Rare court victory for injured drivers fighting their insurance companies
The Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio issued an important decision on Wednesday that awarded an injured driver his entire underinsured motorists (UIM) benefits. The holding in Allstate Insurance Company v. Irwin is only the second time that an appellate court has allowed a plaintiff to obtain Texas UIM benefits without first filing suit and obtaining a judgment against the adverse driver. Further, it is the first time that the recovery of attorney’s fees and costs has been allowed.
Background: Mr. Irwin was seriously injured in a car crash in 2016. He suffered a herniated disc in his lumbar spine and had to undergo various procedures to alleviate his pain. The total cost of his medical treatment was substantial. He settled with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for her policy limits of $30,000.00. He then demanded that his liability insurance company pay his underinsured policy limit of $50,000.00 for his remaining damages. However Allstate refused and only offered an additional $500.00 claiming that his injuries were preexisting, that he was over 50 years old, and that he worked as a construction worker. The man filed suit for the money his company owed him from his UIM policy.
After hearing the evidence, the jury awarded him $498,968.36. The court signed a judgment awarding the plaintiff his policy’s limit of $50,000.00, attorney’s fees, and costs. Allstate appealed.