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Articles Tagged with BRB

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By Kyle Roby, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

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Kyle Roby

A recent Kentucky Supreme Court case addressed the issue of PIP or BRB payments, which are also called no-fault payments. This is part of a class action lawsuit against insurance giant GEICO. The company denied PIP benefits based on a doctor reviewing medical records and not examining the individual. This is known as a peer review of medical records by an out-of-state doctor.

This procedure is not found in the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (MVRA). The plaintiffs argued that this procedure should not have been used as a standard for denying benefits and the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed.  In fact, the Kentucky Supreme Court compared the arguments made by the attorneys and the trial court to coon dogs leading a hunter in the wrong direction or as the old saying goes “they were barking up the wrong tree.”

The case is Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) vs. Jordan Sanders and Anita Houchens (individually and as class representatives). The court handed down the ruling on November 1, and ordered that the ruling was to be published, which means it can be used as a standard in future cases.

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Kentucky is a no-fault insurance state. This simply means that each party in a Kentucky auto accident case must first seek payment of medical expenses up to $10,000 from their own insurance companies through a claim for basic reparations benefits (also known as personal injury protection – or PIP – benefits). If a person sustains serious injuries, it is usually still possible to pursue compensation from the negligent motorist.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case appealed from the Jefferson Circuit Court, the insured motorist was a woman whose vehicle was struck from behind in a multi-car accident in May 2015. At the scene, the insured motorist did not report any injuries, but there was minor damage to her vehicle’s rear bumper. The insured motorist later sought chiropractic treatment for injuries she alleged resulted from the accident, submitting the bills to the insurance company for payment under her basic reparation benefits (BRB).

The insurance company did not pay the insured motorist’s medical expenses, instead filing a petition to compel the insured motorist to give a pre-litigation deposition. The insured motorist filed a counterclaim, alleging that the insurance company’s refusal to pay her medical expenses immediately was a violation of the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act. The circuit court found that the insurance company had shown good cause for its request for a deposition and ordered the insured motorist to comply within 30 days. It also dismissed the insured motorist’s counterclaim.

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Kentucky is a “no fault” insurance state. While this does not mean that a person hurt by another person’s negligence can never seek compensation following a motor vehicle accident, it does provide that certain minimum benefits must be available to those who purchase automobile insurance, without regard to fault.

The idea is that injured individuals who suffer only minor injuries will have their medical expenses paid through their own personal injury protection (PIP) or basic reparations benefits (BRB), thus discouraging lawsuits.

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