300,000 for each accident. One of these policies applied to the vehicle involved in the accident, while the other two were taken out for different vehicles. The man also had an insurance policy through a different insurer that provided similar amounts of coverage. In each of the policies involved, there was the same language regarding underinsured motorist coverage.
The son filed a complaint alleging that his father was negligent in operating the vehicle and that he was therefore entitled to underinsured motorist coverage. The man’s insurer filed a motion seeking a credit or a setoff as a defense to the allegations. Before the court ruled on motions for summary judgment from both parties, the parties entered into a stipulation regarding several matters, including an agreement that the policies would stack and that the son’s insurance had provided $100,000 to the son for liability payments. The man’s insurer also provided a $100,000 payment to the son for liability. The parties further agreed that the son’s policy was the primary coverage involved. Finally, the son settled his liability and underinsured motorist claims with the father’s insurance.
The trial court concluded that the son’s policy provided $100,000 in liability coverage and that as a result, the son was entitled to underinsured motorist coverage from all of the policies involved. It also concluded that there was only a $100,000 offset credit with a potential underinsured motorist recovery of $400,000. The insurer appealed, and the reviewing court reversed the lower court’s entry of summary judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. The court reviewed applicable case law and determined that the son’s insurer was entitled to an offset for all three liability payments made to the son.
If you have questions about your rights when it comes to an insurance policy after a motor vehicle accident, Maurer Law is prepared to help you clarify your rights and assert them. We have assisted many individuals throughout North Carolina and offer a free consultation. To get started, call us at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online.