In early February the North Carolina driver of a moped was killed when he merged into the left lane of traffic, behind a semi tractor-trailer. His moped clipped the tail end of the trailer and lost control. The moped driver was not licensed or registered, but under current North Carolina law you do not have to be registered or insured. The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill that would require moped owners to register their moped and carry insurance.
In 2009, North Carolina passed the Financial Responsibility Act, which mandates that all automobile owners carry Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Uninsured coverage (UM) pays for bodily injury and property damage costs when the at-fault driver does not have any insurance. Underinsured coverage(UIM) is when the at-fault driver’s policy limits do not cover all the expenses incurred from the wreck. The statutory minimum for UM coverage is $30,000 bodily injury liability per person, $60,000 bodily injury per accident (regardless of how many people were involved in the accident), and $25,000 for property damage. UIM coverage requires that the cost of injuries or property damage exceed the at-fault party’s limits, and that your contractual limits exceed theirs.
Determining whether the UM or UIM policy applies can be confusing. UM and UIM coverage includes hit-and-run accidents and insured pedestrians hit by a uninsured or underinsured motor vehicle, but it will not cover accidents that are outside a natural and reasonable consequence of the use of a vehicle.
Drivers of mopeds are not considered motorists in North Carolina. The Department of Transportation defines mopeds as 2-3 wheeled vehicles that cannot go faster than 30 mph on a level surface with a motor of no more than 50 cubic centimeters of piston displacement and no external shifting device. Moped users, like bicyclists, have the same access to roadways as standard motor vehicles; they must follow the rules of the road, comply with the state DWI blood alcohol limitations, and wear a helmet. However, if an accident occurs, they may not be protected if the other driver of the vehicle was at fault and uninsured or underinsured.
If the uninsured or underinsured moped driver caused the accident, then the motorist may have to use other legal remedies if the accident is not covered under their UM or UIM policy. In order to recover fees, the injured motorist would have to personally sue the moped driver in civil court and have a judgment entered.
The experienced North Carolina car accident attorneys of Auger & Auger have dealt with the complexities of Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist insurance coverage for several years. They will readily apply their knowledge and experience to your case to figure out how to recover expenses incurred from an accident, whether it involves an uninsured motorist, a moped driver, or hazardous conditions caused by others’ negligence. If you have been injured and would like a free consultation with one of our esteemed lawyers, contact one of our five offices in Charlotte, Greensboro, or Raleigh.
Related Blog Posts:
Pedestrians and Cyclists Are No Match For Any Kind of Vehicle, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, August 10, 2012
What You Should Know About Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, July 27, 2012