Louisiana Court Finds Automobile Insurance Company Not Liable for Damages to Plaintiff Unable to Prove Causation in Vehicle Accident

The Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal analyzed whether the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit was entitled to damages from an automobile insurance company.  The court focused on the element of causation and addressed the importance of credibility relating to witness testimony. In December 2009, Steven Jones was involved in a vehicle accident with George Brevaldo in New Orleans. Mr. Brevaldo’s recreational vehicle sideswiped Mr. Jones’ SUV.  Mr. Jones was treated at the emergency room for injuries to his neck, shoulder, and upper back.

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Louisiana Court Holds Insurer’s Policy Definition of “Temporary Substitute Vehicle” Violates Public Policy

In an appeal before the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, the court addressed an insurance policy’s definition of a temporary substitute vehicle.  Many policies include terms and provisions restricting coverage.  Louisiana requires that these exclusions not conflict with statutory provisions and public policy. At issue in this case was whether the policy at issue did in fact violate the statutory purpose of providing coverage to insured individuals when they have a temporary, substitute vehicle. Shannon Boyd’s car would not start one morning, so she left it parked and borrowed her friend Vicki Ellis’ car to take her children to daycare and go to work. While she was driving, she rear-ended another car driven by Mr. and Mrs. Green.  Ms. Boyd and her own vehicle were insured by Safeway Insurance Company of Louisiana.  Ms. Ellis’ car, involved in the accident, was insured by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

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Louisiana Appeals Court Holds Employee Not Engaged in Work Operations During Accident, Therefore No Excess Insurance Policy Coverage Applied

In a recent case before the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, the court addressed the issue of insurance coverage following an automobile accident. The court turned to the standard judicial interpretation of insurance contracts with the purpose of determining the intent of the parties to the contract.  If the wording in the policy is clear and unambiguous, the contract is to be enforced as written. The facts demonstrated that Gary Michael Brown worked for J&J Diving Corporation, and he was driving an employer-owned truck when he collided with a St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Department cruiser driven by Deputy Scott Jarred.  Mr. Brown’s girlfriend was in the vehicle with him, and he had alcohol on his breath. At the time of the accident, he had been driving on a personal errand and was not using the company truck in connection with J&J operations.

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Louisiana Appellate Court Holds Rejection of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Remained Valid, Despite Addition of Two Subsidiaries to Renewed Insurance Policy

Recently, the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal addressed whether a renewal of an insurance policy, and the addition of two subsidiaries, affected the rejection of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  Louisiana law states that a renewed insurance policy, when issued to the same named insured, does not require completing new uninsured motorist selection forms.  The rationale is that a renewal of an insurance policy does not create a new policy, and therefore it does not require the completion of new uninsured motorist selection forms. An exception exists when liability limits change. In the case before the court, the plaintiff, Chris Loudermilk, alleged that since an insurance policy added two additional insureds upon renewal, the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage was invalid. Mr. Loudermilk was driving a motor vehicle owned by his employer, Environmental Safety and Health Consulting Services, Inc. (ES&H), when he was injured in an automobile accident.  He brought claims against the other drivers involved in the accident and their insurers.  Mr. Loudermilk also sued XL Specialty Insurance Coverage, his employer’s insurer.  He alleged that the insurance coverage under XL included uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

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