Car insurance company must pay for woman catching disease from her boyfriend

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Jun 9, 2022.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    This shows how much is wrong with the lawsuit system in America.

    The car insurance company Geico must pay a Missouri woman $5.2 million after she caught HPV from unprotected sex with her then-boyfriend in his insured automobile, a state appellate court ruled.

    In an opinion published Tuesday, the Court of Appeals for the Western District of Missouri affirmed the multimillion-dollar payout against the insurance company.

    The woman - identified in court papers only as "M.O." - said that she "engaged in unprotected sexual activities in Insured's vehicle" in November and December 2017 and that he "negligently caused or contributed to" her catching the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection, court papers said.​

    Geico must pay $5.2 million to woman who got HPV from sex in man's insured car, court rules (nbcnews.com), June 9, 2022, David K. Li

    Obviously the insurance policy was never intended to cover something like this.

    Ridiculous court rulings like this are just going to drastically raise the cost of insurance for everyone else.
     
  2. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    It's even worse than this. From what I'm reading, under the court's interpretation of Missouri's law, the insurance company had no right to present any evidence or argument in the trial. The trial was conducted without anyone from the insurance company present.

    The court is claiming that because the insurance company did not defend the car owner in the lawsuit against him, that it gave up its right to defend the company's interests.

    Apparently under Missouri law the insurance company is automatically liable for any court judgement against the insured person, and when a victim sues the perpetrator, they are - in effect - suing the perpetrator's insurance coverage at the same time.

    In the lawsuit, the man simply just settled with the woman and agreed that she could have whatever she would be entitled to from his car insurance policy.

    https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=187183
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2022
  3. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Courts can't rule on the basis of what they (or you) feel is obvious though, especially not in favour of the party who drafted the contract in question. The implication is that the insurance contract was written in such a way that it could be legally considered to cover this situation. I agree that that wouldn't be intended but it would be the insurance companies responsibility to ensure it was written clearly and correctly. I (and you) don't know whether they did or not, but that would be a matter to be argued in court, with all of the facts and relevant experts involved.

    The article also suggests that they did have the opportunity to engage in the legal process at some point. Again, we can't know whether that was actually the case, and the insurance company just messed up, or whether there was some legal or process failure they would need to raise appropriately.

    Ultimately, cases like this are pretty much never as simple as the news makes them out to be, regardless of which direction they choose to spin it that day.
     
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  4. ToddWB

    ToddWB Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Kansas City Mo.. and what do we get a lot of in big cities?
     
  5. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    It wasn't really in a direct way. The lawsuit was against the car owner, not the insurance company. The way the state law requires the insurance contract to work, if the car owner's side loses the case, the insurance company is automatically liable for whatever judgement the court decides to hold against him and his insurance coverage, and the insurance company does not have any further legal input or rights to defend itself.

    The judges are saying the insurance company should have involved itself in the lawsuit against the car owner, that that was their chance to legally defend themselves and they missed their window of opportunity.

    It wasn't really a real lawsuit though, it was just an pretext for the woman to be able to sue money from the insurance policy.

    In some cases the insurance company could send a lawyer representative to defend the side of their policy holder, during that time. But the company declined to do so, probably because they assumed that, with the facts, there was no way their insurance company would be involved in that case or be seen to be at fault. They didn't want to waste the money on a lawyer to appear and look into the matter.

    In other words, because the legal proceedings against the car owner and the insurance company are combined into one proceeding, the insurance company didn't realize the seriousness of the claims against it. They knew there were proceedings, but had good reason to assume the courts were only holding those proceedings because of the seriousness of the claims against the man himself, not the car insurance. The insurance company was probably trying to minimize costs, to be able to offer more competitive rates.

    It will get very expensive if the insurance company has to send a lawyer to the legal proceedings any time someone tries to make a claim against it, no matter how seemingly frivolous.

    This just seems like more fodder for more lawyers. The system is set up to force companies to have to hire more lawyers.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2022
  6. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    You don't know that though. There isn't anything like enough information in this article to tell us what legal options the insurance company had, how well they were informed of those choices and the potentially consequences and indeed what further legal options they have going forwards. There could well be systematic problems here but you can't simply declare that there are if you can't explain exactly what they are and, significantly, what kind of steps could be taken to resolve them.

    But wouldn't fewer lawyers just lead to judges making more unchallenged rulings, which is what you're complaining about in the first place?
     
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  7. Lucifer

    Lucifer Well-Known Member

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    I think you're missing something here. From your link:

    After Geico turned down her claim, M.O. took the matter to an arbitrator, who found in her favor before a court affirmed the $5.2 million judgment, the appeals court said.
    Most policies do have an arbitration clause, and as the consumer, you cannot waive it. It's part of the contract. You take it or leave it. Most companies insist on this because generally, it is cheaper than going to court, but something happened here that this article does not give many details about.
     

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