Without a doubt, insurance policies are hard to read. After all, who writes this way. Furthermore, they are even harder to understand without a law degree. As a result, oftentimes they are filled with ambiguous terms. Whether that ambiguity is held against the insurance company depends on a number of factors. Hence, an ambiguous policy can work for or against you. Consequently, lawyers tend to argue ambiguity to try and get justice for their clients. Bardsley v Government Employees Insurance Co. is a case where a party challenges a policy’s clarity.
Ambiguous Terms in SC Insurance Policies
Ludwig drove a Maserati owned by his company SDI. While going between 85 to 96 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone, Ludwig lost control. As a result, he crashed his car into the rear of the Bardsley’s home. In addition, he struck Frederic, killing him, and then continued through the home and onto the front yard. At the time of the accident, SDI and Ludwig had $3 million in liability coverage. Furthermore, the Bardsleys had a State Farm homeowner’s policy for $500k. And finally, the Bardsleys also had auto insurance through Government Employees Insurance Co. (GEICO) that provided $400k in underinsured motorists coverage. Although GEICO covered property damage, it would be excess over other valid insurance. Subsequently, State Farm paid to repair the home but then claimed that Bardsley should reimburse them. GEICO refused to pay anything for the property damage. No surprise here.
Ultimately, Bardsley settled with State Farm and reimbursed State Farm via a settlement with Ludwig. However, she later sued GEICO for her losses. After hearing arguments, the trial court found the other insurance provision to be ambiguous but offered no reasoning. Rather, the judge granted summary judgment in favor of Bardsley, and GEICO appealed. However, the SC Supreme Court reversed and found that the GEICO policy was, in fact, not ambiguous. Instead, a contract provision is only ambiguous if more than one meaning is possible or if the meaning is unclear. Here, the Court found nothing about the provision was unclear. In addition, the Court found no factual or legal basis in the circuit court’s Order. Consequently, the Order could not stand. It is ironic that the ambiguity in the Order was more important than the ambiguity in the policy. Go figure.
Lawyers and Contracts
So leave it up to lawyers to cluster up a written agreement. Then they cluster it up further on appeal. You just cannot make this stuff up. However, on a serious note, little phrases in contracts can make a big difference. Try not to worry. This is what we do, and we are here to help when you need us. After all, ambiguous terms are what lawyers live for. Call now for more information and options. You’ll sleep better after learning your rights and what to expect.
When you bring an accident case, you have the burden of proof and must follow personal injury evidence rules. Because the rules are complex, we explain here how presenting your case properly is so important. Hence winning your case means you must present the right evidence. However, sometimes the best evidence is not admissible. So we explain the recent case of Busillo v. City of North Charleston where the rules of personal injury evidence played a critical role.
Personal Injury Evidence Rules
While on patrol for the City of North Charleston, Officer Terrell attempted a U-turn. Consequently, he hit Busillo’s car causing property damage and personal injury. Subsequently, Busillo filed a lawsuit for his property damage, and a panel found that the City liable. In addition, Busillo also filed a claim in circuit court for personal injury. However, in this case, Busillo submitted evidence of property damage to her car. While the evidence included a summary of expenses, an expert witness also testified about depreciation to Busillo’s car. Because the jury returned a verdict for Busillo, the City appealed.
First, the City claimed the court made a mistake in admitting the two pieces of evidence. However, the Court of Appeals did not agree and upheld the trial court. Regarding the expert witness, the court found that City did not preserve their argument. In order to appeal something, a party must first raise the issue at trial to preserve it. Although the City had three arguments, they did not properly raise the first. In addition, the City failed to raise the other two arguments as well. As a result, the City was not allowed to raise the issues on appeal. Rather, trial courts have a lot of room when it comes to admitting evidence. Looks like mistakes made the difference. Fortunately, the injured person won their case. Hooray for justice. But it doesn’t always work out this way. And you only get one shot.
Experience Counts in Court
Because personal injury evidence rules can make the difference, trial experience matters. While most cases settle, sometimes a trial is necessary. So when you get to court, make sure your lawyer knows the rules. Otherwise, you could lose. Better safe than sorry. Because it matters, choose your lawyer carefully. Don’t worry. We’ve got you. And we’ll be there until the end. That’s our pledge and promise to you.
Because of continued changes in technology, the latest craze is all about self-driving cars. Predictably, the experts say the end of driving by humans is near. And of course there will be no more accidents. But just how realistic are either of these most recent tales of the future?
So Will Self-Driving Cars End All Accidents
Not surprisingly, distracted driving remains the main cause of fatal car accidents. Because 90% of accidents result from human error, self-driving cars could potentially solve this problem. However, driving habits take time to change. In addition, young drivers want the freedom and thrill of actually driving. So do some of us older folks.
Here is the problem. As long as both self-driving and human-driven cars on the road, the problem will continue. Hence, the human factor is still there. Maybe there will be fewer crashes based on more self-driving cars. Only time will tell.
Other Safety Issues
While car driving may be safer, what if passengers feel safer and stop using their seat belts? In addition, pedestrians may rely on safety technology and take more chances. After all, they think the vehicle’s computers will stop the car and save them. Like I taught my children when they started driving, trust your own instincts. And always give yourself plenty of time and room in case something on the car fails. Hence the emphasis on mechanical failure. Regardless, this issue will be litigated and regulated because this generation is used to driving on their own. After all, people also did not like mandatory seat belt or child car seat laws. Yet now we know these changes have saved countless lives.
While the future may be bright, we are still on guard for now. So if a human behind the wheel causes you harm, call us for help. While we hope you never need our services, we will be there if you do. You have our word, and we have your back.
While everyone knows about texting and driving, here’s something the phone makers could do.
Texting While Driving Dangers
Because we already know the dangers, this blog won’t remind you of the obvious. And it appears older adults are actually worse than teenagers this time. However, despite new laws and harsher penalties, people still keep texting and driving. Rather, no matter what, we just can’t seem to stop ourselves. So what else is there to do? While there are many ideas out there, here is one that actually would seem to work.
Technology Solutions and “Drivers Mode”
Currently, I own two vehicles. While I still love my 12 year old Lexus, it still has a cassette player. Certainly, it is “old school” but still rides like a dream. And if I have my key on me, it unlocks the doors as I approach. For years, I thought this was pretty fancy stuff. However, I recently bought a new Chevy truck which is pretty amazing. Now, once I plug in my phone, most things are by voice command. Furthermore, the truck resets most functions including BlueTooth and streaming music. So why not set my phone to “drivers mode” that would stop any texting while in motion? After all, technology already prevents other activities in the car. Finally, we may have a solution to stop ourselves.
In addition to serious personal injury claims, our firm also defends DUI charges. As part of that practice, we have learned the many physical and mental divided tasks needed to drive. Consequently, there are studies that show texting is actually more dangerous than driving impaired. While I initially questioned those findings, I now agree. Why? Because someone knows they are not safe, they at least try to focus on driving. However, people texting think they are fine and look away for “just a few seconds.” However, at highway speeds, they can go several hundred yards down the road without looking. And that’s when very bad things can happen. Consequently, lives are changed forever in an instant. Sadly, it’s too late then.
Child Injury from Automobile Accidents
Children, especially todlers, are the most vulnerable to serious injury and wrongful death from car crashes. Even if placed in size and age appropriate car seats, auto accidents are still a primary cause of child injury. One reason is that they never see an accident coming. Adult drivers and passengers often know in advance and can brace themselves for impact. Children do not and are unaware until the impact is already occuring. Side impacts are especially destructive as their heads are jerked violently to the side causing substantial neck injury. The defense in preventing serious child injury from crashes is to make certain they are always placed in appropriately sized car safety seats and that these seats are properly secured inside the vehicle. As your child grows, the technology of safety seats can be defeated or negated if not the proper height and weight limit is exceeded. If you plan to have more children, save the seat for them. If not, you should consider donating the seat to others so that their children can be better protected. Everyone wants their child to be safe and guarded from harm. Another safety measure that can be taken is to position your child in the backseat and center of the vehicle. They will be better secured from frontal impacts as well as side crashes. Also, rear end collisions can be better absorbed as the child will be effectively centered in the car.
Because children are so fragile and susceptible to injury, you should have your child examined by medical staff after any type of car accident, even if it seems relatively minor and you feel alright. For the reasona we reviewed above, children can be injured more easily than adults, and they may not be able to effectively communicate where or even how much they hurt. Crying can be confused as just being a baby or any number of other reasons. However, it could be from an undiagnosed injury. And, of course, head injury in children is also a major concern as symptoms may be missed and leave your child untreated until it is too late. It is better to be overly concerned and protective than to find out later about something serious. CT scans or an MRI can rule out head trauma. You should also watch for changes in sleep patterns or strange changes in mood or cognitive ability. Because children are so vulnerable, you as the parent need to be hyper vigilant to rule out any latent injury that may be missed or even ignored by others.
A motorcyclist and car collided Saturday night in Columbia, killing the motorcyclist upon impact.
According to the police reports, the defendant was attempting to make a left hand turn onto Burdell Drive, when he intoxicatingly failed to yield to the oncoming motorcycle, and the motorcycle hit the right front passenger door of the defendant’s car.
The 26-year-old driver of the vehicle that hit the biker is now facing a slew of charges, including a “hit-and-run charge, driving under suspicion of a second offense, open container chargers, drug and possible distribution charges, failure to render aid and lastly, a Felony DUI.”
When a person causes serious injury or sadly death by vehicle in SC while driving under the influence, their charge is automatically elevated to a felony, as opposed to just a DUI. Moreover, when a person causes peril for another, and then fails to render aid or assistance to them, they can also be charged. This is the epitome of a hit-and-run, and another mechanism for punishing those who do so.
The Richland County EMT rushed the young man to Palmetto Health, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival due to the injuries suffered. The young victim’s parent were not aware of the accident until the body was discovered Sunday morning.
The defendant left the scene of the crime immediately after fatally wounded the victim; yet returned to the scene later, where an eye witness’s description allowed the police to identify and apprehend the defendant.
If you have been seriously injured by a drunk driver on your motorcycle or in your vehicle, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for information on your options.