Insurance Attorney Helping To Recover Benefits

Residents of Grand Prairie, Fort Worth, Saginaw, Newark, Boyd, Haslet, Rhome, Roanoke, and other places across Texas who make an insurance claim will sometimes have to get the help of an experienced Insurance Law Attorney at some point. Here is a case that serves as an example of why.
The case is a 2007, opinion issued by the San Antonio Court of Appeals. It is styled, In re Terri Ann Garcia. Here are some relevant facts which get kinda legal in nature but are relevant.
Terri Ann Garcia, the plaintiff in the underlying breach of contract suit seeking underinsured (UM) motorist benefits. She sought a writ of mandamus to vacate the trial court’s order quashing the deposition of a State Farm representative. Her attorney argued that by preventing the deposition of a representative of State Farm, the trial court abused its discretion.
Garcia maintained she was injured when a UM motorist hit the car she was driving. When State Farm denied her claim for benefits, Garcia sued for breach of contract and other Insurance Code violations. The trial court severed these “extra-contractual” claims and allowed the breach of contract claim to go forward.
Garcia subsequently informed State Farm of her intent to take the oral deposition of one or more of its designated representatives. Garcia’s notice allowed State Farm to identify the representative to be deposed and described the matters to be covered in the examination. State Farm moved to quash the deposition, arguing Garcia’s pleadings allege no cause of action that warrants the taking of the deposition. Garcia’s attorney then filed this original mandamus.
In the mandamus petition, Garcia asserted the trial court’s order afforded State Farm “a special immunity from discovery not contemplated by the Texas Rules of Procedure,” emphasizing that State Farm “should not be permitted to conduct full and complete discovery of her position on issues pertaining to the breach of contract allegations” while she was prevented from discovering similar information from State Farm.
In discussing the case, the court noted that for Garcia to prevail in her breach of contract claim, Garcia had to prove the liability of the UM motorist and her actual damages. State Farm had pled several defenses to Garcia’s claim, including disputing her actual damages. State Farm alleged Garcia failed to comply with all conditions precedent to recover under her insurance policy; Garcia suffered from pre-exisisting injuries and conditions; Garcia suffered from subsequent and intervening injuries and conditions not caused by the accident; and Garcia failed to mitigate her damages by ignoring her doctor’s instructions and failing to seek appropriate treatment.
Garcia’s deposition notice had informed State Farm that the deposition would cover ten specific areas, including the occurrence or non-occurrence of all conditions precedent under the contract, any facts supporting State Farm’s legal theories and defenses, and information concerning State Farm experts. This is all information that is clearly relevant and properly discoverable, absent a showing of privilege or some other exemption authorized by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
State Farm argued many theories to the court and it contended that it has stipulated to the insurance policy, the underlying policy limits, and the amount of any offsets or credits. At the hearing on the motion to quash, State Farm represented to the trial court that in the future it would stipulate to the policy of insurance, the facts supporting its legal theories and defenses, its limitation of liability, and any offsets or credits to which it is entitled. However, as the court pointed out, nothing in the record shows State Farm stipulated to any of these matters. State Farm’s assurances that it will stipulate to these matters in the future is not a proper substitute for discovery.
In it’s conclusion, the court said, “Without the opportunity to fully discover information about State Farm’s multiple defenses, Garcia is effectively prevented from verifying or refuting those defenses. Moreover, as State Farm acknowledges in its brief, Garcia must establish at trial that ‘her damages exceed the underlying liability limits and any other offsets or credits State Farm may be entitled to.’ Thus, quashing the deposition in its entirety severely compromises Garcia’s ability to present and prove her case.”
This case is a great illustration of the games and the extent insurance companies will sometimes go to, to avoid paying claims.