Liability coverage protects other drivers and individuals if you cause an accident. This is mandatory coverage and will be part of every auto insurance policy issued in North Carolina.
Liability means “legally responsible.” To collect from another driver’s liability insurance, you must prove that the other driver was careless or negligent. You must also show that you did not contribute to causing the accident. Beware in North Carolina because our pure contributory negligence law is the most difficult negligence law in the country. If you are slightly at fault for the accident (even just 1 percent to blame), you have no claims or right of payment. Never admit blame or responsibility in discussions with insurance adjusters and other drivers.
Liability insurance follows the vehicle in North Carolina. If you are driving your own car, your personal auto policy will provide liability coverage if you cause an accident. If you are driving a borrowed car, the car owner’s liability policy is first in line to pay for the damages caused to other parties. All victims will present their claims under the policy covering the at-fault vehicle. If multiple drivers and vehicles are responsible for causing the accident, claims can be presented against multiple policies. This allows you to add all available liability coverage together and increase the insurance money available to pay your claims.
John and Andy are both driving separate vehicles and both enter the same intersection under a red light. Alice enters the intersection under a green light and is struck by John and Andy. Alice’s injuries and losses are caused by the combined negligence of two drivers. Therefore, she can collect from John’s liability policy and Andy’s liability policy.
The two types of liability coverage found on every policy are property damage liability and bodily injury liability. Property damage coverage pays for all vehicle damage and other personal property loss. Bodily injury liability is separate coverage for physical injuries caused in the accident. Only innocent victims can collect, including other drivers and all innocent guest passengers. The coverage for bodily injury is typically split-limits, with a single per-person limit and a per-accident limit on the same policy. The per-person limit is the most any single victim can collect from that policy, regardless of the extent of medical care costs or the severity of injury. The per-accident limit is the most any group of victims will receive for all injury claims arising from a single accident or occurrence.
Liability coverage on auto policies is typically issued in the following amounts:
- bodily injury per victim / per occurrence—$30,000.00/$60,000.00
- bodily injury per victim / per occurrence—$50,000.00/$100,000.00
- bodily injury per victim / per occurrence—$100,000.00/$300,000.00
- bodily injury—$300,000.00 combined single limit
- bodily injury—per victim / per occurrence $250,000.00/$500,000.00
- bodily injury—per victim / per occurrence $500,000.00/$1,000,000.00