Articles Posted in Insurance Law

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Douglas Lunsford was injured in an accident involving multiple tortfeasors. Lunsford filed a negligence action against Thomas Mills, Mills’ employer James Crowder, and Shawn Buchanan, who carried liability policies totaling $1,050,000. Plaintiff was covered by two underinsured motorist (UIM) policies with North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company (Farm Bureau) with combined limits of $400,000. Buchanan’s provider tendered to plaintiff the $50,000 limits of Buchanan’s policy, and Plaintiff settled his claim with Mills’ and Crowder’s coverage provider for $850,000. Farm Bureau, an unnamed defendant, moved for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff was not entitled to UIM coverage because the combined policy limits of Defendants exceeded Plaintiff’s UIM limits. Plaintiff also moved for summary judgment, arguing that he was was entitled to recover $350,000 - Farm Bureau’s UIM policy limits minus an offset for Buchanan’s insurance payment. The trial court granted summary judgment for Lunsford. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) an insured is only required to exhaust the liability insurance coverage of a single at-fault motorist in order to trigger the insurer’s obligation to provide UIM benefits; but (2) the Court of Appeals erred in determining that Lunsford was entitled to interest and costs against Farm Bureau. View "Lunsford v. Mills" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff injured his shoulder while working for Employer. Plaintiff was terminated later that year for “reduction of staff due to lack of work.” Employer accepted Plaintiff’s injury as compensable. In January 2009, Plaintiff began to receive unemployment benefits from Employer and Insurer (together, Defendants). In December 2010, Defendants sought to terminate payment of compensation, alleging that Plaintiff could no longer show he was disabled. The Industrial Commission concluded that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability payments made after December 2010 and that Defendants were entitled to a credit for any payments they had made after that date, finding that Plaintiff’s inability to find work was not due to his injury but to large-scale economic factors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission properly concluded that Plaintiff failed to prove that his inability to earn the same wages as before his injury resulted from his work-related injury. View "Medlin v. Weaver Cooke Constr., LLC" on Justia Law

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Gervis Sadler owned a house that he insured through a limited-peril policy issued by North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company (Farm Bureau). Farm Bureau adjusters investigated the home on two separate occasions, but Sadler disagreed with the amount of loss and asked for a disinterested appraisal. In the disinterested appraisal, Farm Bureau's appraiser valued the loss at $31,561. The appraisal award calculated by Sadler's appraiser and the umpire valued the loss at $162,500. Farm Bureau filed a complaint for declaratory relief, alleging the appraisal award failed to itemize the damages so Farm Bureau could determine the covered losses. Sadler moved for partial summary judgment on his breach of contract counterclaim. The trial court granted Sadler's request for partial summary judgment. Farm Bureau appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in granting partial summary judgment in favor of Sadler because genuine issues of material fact needed to be resolved before the loss covered by the policy could be determined. View "N.C. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., Inc. v. Sadler" on Justia Law