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Georgia Court Decides Important Case Involving Uninsured Motorist Protection

Earlier this month, the Georgia Supreme Court heard a case requiring the court to determine who has the burden to prove coverage existed at the time of the accident in cases involving uninsured motorist protection. In the case of Castellanos v. Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company, the plaintiff was involved in an accident with another driver, and Travelers was the plaintiff’s own insurance carrier.

car-crash-1432754-mThe case arose when the plaintiff was involved in an accident with another party, Santiago. After a jury trial, the plaintiff received a favorable verdict. However, Santiago’s insurance carrier only offered to pay part of the total verdict, explaining that his policy did not include the payment of punitive damages.

The plaintiff rejected Santiago’s insurance company’s offer. Afterwards, that same insurance company completely denied coverage on the basis that Santiago did not assist in his own defense. The evidence suggested that he may have returned to Mexico.

This left the plaintiff with few options, one of which was to ask his own insurance policy to cover the payment under the uninsured motorist provision of his own plan with Travelers. Travelers initially did not respond to the requests. The plaintiff then sued Travelers for bad faith in failing to pay him what he was owed as a policy holder. In response to the plaintiff’s suit, Travelers denied coverage, explaining that the plaintiff’s uninsured motorist provision was not triggered because Santiago’s insurance company did not legally deny coverage.

The Court’s Opinion

The case came to the Georgia Supreme Court on appeal from a lower court that had held that Santiago’s insurance company did effectively deny him coverage, meaning that the plaintiff’s uninsured motorist provision should have been triggered. However, on appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court disagreed.

The Georgia Supreme Court determined that it was the plaintiff’s burden to prove that Santiago’s insurance company legally denied him coverage, and that included showing that there were “good faith efforts to secure the insured’s attendance and/or cooperation.” Here, the court noted, “such evidence is completely lacking.” Thus, under the court’s most recent opinion, Travelers was proper in denying the plaintiff’s uninsured motorist claim. If you have any questions about the legal effect of this opinion, or have questions related to your own personal injury claims, contact a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney.

Have You Been Hurt in a Georgia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Georgia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation to help you recoup the costs associated with the accident. This may include amounts for past medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering caused by the accident. However, as you can see, dealing with insurance companies can be extremely difficult, and complex issues may arise. Therefore, it is best to consult with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney before proceeding. Call one of the dedicated attorneys at Miller Legal Services at 770-284-3727. Calling is free, and there is no obligation.

See Related Blog Posts:

Litigation Against General Motors Continues, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, April 15, 2015.

State Supreme Court Precludes Driver from Amending Complaint to Add Additional Defendant, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 28, 2015.