No Sympathy: Injured Claimant Without Auto Insurance Due to Fraud Barred From Bringing Personal Injury Claim

In Bencosme v. Kannankara, no. A-1672-14T3 (App. Div. Mar. 22, 2016), the New Jersey Appellate Division concluded that the apparent harshness of the decision was not a sufficient basis for it to refuse to affirm a trial court’s ruling that dismissed a personal injury lawsuit against a claimant who failed to carry statutorily required auto insurance, even though the claimant was uninsured as a result of fraud.

Federico Bencosme was involved in an auto accident with Joseph Kannankara in which Bencosme allegedly sustained injury. …

Continue Reading

Keeping Up with the Times: Nevada Supreme Court Declares Under What Circumstances Insurers Must Provide Independent Counsel

In an opinion issued on September 24, 2015, the Nevada Supreme Court addressed the issue of under what circumstances an insurer is obligated to provide its insured with independent counsel.

The case, State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Hansen, arises out of injuries sustained by Hansen while attempting to leave a house party. A number of guests at the party were crowding around and sitting on Hansen and his companions’ vehicle in an attempt to prevent them from leaving. Eventually, amidst a hail …

Continue Reading

A Different Track: Mississippi Supreme Court Affirms Voiding of Auto Policy for Failure to Disclose 16-Year Old Son

Contrary to many states, which are reluctant to void automobile policies, the Mississippi Supreme Court in Jones v. Safeway Insurance Company, Case No. 2014-CA-00180-SCT, 2015 Miss. ELXIS 456 (Sept. 3, 2015), upheld the voiding of an automobile liability policy because the named insured failed to disclose her 16-year old son. In a win for insurers, it held that auto policies should be treated as any other insurance contract.

The relevant facts are as follows: Michelle Busby applied for and obtained an automobile liability insurance …

Continue Reading

New Law and a New Trial: Eleventh Circuit Overturns Florida Court Judgment Against GEICO in Bad Faith Lawsuit

On Wednesday, August 19, 2015 the Eleventh Circuit issued a significant ruling that allows evidence to be introduced at trial regarding previous decisions in that litigation, as well as changes in coverage law. In doing so, it vacated a $5 million bad faith judgment against GEICO General Insurance Co. (GEICO) from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The lawsuit arises out of an automobile accident that occurred in 2006. The plaintiff represented the estate of a woman killed in that crash …

Continue Reading

A Line Drawn in the Soil: Jeep is Not a “Farm Implement” Under Farm Policy

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois applied the “eight-corners” rule to determine that insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify insured in Elmore v. Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company et al. (S.D.Ill. July 27, 2015).

The plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action against Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance, alleging that Grinnell had a duty to defend and indemnify the plaintiff under the terms of his Farm-Guard policy for damages arising out of a motor vehicle accident on a public highway in Illinois. …

Continue Reading

Threshold for Extra-Contractual Liability Reaches New Low

The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina recently ordered an auto insurer to pay a $1.1 million dollar excess judgment because the settlement checks sent by the adjuster did not arrive in the plaintiff’s counsel’s hands within the 24-hour limit set by the plaintiff’s counsel. With a claim-to-settlement span of a mere 25 days, this case may set a new, far lower standard for “negligent” claims handling, and allowed the plaintiff’s counsel to place requirements on how a carrier must handle …

Continue Reading

Eighth Circuit Confirms Focus on Global Settlement is Not Bad Faith

In Purscell v. Tico Insurance Co., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the insurer on a bad faith claim. The insured sued his motor vehicle carrier for alleged bad faith failure to settle third-party claims made against him following an automobile collision. The court held that the insurer did not breach the duty to act in good faith.

The case involved claims from multiple parties – two people who were injured and one who was …

Continue Reading

No Bad Faith Where Insurer’s Valuation of Claimant’s Injuries is in the Ballpark

In Hicks v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71985 (C.D. Cal. June 1, 2015), the district court held that Progressive did not breach the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing through its investigation of, and subsequent dispute of, plaintiff Chris Hicks’ damages in an arbitration of Hicks’ underinsured motorist claim.

Hicks was a passenger in an automobile driven by his mother and insured by Progressive when, on August 12, 2006, the automobile was involved in an accident with a …

Continue Reading