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Lunsford v. Mills: Accidents Involving Multiple Vehicles

In Lunsford v. Mills, a case from the Supreme Court of North Carolina, defendant was driving a tractor-trailer owned by his employer. While driving, he lost control of the truck while going around a curve. After losing control, the truck hit a concrete barrier in the median (Jersey barrier) and flipped over. Plaintiff, a volunteer firefighter, responded to the accident scene and found defendant injured and diesel fuel leaking from his truck.
Plaintiff attempted to get defendant out of harm’s way by lifting him over the concrete barrier, so he could safely assess any injuries. While plaintiff was standing in the highway, second defendant was driving westbound on the interstate.

highway-1421812-m.jpgAt this point, a vehicle in front of second defendant slowed down to avoid hitting the disabled tractor-trailer. Second defendant did not stop, but rather swerved left to avoid running into the tractor-trailer and hit plaintiff. Plaintiff was seriously injured in this car accident. He suffered multiple broken bones, cuts, and internal bleeding.

Boston car accident lawyers understand accidents involving multiple vehicles may require extensive pretrial discovery, including depositions, to gather enough evidence to prove causation.

At the time of the accident, defendant and his employer were insured through the company policy. Company policy provided liability coverage with a limit of $1 million. Second defendant was insured by a private policy with liability limits of $50,000. Plaintiff had two insurance policies with a North Carolina company. One policy was an Underinsured Motorist Policy (UIM) with coverage limits of $300,000 and a second UIM policy with limits of $100,000.

UIM policies are designed to cover an injured party if at-fault party has insurance coverage but not enough to cover the damage caused. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, unless you specifically declined UIM coverage when getting your own liability policy, you have UIM coverage. Most people have UIM coverage even if they do not know it.

Plaintiff filed a car accident lawsuit against truck driver, truck owner, and second defendant under a theory of negligence. North Carolina insurance company filed a motion requesting repayment for any money provided to plaintiff under his UIM policies from any proceeds received by plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Second driver’s insurance company paid plaintiff $50,000. The next day, plaintiff’s attorney notified North Carolina insurance company of this payment and requested the rest be paid from UIM policy. North Carolina company refused to pay anything and said it would review the matter at a later date. Several months later, plaintiff’s attorney informed North Carolina company the claim had been settled in the amount of $850,000. North Carolina had not provided any payment to plaintiff.

North Carolina company requested an order for summary judgment dismissing any claim against them. All parties opposed this motion. Trial judge ordered North Carolina company to pay $350,000 plus costs and interest. They opposed this order.
On appeal, the court found the ruling was correct with respect to the policy, but not with respect to the award of costs interest, as that was outside of their contractual obligation.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment: 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:

Woman Run Over by Own Car at Massachusetts Hotel, June 26, 2014, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog