Articles Posted in Insurance Dispute

tug_boat_barge_towing-1024x681The language used in insurance policies can hold immense significance when determining the resulting coverage and payouts. In a compelling case involving three tug boats, the M/V Miss Dorothy, the M/V Angela Rae, and the M/V Freedom, an unfortunate collision prompted a dispute over insurance claims. As insurers of the Miss Dorothy sought compensation from the owners of the Angela Rae, the crux of the matter revolved around the interpretation of key terms within the insurance policies. The court’s analysis focused on the definition of “tow” and the parties’ intent, underscoring the critical role that precise language plays in insurance contracts. This case serves as a powerful reminder to both drafters and signers of insurance policies that every word holds weight and can shape the outcome of a claim.

Three tug boats, the M/V Miss Dorothy, the M/V Angela Rae, and the M/V Freedom, plied the Mississippi River with a barge boat in tow. The Angela Rae and the Freedom were positioned behind the barge, and the Miss Dorothy was positioned in front. The Angela Rae was designated as the ‘lead tug’, with the other boats acting as ‘assisting tugs.’ 

In an unfortunate turn of events, the Miss Dorothy collided with a portion of the Sunshine Bridge’s fender. The Miss Dorothy subsequently sank, resulting in a total loss of the ship and its machinery on board. In the ensuing dispute over insurance claims, the insurers of the Miss Dorothy sued the owners of the Angela Rae in its capacity as the lead tug. The two insurers of the Angela Rae, Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company (“Atlantic Specialty”) and P & I Underwriters (“P & I”), both filed motions averring the insurance responsibility to the other, claiming that the other’s policy should be paid out instead of their own. 

storm_damage_hurricane_wind-1024x768Borrowing a car from family or friends is a common occurrence. While you might think your car insurance protects you in the unfortunate event you are involved in a car accident while driving the borrowed car, it is essential to be aware of exclusions that might apply to your insurance coverage. This case involves a policy exclusion that applied to property damage caused to the borrowed car. 

Asha Sade Johnson had a car insurance policy from Geico. Johnson was involved in a car accident while driving a Jeep owned by her mother, Ruby Lee Lewis. The accident caused significant damage to her mother’s car. Lewis did not have her own collision or comprehensive coverage insurance for her car. Johnson owned a different car insured by Geico. 

Lewis filed a lawsuit against Geico seeking compensation under Johnson’s insurance policy for the damages caused to her vehicle from the accident while Johnson was driving her car. Geico filed a summary judgment motion, arguing Johnson’s policy did not include coverage for damage to property such as Lewis’ car. The trial court denied Geico’s summary judgment motion.

coins_currency_investment_insurance_0-1024x683Receiving compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy after a car accident can bring relief. However, it is essential to be aware of the potential complications if the awarded amount exceeds the other driver’s insurance policy limits. This case serves as an example of what can happen in such situations and highlights the importance of understanding the legal implications.

Claudio Larios was waiting to find a parking spot at her apartment complex in Metairie, Louisiana, with Marlon Funez riding in her passenger seat. Lindsay Vehorn was stopped behind them in her car. A truck came around the corner and tried to get in front of Vehorn and her car, apparently not seeing Larios in her car. The truck hit the back left of Larios’ car. The truck passenger was drunk. Larios could see the driver of the truck before he drove off. Larios and Funez had to receive medical treatment due to the incident. 

The day after the accident, Larios encountered the truck passenger. She gave the passenger her contact information and asked that it be passed along to the driver of the truck. Julio Martinez, whom Larios recognized as the truck driver that had hit her car, subsequently contacted her and provided her with insurance documentation. Because Larios and Funez could not locate and serve Martinez, they voluntarily dismissed the claims against Martinez and brought all claims against Imperial under Louisiana’s Direct Action Statute, La. R.S. 22:1269. At trial, the court found in favor of the plaintiffs. Larios was awarded $21,318 ($6,218 for past medical expenses and $15,100 for past pain and suffering). Funez was awarded $21,267 ($5,267 in past medical expenses in $16,000 for past pain and suffering). The court ordered Imperial to pay the amounts. Imperial appealed. 

hurricane_katrina_as_seen_0-1024x640Dealing with the elements is an inherent part of construction work. Yet, sometimes the elements get unexpectedly unruly. This is where insurance is supposed to step in and compensate for delays or damage. In the following case, however, overlapping insurance policies made determining who should step up difficult. 

Gibbs Construction, L.L.C was the general contractor for appellant National Rice Mill, L.L.C. Rice Mill hired Gibbs to renovate their new luxury apartment complex, Rice Mill Lofts. Gibbs hired Rush Masonry, Inc. as a subcontractor tasked with restoring the masonry related to the renovations. Before the renovation, Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Company issued Rush Masonry a commercial general liability policy. This policy covered the restoration from February 2011 to February 2013. On top of the CGL coverage, the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company also issued an excess liability policy to Rush Masonry during the same time period. A Zurich American Insurance Company CGL policy issued to Gibbs, the general contractor, also covered the restoration. The Zurich policy was in effect from January 2011 to January 2013. 

During the restoration, the construction site experienced three instances of water intrusion. The first occurred during a thunderstorm in July 2011, and the second happened during Tropical Storms Lee and Isaac. General contractor Gibbs filed a lawsuit against Rice Mill for failure to make payments under the general contract. Rice Mill counter-claimed against Gibbs, Rush, Zurich, and other parties. 

transport_roadworks_autobahn_837813-1024x768In the aftermath of a tragic situation, such as the death of a child, the last thing you might want to consider are insurance policies and legal requirements. However, it is essential to understand how courts determine whether an individual was covered by a specific insurance policy so that you know who might be liable for your losses. This is especially important when the accident involves a vehicle used both commercially and personally. 

Jamie and Ericka Myers found themselves in a tragic situation after Brad Welch hit and killed their six-year-old son, Tyler, as Welch was turning into his house’s driveway. The Myers filed a lawsuit against Welch, his employer, Valentine & Leblanc, and Security National Insurance. Valentine & Leblanc insured the car that hit Myers’ son, although Welch owned the vehicle personally.  

The Myers brought claims for themselves, their deceased son, and their twelve-year-old son Peyton. After a successful mediation, the court dismissed the claims against Welch, Valentine & Leblanc, and Security National Insurance. The Myers added AIG Specialty Insurance Company as a defendant as Valentine & Leblanc had a commercial umbrella liability insurance policy from them. AIG Specialty Insurance Company then filed a summary judgment motion, arguing that Welch was not in the course or scope of his employment with Valentine & Leblanc when the accident occurred and therefore was not covered by the at-issue insurance policies. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of AIG Specialty Insurance Company, holding that Welch was not an “additional insured” under the at-issue insurance policy. 

interview_paperwork_quill_law-1024x768When you sign a settlement agreement and release, it is easy to assume you waived all rights to sue over the incident that led to the agreement. However, there are certain circumstances where you should have been provided with relevant information at the time of signing. Therefore, it is crucial to understand your rights and the terms of any agreement. Consulting with a qualified attorney can ensure you are fully informed before signing.

Russell Charles was driving a vehicle while pulling a trailer on I-10 in Iberville Parish, Louisiana. A Dodge Ram truck driven by Mark Moore hit Charles from behind. Moore owned the Dodge Ram truck through his company, Moore Leasing, LLC, which State Farm insured. After the accident, Moore signed an affidavit stating that he was not working at the time of the accident and that only the State Farm insurance policy would provide coverage to Charles. In addition, Charles and his wife, Consandra, signed a release against all persons, firms, or corporations who were or might be liable for the accident in exchange for $50,000. 

Later, the Charleses filed a lawsuit against three companies owned by Moore and his wife, claiming that Moore had been working at the time of the accident, which would make the corporations vicariously liable. The company’s insurer was later added as a defendant. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Moore had not been working at the time of the accident and that the previous release prevented this lawsuit. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed Charleses’ claims, but they appealed the decision.

business_signature_contract_962358-1024x768To avoid a lengthy trial, many lawsuits will be solved through settlements. Settlements may have their requirements, like signing a release. If presented with a release make sure you read it carefully and ensure it includes limiting language if other parties may be at fault. This is a lesson learned by Raymond Cressy when he signed a release form through his power attorney, severely hurting his claims. 

In 2010, Raymond Cressy was a passenger in a 2006 Dodge Durango driven by his brother and owned by his sister, Yolanda, in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The driver swerved to avoid a tire in the roadway when control of the vehicle was lost. The vehicle consequently entered the median and rolled several times. The accident left Raymond a quadriplegic. 

Yolanda, later in 2010, was granted power of attorney over Raymond. In late 2011, acting as Raymond’s power of attorney, Yolanda signed a document titled “Release In Full of All Claims” on Raymond’s behalf with the understanding this was to settle claims against the GEICO insurance company.

padlock_grating_insurance_security-1024x768Protection from on-the-job injury is vital to any employee, especially those doing manual labor. But when so many types and subtypes of insurance coverage are involved in a single policy, how can you know when you’re covered? And what happens when you can’t tell if specific coverage applies to you? Can you still get protection and justice?

In August 2011, plaintiff William Weems was an employee of Cane River Construction LLC (Cane River). While on the job, Weems was driving a car owned by Cane River when another vehicle struck him from behind, and he suffered severe injuries. Defendant Houston Speciality was the automobile insurer for Cane River, and following the accident, Weems and his family sought uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage from Houston Speciality for his injuries. Houston Speciality denied that its policy extended UM coverage to Cane River and instead filed a third-party complaint against its insurance agent employed by Moreman Moore

Moreman Moore’s agent Mr. Dickerson was responsible for completing Houston Specialty’s insurance file. Mr. Dickerson is the agent with whom Cane River’s owner, Mr. Moran, secured the insurance agreement. The Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance requires insurance companies to employ UM waiver forms in their policies and allow their clients to accept or reject UM coverage. Dickerson delivered this waiver to Mr. Moran, and Mr. Moran denied UM coverage via the release. Therefore, Cane River’s insurance policy with Houston Speciality on the accident date thus did not include any UM coverage.

coins_currency_investment_insurance_0-1024x683One’s life is forever altered after an incapacitating injury. While the situation comes with enough issues, problems are enhanced when medical providers merge and change the disability benefits you have relied upon for a year. Unfortunately, this is precisely what happened to Michael Swinea after Humana Inc. bought Kanawha Insurance Company. 

Swinea required a total knee replacement after he was injured in March 2012. After this surgery, Swinea attempted to return to work. After working for about six months, Swinea’s physician instructed him to stop working again. Starting in April 2012, Swinea was given $2,700 per month in disability benefits through Kanawha. In November 2013, however, Humana bought Kanawha, and Swinea’s payments ceased. Humana informed Swinea that he would no longer be covered in a letter mailed to his home address.

After receiving the letter, Swinea contacted the appeals body specified in the letter. The Humana appeals body instructed Swinea to send any pertinent documents that he would like to be considered during the review. After complying, Swinea received a letter from a Humana Grievance and Appeals Specialist notifying him that his request for disability benefits was denied. 

car_old_car_car-1024x683Driving while on the job can be a common occurrence for many employees. Sometimes you may even use your personal vehicle on a workplace errand. If so, beware; Accidents happen, and your employer’s insurance may not cover you. 

Kim Simon was struck by an uninsured motorist when driving her personal vehicle while doing her job. Simon’s vehicle was damaged, but her employer’s insurance would not pay to fix the damages. So Simon sued her employer’s insurance to get coverage for her personal vehicle. 

Her company’s insurance provider argued that Simon’s personal vehicle was not covered under the policy because it was not a “covered auto” defined by the policy. Simon argued that because the auto policy did not list any “covered autos.” Further, she felt Louisiana revised statute 22:1295(1)(e) required the insurance policy to cover her unlisted car. 

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