Your auto insurance policy is, at its core, a contract. It outlines the scenarios under which your insurer will cover you for an accident, the maximum it will pay and your responsibilities as an insured.
Those responsibilities can include things like paying your bill on time or notifying your insurer if you have an accident. It can also include things like cooperating with the investigation. Failure to meet those responsibilities can result in a denial of coverage for your injuries.
Working with the best Orlando car accident attorney can help ensure your rights are protected and also that you meet your obligations.
Plaintiffs in a case out of Kentucky recently learned this the hard way, after the Kentucky Supreme Court reinstated a trial court’s ruling finding the plaintiffs’ failure to cooperate with insurer’s investigation and provide sworn statements was grounds for a denial of claim. This was a reversal of the appellate court’s decision.
Although this ruling doesn’t have any direct bearing on Florida cases, it does reflect the issues that can arise when claimants do not cooperate with insurer investigations. This is not to say you have to give a detailed statement to your insurer immediately after the crash. You do need to notify the insurer, but you have time to talk to an attorney before you submit to any in-depth questioning about what happened.
In the Kentucky Supreme Court case, there was no dispute that plaintiffs were passengers in a vehicle driven by a third man, who was insured by State Farm. That policy provided both basic reparation benefits, as well as uninsured motorist coverage.
On the day in question, back in 2012, plaintiffs were in the vehicle, stopped at a red light, when another vehicle rear-ended them. The driver of that other vehicle fled the scene and was never identified.
The driver and two passengers were transported to the hospital for treatment. Thereafter, the occupants of the vehicle filed claims for benefits under the driver’s policy. An investigator took their recorded statements and made initial payments for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits.
However, the investigator suspended further payments, citing the claimant’s inconsistent statements about where they were going that day, where they had been and what happened when they got hit. Additionally, the investigator took note of the fact that two of claimants (the passengers) had made several other car accident injury claims that same year. This doesn’t necessarily negate their pending claim, but it can raise suspicion – and auto insurers will use look for any reason they can not to pay.
To resolve the discrepancies, State Farm asked claimants to submit to questioning under oath. The driver agreed, and was later granted benefits. Passengers, however, refused and were denied benefits for not cooperating with the investigation.
Passengers then filed a lawsuit against the insurer, alleging State Farm was required to obtain a court order before it could compel them to give a sworn statement. Not so, ruled trial court. Such testimony was required as part of the obligations outlined in the policy language.
The state supreme court agreed.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
State Farm v. Adams et al., Aug. 24, 2017, Kentucky Supreme Court
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