Hit and run with severe injuries...

by Wally
(Wilmington, NC)

I was hit on my motorcycle when a large pickup truck suddenly and with no warning made a left hand turn in front of me, striking me with the front passenger side of the truck almost head on.

The driver fled the scene, but with the help of a parking lot camera was apprehended 2 days later. He admitted guilt and was arrested and charged with felony hit and run with severe injuries. He went to court 10 months later and plead guilty to felony hit and run. He was sentenced to 18 months probation and to pay the victim (me) restitution.

It has been 14 months since the accident and I am still unable to work and I incurred $160,000 in medical bills. The driver only had $100,000 in coverage, and that won't even cover my medical bills. I have an injury lawyer and we have filed a civil suit against the driver and his insurance company.

I haven't been able to get victims' compensation from my state (NC) because we can't prove he was drunk because he fled the scene. We are suing for lost past and future earnings as well as pain and suffering.

My question is, even though his policy is $100,000, will I be able to get more than his limit? To make matters worse, 3 weeks into his probation he was involved in another hit and run with DWI this time. Needless to say, his license should be permanently revoked in my opinion. What are my options here? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Hit and run with severe injuries...":

Wally (Wilmington, NC):

It is our policy here at InjuryClaimCoach.com not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be inappropriate. Your best interests would be served by heeding the advice and counsel of your attorney. This includes directing any questions you may have about the accident to your attorney.

Generally speaking, when there is clear evidence of negligence, a victim has a legal right to pursue the negligent driver for compensation sufficient to cover the victim's damages. This can include medical and therapy bills, out of pocket costs (for such items as medications, crutches, slings, etc.), lost wages, and pain and suffering.

In most cases, the negligent driver will be insured. The driver's insurance company will intervene in a personal injury claim filed by the victim. After investigating the underlying facts of the accident, the insurance company will decide whether it will accept liability on behalf of their insured driver, and if so, what amount of compensation should be paid.

When making their decision, the insurance company will take into account any possible contributory negligence the victim may have had for the crash.

The State of North Carolina follows the pure contributory negligence rule. Under North Carolina law, if it can be shown the victim in a car or motorcycle accident was even 1% at-fault, the victim is wholly barred from recovering and compensation from the other driver.

Presuming the victim did not contribute to the accident, if the negligent driver's insurance is not sufficient to cover the victim's damages, the victim is free to pursue the negligent driver personally to cover the balance of damages.

This can include personal assets, including, but not limited to, stocks, bonds, bank account deposits, and to some extent, equity in the negligent driver's home. However, a negligent driver has some protection when it comes to his or her home being designated as a personal asset to be seized by a victim.

North Carolina law affords residents a "Homestead Exemption." This means in the case of a lawsuit or ensuing judgment, the defendant (negligent driver) may keep up to $35,000.00 of equity in his or her home.

This means even if the victim's damages aren't fully satisfied from the negligent driver's insurance and personal assets, the driver knows he or she will be able to keep up to $35,000.00 free from the victim's grasp.

To read North Carolina's full statute on Homestead Exemptions go here:
North Carolina State. Article 16. Exempt Property. Section 1C-1601.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION