Articles Posted in Insurance Issues

Florida is known for its fantastic golf courses. Unfortunately, Florida is also known for its bad drivers. When Florida drivers get behind the wheel of a golf cart, accidents are bound to happen. This is especially the case when a golfer has a few drinks while on the links.

Golf CartFlorida golf cart accidents are more common than most believe. This is due in part to the fact that serious injuries are rare in golf cart accidents. However, golf cart accidents are very real, and a significant number of Floridians are injured in golf cart accidents each year.

A recent case brought by an injured pedestrian who was struck by a golf cart illustrates the difficulties accident victims may encounter when filing a claim after a golf cart accident.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case involving an out-of-state student who was listed as a driver on her parents’ Florida insurance policy. The case required the court to determine if the insurance company’s refusal to cover the accident was proper under the insurance contract. Ultimately, the court parsed the language of the insurance policy and determined that the plaintiff should be covered under her parents’ policy.

Front-End DamageThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was originally a resident of Florida but attended college out of the state. Although she had moved away, the plaintiff remained as a listed driver on her parents’ insurance policy. The policy covered both parents as well as the parents’ relatives. As many contracts do, the policy defined the term “relative” to mean either a related person who lived with the parents or an unmarried and un-emancipated minor who is away at college.

While away at school, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident. The accident was undisputedly the fault of the other motorist. However, that motorist did not have car insurance. Thus, the plaintiff filed a claim with her parents’ insurance policy under the uninsured motorist protection clause.

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As is often the case in many of life’s endeavors, preparation is crucial to the outcome of a Florida personal injury case. While this is true across the board – from the moment the case is filed to when the jury returns a verdict – preparation is especially important when it comes to understanding the other side’s case and anticipating which issues may arise. Such preparation gives a Florida personal injury plaintiff an advantage that cannot be overstated.

Rollover AccidentA recent case illustrates how an insurance company’s lack of preparation resulted in the company waiving an issue that would otherwise likely have been resolved in its favor. As a result of the company’s failure to raise the issue, the plaintiff was successful in getting an adverse lower court ruling reversed in her favor.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when she was involved in a car accident that was caused by another motorist. The at-fault motorist did not have adequate insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiff for her injuries. However, the plaintiff was covered by two other insurance policies, both of which contained underinsured motorist protection. The plaintiff’s mother had a policy with Allstate that provided $25,000 in underinsured motorist coverage. Additionally, the plaintiff’s father’s policy with Geico provided $20,000 in underinsured motorist protection.

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After a driver is involved in a South Florida car accident, they will likely make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, seeking compensation for the damages they sustained in the accident. In the event that the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have adequate insurance, the accident victim may then have to file a claim with their own insurance company.

Car AccidentInsurance claims, however, are not always approved. Insurance companies operate on a for-profit model and are often looking for ways to reduce their costs. This may mean trying to find ways to deny a claim that would otherwise be costly to the insurance company. A recent case illustrates the difficulties one motorist had when making a claim with his own insurance company following a serious car accident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and his wife were involved in a serious car accident with another driver. The plaintiff’s wife was seriously injured and later died before she could recover from her injuries. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver as well as his insurance company. In addition, since he believed that the at-fault driver’s insurance policy was not going to provide full compensation for his loss, the plaintiff named his own insurance company, based on the underinsured motorist provision in his insurance contract.

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Most people buy car insurance with the hope that they never have to use it. Indeed, aside from being required by law, car insurance provides motorists with the peace of mind of knowing that, should the unthinkable happen, at least they will be covered. However, thousands of South Florida car accident victims are shocked each year when they are made a low-ball settlement offer that doesn’t cover their expenses, or they are told by their insurance company that their claim has been denied.

Rear-EndedFollowing most Florida car accidents, the accident victim will file a claim with the other driver’s insurance policy. However, there may be several reasons why a driver files a claim against their own insurance company as well. For example, if the other driver’s insurance limits are too low, the accident victim may seek compensation through their own policy’s underinsured motorist provision. A recent case illustrates how a driver’s own insurance company may try to limit the amount of money payable to the accident victim.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the surviving family members of two people who were killed in a car accident. At the time, the plaintiffs’ family insured five cars through the insurance company. Since the company had a rule to only have a maximum of four cars per policy, the company generated two policy numbers. Three of the plaintiffs’ cars were on one policy, and two of their cars were on the other policy. Each policy had a limit of $250,000 for underinsured motorist protection.

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Florida has long had a reputation for being a state with a large number of “bad drivers.” Indeed, Florida drivers are involved in over 250,000 auto accidents each year, with over 100,000 of those accidents resulting in serious injuries. In all, Florida car accidents are responsible for approximately 1,800 fatalities each year.

Smashed CarIt may come as no surprise, then, that according to a study released earlier this month, Florida ranks among the states with the worst drivers in the country. The study took various variables into account, including the total number of drivers, the number of DUI accidents, the number of traffic tickets issued, the total number of traffic fatalities, and the number of uninsured drivers. After all of the data was analyzed, Florida was ranked as the state with the worst drivers.

Interestingly, one key variable that stuck out when looking at Florida driver data was the unusual number of internet searches for “speeding tickets” and “traffic tickets.” Presumably, if a motorist is researching traffic tickets, they have recently been issued a ticket or warning by a police officer. Florida also had the second-highest rate of uninsured drivers in the nation, second only to Oklahoma.

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Anyone who has been injured in a South Florida car accident knows how difficult it can be dealing with insurance companies. In many cases, insurance companies will seek out ways to settle claims for as little as possible or deny claims outright. Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a car accident case involving a passenger’s claim against the driver’s uninsured motorist protection policy. The court concluded that the insurance company improperly denied coverage because the woman was “occupying” the vehicle at the time of the accident, and her claim should have been approved.

Rear-EndedThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the passenger in a friend’s car. The two were on their way to the grocery store and had pulled into the parking lot when they began talking in the car. As they were talking, the plaintiff heard a loud bang and turned her head to see that two cars had collided on an adjacent road.

The plaintiff exited her friend’s vehicle and approached the scene of the accident. She walked around the back of one of the vehicles involved in the accident to get its license plate number. As she was looking down at the license plate, another vehicle crashed into one of the cars involved in the initial accident. The plaintiff was struck by one of the cars and was injured as a result.

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In a recent case, one state’s supreme court considered whether a high school bus driver could be held strictly liable after she suddenly lost consciousness while behind the wheel. The driver was taking students back from a high school band competition when she experienced a sudden and unforeseeable loss of consciousness, causing the bus to roll over. Several passengers were injured and filed a lawsuit against the driver. After filing the lawsuit, the passengers argued that they were entitled to summary judgment in their favor and that the insurance company was liable for their injuries under strict liability.

School BusA state law required drivers to have motor vehicle liability insurance policies to “cover damages or injury resulting from a covered driver of a motor vehicle” who suddenly and unforeseeably becomes incapacitated. The passengers argued that the state law meant that they were not required to prove negligence when someone suddenly loses consciousness, and that the insurance company was strictly liable in those cases. The insurance company argued that the statute only meant that insurance had to be provided for those circumstances.

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The United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently published an opinion that reversed a lower court’s ruling in favor of the defendant, concerning the plaintiff’s claim that the insurer wrongfully delayed the payment of benefits for her personal injury claim. The appeals court’s reversal of the lower court’s granting of summary judgment to the defendant on this claim will result in the case going back down and proceeding toward a trial if the parties are unable to settle before that time.

Van at the BeachThe plaintiff in the case of Peden v. State Farm had been seriously injured while riding in a car that was involved in a DUI accident, and she allegedly suffered damages in excess of the policy limits of the insurance held by the driver of the vehicle involved in the crash. Before filing suit, the plaintiff made a claim with the defendant, seeking compensation for her injuries, and she was paid the maximum amount under the driver’s bodily injury liability policy limit. She sought the balance of her damages through her own policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, but her claim was denied.

The Plaintiff Files a Lawsuit to Enforce Underinsured Motorist Claim and Alleges Bad Faith by the Defendant

After her claim for underinsured motorist protection coverage was denied, the woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant in federal court to enforce the full benefits of the coverage. In addition to her claim for compensation related to the damages she suffered, she sought additional damages, as permitted under Colorado law, since the defendant denied her initial claim without good reason or even a proper investigation, forcing her to bring a claim that should not have been necessary. After the lawsuit was filed, the defendant paid out the full amount of coverage.

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The Supreme Court of Colorado recently published an opinion reversing a lower court’s decision permitting the trial judge hearing an auto accident case to reduce the plaintiff’s award after the jury returned a verdict in his favor. The plaintiff was initially forced to sue his own insurance company after he was injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, and his claim for damages under his uninsured motorist coverage was denied.

Car AccidentAfter a jury found that the plaintiff was entitled to the relief he requested, his insurance company successfully asked the trial court to reduce the judgment by an amount he had received from the company through a different type of coverage. In reversing the lower court’s decisions, the court held that coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists in that state cannot be reduced by a setoff from any other coverage. As a result of the recent ruling, the plaintiff will receive the entire amount that was awarded to him by the jury.

The Plaintiff Is Injured in an Accident with an Uninsured Motorist

The plaintiff in the case of Calderon v. American Family Insurance was involved in an auto accident with a negligent and uninsured motorist in August 2010. The plaintiff carried an auto insurance policy though the defendant insurance company, which included $5,000 in no-fault coverage for medical expenses as well as $300,000 in coverage for damages incurred in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. After receiving medical treatment, the plaintiff had incurred over $40,000 in medical expenses. He then made a claim for those damages and others to his insurance company. The insurance company had previously paid out $5,000 directly to the medical providers pursuant to the no fault medical coverage, but it disputed the remaining amount of damages that the plaintiff requested.

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