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Insurance – Auto – UM – Truck’s Debris

Insurance – Auto – UM – Truck’s Debris

Kaska v. Progressive Universal Insurance Co. (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-060-17, 13 pp.) (Linda McGee, C.J.) Appealed from Onslow County Superior Court (Jay Hockenbury, J.) N.C. App. Unpub.

Holding: Even though debris from a truck hit plaintiff and his motorcycle as the debris fell, causing plaintiff to lose control of the motorcycle and crash it, and even though the truck did not stop and neither its driver nor its owner was ever identified, since there was no direct contract between the truck and the motorcycle, plaintiff is not entitled to uninsured motorist (UM) coverage under G.S. § 20-279.21(b)(3)b or the policy’s insurance policy.

We affirm summary judgment for defendant.

Under § 20-279.21(b)(3)b, UM coverage is triggered when there is a “collision between motor vehicles” and the insured is unable to identify the other vehicle’s operator or owner.

For purposes of G.S. Chapter 20, G.S. § 20-4.01(4b) defines “crash” as “Any event that results in injury or property damage attributable directly to the motion of a motor vehicle or its load. The terms collision, accident, and crash and their cognates are synonymous.” Therefore, plaintiff contends that this court should construe the Motor Vehicle Safety and Financial Responsibility Act’s (FRA’s) requirement of a “collision between motor vehicles” to encompass not only contact between motor vehicles themselves, but also contact between motor vehicles and the “load” of a hit-and-run motor vehicle.

The General Assembly added the phrase “between motor vehicles” to describe the specific type of “collision” required under § 200-279.21(b)(3)b, rather than merely requiring a “crash” or “collision.” Furthermore, while Chapter 20’s broader definition of “crash” encompasses both injury and property damage, the FRA expressly limits UM coverage to claims of bodily injury. A section of a statute dealing with a specific situation controls, with respect to that situation, over sections which are general in their application.

Plaintiff’s complaint was properly dismissed under Prouse v.  Bituminous Cas. Corp., 222 N.C. App. 111, 730 S.E.2d 239 (2012).


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