Sunday, March 6, 2011

Insurance Companies Using Technicalities To Avoid Paying Auto Accident Claims

"Frivolous lawsuits," allow me to introduce you to insurance company "frivolous defenses." A recent Ohio case shows the tactics insurance companies will employ to avoid paying Ohio auto accident claims due to specious "technicalities."

Quick facts: Driver is insured with "Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company." He is injured in a crash and brings a lawsuit against "Nationwide Insurance Company." As is required by Ohio law, his attorney attaches a copy of the "Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company" policy to his complaint.

Nationwide moves to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the plaintiff/injured party sued the wrong party--"Nationwide Insurance Company"--instead of the proper party, "Nationwide MUTUAL Insurance Company." The trial judge dismisses the case, buying into this technical argument. Thankfully, The Court Of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit, reasoning that Nationwide was on notice of the lawsuit and was not prejudiced by plaintiff's failure to include the "Mutual" description in the complaint.

The Court Of Appeals recognized that Nationwide's legal manuverings were much to do about nothing, and now the injured party will at least get his day in court. Not a very sexy opinion that's likely to make front page news, but it illustrates the efforts insurance companies will undertake to avoid paying on a claim. And, keep in mind, this was the injured party's OWN insurance company!!!

This case proves there is another side of the coin to the whole "frivolous lawsuit" debate. It's at least worthy of mention the next time you hear someone bemoaning the infamous "hot coffee" case.

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