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Louisiana Court Holds Doctrine of Contra Non Valentem Does Not Suspend Prescriptive Period of Claim Against Automobile Insurance Company

In a recent case, the Fourth District Court of Appeal addressed whether the prescriptive period had tolled for a plaintiff seeking uninsured motorist benefits from his insurance company.  Louisiana law provides a two-year prescription period for uninsured motorist claims, requiring actions for damages stemming from motor vehicle accidents to be brought within two years from the date of the accident resulting in damages. The court examined the plaintiff’s claim that due to Hurricane Isaac, he was prevented from timely filing his petition for damages. Joshua Felix, Jr., brought a claim against Safeway Insurance Company of Louisiana, his alleged uninsured motorist insurer. Mr. Felix contended that he had been driving a vehicle that was rear-ended by an uninsured motorist on May 26, 2011. In August 2012, the courts were closed for three days due to Hurricane Isaac. Mr. Felix’s petition was filed on May 29, 2013.

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Louisiana Court Holds Insurer Acted in Bad Faith By Making Untimely Payments in Arbitrary and Capricious Manner

The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal recently addressed a case of insurance bad faith, determining whether the company had arbitrarily and capriciously handled the insured’s claims. Following a vehicle accident, it may be necessary to submit proof of loss to an insurance company in order to receive payment from the insurer.  Under Louisiana law, if the insurance company fails to timely pay, or does so in an arbitrary and capricious manner, they may be subject to sanctions or penalties and attorney fees.  Since the burden is on the insured to prove an insurance company acted in bad faith, the court only imposes the penalties when the facts support a finding that the insurer did not act in good faith. Dedra Griffin was driving a vehicle with her husband, Sheddrick, as a passenger. Jacob P. Savoy rear-ended the Griffins, causing injuries and damages.  At the time of the accident, Mr. Savoy’s vehicle was insured by Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company (Allstate).  After paying the limits of its policy to the Griffins, Allstate was released by the Griffins.

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Louisiana Court Holds that Wrongful Death or Injury Must be Sustained by an Insured Under Automobile Liability Policy

In a recent case before the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal, the court addressed the reach of an automobile insurance policy’s underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.  The daughter of a woman fatally injured in a motor vehicle accident in Texas sought to recover benefits from her own policy, due to her own emotional pain and suffering.  The court reviewed the terms of the insurance policy and analyzed whether the underinsured/uninsured coverage extended to the daughter of the deceased. Lori Marshall sought to recover uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM”) benefits under her husband’s insurance policy with Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance.  Ms. Marshall had received policy benefits in the amount of $30,000 from Safeco Insurance Company after her mother was killed in a vehicle accident while riding as a guest passenger in a car owned by Tana Roy.  Ms. Roy maintained automobile liability through Safeco at the time of the accident. Ms. Marshall sought UM benefits on the grounds that, since the car in which her mother was riding was underinsured, she was entitled to UM benefits as an insured under the Farm Bureau policy. The Farm Bureau policy provided for UM benefits in the amount of $50,000/$100,000 per insured claim.

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Louisiana Court Affirms Judgment in Favor of Car Accident Victim Receiving Maximum Coverage From Insurance Company

In a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal case, the court addressed what kind of insurance coverage applied to an accident victim covered by the insurance policy.  The policy provided for bodily injury coverage as well as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  The insurance company contended that bodily injury coverage applied, including an exclusion that applied to those repairing or servicing their vehicle. When interpreting an insurance policy, the courts turn to contract law.  This requires an interpretation based on the plain language of the contract, and it also requires the court to ensure that the insurance policy does not violate public policy.  Here, plaintiff Jeremy Elliot was in the course and scope of his employment with Mercedes-Benz Baton Rouge when he was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by Andre Holmes.  Mr. Elliot sued Mr. Holmes and his insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, for the resulting damages.  Mr. Elliot also named Mr. Holmes’ uninsured/underinsured motorist insurer, Safe Auto Insurance Company.  Mr. Elliot settled his claims with State Farm, dismissing them from the suit.

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