(Not) Having Cake and Eating It: Louisiana Insurance Company Not Allowed to Receive Premium Payments, Then Deny Coverage

In your auto accident case, you may have many separate factors that go into achieving the outcome you need. Certainly, collecting enough proof to show that you’ve been injured, that another person was negligent, and that their negligence caused your injuries is part of this equation. It may not necessarily be everything, though. In some cases, it is about making sure that you get the right defendants included in your case, such as the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In one recent case, the plaintiff achieved this result by successfully persuading a Louisiana trial court and appellate court that an insurer couldn’t keep accepting a driver’s premium payments and then refuse to cover that driver.

The case arose from a crash in Shreveport and involved two vehicles, a Buick and a Pontiac. Both drivers stipulated to the fact that the driver of the Buick was at fault in causing the accident. At trial, the Buick driver testified that, on paper, another man owned and insured the Buick. The driver paid the other man $50 to register the car in his name and take out insurance in his name. The driver could not do either himself because he didn’t have a driver’s license.

In addition to suing the at-fault driver, the injured driver also sued the insurance company that insured the Buick. The insurer tried to get out of the case, arguing that the policy written on the Buick was a result of fraud and was, as a result, void. Declaring the policy void would mean that the company never had a valid contract to insure the car and couldn’t be liable for the injured woman’s damages.

The plaintiff argued that the contract wasn’t void, and her argument won in both the trial court and the appeals court. The key to her success was producing evidence of the exact terms in the insurance contract. What the two men had done amounted to a misrepresentation. The language in the insurance contract made it clear that, in a case of misrepresentation, the policy was “voidable” but not “void.” This was a very important distinction. “Void” would mean that the contract was automatically unenforceable. “Voidable” meant that the insurance company had the option of invalidating the contract.

In this case, the injured woman was able to persuade the courts that the insurance company waived its option to void the contract. The insurance company had come to know that the car was being “driven, garaged and primarily kept” by someone other than the person who signed up as the insured on the policy. Yet the insurer kept accepting the man’s premium payments and kept renewing the policy. By doing so, the insurer’s conduct created a waiver of its right to void the contract and waived the company’s right to avoid liability based upon that misrepresentation.

In your injury case, you may find yourself going up against an insurance company, which will likely be very well defended with lots of resources at its disposal. You need strong legal representation on your side. The Louisiana car accident attorneys at the Cardone Law Firm are here to help and provide you with the advice and advocacy you need to take on the insurance companies in your injury case.

For your confidential consultation, contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.

More Blog Posts:

Timeliness of Payment from Insurance Companies in Your Louisiana Auto Accident Case, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, Jan. 28, 2016

Understanding Louisiana Uninsured Motorist Insurance, Louisiana Injury Lawyers Blog, March 26, 2013

Contact Information