As Chicago car accident attorneys, we often receive questions regarding the role of underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. A recent appellate opinion from the First District highlights the importance of understanding how an insurance policy may affect your potential damages award. The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries during a car accident in May 2011 when the vehicle in which he was riding collided with another vehicle. The other driver failed to stop at a stop sign and yield the right of way. The accident occurred while the plaintiff was working, and the vehicle that he was operating belonged to his employer.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. Her vehicle was insured, and the insurer offered the full limits of the defendant’s policy, $100,000. The plaintiff accepted the offer, and the parties settled. The plaintiff had also asserted a claim against his employer’s auto insurance policy, which included coverage for the vehicle he was operating at the time of the accident. The policy included bodily coverage of up to $1 million and provided underinsured motorist coverage of up to $500,000 for certain personnel, including directors and partners and their family members. It offered $40,000 to any other individual who qualified as an insured. The plaintiff made a demand for the policy limits, and the insurer denied it, stating that the plaintiff was only entitled to $40,000 under the underinsured motorist policy and that the plaintiff had already received $100,000 from the defendant’s policy.
The plaintiff filed suit against his employer’s insurer, seeking a declaratory judgment entitling him to relief and a reformation of the policy to provide underinsured motorist coverage to the plaintiff, amounting to $1 million. The plaintiff made many other requests in the action, including a request that the court compel the insurer to binding arbitration with the plaintiff.
The lower court ultimately granted the plaintiff’s request to reform the policy to provide underinsured motorist coverage amounting to $1 million. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s demand for arbitration and concluded that the defendant had not engaged in any vexatious or unreasonable delay. The court denied the defendant’s motion for reconsideration, and the defendant appealed.
On review, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s conclusion, conducting a thorough analysis of the insurance policy provisions and relevant provisions of the Illinois Insurance Code as applied to the facts of this particular accident. The court also concluded that arbitration was not appropriate in this instance and that the lower court properly rejected the plaintiff’s request for an order sending the parties to arbitration.
If you have been involved in a car accident, understanding the impact and effect of the insurance policies involved can be confusing, especially if some of the parties involved have insufficient coverage to compensate you for your injuries. At Therman Law Offices, we provide reliable and experienced legal counsel to motor vehicle collision victims throughout Illinois and are prepared to assist you with asserting your rights. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.