Underinsured motorist coverage – more valuable to you than to your insurance company

Last week a jury in Hamilton County awarded $600,000 to a woman in her lawsuit for underinsured motorist coverage against her insurance company, State Farm. The insurance company for the driver who caused the collision paid its $100,000 policy limits before the lawsuit. State Farm thought her claim for underinsured motorist coverage was only worth $20,000. The jury obviously disagreed.

If you have a claim that is worth more than the insurance policy limits of the driver who caused the collision, you should be very skeptical of what your own insurance company tells you your underinsured motorist coverage claim is worth. The Hamilton County case last week shows that your claim might be more valuable to you than to your insurance company.

Another win for the little guy.

A Madison County jury returned a verdict in favor of my client, and awarded the compensation my client had been seeking for more than 3 years.

My client, a retiree, spent his winters in Florida. While he was in Florida, a water pipe broke and leaked water inside his house. Fortunately, his niece discovered the leaking water pretty early when she stopped by to check on the house. She shut the water off at the master control valve in the garage. Damages were minimal — wet carpet in two rooms but no other damage to the house. My client decided he would wait to get the water pipe fixed until he returned to Indiana in the Spring.

When my client’s water softener company came to his house to deliver salt, the delivery person turned the water supply back on. This caused extensive damage to my client’s house because my client’s niece did not discover the running water until she stopped by the house again three weeks later. My client spent more than $77,000 to repair his house.

My client reported the damages to the water softener company which, in turn, reported the claim to its insurance company. The water softener company’s insurance company denied my client’s claim. The insurance company insisted that the water softener company employee did not turn the water on.

During the litigation, we confirmed that the water softener company’s employee did turn the water on. Incredibly, the water softener company denied that it ever told its insurance company that its employee did not turn the water on. Ask yourself, how did the insurance company think it could get away with claiming that the employee did not turn the water on when, in fact, he did turn the water on? It took the jury only an hour to decide that my client deserved to be compensated for his damages.

The lesson to be learned is to always remember that an insurance company will sometimes do or say anything to avoid having to compensate you for your damages.

Do you watch where you walk?

The question is so simple, and yet so difficult to answer. The next time you are walking, pay attention to where your eyes are focused. I’ll bet they’re focused straight ahead. That’s normal, right? But to an insurance company claims rep, you may be doing it all wrong.

A client recently hired me for injuries he suffered in a fall. Like a lot of people, before he called me he trusted the oh-so-friendly insurance company claims rep who told him she just wanted to settle his case fairly. The client agreed to give a recorded statement to the claims rep. The client said he was looking straight ahead while he was walking. The client then admitted that if he had been looking down while he was walking he would have seen the hazard. Before he knew it, he was agreeing with the claim rep that the whole thing was his fault!

The problem with this is that it’s not normal to look down while you walk. The next time you’re on a busy sidewalk, or in a shopping mall, you’ll notice that no one looks down while they walk. Sure, if there is a dog sitting in your path you will see it in your peripheral vision even while looking straight ahead. But if the hazard is less visible, you may not see it.

Slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall incidents are challenging cases. Don’t make yours even more difficult by trying to go it alone without consulting an injury attorney.

Can you trust the other person’s insurance company?

A client made a claim for water damage to the insurance company of the water softener business we allege caused his house to flood. The insurance company told my client, in writing, the no one from the water softener business turned his water on, so they can’t be blamed for his water damage.

When I took the depositions of two representatives of the water softener business, they both admitted that they did turn the water on. They also admitted that they never told their insurance company that they didn’t turn the water on. If these people never told their insurance company that they didn’t turn the water on, then why would their insurance company say that?

If you have a claim for damages caused by someone else, it makes you wonder whether you can trust the other person’s insurance company to be honest with you.

Indiana Supreme Court rules in favor of injured insurance policyholders

The Indiana Supreme Court just handed down a decision that is a big victory for injured people who are forced to fight their own insurance company to recover the damages they deserve. In State Farm v. Kimberly Earl and the Estate of Jerry Earl, Jerry Earl was severely injured in a motor vehicle collision with a hit-and-run driver. Mr. Earl made a claim for damages to his own insurance company, State Farm, under his uninsured motorists coverage. Even though Mr. Earl was making an insurance claim under his own insurance contract, State Farm argued at trial that the jury should not be told about how much insurance coverage Mr. Earl had bought. The trial court judge ruled that the jury should know about how much insurance coverage Mr. Earl had bought and paid for, and the Indiana Supreme Court agreed.

This is a big win for the people of Indiana and a reminder that no matter how powerless the insurance company tries to make you feel, justice can and does prevail.