Being involved in an Indiana car accident is a traumatic experience. Of course, an accident victim must first deal with the physical injuries and emotional stress in the aftermath of the accident. After the injuries heal, however, there are often unresolved financial issues, including the payment of medical bills, how to pay for future medical care, the money lost from workdays missed, and the pain and suffering endured throughout the process.
Anyone involved in a car accident can file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party, seeking to recover compensation for their injuries. However, in some cases, the at-fault motorist does not have insurance or has low policy limits, such that an accident victim’s injuries are not fully covered. In these situations, an accident victim may file a claim with their own insurance policy, under the uninsured/underinsured motorist provision.
One may think that filing a claim with their own insurance company is a simple process; however, that is not always the case. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations that are always keeping their bottom line in mind. Thus, many insurance companies view incoming claims with an eye toward how the claim can be denied. Indeed, a recent case illustrates how one plaintiff’s innocent error caused her to forfeit any underinsured motorist claim under her own policy.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was insured by the defendant insurance company when she was involved in an accident while a passenger in a friend’s vehicle. Initially, the plaintiff filed a claim against the driver who struck her friend’s car. That claim was processed, and eventually the plaintiff settled with the at-fault driver for roughly $36,000. However, the plaintiff sustained damages in excess of that amount.
In hopes of fully recovering for her injuries, the plaintiff then added her own insurance company to the lawsuit, claiming that the accident triggered the underinsured motorist provision of the policy. However, by this time, over four years had passed since the accident.
The insurance company objected, arguing that the plaintiff did not follow the procedure outlined in the insurance policy, and therefore her claim was denied. Specifically, the insurance company pointed to language in the contract that required the insured to notify the insurance company in a timely manner after an accident and also provide notice once a court case is filed in relation to an accident.
The court agreed with the insurance company that the plaintiff waited too long to notify the insurance company, and as a result, her claim was barred. The court explained that an insurance contract is just that – a contract – and that by failing to follow the procedure set forth in the contract, the plaintiff waived her right to have the insurance company cover her expenses. The plaintiff tried to excuse the delay, explaining that she did not know that she would need to file a claim with her own insurance company until she found out that the at-fault driver had inadequate coverage. However, the court rejected her explanation.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Indiana car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled Indiana car accident lawyers at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience handling all types of Indiana car accident claims, including claims involving difficult insurance companies. We offer free consultations to accident victims to discuss their cases, and we don’t pressure prospective clients to move forward unless it is their honest desire to do so. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
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