Louisiana Appellate Court Upholds Summary Judgment in Favor of Plaintiff in Insurance Policy Coverage Dispute

Understanding how your insurance policy will affect your financial situation after you are involved in a motor vehicle accident can be incredibly confusing. The policies are written in complicated terms, and it can be difficult to know when you should contact your insurer. As seasoned Louisiana car wreck lawyers, we have assisted numerous victims with ensuring that their insurance company plays by the rules. As a recent appellate opinion demonstrates, this can have a serious impact on your ability to recover policy benefits.

In the case, the plaintiff maintained an auto insurance policy from an insurer that was effective from May 13, 2012, to May 13, 2013. On June 25, 2012, the plaintiff purchased another auto insurance policy from another insurer that began on the same date that she contacted them. A few weeks later, the plaintiff contacted her original insurer to cancel the policy. The first insurer performed a policy review with the plaintiff on the phone, and after the review, she asserted her verbal request to cancel the policy. At the plaintiff’s request, the insurer backdated the cancellation to June 25, 2012. The first insurer sent the plaintiff a prorated bill for her canceled policy.

The plaintiff did not pay the final bill from the first insurer, and it was sent to a collections agency. The plaintiff paid the bill in September 2012. In July 2012, the plaintiff was involved in a car wreck when her vehicle collided with a motorcycle, resulting in devastating injuries to the motorcyclist that ultimately caused his death. The motorcyclist’s surviving spouse filed a wrongful death action against the plaintiff and her new insurer.

The plaintiff and her new insurer filed a third-party demand against her first insurer, claiming that her original policy was still in effect on the date of the accident. The first insurer filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that it was not liable for contribution or indemnification because the plaintiff canceled her policy before the date of the accident. The lower court ultimately agreed with the plaintiff and her new insurer, finding that the first insurer provided coverage for the accident. In reaching this conclusion, the trial court relied on La. R.S. 22:885, which it interpreted as requiring a request to cancel an insurance policy to be in writing. The first insurer appealed.

On review, the appellate court agreed with the lower court and concluded that the plaintiff’s verbal request to cancel her policy was insufficient. As a result, the first insurer could not avoid providing coverage for the accident.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. At Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews Courrege L.C., we specialize in car wreck cases so we understand how stressful, confusing, and painful an accident can be for you and your family. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about your legal options and whether we can assist you in claiming the settlement or judgment that you deserve. We will also negotiate with insurance companies to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries. To schedule an appointment, call us at (225) 929-7481 or contact us online.

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