Insurance is a good thing. In a Texas auto accident case, the settlement or judgment ultimately received by an injured person usually comes from the negligent driver’s liability insurance company. If the defendant did not have insurance (or didn’t have enough coverage to fully compensate the injured person for his or her losses), the injured person may seek compensation from his or her own uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier.
Usually, this involves a single insurance company – the one to which the plaintiff himself has paid premiums. Sometimes, however, there may be another possible source of monetary compensation. When multiple insurance companies are involved, a “simple” case can quickly become complicated.
Facts of the Case
In a recent case (No. 11-15-00286-CV; Eleventh Court of Appeals of Texas), the plaintiff was a man who suffered a torn rotator cuff when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident during the course and scope of his employment. The accident was caused by another motorist. Although the motorist himself was uninsured, the owner of the vehicle he was driving did have liability insurance. The plaintiff received a policy limits settlement of $25,000 from the insurance company that insured the vehicle driven by the at-fault motorist.
At the time of his accident, the plaintiff was driving a truck that was owned by his employer. As a result of the accident, the plaintiff received $70,000 in underinsured motorist benefits from his employer’s uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist insurance carrier, plus $2,505 in personal injury protection benefits. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant insurance companies, with which he had additional UM/UIM coverage ($50,000 per policy). The trial court found that the plaintiff was not entitled to recover any additional monies under the policies issued by the defendants.
Decision of the Court of Appeals
The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The plaintiff argued that an “other insurance” provision in the defendants’ policies was invalid in all circumstances under previous case law, but the appellate court disagreed. The court went on to hold that, since the plaintiff had been “made whole” (because he had already recovered more than his total stipulated damages), the “other insurance” provision was not invalid under the facts at bar.
Since the express purpose of underinsured motorist coverage is to compensate an insured for his or her actual damages, any additional recovery against the defendants would have been a windfall. Even though additional UIM insurance coverage was technically available, the court ruled that the plaintiff was not entitled to recover benefits in excess of his actual losses from the accident in question.
East Texas Car Accident Attorney Offering Free Consultations
When someone is injured in a car or truck accident that is caused by someone else, the injured person may be entitled to substantial monetary compensation. Whether that payment will come from a liability insurance policy, a UM/UIM policy, workers’ compensation benefits, or another source is a very case-specific inquiry. Earl Drott Law has been handling automobile accidents in east Texas for over 30 years and is here to give you the advice you need concerning your specific situation. Call us at 903-531-9300 for a complimentary, confidential evaluation of your Tyler or Smith County accident case.
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