Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Court Addresses Issues With Complaint in an Uninsured Motorist (UM) Claim

In the case of Kleinhans v. John Doe and Chubb Limited Ins. Co.,, No. CV-20-0678 (C.P. Lycoming Co. Oct. 2, 2020 Tyra, J.), the court addressed Preliminary Objections filed by an insurance carrier in a hit and run uninsured motorist case. 

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff’s wife was finishing checking out in a retail store while the Plaintiff-husband went out to get the couple’s vehicle. When the wife came out of the store, she saw her husband laying on the ground surrounded by a puddle of blood. A bystander had already called 911 and the Plaintiff was taken to hospital by ambulance. The identity of the driver who allegedly struck the Plaintiff was never discovered and, according to the Opinion, the Plaintiff did not have any memory of the details of the accident.

The Plaintiff filed an uninsured motorist claim. The carrier filed Preliminary Objections to the Plaintiff’s claim for breach of contract, uninsured motorist benefits, medical payments, bad faith, and under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

In part, the court rejected the UM carrier’s assertion that the Plaintiff’s Complaint failed in that the Plaintiff neglected to attach a copy of the police report to his Complaint. The court noted that, in uninsured motorist cases, Pennsylvania law requires that in order for the claim to proceed, the injured party must report the accident to the police or a proper governmental authority and notify his carrier within thirty (30) days of the accident, or as soon as practicably thereafter. See 75 Pa. C.S.A. §1702.

The court emphasized that the statute only requires that the Plaintiff report the accident to the police or another governmental agency as well as his carrier. There is no requirement in that statute that a police report be attached to the Complaint.

The court otherwise denied the Defendant carrier’s Preliminary Objections to the Plaintiff’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law claims. After reviewing Pennsylvania law on the requirements of this type of claim, the court found that the Plaintiff only generally pled the claim and provided only legal conclusions as to the Defendant’s conduct and the Plaintiff’s reliance upon this conduct. As such, the court granted these Preliminary Objections but allowed the Plaintiff the right to amend the Complaint.

With respect to the Defendant’s assertion that the Plaintiff failed to attach a copy of the insurance policy to this Complaint which allege, in part, a breach of contract, the court found that the Plaintiff was required to do so. As such, these Preliminary Objections were granted but the Plaintiff was allowed the right to file an Amended Complaint with a copy of the insurance policy attached.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 24, 2020).

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