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Court Finds Car Insurance Company’s Policy Ambiguous and Finds in Favor of Injured Mother

In a recent case, a woman and her two children were injured in a car accident with another motorist. The woman filed a lawsuit against the other driver for their injuries. More than three years after the car accident, the woman amended her complaint to add a claim against her insurance company, since she believed that the other driver’s policy would not fully cover her damages.

The insurance company’s policy required claims to be filed within three years of the accident, so the insurance company argued that the claim was barred because it was filed after more than three years. The woman put the insurance company on notice about two years after the accident that she would likely pursue an underinsured motorist claim. Yet she did not file it until later, when she believed the other driver’s policy would be insufficient after pursuing the lawsuit against the driver.

In a recently released opinion, the state’s supreme court held that the claim was not barred. It explained that while the insurance company’s policy required lawsuits to be filed within three years, the insurance company also had a policy that it would only pay if the underinsured motorist’s insurance had been exhausted. Therefore, insured individuals were being told to file a lawsuit within three years, but at the same time they were being told not to file a lawsuit until other avenues were exhausted. The court explained that these two policies were in direct conflict with each other, and thus the policy was ambiguous. As a result, the court interpreted the terms in favor of the insured, allowing the case to continue against the insurance company.

Auto Insurance Requirements in Illinois

As of January 1, 2015, Illinois motor vehicle owners are required to have car insurance with a minimum of $20,000 for property damage, $25,000 for the injury or death of one individual in an accident, and $50,000 for the injury or death of more than one individual in an accident. Also, all car insurance policies must offer uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage. As in the case above, these coverages apply when the driver who was at fault in an accident is uninsured or underinsured. This allows injured individuals to recover compensation despite the lack or insufficiency of insurance of the at-fault driver. In Illinois, these coverages must be offered up to the policy coverage of the insured, and the purchaser may reject the coverages above the minimum limits. Yet an insurance company is still allowed to set a reasonable time limit to bring a lawsuit after a claim is denied, so it is important to know when to file.

Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, the Chicago lawyers at Moll Law Group may be able to help. Our attorneys can assist victims of car accidents and other incidents of negligence involving transportation. Car accidents can cause devastating injuries, and you can bring a lawsuit to seek damages if a crash was partially or fully caused by another person or entity. Billions of dollars have been recovered in cases in which we were involved. Contact us through our online form or call us at 312-462-1700 to set up an initial consultation.

See More Posts:

Automated Driving Presents New Risks for Drivers, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, August 16, 2016.

Woman Fails to Provide Required Notice in Medical Malpractice Claim, Resulting in Dismissal, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, July 23, 2016.

Court Hold Adults Who Serve Alcohol to Minors May Be Liable for Related Injuries, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2016.

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