Forwarding Lawsuit Papers To The Insurance Company

Arlington insurance lawyers should advise their clients to forward any lawsuit papers they receive to their insurance company immediately upon receipt. A 1954, Amarillo Court of Appeals case illustrates this. The style of the case is, Klein v. Century Lloyds. Here is some of the relevant information from that case.
Howard Klein and daughter, Mary Genevieve Klein, were injured in an automobile collision with Charles Gunter, a 21-year old man employed as a rough-neck in the oil fields. Century Lloyds, is the insurer of Charles Gunter. The Kleins after obtaining a judgment against Charles Gunter in amount $10,799.51, sought a recovery of the same against Century as his insurer. The trial court disregarded the findings of the jury as detailed hereinafter and entered judgment for Century.
The record reveals that Gunter failed to notify Century, his insurer, in writing of the occurrence of the accident until approximately 31 days had elapsed thereafter. It is an undisputed fact and stipulated by the parties to this appeal that no copy of the citation served upon Gunter in Cause No. 1012 was ever forwarded to Century.
Century defenses as asserted in the cause on trial are that Charles Gunter failed to notify it in writing of the occurrence of the accident as soon as practicable, that he failed to immediately forward to Century the original damage suit citation and that he also failed to cooperate with the company in the defense of the suit as required by the contract of insurance between Century and Gunter.
The trial court, on motion non obstante veredicto, disregarded detailed findings of the jury and entered judgment for Century. The appeal turns on the issue of whether the trial court erred in disregarding such jury findings. The issue asserted by Klein’s that they were entitled to recover as a matter of law in the absence of harm or prejudice resulting to Century from Gunter’s delay in notifying Century of the collision and in forwarding to it the citation served on him.
It is undisputed that Gunter appeared in the County Court in Garza County four days following the collision and, without any notice to Century as his insurer, entered a plea of guilty to the charge of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, a complaint arising out of the collision. It is likewise undisputed that Gunter did not give any notice in writing to Century of the collision or of the pending claim for damage until 31 days following the date of the collision. Under these facts, and others in the record, the trial court correctly disregarded the jury finding that Gunter gave notice in writing of the collision as soon as practicable.
The record reveals, and the parties so stipulated, that upon the filing of the original cause of action, No. 1012, Gunter wholly failed to forward the citation in the cause to Century. Upon this issue the trial court also correctly entered judgment for Century in that there is no evidence in this record that Gunter in failing to forward such citation relied upon the statement of an agent of Century that his insurance coverage was limited to collision damage to his own automobile.
Since the undisputed facts reveal that Gunter failed to give notice of the collision as soon as practicable, wholly failed to immediately forward the citation in the original cause of action and also failed to cooperate with Century in the defense of any actions arising out of the collision, the learned trial judge correctly disregarded the jury findings on such issues and rendered judgment for Century. Such judgment is impelled by the written provisions of the contract of insurance.

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