Category: Auto Liability Defense

Virginia Creates Duty to Preserve Potential Evidence

April 12, 2019 | by: Laura Lee Miller | Leave a Comment

On March 21, 2019, Governor Northam signed Senate Bill 1619 into law, changing what remedies are available to a court faced with a potential litigant or a party who has recklessly deprived another party of evidence. The new statute provides: A party or potential litigant has a duty to preserve evidence that may be relevant to reasonably foreseeable litigation. In determining whether and at what point such a duty to preserve arose, the court shall include in its consideration the totality of the circumstances, including the extent to which a party or potential litigant was on notice that specific and … Continue reading

Sweeping Changes to Virginia’s UIM Statute

May 10, 2016 | by: Jon Nichols | Leave a Comment

A broad overhaul of Virginia Code § 38.2-2206 (Virginia’s Underinsured Motorist Statute) will result in new rights and responsibilities for claimants, tortfeasors, liability carriers and underinsured motorist carriers in settling claims. The most significant of these changes is that a liability insurer and a plaintiff may settle a claim and release the tortfeasor while still allowing the plaintiff to proceed against the UIM insurer.  The statute also may shift the duty to defend entirely to the UIM insurer while extinguishing its subrogation rights, resulting in increased costs to an underinsured motorist carrier with no ability to recover from the tortfeasor. … Continue reading

Fourth Circuit Holds That The Accidental Disclosure of Medical Records on the Internet Triggered Duty to Defend

April 14, 2016 | by: Rob Friedman | Leave a Comment

In Travelers Indemnity Company of America v. Portal Healthcare Solutions, LLC, the Fourth Circuit recently affirmed a federal district court’s determination that a class action lawsuit arising out of a medical records safekeeping firm’s alleged failure to safeguard confidential medical records triggered an insurer’s duty to defend under a policy that afforded coverage for damages arising out of “electronic publication of material that… gives unreasonable publicity to a person’s private life” or the “electronic publication of material that… discloses information about a person’s private life” (the specific policy language changed at renewal, but the court found them materially identical). In the … Continue reading

Be Careful What You Ask For!

June 18, 2015 | by: Melissa York | Leave a Comment

The Supreme Court of Virginia recently affirmed a Circuit Court’s Order denying plaintiff’s motion to set aside the default judgment she obtained against the defendant, even though the defendant was never properly served with the summons and complaint. Sauder v. Ferguson arose out of an October 2009 motor vehicle accident.  Susan Sauder filed a complaint against Dennie Lee Ferguson seeking damages from the accident.  Sauder obtained posted service on Ferguson at an old address listed on the 2009 police report.  Sauder also served Rockingham Mutual Insurance Company by personal service on its registered agent, instead of Rockingham Casualty Company, her … Continue reading

Traffic Tickets – To Plea or Not to Plea

October 1, 2014 | by: Jon Nichols | Leave a Comment

Your trucking company probably dispatches drivers into multiple states, or maybe even nationwide.  During your drivers’ travels, accidents are going to happen.  Sometimes your driver is at fault, and sometimes the other driver at fault.  Other times, both drivers are at fault in the accident.  No matter what, a traffic ticket is likely to follow.  As you know, tractor-trailer accidents make your company a target for a potential lawsuit.  Even a minor traffic accident may result in a major personal injury claim. Is it worth it for you to incur the expense of helping your driver fight the traffic ticket?  … Continue reading

Renewed Auto Policies Subject to Virginia’s “Match or Reject” Provisions Requiring that Liability Limits Equal UM/UIM Absent Specific Rejection by the Insured

July 28, 2014 | by: Rob Friedman | Leave a Comment

A recent case from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, held that an insurer’s underinsured motorist coverage limit totaled $500,000, effectively raising the total available coverage in connection to a motorcycle accident by $250,000.  The UIM carrier had argued that its UM/UIM limit totaled only $50,000.   The issue involved what is sometimes known as “mismatched” limits.  Essentially, the policy at issue provided $500,000 in liability coverage, but only $50,000 in UM/UIM coverage.  Under Virginia law, however, the UM/UIM limit must be equal to a policy’s liability limit, unless the insured specifically rejects … Continue reading

Is the Demurrer Officially Dead In Negligence Cases?

January 14, 2014 | by: HCCW | Leave a Comment

It is increasingly difficult for defendants to win at the demurrer stage in negligence cases in Virginia.  A recent Virginia Supreme Court decision further eviscerated the power of the demurrer and confirmed the Court’s apparent change in direction on this issue, away from the requirement that Plaintiffs must allege proximate cause and toward an interpretation of Rule 3:18 that allows facts tantamount to res ipsa loquitur to survive demurrer. In Patel v. Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex, LLC et. al., Record No. 130237, November 22, 2013, the Supreme Court of Virginia reversed the trial court’s grant of the defendant’s demurrer without … Continue reading

Intra-Policy UM/UIM Stacking

September 9, 2012 | by: HCCW | Leave a Comment

Unambiguous Anti-Stacking Language Until a year ago, the law on stacking uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages under a single policy insuring several vehicles was clear. In Goodville Mut. Cas. Co. v. Borror, 221 Va. 967, 275 S.E.2d 625 (1981) (“Borror”), the Virginia Supreme Court had held that it was “the rule in Virginia that the stacking of UM coverage will be permitted unless clear and unambiguous language exists on the fact of the policy to prevent such multiple coverage.” (emphasis added). The court in Borror held that the limits of liability clause in that case was sufficiently clear and unambiguous … Continue reading