Auto Damage And Claiming Against Your Own Insurance

Grand Prairie insurance attorneys need to know how courts are handling the cases related to first party insurance claims.
The San Antonio Court of Appeals issued an opinion in September, 2012, wherein the insured person did not hire an attorney. Instead he handled the case himself. The results are predictable.
The style of the case is, Clark v. Bristol West Insurance Services of Texas, Inc. Here is some of the case information:
Robert Lee Clark, who appeared in court pro se, brought suit against Bristol West Insurance Services of Texas, Inc. (“Bristol West”), alleging claims for breach of contract and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”) and the Texas Insurance Code. Bristol West filed a no evidence motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. This Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment.
Clark has a personal automobile insurance policy through Bristol West. During the time the policy was in effect, Clark’s pickup truck was struck by another vehicle in Massachusetts. Clark made a claim under the policy for property damage to the truck.
The truck was taken to Woodworth Chevrolet in Massachusetts for repairs. Although Clark now contends he did not authorize the repairs, Clark conceded in his First Amended Petition that he authorized the repairs. Bristol West initially tendered $5,942.63 to Clark and Woodworth Chevrolet for the repairs, and Woodworth Chevrolet began making repairs. Soon thereafter, Woodworth Chevrolet advised that additional repairs were needed, so Bristol West tendered another $1,850.15.
After the body work was completed, Clark had concerns about the frame of the truck, believing it was not properly repaired. Based on Clark’s concerns, the truck was sent to a second body shop for evaluation and any necessary additional repairs. Despite this, after Clark picked up the truck to return to Texas, it became apparent there was still a problem with the truck’s frame. Upon return to Texas, Clark took the truck to a third body shop, which determined the repairs made by the shops in Massachusetts were cosmetic, affecting only the appearance of the truck without actually repairing the damage to the frame. The Texas body shop concluded the frame would have to be replaced as a result of the faulty workmanship. Thereafter, Bristol West concluded the truck was a total loss, but contended it was not covered by Clark’s policy because the damage resulted from negligent repairs by one or both of the Massachusetts repair shops, rather than the automobile accident.
After Bristol West informed Clark that the total loss of the truck was not covered by the policy, Clark filed suit against Bristol West for breach of contract and violations of the DTPA and the Texas Insurance Code. The trial court granted Bristol West’s no evidence motion for summary judgment, and Clark thereafter perfected this appeal.
The Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure govern the required contents and organization for an appellant’s brief. TEX. R. APP. P. 38.1. Clark’s brief failed to meet the basic requirements of Rule 38.1, as it contains no record citations, no citation to legal authority, and no substantive, legal argument. Accordingly, Clark’s “issues” are overruled due to inadequate briefing.
However, even if the court were to have reviewed the no evidence motion for substance, the court said they would affirm the summary judgment in favor of Bristol West.
The trial court is required to grant the motion unless the nonmovant produces more than a scintilla of summary judgment evidence that raises a genuine issue of material fact. More than a scintilla of evidence exists when the evidence “rises to a level that would enable reasonable and fair-minded people to differ in their conclusions.
Clark was required to produce more than a scintilla of summary judgment evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact on each of the challenged elements. Clark failed to meet his burden because although he filed a response to the motion, he did not attach any supporting summary judgment evidence. A nonmovant “must produce summary judgment evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact to defeat” a no evidence motion for summary judgment.
Clark failed to properly brief this matter, and therefore had presented nothing for review. However, even if he had properly challenged the no evidence motion for summary judgment in favor of Bristol West, the court would still affirm the trial court’s judgment because Clark failed to produce any summary judgment evidence in response.
He needed to hire an attorney experienced with insurance law.