Friday, August 27, 2010

Decision Issued on Remand in Vanderhoff

Tort Talkers may recall that I previously reported on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in the case of Vanderhoff v. Harleysville Ins. Co., 2010 WL 2653247 (Pa. 2010, Baer, J.), in which the Court considered the issue of “Whether an insurance carrier should be required to prove prejudice relative to the late reporting to the carrier of an accident involving an unidentified vehicle when such accident was timely reported to law enforcement officials?”

In this uninsured motorist case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that an insurance company is indeed required to prove prejudice relative to the late reporting to the carrier even where the accident involving an unidentified vehicle was timely reported to law enforcement officials.

In Vanderhoff, the subject accident was allegedly reported to law enforcement officials within thirty days of the accident as required. However, the insurance company allegedly did not receive notice of the accident until about eight (8) months after the accident.

The Supreme Court ruled that, since the accident was reported to law enforcement officials within the thirty day requirement, the case would be remanded back to the trial court to determine whether or not the insurance company can establish prejudice from its later receipt of notice.

I just received notice that, on remand, Judge Lewis W. Wetzel, issued an August 24, 2010 Order in which he ruled, after a hearing on the matter, that the delay in notifying the carrier, in and of itself, did not amount to prejudice sufficient to support the carrier's denial of coverage. As such, the trial court judge held on remand that the Plaintiff's claim was not barred by the untimely notice. Vanderhoff v. Harleysville Mut. Ins. Co., No. 5611 of 2003 (Luz. Co., Aug. 24, 2010, Wetzel, J.).

The prevailing Plaintiff's attorney in Vanderhoff was Attorney Brian Corcoran, a solo practitioner out of Kingston, PA.

Anyone desiring a copy of the trial court order (which contains a brief rationale) may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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