Filing a Lawsuit After Wilmington Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycles are synonymous with summers in Wilmington and the Tar Heel State at large. However, it's no secret that motorcycles fail to provide adequate protection for riders against motorcycle accident injuries comparative to passenger vehicles. While the latter is equipped with airbags and seat belts and encased in metal and glass, there is nothing between the motorcyclist and the pavement.
When it comes to filing a motorcycle accident lawsuit in North Carolina, there are some things you will need to understand about state law.
Your ability to collect compensation after a motorcycle accident, whether you are a rider or a passenger, will depend on a myriad of factors. These include:
- Whether the other motorist was negligent/ at-fault;
- Whether you were comparatively negligent;
- Whether the at-fault motorist had insurance;
- Whether the motorcyclist (if at-fault and you are a passenger) had insurance.
Our Wilmington motorcycle accident attorneys are committed to helping you obtain the maximum amount of insurance available in your situation.
N.C. Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
As the North Carolina Department of Insurance notes, minimum auto insurance limits for motorcycles in this state are:
- $30,000 per person bodily injury liability (if motorcycle rider hurts someone else);
- $60,000 per accident for bodily injury liability;
- $25,000 per accident in property damage.
This coverage will not help the motorcyclist if he or she is to blame for the accident (except that it largely frees them from being directly responsible to pay damages out-of-pocket). However, it may be available to the passenger of the at-fault motorcyclist.
However, if it is the other driver at-fault, then it will be that motorist's bodily injury liability coverage (required by law in the same amounts). In the event the other driver does not have insurance coverage OR your damages exceed those limits (often the case in motorcycle accidents), you can seek uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage. UM/ UIM benefits will help you offset costs when the at-fault driver does not have enough coverage to fully compensate you for damages (often the case in motorcycle accidents) or when the other driver doesn't have insurance or is unknown (i.e., in a hit-and-run).
One aspect of North Carolina auto insurance law that can make it more difficult for those involved in a motorcycle accident to file successful claims is the legal provision on comparative negligence. North Carolina follows a system of pure contributory negligence, and per the 1980 North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in Smith v. Fiber Controls Corp, the plaintiff may not recover damages if his or her own negligence caused the injury.
Keeping Safe on Your Motorcycle This Summer
The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports in 2105, a huge chunk of the annual number of motorcycle crashes happened between May and September.
Motorcycle safety often has much to do with other drivers - how well they are paying attention, abide the laws and avoid driving impaired. But that doesn't mean motorcyclists in Wilmington are completely powerless to improve their odds on what can be dangerous roads.
We urge riders to:
- Consider wearing a helmet (which is currently the law, though legislators have considered repealing it).
- Follow all traffic safety laws.
- Immediately contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible after a crash.
If you have any questions, our dedicated motorcycle attorneys are available to help guide you through the process.