Auto Accidents Newsletters
The system of motor vehicle insurance in the United States is based on the ever-changing risk and loss experience of insurers, which in turn is created by the way in which individual drivers operate their cars and trucks on an everyday basis.
A typical hit-and-run accident is a collision between two vehicles, and one of them leaves the accident scene. However, there are other types of hit-and-run accidents. A hit-and-run accident may also involve chain reaction accidents, flying auto parts, auto debris on the road, and objects thrown or shot from other vehicles.
The obligations of insurers to make payments under policies of motor vehicle insurance are based on the sometimes uncertain answers to questions about the extent of coverage and the liability of an insured to a party making a claim under the policy. An insurer may therefore face a difficult decision as to whether to make a payment in response to a third party’s demand for such payment under a policy, risking the possibility that the payment is uncalled for in light of some limitation in the coverage, or to deny such a request and risk a claim that the insurer’s failure to make the requested payment has made it liable to an insured for additional damages, such as the amount of a judgment in excess of the policy limits.
The potential tort liability of owners and operators of commercial motor vehicles implicates a number of unique legal issues. These range from some that are more obvious, such as the simple increase in the kinds and extent of risks of personal injury and property damage that arise from commercial vehicle use in contrast to the operation of private vehicles, the numbers of operators and numbers and types of vehicles involved in commercial activities, and the so-called “deep pockets” of business entities that make them more susceptible to having tort actions brought against them, to less immediately apparent matters such as the existence, in some jurisdictions, of a legal presumption, which would have to be affirmatively overcome by the persuasive evidence of a commercial vehicle owner, that the operator of a commercial vehicle is in fact the employee or agent of the owner at the time the vehicle is involved in an incident giving rise to potential tort liability.
Underinsured motorist and uninsured motorist provisions in many auto insurance policies contain clauses that exclude coverage if the insured, without the consent of the insurer, makes a settlement with or obtains a judgment against an uninsured or underinsured motorist who is liable for the damages caused by an accident. These clauses, which are called consent to settle, consent to settlement, or consent to action clauses, are included in the policy because the interests of an insured, who may hope to obtain a quick settlement with an uninsured or underinsured motorist and may be less concerned about the size of the settlement, often differ from the interests of his or her insurer, which hopes to recover from the liable party every possible dollar of the amounts it is required to pay out under its policy.