Articles Posted in Insurance Company Bad Faith

Sometimes, a personal injury or wrongful death case involves only two parties and one theory of liability. For example, when one motorist’s negligence harms another driver in a South Carolina car accident, the injured driver may only need to file a simple negligence claim against the careless motorist who caused the crash.

However, many cases are not so simple, and sorting out how who is liable and whose insurance company must pay for which damages can be a complex endeavor indeed. For example, what happens when a car accident injures someone who is on the job? Who is responsible for the injured person’s medical expenses – the workers’ compensation carrier or the injured person’s personal injury protection automobile accident insurer?

Facts of the Case

Several months ago, we told you about a federal court of appeals’ decision in a case in which a medical malpractice insurance company sought a declaratory judgment as to its responsibility to cover certain acts of malpractice after it was discovered that a fake nursing home “doctor” had illegally assumed the identity of a physician who was out of the country.

In that decision, the appellate court held that the principles of equity demanded that there be coverage for the innocent co-insureds under the medical malpractice policy that was in place during the impostor’s time at the nursing home.

Now, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, Columbia Division, has issued a new opinion in a related matter.

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The majority of personal injury cases, wrongful death actions, and bad faith insurance claims are litigated in state court. However, the federal courts have concurrent jurisdiction in such cases if there is diversity of citizenship between the parties and there is more than $75,000 is in controversy.

Litigation in either the state or the federal system can be protracted and complex. Typically, a suit begins with the plaintiff filing a complaint, and the defendant filing an answer (and sometimes a counter-complaint against the plaintiff or a third-party complaint against someone not yet involved in the case).

Once the pleadings are filed, the next phase of litigation is the discovery phase, during which the parties are given an opportunity to submit document requests, interrogatories, and requests to admit so that each side can learn as much as possible about the other’s case. This is both to help the parties prepare for trial and to encourage settlement, if at all possible.

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