Lawsuits Involving Underinsured/Uninsured Coverage And The Responsible Third Party

A policyholder in Weatherford, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Arlington, Mansfield, Colleyville, Newark, or any other city in Texas could find themselves in a position where they are having to sue their underinsured/uninsured (UIM) insurance company. And at the same time, they might be having to sue the person with whom they had the accident with.
When the other driver, who caused an accident, has to be sued and that person does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover the damages you have sustained, most experienced Insurance Law Attorneys will tell you to sue both the driver and your own insurance company at the same time rather than having to incur the time and expense of two separate lawsuits. When this becomes necessary there are usually several options about where the lawsuit can be filed. Choosing the best county to file a lawsuit can often times make a big difference as to the value of the case.
The Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, Section 15.002, cites the general rules governing where a lawsuit can be filed. Sometimes the options are limited, but other times there are many options and when a lawsuit is filed the attorney filing the lawsuit will want to file in a county where the best results are possible. In contrast, the person being sued will make efforts to get the lawsuit transferred or moved to a county they believe is more favorable to themselves, or as it relates to insurance, a county more favorable to the position the insurance company will be taking.
When the at fault driver is sued and the insurance company is sued, one or the other or both, will file papers with the court asking that the cases be separated, rather than tried at the same time. This does not always happen but sometimes when it does, the lawyers for the severed case will sometimes try to get the severed case transferred to a county that they believe will be more favorable to the defenses they will be claiming. The reasons are varied and include, (1) wanting a different Judge, (2) it is more convienient, (3) a favorable jury pool, etc.
When the other side tries to accomplish this transfer it is usually improper. The relevant law in this regard was set out not too long ago in the case, Finlan v. Peavy, in 2006. This Waco Court of Appeals case, was not an insurance case but is relevant for the procedural reasons applicable when a court makes a ruling that the cases cannot be tried at the same time.
The following are some of the statements made by the court in refusing to allow the transfer:
1) It is well settled that the court in which suit is first filed acquires dominant jurisdiction to the exclusion of other courts.
2) Even though the cause is severed, the res controversa remains pending in the court of dominant jurisdiction, the parent suit. This would be to the exclusion of all other coordinate courts.
3) Thus, the severed cause of action remains pending in the court which it originated.
4) And if an action pending in one court is filed in a second court, generally, the second court must dismiss a subsequent suit involving the same parties and subject matter. Any subsequent suit involving the same parties and the same controversy must be dismissed if a party to that suit calls the second court’s attention to the pendency of a prior suit.