One of the most important types of insurance that you can buy to protect you and your family is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for your vehicle. This coverage protects you when you’re in a wreck and the at-fault driver either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance.
We handle a lot of these cases.
In 2006, the law in uninsured/underinsured motorist cases shifted radically — away from consumers and in favor of insurance companies — through a Texas Supreme Court case. That change made these cases much more difficult to resolve because it took away some of the rights of injured folks. Specifically, people were arguing that the result of this case was that injured persons couldn’t recover attorneys’ fees against the insurance companies in these claims (as we had been doing for years) and that injured persons couldn’t make bad faith claims against insurance companies.
But I thought those talking about the case were reading the case wrong. I think they were giving up more rights than we had to give up.
So starting in 2009, I started writing and giving speeches about how I thought injured persons still retained these rights in uninsured/underinsured motorist cases.
Since then, I’ve given speeches to lawyers literally across the state. I’ve spoken to groups in El Paso, Houston, Dallas, Lubbock and Austin, among others. And I explained that despite the Supreme Court case, there were alternative ways to bring these claims so that we could still recover attorneys’ fees and make bad faith claims. Over the years, several attorneys have adopted these arguments, and we’ve had some success in various courts of appeals.
But all that work finally came to final fruition. The Texas Supreme Court handed down an opinion in the case of Allstate v Irwin that decided that yes, injured persons can still recovery attorneys’ fees in uninsured/underinsured motorist cases.
This is a great day for injured Texans.
Today, I saw this article about the decision from a defense firm that regularly represents insurance companies. I’ve had several cases against the firm and like most of the lawyers there that I’ve worked with, but I almost laughed at their editor’s note at the end of the article. They wrote:
Friday’s decision from the Texas Supreme Court is a significant change in Texas’ law regarding the litigation of UM/UIM claims and we can now expect to see more DJ actions filed by injured insureds against their own UM/UIM carriers as a means to get attorney fees in addition to the unpaid policy benefits in question.
I completely disagree with the first statement (as I’ve argued for over a decade that we should be making our claims as declaratory judgment claims), but I hope they’re right about the second part. Too many injury lawyers have been giving up too quickly on these claims and not pushing for all of our clients’ rights. I hope that stops.
For more information on uninsured/underinsured motorist claims, please check out the following articles:
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