Articles Posted in Uninsured Motorist

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truckWhen individuals are involved in a car or truck accident, they can typically bring a tort action against another driver or a different defendant in order to recover compensation for their injuries. However, when a plaintiff was involved in the accident while on the job, additional workers’ compensation issues may arise. Under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, employees are required to provide compensation and coverage when their employees are injured during the course of normal work. The Georgia Court of Appeals recently considered whether an employee may bring a tort action to obtain such compensation when an employer fails to provide the requisite workers’ compensation coverage.

In Saxon v. Starr Indemnity & Liability Co., Saxon was employed as a delivery helper for Talmadge Royal, which delivered ice cream to convenience stores. Saxon was performing a delivery when the delivery driver rear-ended the vehicle in front of them, causing Saxon to suffer injuries. It was undisputed that Saxon was an employee of Royal and was performing within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. However, Royal did not have workers’ compensation for its employees, and Saxon could not file a workers’ compensation request. Instead, several months later, Saxon filed a negligence claim against the delivery driver and Royal. He argued that the delivery driver had acted negligently and that Royal had been negligent in hiring and supervising the driver. Royal’s insurers quickly intervened, as did Saxon’s own insurer because his policy provided uninsured motorist coverage. The insurers moved for summary judgment, arguing that their policies did not allow Saxon to recover from Royal for the accident because his sole remedy was workers’ compensation coverage. Saxon argued that if the court took the insurer’s position, he would be denied any remedy for his injuries, and this was against public policy. The trial court disagreed and granted summary judgment. Saxon appealed.

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two-car accidentIn most instances, determining the ownership of a vehicle in an accident is a relatively straightforward inquiry. One can look at title and registration materials and determine who is on the official paperwork for the vehicle. But what happens when an automobile is being transferred from one person’s ownership to another person’s ownership when an accident occurs? Thankfully, Georgia law specifies the precise time when the ownership of a vehicle transfers, and this can be used to assist with questions of liability and insurance after an accident. A recent case decided by the Georgia Court of Appeals explains how such determinations are made.

In Selective Insurance Company of America v. Conner et al., a dispute arose regarding the ownership of an Xterra that was involved in an accident in Georgia. Ms. Conner had an accident with Ms. Craig, and Ms. Craig’s husband was killed.  Although the case involved numerous factual disputes, solely before the court in this instance was the question of whether Ms. Conner owned the Xterra at the time of the accident, and accordingly who was charged with insuring the damages that resulted from the accident.  On the morning of the accident, Ms. Conner went to the DMV in Georgia and filled out the necessary paperwork to transfer the title of the vehicle from a different party, Precision Tapping, to her own name. She completed the paperwork and paid for the transfer. However, it was only six days later that she received the new title for the Xterra. In the meantime, the accident occurred.

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atlanta-from-north-avenue-bridge-813247-mIf you are in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist (“UM”), you may still be able to recover damages for injuries sustained as a result of that driver’s negligence. For instance, if the at-fault driver’s insurer’s policy limits do not provide full compensation for the injuries suffered, you may be entitled to UM benefits under one or more insurance policies. Pursuant to Georgia law, insurers are required to offer motorists two different types of UM coverage:  “added on” (excess coverage) or “reduced by,” under which the UM limits of liability coverage are reduced by the amount an insured receives from the at-fault driver’s insurer. In any car accident case, it is important to determine the extent of the negligent driver’s insurance coverage. While these issues may seem complicated, an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area would be able to guide you through the process with the goal of achieving the best recovery under the circumstances of your case.

In a recent case, Allstate Fire and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Rothman (Ga. Ct. of App. 2015), Charles Rothman suffered injuries as a result of an automobile accident with Duc Nyguen. At the time of the accident, Rothman was driving his employer’s truck. Rothman brought an action against Nyguen to recover lost wages and medical costs. In connection with this case, Rothman served the complaint on his own personal insurer (Allstate) and his employer’s insurer (Westfield Ins. Co.), as uninsured motorist carriers. Nyguen’s insurer, Travelers Ins. Co., paid Rothman $100,000, the maximum amount available under the policy.

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commerce-acts-books-477966-mIn any personal injury lawsuit arising from a car accident, the parties will each be expected to plead and present evidence that supports their relative legal positions. Depending on the facts and the procedural phase of the case, the burden of proof often shifts from one party to another as evidence is presented. Since each car accident case is unique, courts sometimes must step in to resolve questions concerning which party is obligated to prove certain elements of a claim. To ensure that your car accident case moves along efficiently and with the best possible strategy for a recovery, it is important that you contact a local Atlanta injury attorney who is fully familiar with the court’s procedural requirements applicable to such claims.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently addressed a dispute between an insured plaintiff and his uninsured motorist (“UM”) carrier over which party had the burden to prove that the “at-fault” driver was not insured within the meaning of the UM policy. In this case, Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company v. Castellanos (Ga. Sup. Ct. 2015), the plaintiff was injured in a car accident in 2009. He brought a negligence suit against Jose Santiago, the alleged “at-fault” driver. The plaintiff received a judgment against Santiago for damages, both punitive and compensatory. During the trial, Santiago’s insurer, United Automobile Insurance Company (“United”), defended the case, but Santiago did not attend the proceedings.

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mountain-drive-1442174-m (1)A person who is injured in a car or truck accident, due to the negligence of another, may file a claim or lawsuit against the responsible party or parties to recover damages for their suffering and losses. In many of these cases, the plaintiff must be sure to serve the automobile insurance carriers in order to fully recover under the applicable policies.  Determining one’s eligibility to recover under Georgia law, to what extent, and under which insurance policies are all complicated and case-specific questions. The answers are not necessarily easy to predict and often require thoughtful analysis by an experienced Atlanta injury law attorney who handles car accident claims, and who can assess your case and prepare a solid strategy for recovery.

In a recent case arising from a car accident between a truck and a County school bus, FCCI Insurance Company v. McLendon Enterprises, Inc., et al. (Sup. Ct. of Ga. 2015), the highest court in the state agreed to resolve an issue regarding an injured party’s eligibility to recover uninsured motorist benefits. According to facts revealed in the District Court, Brooks Lamar Mitchell was an employee of McLendon when he was driving a truck with two passengers and collided with a County bus.  Mitchell and his two passengers allegedly sustained various injuries as a result of the accident.  In 2013, Mitchell sued the driver of the bus and the County Board of Education in order to recover damages for his injuries.  Mitchell also served FCCI, his employer’s uninsured motorist (“UM”) insurer.

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yield-sign-1340780-mA victim injured in a car accident may be entitled to a recovery for any resulting pain and suffering. The injured party typically could file a personal injury action against the negligent person (or persons), setting forth the legal elements under the applicable law. A personal injury lawsuit is considered a civil case, many aspects of which are governed by Georgia’s civil practice rules. The law prescribes timelines and deadlines for various court filings throughout the proceedings. In order to ensure that you assert a viable claim for damages, within the correct time frame, it is essential that you contact an experienced injury attorney from the Atlanta area, someone who is fully apprised of the local legal procedure.

In a recent car accident case, Kelly v. Harris, et al. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the parties disputed the timeliness of certain court pleadings. Here, the plaintiff was in an automobile accident with an uninsured motorist. According to the complaint, the plaintiff asserted that the defendant was negligent in failing to yield as he turned left, directly into the plaintiff’s path, causing the crash. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff had an insurance policy with GEICO that provided uninsured motorist benefits, and he notified the company that he intended to file an insurance claim in connection with the accident. After filing the complaint against the defendant, the plaintiff served GEICO with a copy of the summons and complaint approximately eight months later.

GEICO moved for summary judgment, claiming that the plaintiff failed to comply with the insurance policy’s notice provision, requiring him to notify GEICO as soon as possible after the accident. The plaintiff moved for a default judgment against GEICO for failing to file a timely answer. The trial court granted GEICO’S motion, finding that its answer was timely under an earlier Georgia case (which was later revealed to contain a typographical error – precluding such a finding), and that the state’s Uninsured Motorist Act permits an Uninsured Motorist Carrier (“UMC”) to file no answer. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court should have found GEICO in default for failing to file a timely answer.

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contract-332157-mCar accidents have the potential to cause wide-ranging and long-lasting injuries to the people involved. Georgia law provides the injured victim with recourse against a negligent driver. While there are several elements to plead and prove in any personal injury action, the legal questions do not stop there. Add to this complex scenario the issue of insurance coverage:  do the drivers have automobile insurance, which policies apply to the circumstances of the accident, and to what extent will the plaintiff be entitled to a recovery? All of these questions frequently arise in claims arising from vehicle accidents on Atlanta roadways. If you have been injured as a result of another’s negligence, it is essential that you contact an injury attorney as soon as possible to determine the extent of your right to damages.

One of the most potentially confusing matters in virtually every car accident lawsuit is the question of insurance coverage. There are many different kinds of policies that “kick in,” depending on the language of the agreements and the facts surrounding the collision. Sometimes, a plaintiff is entitled to recover under more than one policy. In a recent case, Donovan v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Co. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the plaintiff, Lara Donovan, was a passenger in a pick up truck when the truck collided with a vehicle being driven by Jonathon McMillon. Donovan claimed that she sustained injuries that exceeded $100,000. Donovan had been living with her mother at the time of the accident.

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mountain-drive-1442174-mA victim injured in a car accident must adequately plead and prove several elements in order to recover damages for any resulting pain and suffering. In most cases, each driver’s automobile insurance carrier will be involved in the court action to some extent. Under certain circumstances, a driver’s insurance carrier could attempt to legally deny coverage, thereby rendering the driver “uninsured.” When this happens, the injured party could potentially seek “uninsured motorist” (“UM”) benefits from his or her own policy. Claims arising under a UM policy are complicated and require strict awareness and attention to detail. If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to consult with an experienced Atlanta injury attorney, who is fully familiar with the most effective way to recover damages for your injuries under the local laws.

Under Georgia law, an insured motor vehicle could effectively become uninsured, when a driver’s liability carrier denies coverage, as long as that denial is legal. In a recent case, Castellanos v. Travelers Home & Marine Insurance Company (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the plaintiff was injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver, Jose Santiago. The plaintiff’s car was insured by Travelers, and he was also a named insured under a UM policy. The plaintiff sued Santiago for his injures. Santiago’s insurance carrier, United Automobile Insurance Company (“United”), defended the case.

The plaintiff also served his UM carrier, Travelers. The case proceeded to trial, but Santiago did not attend, and a jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The plaintiff then sought to recover payment of the judgment from United as Santiago’s liability carrier. United denied coverage, based on Santiago’s lack of cooperation in the defense of the lawsuit and the failure to attend the trial. The plaintiff then sought payment from Travelers under the UM policy. Once Travelers failed to pay UM benefits, the plaintiff filed this lawsuit, alleging, among other things, that Travelers’ refusal to pay UM benefits was made in bad faith.

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crash-car-825017-mPeople injured in car accidents are often eligible to recover damages for their suffering and losses. Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding a case, including any negligence on behalf of other drivers involved, the plaintiff (or injured party) may seek a recovery under one or more insurance policy, including his or her own. While somewhat complicated, the Georgia Code governs many aspects of insurance liability coverage. If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to contact an experienced, local injury attorney, someone who is fully aware of the laws and legal procedures applicable to claims brought in and around the Atlanta area.

Determining whether one is covered under a particular insurance policy may not be a simple task. The language can be somewhat tedious and confusing, depending on a person’s familiarity with such agreements. Additionally, the policy must adhere to state requirements in order to be enforceable. In a recent case, Roberson v. 21st Century National Insurance Company (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the court of appeals reviewed the enforceability of a policy’s “Named Driver Exclusion Endorsement” with respect to a claim for uninsured motorist coverage (“UM”). Here, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident with another driver. He brought an action against that driver and the car’s owner.

At the time, plaintiff’s wife had a personal automobile insurance policy with 21st Century National Insurance Company (“21st Century”). That policy contained a section on UM coverage, namely that the company will pay certain damages that an insured is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle. The plaintiff served 21st Century under the policy’s UM provision, pursuant to Section 33-7-11 of Georgia Code. The policy included a “Named Driver Exclusion Endorsement,” which identified the plaintiff as an “Excluded Driver,” thereby excluding coverage for any claims arising from an accident that involved the plaintiff as the driver. Based on this clause, 21st Century filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff was not entitled to UM benefits because he was a named excluded driver. The plaintiff argued that the endorsement did not apply because he was not listed as a named excluded driver on the declaration page, and the state code and matters of public policy precluded application of the exclusion.

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to-sign-a-contract-3-1221952-mCar accident claims typically involve insurance coverage in one form or another. There are many types of policies and assorted levels of coverage. Parties injured in car accidents may be entitled to recover damages under one or more agreements, depending on the particular facts and circumstances. Significantly, Georgia law provides a great deal of guidance as far as the extent of recovery under certain policies, such as “uninsured” or “underinsured” motorist (“UM”) coverage, among other types. Since the amount a person would be entitled to recover in any given car accident case is dependent on the facts and applicable law, it is imperative that an injured person contact an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently agreed to hear an appeal in a case, Carter v. Progressive Mountain Insurance, to determine whether the lower court correctly applied the motor vehicle limited liability release provision of the state code in rendering its decision. In this case, on February 22, 2010, Velicia Carter (hereinafter “Carter”) was injured in a car accident with Jeova Claudino Oliviera (hereinafter “Oliviera”). Carter alleged that Oliviera was driving under the influence at the time of the accident. Oliviera’s liability insurance policy with Geico had a $30,000 per person liability limit. Carter’s insurance policy with Progressive Mountain Insurance Company (hereinafter “Progressive”) included UM coverage of $25,000 per person.

Carter brought an action against Oliviera and served Progressive as her UM carrier. She settled with Geico (Oliviera’s insurance company) for $30,000 and signed a limited liability release, which is governed by Georgia State Code Section 32-24-41.1. The release allocated just $1,000 of Geico’s payment to compensatory damages and $29,000 to punitive damages. As a result, Progressive moved for summary judgment on the UM claim. The trial court granted the motion, ruling that by imposing the condition that $29,000 of the liability coverage amount be apportioned to the payment of punitive damages, Carter did not comply with a prerequisite for recovery of UM proceeds. The appellate court affirmed, holding that by not allocating the entire payment to compensatory damages, the plaintiff failed to exhaust the limits of Oliviera’s liability policy and therefore gave up the right to make a UM claim. The court held that the Georgia statute permits an injured party to settle a claim and then recover UM benefits only to the claimant’s actual injuries or losses, not punitive damages. Continue reading