Practice Points with Mark Scruggs: Uninsured Motorist Claims
Today's practice point is on Uninsured Motorist claims. Now that’s uninsured motorist claims as opposed to underinsured motorist claims. There’s a big difference in the kind of notice you have to give the insurer in each situation.
Practice Point number 1: Although you do not have to name the UM insurer as a defendant in the lawsuit, you do have to formally serve the UM insurer with the summons and complaint. Mailing it to the adjuster will not suffice. We’re talking formal service pursuant to Rule 4 or any other method prescribed by statute. Take a look at Davis v. Urquiza, 233 NCA 462 (2014)
Practice Point number 2: You must formally serve the UM insurer within the statute of limitations. Not just issue a summons but actually get the UM insurer served within the statute of limitations applicable to the claim. Take a look at Thomas v. Washington, 136 N.C. App. 750 (2000).
Extra credit practice point – If you’re filing close to the statute of limitations and you do not know whether or not the defendant has liability insurance coverage, you may want to go ahead and formally serve your client’s UM insurer within the statute of limitations out of an abundance of caution. If you find out later the defendant does not have liability coverage, and you have not given formal notice of a UM claim to your client’s UM insurer within the statute of limitations, you will be out of luck.