Hire An Attorney When The Insurance Company Refuses To Defend

Insureds in Weatherford, Mineral Wells, Aledo, Azle, Willow Park, Hudson Oaks, Springtown, Millsap, Brock, and all other places in Parker County have to protect themselves immediately by seeing an Insurance Law Attorney when their insurance company refuses to defend them in a lawsuit.
A 1998, Dallas Court of Appeals case serves as an example of what happens when someone delays in hiring an attorney. The style of the case is, Greenberg, et al v. Cigna Lloyds Insurance Company. Here are some facts:
Greenburg was the independent executor as well as the trustee for his brother’s children. The children eventually brought suit against Greenberg in Probate Court alleging among other things that Greenberg was liable for improper self dealing and breach of fiduciary duty. After receiving notice of the suit, Greenberg contacted two insurance companies that had secured insurance policies, including commercial general liability policies. Greenberg and his sons were told that there was no coverage under the policies. Greenberg hired an attorney to represent him in the probate suit. Judgment was rendered against him. Later, he entered into a compromise settlement agreement under which Greenberg agreed to pay $1.1 million. The trial in the underlying probate case began on September 25, 1989. In September 1994, Greenberg filed suit against Cigna as well as other insurance companies alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, gross negligence, breach of express and implied warranties, violations of Texas Insurance Code, Section 541.060, and the DTPA, and intentional misrepresentation. Cigna filed a motion for summary judgment which was granted on the basis of a limitations defense. Greenberg then filed this appeal.
In reviewing this case, the Dallas Court of Appeals held that the summary judgment in favor of Cigna was affirmed. The court said that a cause of action for wrongful refusal to defend ordinarily accrues when the refusal to defend occurs. In this case, the underlying trial commenced on September 25, 1989. It is undisputed that the trial preceded in the probate suit without defense being provided by Cigna. Therefore, the refusal to defend occurred at the very latest on the day the trial commenced in September 1989. Greenberg did not file the breach of contract claim until September 1994. Therefore, the breach of contract claim is barred by the four year statute of limitations. All of the extra contractual claims are based on Cigna’s failure to provide a defense. Those claims also began to run when Cigna failed to provide the defense in the underlying suit. The claims are subject to two or four year statutes of limitations. Therefore, the extra contractual claims are also barred by limitations.
Without talking to the parties involved there is no sure way of knowing why there was a delay. There are ways to excuse a delay and to get around the statute of limitations defense, but the facts have to be just right to be successful in this effort.
Bottom line – don’t delay getting an insurance law attorney involved.

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