Articles Posted in Insurance Policies

When someone is involved in an Indiana car accident that was caused by another driver, there is a good chance that the at-fault driver will not have adequate insurance coverage to fully compensate the accident victim for their injuries. This is also the case in Indiana hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver evades law enforcement and is never located.

In these cases, if the accident victim has an insurance policy with underinsured motorist (UIM) protection, they can file a claim with their own policy seeking additional compensation. However, in Indiana, the minimum requirement for UIM insurance is just $25,000 per person. Thus, in some serious Indiana car accidents, the accident victim’s total damages will exceed both the at-fault driver’s insurance limits as well as their own UIM insurance limits.

When these policies are maxed out, many accident victims may believe that they are out of options. However, that may not be the case. Under Indiana law, the default is that all insurance policies will “stack,” meaning that a policy can be used along with another policy that offers coverage to the driver. Thus, an Indiana accident victim who has multiple insurance policies can combine, or “stack,” all coverage amounts until they are fully compensated. Thus, it is very important for an accident victim to know each of the policies that they are covered under, including other family members’ policies and employers’ policies.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Indiana car accident case discussing whether a man who was killed by an uninsured driver was covered under his employer’s car insurance policy. Finding that the policy did not include the employee as a covered person under the terms of the contract, and finding that the terms of the contract were clear, the court rejected the estate’s claim against the insurance company.

The Facts

The plaintiff was the estate of a man (“decedent”) who was killed while he was mowing his lawn. Evidently, the decedent was mowing his lawn when a driver who was high on methamphetamine struck him. The at-fault driver did not have car insurance.

The decedent’s employer had an insurance policy that contained uninsured motorist (UIM) protection. Additionally, the decedent was named as a “listed driver” in that policy. However, that policy provided that UIM coverage was extended only to “you and others we protect.” In this case, “you” referred to the decedent’s employer, as the insured.

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In a recent case in front of the Supreme Court of Alabama, the court dismissed a plaintiff’s personal injury case that he had filed against the company he claimed was responsible for insuring him. In the case, Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange v. Grayson, the court determined that the jury verdict below in favor of the insurance company should stand. As a result of the most recent decision, the plaintiff’s case will not be permitted to proceed against the insurance company.

The Facts of the Case

Grayson was injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by an uninsured motorist. Rather than sue the uninsured motorist, Grayson filed a claim with his own insurance company under the uninsured motorist provision. He obtained the policy limit of $50,000.

Grayson also filed a claim with his brother-in-law’s insurance company, Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE), seeking additional compensation above and beyond that which was paid by his own insurance policy. While Grayson acknowledged that he was not named on the PURE policy, he argued that he was residing with his sister and brother-in-law at the time of the accident, and therefore he should be covered under the policy.

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s order granting summary judgment for the plaintiffs, and denying summary judgment for the defendants, in a dispute over insurance coverage. In Alea London, Ltd. v. Nagy, et al, two plaintiffs, who had obtained a judgment against a bar for injuries sustained in a bar fight, sued the bar’s insurance company for the judgment amount. The insurer argued that the bar fight constituted an act of battery excluded from coverage. The appeals court agreed, reversing summary judgment for the plaintiffs and instructing the trial court to grant summary judgment for the defendant.

The case originated with a fight that took place on April 30, 2004 at the Copper Penny Sports Bar in Hammond, Indiana. Plaintiff Christopher Buckler had a “verbal exchange” with a woman after he accidentally caused her to spill her drink on herself. Anthony Aponte, apparently in response to the exchange, hit Buckler over the head with a bottle. Buckler’s friend Richard Nagy, Jr., did not witness the battery on Buckler, but saw Aponte leaving the bar with Brandon Odonovich. Nagy followed them, but as soon as he stepped outside the bar, either Aponte or Odonovich struck him in the head with an object, knocking him unconscious.
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