Posted on Feb 19, 2013
Recently, a trial court in Monroe County, Pennsylvania issued two orders and opinions arising out of the same car accident and companion lawsuits pending in Monroe County. The cases arise out of a car accident where the injured party filed a lawsuit for a third party claim and an underinsured motorist claim.
In the first case, Orsulak v. Penn National Mut. Cas. Ins. Co., No. 4225 Civil 2011 (C.P. Monroe Jan. 14, 2013 ) the trial court grants the underinsured motorist carrier (UIM) request to sever breach of contract and bad faith claims from a UIM claim with the breach of contract and bad faith claims being heard after UIM claim concludes finding that evidence regarding the bad faith claim would confuse jury and could prejudice jury against UIM insurer. Also,the underlying third party claim and UIM claim will be heard together and depending on the verdict, the bad faith claim may be moot. However, the court denies UIM insurer's request that the breach of contract and bad faith proceedings be stayed because the plaintiff has a right to move cases forward and a blanket "freeze" on all bad faith matters until the UIM claim concludes is not warranted. Certain certain discovery may need to be barred until the UIM claim concludes but the court can set parameters whereby such evidence is turned over immediately at the conclusion of the UIM case. Importantly, the mentioning of insurance and the identification of the UIM insurer will be excluded unless the UIM insurer intends to participate in the trial of the tortfeasor to comply with due process and to avoid a "double teaming" situation.
In the second companion case, Orsulak v. Windish, No. 55 Civil 2011 (C.P. Monroe Jan. 14, 2013) the trial court grants consolidation of the UIM claim and tort claim because there is no need to have separate trials on the same issues. The court also denies a request to have the UIM insurer be substituted as the subrogee in the underlying third-party case where the UIM insurer has tendered $25,000 representing the third-party liability limits but refuses to give consent to settle or waive subrogation rights. Since the UIM insurer agrees to be bound by the verdict up to the limits of UIM coverage the court sees no prejudice to the plaintiffs in continuing their action against the tortfeasor and there is no reason to force the UIM insurer to stand in the plaintiffs' shoes.
Anyone who desires a copy of the opinions can feel free to email Scott Cooper at Schmidt Kramer Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyers at scooper@Schmidt Kramer.com or call him at (717) 888-8888.
If you have been injured in a Pennsylvania car accident or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident contact Schmidt Kramer Car Accident Lawyers at (717) 888-8888 and we will answer any questions you have about the Pennsylvania car accident and the legal rights you may have due to the personal injury and losses involving any Pennsylvania car accident, especially if you may need a lawyer for the Central Pennsylvania car accident.
Also, download our booklet on Who Pays Your Medical Bills When You Are Injured in A Car Accident?
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