Uninsured Motorist and the adversarial nature of such claims
Being in a lawsuit involving your uninsured motorist insurance coverage, 56-7-1201, can be extremely strange for the policy holder who serves his UM carrier. The insured individual and their insurance company are in an adversarial relationship in such proceedings involving Uninsured Motorist claims. Your insurance company in a uninsured motoristclaim duty is to their shareholders first and foremost.
In other words, in a Tennessee car accident case, to determine the amount due an insured person who has been hurt by the negligence of an uninsured motorist, the injured person is on the opposite side of the lawsuit of his insurance and the UM carrier can defend the lawsuit in the name of the defendant or the name of the insurance carrier. In some instances the insurance company may eventually recoup some of these funds from the party that caused the crash, but a full recovery is highly unlikely.
The insurance company stands in the place of the Defendant and thus can assert the ordinary defenses associated with being a defendant and the insurance company may have a few defenses of its own, in addition.
Uninsured Motorist Claims and Pre-judgment Interest
In Lewis v. State Farm, the plaintiff was a man who was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident in 2008. According to both the plaintiff and a witness to the accident, an unknown driver caused the crash and then left the scene. The plaintiff's brother was the owner of the car that he was driving at the time of the accident. The brother's vehicle was covered by a policy of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in the amount of $50,000. In addition, the plaintiff had Unisured Motorist coverage with the defendant insurance company in the amount of $500,000.
The plaintiff settled with the brother's UM carrier for policy limits. He then filed a “John Doe” lawsuit, seeking to recover UM benefits from the defendant insurer. Settlement negotiations failed, and the case proceeded to a jury trial, which resulted in a verdict in the plaintiff's favor in the amount of $275,000. After the entry of judgment upon the jury's verdict, the plaintiff filed a post-trial motion for prejudgment interest. The trial court denied the plaintiff's motion, and he appealed.
Holding of Lewis v. State Farm
The appellate court then remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to consider whether prejudgment interest was necessary and equitable under the specific facts of the case. In so holding, the court of appeals found that the language of the plaintiff's Uninsured Motorist insurance policy was sufficiently broad to include the prejudgment interest sought by the plaintiff.
What should I do if I have been in a wreck with an Uninsured Motorist?
If you have been hurt in a wreck caused by a negligent, uninsured, or underinsured motorist and need to talk to a knowledgeable car accident attorney about your case, call Betz and Baril at 865-888-8888.