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In a pedestrian accident involving a motor vehicle, most people would assume that the pedestrian’s medical expenses and other damages would be paid by the driver’s insurance carrier. If for some reason that did not happen, most would assume the injured person’s own uninsured motorist insurance would honor its contractual obligation and pay the medical claim.

Unfortunately, those assumptions proved to be wrong in a case arising from an incident that occurred in 2012. Instead, the injured man had to file a lawsuit and take his case all the way to the state supreme court in order to obtain relief under uninsured motor vehicle provisions in his insurance.

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Since there are so many variables and complexities involved in a motor vehicle accident case, it is always best for those who are injured in car crashes to consult with an attorney as early in the process as possible. Issues such as the statute of limitations, notice requirements, and other matters concerning timeliness must be dealt with promptly.

The courts do not favor those who don’t exercise their rights to sue in a timely manner. Recently, a Tennessee appellate court was called upon to decide whether an insurance company (which stood in for its insured, to which it had paid damages arising from a motor vehicle accident) had forfeited its right to recover from the responsible party because it failed to file their case after the defendant appealed a verdict for the plaintiff to circuit court.

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In Helton v. Lelion, a couple sued a driver who was operating a vehicle in which a tire became loose and hit their vehicle. The couple initially filed a negligence lawsuit in Wolfe County Circuit Court against the driver who lost her tire. The allegedly negligent motorist with the loose tire apparently did not carry liability insurance when the accident occurred. Because of this, the injured driver also demanded the full policy limits of her uninsured motorist coverage from her own auto insurer, as well as attorneys’ fees and interest.

The defendants removed the uninsured motorist case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington based on diversity of citizenship. Under 28 U.S.C. Section 1332(a), a federal court may exercise such jurisdiction when the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the parties are citizens of different states. In response, the couple filed a motion to remand the case back to a Kentucky state court. Although the plaintiffs agreed that the parties were diverse, they claimed that federal jurisdiction was improper because the amount in controversy did not exceed the statutory minimum. The injured driver also signed a stipulation that the entirety of the damages she sought were less than $75,000.

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