A night of fun in Oklahoma turned tragic when a 48-year-old driver caused a motor vehicle accident that killed five people – including herself – and severely injured two others. Aside from the driver, those killed were between the ages of 18 and 23. The two injured were 17 and 22.
The families of two decedents (one of whom was a young mother) and two survivors sought compensation from the estate of decedent. But she only had a bodily injury liability coverage of $50,000 – hardly enough to compensate even one of the victims for their losses. Indeed, the estate settled the cases for $3 million per each survivor and $5 million for each family whose loved one died. The problem was who would pay those amounts. Decedent’s insurance was only $50,000 – and that was paid.
The approved settlement indicated collection of damages would be limited to applicable insurance policies. Soon after the settlement was approved, three insurance carriers sued the victims for a declaratory judgment that would assert they were not liable to pay the insurance settlement. In the case of Universal Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Winton, plaintiffs argued either that one of the insurers was liable under garage and umbrella policies because the dealership still owned the vehicle, or alternatively that another dealership still owned the car and therefore a different two insurance policies covered the accident. Continue reading ›