The insurance company for the owner of the vehicle is primarily liable. So even if the driver had no insurance, he will still be covered under the owner's policy. The owner may also be liable if the driver should not have been driving ( such as bad driving history, no driver's license, or another incapacity).
If you have auto insurance, your own uninsured motorist coverage would cover any damages that the uninsured driver would otherwise have to pay.
You can still sue the uninsured driver, your only issue would be collection. However, there are methods to collect your judgement by the suspension of his drivers license, the removal of his vehicle registration, as well as placing a lien on his home.
You will need to sit down with an attorney to determine your options and your course of action.
When you say the "driver had no insurance" I am presuming that you mean that he has no insurance of any kind. In other words, he wasn't working for some employer that might have coverage, and there is no coverage for the "owner" because the driver was the "owner." (If the owner does have coverage then you should be fine, as discussed by other attorneys.)
If all this is the case, then you are dealing with an "Uninsured Motorist" case, and your automobile coverage should step in the shoes of the insurance company that the bad driver SHOULD have had.
The good news is that in North Carolina, you can as an insured demand that this case be decided by arbitration, which generally is quicker and tends to result in a more predictable outcome.
I would certainly consult a competent, experience attorney familiar with these types of cases.
I hope you son recovers fully, and that he/you receive(s) the funds that will make up for the harm done.
MIKE DAISLEY is a licensed attorney in the State of NORTH CAROLINA. The response herein is NOT formal legal advice and is NOT intended to address the full specifics of the question posed. The above response is in the form of general legal education and is intended to provide only basic information. Questions often leave out critical facts which could significantly change the reply. ALL READERS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED to confer with a competent and experienced attorney to get a more complete answer.
I echo the advice of the other great attorneys listed above. The analysis is pretty simple:
1) First you must confirm whether the driver is truly uninsured. An attorney can track down whether the defendant is hiding other coverages/policies (such as policies for the car's owner, his employer, etc.), and if the driver has other coverages, you can pursue a claim with that liability insurance carrier.
2) If the driver is truly "uninsured", which is a term of art in NC, you can pursue an uninsured motorist claim on your own policy or the policy of any blood relative with whom your son resides.
3) If the driver is truly uninsured, and if your son does not qualify for coverage on an applicable uninsured motorist policy, you're left with the unpleasant option of obtaining a judgment against the individual, which may or may not be worth the paper its written on. To find out, I would suggest retaining an attorney to do an assets/background check on the defendant driver.
4) Either way, under your facts, I would suggest consulting an experienced injury attorney. Good luck! Will
Owens & Miller, PLLC
4030 Wake Forest Road, Suite 300
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone no: (919) 719-2750
Fax no: (919) 516-0063
Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about personal injury law.