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Many of my clients tell me that in the early days after a serious collision, they are confused about their rights and duties.
Common questions include:
My kids were involved in an accident in November. My son was driving and was cited for an improper left turn. The Chevy Aveo they were in was struck in the passenger side by a guy driving a pickup truck. I don’t think the other driver was cited but I am not sure. My daughter, the passenger in the car, was knocked unconscious and this resulted in an ambulance ride and ER evaluation at Children’s including a CT scan. They diagnosed her with a concussion.
I have Progressive. The car was insured only for liability, but we carried medical payments of $5000 per person on it. My primary health insurance, United Healthcare, picked up the bill for the ambulance, ER, pediatrics, and chiropractor visits. Now I’m under subrogation to them for that amount, which, at last check, should fall under the $5000 total. I have been frustrated because the Progressive claim agent for the medical stuff has been terribly hard to find. When I was in the accident you helped me with, the at-fault driver had Progressive and Progressive pestered me – a lot. I was expecting that since I am the policyholder and that my family members (one of whom is old enough to be listed on the policy) were in the car, we’d be treated together. Instead, I have received materials addressing my son’s care, but NOTHING regarding my daughter. Phone calls go unreturned, etc. It seems she’s fallen into a gray area of neither being the insured nor the other driver.
My question is this – do I need to treat them as an “opposing party” for the purposes of getting this claim settled and getting United paid out? Or, is it reasonable to expect that they should be handling this smoothly because she’s part of the family that is insured and that it’s simply a poor customer service issue? I’d like to be able to get this resolved, but I don’t know how this works in this instance and what my next steps should be.”
The general questions asked here are: 1) can a sibling claim against a sibling for causing the crash and recover under the liability insurance policy? 2) How does medical payments coverage play into it?
1) Yes, in Georgia a sibling may sue a sibling for liability for injuries. The rules are different for unemancipated children suing their parents and vice versa.
“Every person may recover for torts committed to himself, his wife, his child, his ward, or his servant.” OCGA § 51–1–9. Emancipated children may sue their parents and parents may sue their emancipated children, Davis v. Cox, 131 Ga.App. 611, 614, 206 S.E.2d 655 (1974). The appellant is an emancipated child who is being **857 sued by a sibling. The doctrine of family immunity is not involved.
FN1. Actions between siblings who are minors have been uniformly allowed. Prosser and Keaton on Torts (5th ed.1984) § 122 at 906.”
Arnold v. Arnold 259 Ga. 150 (1989)
2) How does medical payments play in? Here the family has a $5,000 medical payments policy that also covers the victim sister. If the medpay pays out on her claim, Progressive will get a credit for that payment and will not have to double pay.
3) Yes, treat Progressive as the opposing party but understand, you still have a duty to cooperate under the insurance contract.
Copyright © 2013 by Christopher Simon Attorney at Law, All Rights Reserved