Articles Posted in Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage

Here’s one for Grand Prairie insurance lawyers handling uninsured motorist (UM) cases.  It is from the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals and is styled, In Re Farmers Texas County Mutual Insurance Company.

This case arose from a wreck with an UM driver.  The real party in interest, Luzminda Llasos brought suit against her auto insurance carrier, Farmers, for UM benefits.  Llasos sued Farmers for breach of contract, violations of the Prompt Pay Act, and violations of the Texas Insurance Code, Section 541.060.  Her original lawsuit papers incorporated written discovery consisting of fifteen interrogatories, twenty-six requests for production, and thirty requests for admission.

Farmers filed a motion to sever and abate Llasos’s extra-contractual claims form the underling UM claim.

Insurance lawyers will see situations where there is a question whether or not the “uninsured motorist” (UM) provisions of a policy apply to provide coverage.  An interesting case was heard in the Amarillo Court of Appeals dealing with this issue.  It is styled, Jesse Salinas v. Progressive County Mutual Insurance Co.

Jesse appeals a summary judgment in favor or Progressive.

Jesse was a passenger in a one vehicle accident that was stolen.  No one had permission to drive, occupy, or otherwise use the vehicle.

Lawyers in the Dallas and Fort worth areas who handle underinsured motorist (UIM) cases need to read this 2017 opinion from the Texas Supreme Court.  It is styled, Okelberry v. Farmers Texas County Mutual Insurance Co.

Steven Okelberry and his wife, Patricia, had an auto policy with Farmers that provided $500,000.00 in UIM coverage.

Steven and his two sons were injured in an 18-wheeler accident insured by Home State.  Steven suffered a neck injury requiring surgery and the possibility of additional surgeries.

Lawyers handling insurance disputes involving uninsured motorist (UM) coverage should already know the law discussed in a recent case from the Southern District, Houston Division.  The case is, Eleazar Cantu, Jr. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

Cantu was injured when he fell off a truck driven by an uninsured motorist.  Cantu sued the driver, two other UM individuals, and State Farm and took a default judgment in the amount of $65,095.12.  Cantu demanded State Farm pay $30,000, the policy limit, and when State Farm declined to pay, Cantu sued State Farm.

State Farm moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that it is not responsible for paying the default judgment in the uninsured-motorist lawsuit because it did not consent to be bound by that judgment.  Mr. Cantu responded and cross-moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that State Farm’s knowledge of and participation in that lawsuit indicated its consent to be bound by the default judgment.

Insurance lawyers in Fort Worth and elsewhere need to read this case regarding settlement credits and under-insured (UIM) coverage.  It is from the Houston Court of Appeals [14th Dist.].  It is styled, Farmers Texas County Mutual Insurance Company v. Okelberry, et al.

Steven Okelberry and his wife, Patricia has UIM coverage with Farmers.  Steven and his two sons were injured in an accident caused by an 18 wheeler insured by Home State.  Steven suffered a neck injury requiring surgery and possibly future surgeries.

Home State settled Steven’s property damage claim for $20,066.12 out of a total policy limits of $750,000.  Steven and his two sons sued the 18 wheeler company and its driver for their personal injuries.

Mineral Wells attorneys who handle underinsured motorist claims need to read this Austin Court of Appeals opinion.  It is styled, Johnson v. State Farm Automobile Insurance Company.

This suit arises from a suit brought by Jerry Johnson seeking declarations construing the terms of two insurance policies following an automobile accident in which Jerry’s son, Jacob, was injured while Jerry was driving.

In 2008, Jerry and Jacob were traveling in Colorado in a rented car driven by Jerry when Jerry caused an accident which severely injured his 11 year old son. Jacob.  Jacob lived with his parents at the time of the accident and remained in the home until May 29, 2015, when he permanently moved out of the residence.  Jerry had an auto policy and an umbrella policy with State Farm.  The auto policy contains a provision, the “family member exclusion,” that excludes from liability coverage bodily injury to “any family member, except to the extent of the minimum limits of Liability Coverage required” by the Texas Motor Vehicle Safety-Responsibility Act, which was $25,000 at the time.  “Family member” is defined as “a person who is a resident of your household and related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption.”  The umbrella policy has a similar provision.  Jerry sought coverage under both policies.  State Farm refused coverage beyond the $25,000.00 minimum.

Most insurance lawyers know this – – that a first party uninsured motorist claim cannot litigate bad faith until there has been a resolution to the uninsured motorist (UM) part of the claim.  This is illustrated in the February 2017, opinion from the 14th Court of Appeals styled, In Re Allstate County Mutual Insurance Company.

Allstate was sued for UM benefits and at the same time sued for extra-contractual bad faith claims.  The Judge in the case would not sever and abate the extra-contractual causes of action from the UM claim and this mandamus action resulted.

The real party in interest, Alexa St. Julian was involved in an automobile accident with an uninsured driver.  Alexa was unable to reach a settlement with Allstate, who had made a settlement offer, and the lawsuit resulted.  Allstate sought for the UM claim to severed and abated from the extra-contractual claims.

Most insurance lawyers already know the law regarding uninsured (UIM) claims and extra-contractual damages.  A Dallas Court of Appeals opinion restates it.  The opinion is, In Re Geico Advantage Insurance Company and Celia Stefl.

This is a mandamus proceeding wherein the real party in interest, Marion Thorpe, sued Geico and Stefl to recover uninsured motorist benefits and extra-contractual damages following a motor vehicle accident.  The trial court denied Geico’s request for a bifurcated trial and this mandamus action resulted.

Mandamus relief is appropriate when a trial court abuses its discretion in denying a motion to sever and abate extra-contractual claims in an UIM case.

Lawyers who handle uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM) cases need to read this 2016, Corpus Christi Court of Appeals opinion.  The case is styled, In re Luna.

In this UM case, the Court conditionally granted a petition for mandamus where the insured sought to obtain the deposition of State Farm’s corporate representative.   In this case, Luna originally sued Armando Antunez, the intoxicated, uninsured motorist who caused Luna to sustain severe injuries.    Luna also sued State Farm for UM benefits and for extra-contractual claims.  The Court severed all three cases from each other and abated the UM and the extra-contractual case during the case against Antunez. 

During the original case filed against Antunez, Luna requested the deposition of State Farm’s corporate representative.   The trial court denied that request, and Luna did not challenge the Court’s decision in the case against Antunez.    Eventually, Luna took a default judgment against Antunez and began prosecuting the UM case against State Farm.  

An insurance law lawyer might be asked how uninsured motorist coverage works with workers compensation insurance.  One way that it works is explained in a 2016, Austin Court of Appeals opinion.  The opinion is styled Soledad v. Texas Farm Bureau.

Soledad was a passenger in a vehicle owned and leased by her employer, Schneider National Carriers, when it was involved in a single vehicle accident.  Jeff Noe, a fellow employee, was driving the vehicle.  Both were working with Schneider at the time of the accident, which was the result of Noe’s negligence.  Soledad suffered injuries.

Soledad had uninsured motorist (UM) coverage on her own personal vehicle with Farm Bureau.  Schneider had workers compensation insurance on its employees and also had liability coverage on its vehicles.