Articles Posted in Underinsured Motorist Claims

Truck accidents often cause catastrophic injuries, and in many instances, trucking companies lack adequate insurance to cover the injured party’s losses. Thus, people hurt in such collisions may turn to their insurance companies to recover underinsured motorist benefits. While the law precludes people who are hurt from obtaining windfalls, a defendant deemed liable for a plaintiff’s harm will only be granted a set off of the plaintiff’s settlement with another party in limited circumstances.

A Florida court recently discussed setoffs in an opinion issued in a trucking case in which the plaintiff obtained $4 million from his insurance company and was granted over $30 million in damages from the defendant. If you were hurt in a collision involving a commercial truck, you should consult a capable Florida truck accident lawyer to discuss your options for seeking compensation.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was a passenger in a car that was t-boned by a truck driven by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant owner. He suffered serious injuries in the accident and filed a lawsuit alleging negligence claims against the defendants and claims against his insurance carrier for underinsured motorist benefits. Two years later, he settled with his insurance company for $4 million.

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It is not uncommon for a collision on a highway to cause traffic to slow down. Unfortunately, backups often lead to additional crashes, as approaching drivers may not be able to stop in time to avoid an accident. Drivers hurt in collisions are often owed damages from other drivers. If the drivers responsible for their harm lack the means to compensate them fully for their losses, they may be owed underinsured motorist benefits from their insurers as well. Recently, a Florida court addressed the unique issue of whether harm suffered while a motorist was stuck in collision-related traffic arose out of one or two accidents. If you were injured in a crash by a driver with inadequate insurance, you should speak to a dedicated Florida car accident attorney regarding your rights.

The Collisions Leading to the Decedent’s Death

It is reported that the plaintiff insured the decedent, who was killed in a car accident in 2019. At the time of the crash, the decedent was stopped due to a traffic back up because of an accident that occurred two miles away. A dump truck driver who was speeding failed to slow down in time to avoid a collision that struck the decedent. The dump truck flipped over and landed on top of the decedent’s vehicle, causing his death.

It is alleged that the dump truck driver lacked adequate insurance to fully compensate the decedent’s estate for the losses caused by the decedent’s death. Thus, the estate filed an underinsured motorist claim with the plaintiff. The parties disputed whether the estate was entitled to the policy limits for one or two accidents. As such, the plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action and subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment.

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While Florida drivers are required to carry adequate insurance, many do not, and uninsured and uninsured motorists cause a fair number of collisions throughout the state each year. Luckily, many drivers have the foresight to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance and can seek benefits from their insurer if they are hurt by a party without sufficient coverage. In some cases, though, an insurer will fail to comply with its contractual duties and will deny a person’s claim for first-party benefits. Recently, a Florida court discussed how breach of contract and bad faith claims arising out of an insurer’s refusal to pay underinsured motorists benefits are valued in a ruling on the issue of whether a case should be removed to federal court. If you were hurt in an accident with a driver without insurance and your insurer is refusing to pay you benefits, you should speak to a Florida car accident attorney to discuss your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiffs were involved in a collision with an underinsured driver. The driver was ultimately determined to be at fault for the accident. The plaintiffs suffered significant and permanent injuries. Thus, they filed an underinsured motorist claim with the defendant, their automobile insurance carrier. The defendant denied the plaintiffs’ claim, after which the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the defendant in state court, alleging breach of contract and bad faith claims. The defendant removed the case to federal court, after which the plaintiff filed a motion to remand.

Valuing Uninsured Motorist Claims for Diversity Jurisdiction

The issue in dispute was whether the defendant adequately demonstrated that the value of the plaintiffs’ claims exceeded $75,000, as required for the federal court to exercise diversity jurisdiction. The court explained that the defendant bears the burden of proving a claim is appropriately within a court’s jurisdiction. In cases in which the plaintiff does not assert a precise amount of damages, the defendant must prove that the majority of the evidence demonstrates that the amount the plaintiff seeks in damages exceeds the jurisdictional threshold.

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