Articles Posted in Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims

The defendant attorney appealed from a Circuit Court order that reduced his contingent fee for legal representation in a motor-vehicle settlement case. The order had been entered in McDonough County, Ill. The plaintiff, the injured party, William K. Kelso, deceased, by his wife and executor, cross-appealed, arguing that the defendant attorney was, at most, entitled to quantum meruit recovery of his attorney fees.

Sharon Kelso, the plaintiff, and her late husband, William Kelso, were involved in a car crash in Arizona in February 2011. He died as a result of the accident, and his wife was seriously injured. The incident was the fault of the other driver, Shauna Nowicki. Nowicki was underinsured, with limits of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. The Kelsos had their own insurance policy with $1 million underinsured coverage through Auto Owners Insurance.

On March 21, 2011, Sharon signed a contingency contract retaining the services of the defendant Richard Beuke for her claim. She signed a second, virtually identical, contract on April 13, 2011, as William’s wife, to recover for William’s injuries. Beuke was a friend of the Kelsos’ son. Both contracts stated that Sharon was retaining Beuke to prosecute a claim or cause of action against Nowicki and/or others responsible for the Kelsos’ injuries (and his death) in the crash. The contract stated that Beuke and his law firm were being retained to “prosecute a claim or cause of action against Shauna L. Nowicki and Daniel Raymond Porth, and/or other persons or entities responsible for the injuries sustained by” Sharon Kelso (in the first contract) and William Kelso (the second contract).

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Donald Waterhouse made a claim for $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage from State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. for the injuries he suffered in a car crash caused by George D. Robinson. Robinson was insured by State Farm, which settled Waterhouse’s negligence case for his $50,000 policy limit. The common fund doctrine might apply to the offset State Farm declared it would take (totaling $27,463) for the money Waterhouse received under his policy’s medical payments coverage.

When State Farm settled on behalf of Robinson, it sent a letter waiving its subrogation rights. But the correspondence to Waterhouse’s lawyer continued, “As of today, we have paid $27,463 under your client’s medical payments coverage. In the event that your client’s case goes into underinsured motorist arbitration, we will be taking this amount as an offset along with a credit of $50,000, which is deemed paid under Robinson’s liability coverage.”

In a motion to adjudicate State Farm’s alleged lien, Waterhouse claimed he was entitled to a credit under the Common Fund Doctrine – against the offset claimed by State Farm – for a proportional share of the fees and costs he incurred in obtaining the tort recovery.

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The Illinois Appellate Court has found that a rental car company, Enterprise Leasing, and the driver who rented the vehicle from it are not liable for a deadly drunken driving incident involving the rental car and the driver who was not the customer.

The Illinois First District Appellate Court dismissed the lawsuit filed by the estate of Laura Linderborg against Enterprise and David Soto, finding that they could not have foreseen the accident that eventually killed Laura Linderborg.

On April 2, 2012, David Soto rented a 2012 Nissan Altima from Enterprise. He parked the car at the house of his boss, Katrina Scimone, and left the keys there. Scimone’s boyfriend, Jesse Medina, took the car and drove it while he was drunk. Later that day he was involved in a fatal crash in Burbank, Ill., after colliding with Laura Linderborg’s car, killing himself and Linderborg, who survived for a while but died two months later from her injuries. Her medical bills totaled $1.34 million.

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Marilyn Bowers was seriously injured when she was standing at a convenience store and an underinsured motorist drove into the building, seriously injuring her. Bowers and her husband were named insureds under an auto policy that General Casualty Insurance Co. issued for their three vehicles.

Each vehicle was listed on the declaration page as having underinsured motorist coverage with limits of $250,000 in return for separate premiums for $24 for a Chevrolet and $29 each for a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix and a 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck.

On the insurance document regarding information on the policy it read: “The coverage listed below applies separately for each vehicle and are provided where a premium is shown. The limit of liability applies separately for each vehicle.”

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Deanne Berrey was working for Curry Ice when she was injured in a car accident caused by Sheri Campbell who only had $100,000 in liability insurance coverage.

Berrey sued Campbell and also collected $103,224 in worker’s compensation benefits. In addition, Berrey claimed underinsured-motorist benefits under a $1 million policy that Travelers Indemnity Co. sold to Curry Ice.

Campbell’s insurer settled with Berrey for $100,000 but paid all of the policy proceeds to Curry Ice because of Curry’s worker’s compensation lien. When the arbitrators considered the underinsured motorist (UIM) claim, it decided that Berrey’s damages totaled $310,000. Travelers claimed that Section D.2.4 of its insurance policy permitted it to reduce the award ($310,000) to $210,000 because Berrey had already technically received $100,000 from Campbell’s insurance policy, which was paid directly to Curry Ice.

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In Illinois, the Illinois Vehicle Code Section 9-101 requires that an entity may only engage in the business of renting out motor vehicles if it first provides the Illinois Secretary of State with proof of its financial responsibility. The purpose of the requirement is to provide the public with protection for negligent drivers who don’t have insurance and rent cars or other vehicles.

Section 9-102 of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides that a rental car company may give proof of financial responsibility by filing a bond, an insurance policy or a certificate of self-insurance issued by the director of the Department of Insurance.

A bond must be in the sum of $100,000 and conditioned on the rental car company’s payment of any judgment resulting from the operation of a rental vehicle or against the company, the renter or anyone driving the car with the consent of the company and the renter. 625 ILCS 5/9-103.

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Mei Pang was a passenger in a car driven by Ingrid Chan in January 2002 when a crash occurred between Chan’s car and another vehicle driven by Donald McGinnis. Pang was injured severely. McGinnis’s insurer paid Pang $100,000 to settle her personal injury lawsuit and claim.

Chan was insured by Farmers Insurance Group. Chan and her husband had a special “umbrella policy.” The umbrella policy covered the named insureds (the Chans themselves), any relatives of the Chans by blood, marriage or adoption or any person under 21 in the care of the named insured.

On Jan. 7, 2010, Pang filed a complaint for underinsured motorist coverage seeking coverage both from Farmers under the Chan umbrella policy and also from Mid-Century Insurance Co., which issued the Chans their primary auto insurance policy.

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On Aug. 10, 2009, Dolores Trujillo was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Adam Delgado.The Delgado vehicle was involved in a collision.  Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance insured Delgado and his car.  The other car involved in the collision was insured by American Access Insurance Co.

Trujillo settled her claim against American Access for $20,000, which was the policy limit, and then settled her claim against Delgado for the $100,000 insurance policy limit on his Allstate policy. 

Trujillo also claimed $80,000 from Allstate as under-insured motorist coverage. The $80,000 represented the difference between Allstate’s maximum under-insured coverage $100,000 and the $20,000 she received from American Access.

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