Articles Posted in Automobile Insurance

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In an insurance coverage dispute following a car accident, the Louisiana Third Circuit affirmed a judgment finding that the plaintiff was not insured under either insurance policy, and it dismissed her claims against the insurance company.  A “garage policy” had been issued to a car dealership that provided uninsured motorist coverage and medical payment coverage.   The issue in this case was whether the plaintiff was in fact “insured” for the pdealershipurposes of UM coverage.  Specifically, the court here looked at the policy language defining coverage and whether the definition of “insured” violated Louisiana law.

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, in August 2013, the plaintiff in this case was involved in a two-car auto accident on I-210.  She contended that she suffered injuries as a result of the accident.  At the time of the accident, the plaintiff had been driving a borrowed car from Service Chevrolet, while her own car underwent repairs. A “garage policy” had been issued to Service Chevrolet, and the car driven by the plaintiff was a “covered auto” under the policy.

The plaintiff settled her claims against the other driver and the other driver’s insurer.  She then pursued a claim against the insurance company for Service Chevrolet for the remaining damages under the uninsured/underinsured (UM) “garage policy” and the medical payments coverage.  The insurer moved for summary judgment, contending that the plaintiff was not “insured” because she maintained her own insurance.  The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment.  The plaintiff appealed.

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In a recent automobile accident case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal addressed choice-of-law provisions as well as the question of whether the defendant driver had been covered by her automobile insurance policy at the time of the accident. The plaintiffs in this case brought a lawsuit for damages against the driver of the vehicle that struck them, their automobile insurance company, and the uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier.  The trial court granted the defendant insurance mailboxcompany’s summary judgment motion, based on the argument that the insurance policy had been cancelled before the accident because the defendant driver had not renewed by paying the required premium.  The plaintiffs argued the trial court erred, and the defendant driver had not properly canceled the insurance policy, according to law.

While the accident took place in Louisiana, on March 1, 2014, the automobile insurance policy had been issued in Mississippi.  The policy terms made clear that the policy would terminate on January 10, 2014, if the insured did not accept an offer to renew the policy and to timely pay the required renewal premium.  On appeal, the plaintiffs’ argument was that the insurance company had not mailed a notice of cancellation 10 days before canceling the policy, as required by Louisiana law.

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The Third Circuit Court of Appeal for Louisiana recently affirmed a decision in favor of an automobile insurance company, finding they need not provide underinsured/uninsured (UM) coverage following a car accident. The issues on appeal addressed the valtruckidity of the “regular” use exclusion and whether, if the exclusion applied, the lower court erred in finding it applied to the plaintiff, who had been driving for her employer at the time of the accident.

The plaintiffs in this case included a woman injured in a two-car accident and her husband. She had been driving a truck owned by her employer, and the other vehicle involved in the accident was underinsured.  Uninsured motorist coverage on the employer’s car had been rejected, so the plaintiffs filed a claim against their own underinsured motorist carrier, Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company (Farm Bureau).  The trial court found in favor of Farm Bureau, and the plaintiffs appealed.

In their discussion, the court stated that coverage under an insurance policy is a question of law.  The plaintiffs contended that the exclusion in the Farm Bureau policy did not apply because it violated Louisiana law. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that the “regular use” exclusion was contrary to Louisiana law and not enforceable.

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In a recent appeal, the Louisiana Third Circuit reviewed whether a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit following a car accident had met her burden of showing the defendant driver was an uninsured/underinsured motorist. The burden remains on the plaintiff to present a prima facie showing of uninsured/underinsured coverage, and in this case, an affidavit by a rental car employee did not meet the evidentiary standard required to prove this status. The court reversed the trial court’s judgment againtersectioninst the automobile insurer and in favor of the plaintiff.

The facts of this case centered on a car accident that took place at an intersection in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Mary King’s vehicle backed into Crystal Stephens’ vehicle. Both women had been driving a rental car. Safeway Insurance Co. of Louisiana had insured Ms. Stephens’ vehicle.

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The Third Circuit Appeals Court recently addressed whether a clause in an automobile insurance liability policy contravened public policy. The clause defined a “temporary substitute vehicle,” which is a vehicle often used by the insured while the primary vehicle is under repair.  In this case, the issue was whether the specific requirement that the primary vehicle be serviced by a repair shop, rather than a home mechanic, denierear end crashd coverage to those who could not afford to professionally service their vehicle. The reviewing court held that the definition violated public policy by “penalizing poverty,” since not everyone can afford to take their car to the repair shop.

Ryan LeGros’ car, a 1995 Honda Civic, became inoperable in September 2012.  He borrowed Louis Istre, Jr.’s 1995 Mercury Sable to travel to work on September 27, 2012. Two days later, while returning from work in Mr. Istre’s vehicle, Mr. LeGros rear-ended a vehicle driven by Sherry Benoit.  At the time of the accident, State Farm provided Mr. Istre’s automobile liability insurance. Safeway provided Mr. LeGros’ liability insurance.  The repairs to Mr. LeGros’ Honda Civic were completed on September 30, 2012.

After the accident, Ms. Benoit made a claim for the damages that resulted from the accident. State Farm paid the damages and filed a Petition for Subrogation. They sought reimbursement from Safeway for the $2,253.07 in bodily injury and property damages that were paid to Ms. Benoit. They asserted that Safeway was the primary policy that covered the accident.

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In this appeal, the wife of a man fatally injured in a car accident brought a lawsuit against the driver of the other vehicle and their insurance company, as well as the insurer of her husband’s vehicle. The court assessed whether the lower court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the insurance company, dismissing the case. Specifically, the court reviewed choice of law issues concerning the relevant automobile policies.

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Oswalda Rangel, the wife of the deceased, filed a personal injury claim on behalf of herself and her minor children, naming the driver of the other vehicle, Felipe Vega-Ortiz, the owner of Mr. Vega’s vehicle, and the insurer, Affirmative Insurance Company, as well as the insurer of Mr. Medina’s vehicle, Progressive Mountain Insurance Company.  Progressive moved for summary judgment on the ground that it did not provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage when the collision took place.  The trial court granted the motion, and Ms. Rangel filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied.

On appeal, Ms. Rangel claimed that the trial court should have made a conflict of law determination before granting Progressive’s motion and should not have applied Georgia law without first conducting a conflict of law analysis.  She also alleged the relevant uninsured/underinsured (“UM”) rejection was invalid.

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Recently, the Louisiana First Circuit addressed the issue of shared fault for a car accident in a personal injury lawsuit involving multiple defendants. Specifically, the court in this opinion stated that defendants have a right to have the issue of liability determined in light of the doctrine of comparative negligence. The court also stated that any parties aggrieved have an actual interest in the appeal. highway

Plaintiff Justin Cotton brought a lawsuit for damages after a motor vehicle accident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He contended that as Patrick Kennedy, the driver in the other vehicle, and he turned right in adjacent lanes, Mr. Kennedy veered into his lane and struck his vehicle.  Mr. Cotton sued Mr. Kennedy, Bread Bizz, Inc. (Mr. Kennedy’s employer and the owner of the vehicle), and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company as the liability insurer (referred to collectively as “Bread Bizz defendants”).

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A recent personal injury lawsuit for damages before the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal required the court to interpret an automobile insurance contract concerning underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. After a car crash, many injured victims seek to recover compensation from the at-fault driver.  However, if that driver is underinsured and cannot cover costs related to the accident, the plaintiff may pursue underinsured/uninsured coverage through an insurance policy.car crash

Kim Simon was involved in a motor vehicle crash when an underinsured driver rear-ended her while she was driving her own personal vehicle.  At the time of the accident, Ms. Simon was in the course of her employment with LHC Group, Inc. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh had issued a business auto liability policy to LHC, with a selection for uninsured/underinsured (“UM”) insurance coverage for “owned ‘autos’ only.”  Ms. Simon filed a petition for damages against the driver and added National, on the grounds that LHC carried and National provided UM coverage for Ms. Simon’s benefit.

National Insurance moved for summary judgment on the ground that LHC’s insurance policy did not provide UM coverage for Ms. Simon because her personal vehicle was not a “covered auto” under the policy.  Ms. Simon argued that a genuine issue of material fact remained because the policy did not describe specific vehicles, as required by Louisiana law.

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In a recent case before the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal, the court addressed whether the trial court made a proper determination of credibility in finding that a settlement agreement had not been reached between the plaintiff victim of a car accident and the defendant’s car insurance company.  The court applied the manifest error standard of review and found that while the insurance company’s evidence may have been at odds with the testimony of the plaintiffs, the trial court was in the best position to judge the credibility of witnesses and make a final determination.

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This case centered on a car accident that took place on February 13, 2012. Margaret Spears suffered injuries in an automobile accident with Safeway Insurance Company’s insured, Andrew Ward. Mr. Ward allegedly crashed into Mrs. Spears’ driver’s side with the front passenger side of his vehicle.  Mrs. Spears went to the emergency room and complained of neck, back, and shoulder pain.  Mr. and Mrs. Spears brought a lawsuit against Safeway and Mr. Ward.  Mrs. Spears brought a personal injury claim, and Mr. Spears alleged loss of consortium.

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A recent meeting in Louisiana could have a big impact on the car repair market.

Reporting from trade venues like Body Shop Business shows hundreds of auto repair company representatives met December 3 in Baton Rouge to talk about responses to an insurance industry that is seen as heavy-handed when it comes to dishing out awards for post-accident auto repair. A brand new trade group may be getting assembled as individual shops voice their concerns about the market context for their services, in terms of how insurers handle payouts and respond to the realities of car accidents that cause substantial damage to vehicles.

A Sleeping Giant

Part of the report shows that some professionals feel a new trade organization has been a long time coming. At the meeting, professionals talked about how insurance companies reach into the delicate equations around providing specific auto repairs, with practices that lots of small auto repair businesses see as intrusive and unfair. The meeting was also surrounded by rumors that Louisiana state businesses would band together to take on at least one multi-state insurer, though some who were quoted denied that this kind of plan is in the works.