Texas Court of Appeals Says New Trial Should Not Have Been Granted After Take-Nothing Judgment in Case Against UM Carrier – In Re State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

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Just because you pay premiums for your uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage does not mean that you and your insurance company will be “on the same side” if you have to make a claim. In actuality, such cases are often even more contentious than a typical car accident case in which the parties are fully insured by different companies.

In the recent case of In re State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, the Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas at Fort Worth was asked to review a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to have a trial court order set aside and a new trial granted in a case in which an underinsured motorist carrier was named as a defendant.

Facts of the Case

In the underlying lawsuit, the plaintiffs were a couple who sued defendant State Farm, seeking to recover uninsured motorist benefits that they alleged were due them as a result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Fort Worth in 2009. According to the plaintiffs, the husband was stopped at a red light at an intersection when he was struck from the rear by another vehicle.

At trial, the jury awarded the husband $198 for past medical care. After applying offsets and credits of some $67,500 previously paid by the other motorist’s insurance company and by State Farm under the plaintiff’s personal injury protection (PIP) and underinsured motorist provisions, the trial court entered a take-nothing judgment against the plaintiffs.

The trial court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial, and State Farm sought a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to set aside its order granting a new trial to the plaintiffs.

Decision of the Appellate Court

The court of appeals entered a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to set aside its order granting the plaintiffs a new trial. The trial court was also directed to reinstate the take-nothing judgment against the plaintiffs. Although there was room for some disagreement concerning the medical evidence at trial, the jury’s finding that the husband did not sustain compensable physical pain and suffering was not “so clearly against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence” as to be clearly wrong or unjust. Therefore, the trial court abused its discretion in granting a new trial.

In so holding, the court noted that the collision that gave rise to the case was at a low speed and caused only minor property damage. The court also explained that the husband had a history of prior injuries and that at least one physician testified that degenerative arthritis – not the accident – was to blame for most of the husband’s complaints.

To Talk to a Lawyer About Your Uninsured Motorist Case

If you have been involved in an accident and have questions about your legal rights, the experienced Texas motor vehicle collision law firm of Earl Drott, P.C., is here to help. To set up a free, confidential evaluation of your case, including advice concerning any uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance claims you may have, call us at (903) 531-9300. We serve clients throughout East Texas, including in Tyler and the surrounding area.

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