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Articles Tagged with uninsured motorist

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Uninsured motorist insurance coverage can help pay for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in the event that an insured is involved in an accident with an uninsured (or underinsured) driver.  An uninsured driver is just what you would think it means – a driver that does not have insurance. Underinsured driver means the at fault driver has insurance, but they do not have enough insurance to cover your damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If an insurance company makes payments to its insured under a uninsured motorist policy, the insurance company has a right to file suit against the uninsured driver in order to assert its subrogation rights. In such cases, the insurance company essentially stands in the shoes of the insured and is held to the same procedural rules as the insured if he or she filed the lawsuit.

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

Many people assume that making a claim on an uninsured motorist insurance policy is fairly straightforward. After all, the other driver either had insurance or didn’t have insurance, right?

Unfortunately, uninsured motorist cases can be just as contentious and adversarial as lawsuits that are litigated between injured parties and defendants who have insurance. Not only is the amount to which the injured party is entitled a common source of dispute, but also it is not unusual for there to be a disagreement about whether the uninsured motorist policy covered the accident in question.

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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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