Many people assume that their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will be there to protect them if they have a serious accident and the responsible party lacks adequate liability insurance to pay the injured person’s medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.
Unfortunately, uninsured motorist claims can be every bit as contentious as claims between clearly adversarial parties, such as an injured person and a negligent driver who caused a crash. This can come as quite a blow to a person who has been paying premiums for years, only to have his or her company deny coverage when it was needed most.
Facts of the Case
In the recent case of Soledad v. Texas Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, the plaintiff was a woman who was injured in a single-vehicle accident while riding as a passenger in an automobile that was either owned or leased by her employer. A fellow employee was driving, and both the plaintiff and the fellow employer were acting in the course and scope of their employment when the crash occurred. It was undisputed that the accident was caused by the negligence of the plaintiff’s fellow employee.
The plaintiff was the insured in a personal automobile policy that provided uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage. The plaintiff’s employer had liability insurance on the vehicle in question. After receiving workers’ compensation benefits for injuries she suffered in the accident, the plaintiff filed a claim for UM/UIM benefits under her personal policy. As grounds, she stated that the damages she sustained in the accident were not fully compensated by workers’ compensation.
After the UM/UIM carrier denied her claim, the plaintiff filed suit against it, seeking a declaratory judgment that she was entitled to coverage under the policy. The trial court granted summary judgment to the UM/UIM carrier, and the plaintiff appealed.
The Decision of the Texas Court of Appeals, Third District
The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment for the UM/UIM carrier. On appeal, the UM/UIM carrier argued that the plaintiff was not legally entitled to recover any damages for her personal injuries from either the owner or the operator of the vehicle because such claims were barred under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act.
The court agreed with the UM/UIM carrier’s argument and held that, under the exclusive-remedy provisions of the Act, the plaintiff was barred from asserting a tort claim against the employer (or her fellow employee) due to the immunity afforded under the Act. Since she was not legally entitled to recover benefits against the person whose negligence caused the accident (or, through vicarious liability, against his employer), the plaintiff was not entitled to UM/UIM benefits under the unambigous language of her policy.
Talk to an East Texas Accident Attorney Who Can Explain Your Legal Rights
Being in an accident is bad enough on its own. You should not have to deal with hassles and delays from the at-fault person’s insurance company or from your own UM/UIM carrier. To talk to a skillful east Texas auto accident attorney about your case, call Attorney Earl Drott at (903) 531-9300. We accept cases throughout east Texas, including in Smith County, Tyler, and the surrounding area.
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