Insurance company case- Need your input please. Case may go to trial next week!!
- There are some interesting and thought provoking issues for you to resolve in
this case against an insurance company for "bad faith"
Healy was hit by a drunk driver on her way to her first day of school at a
community college in Orlando , Florida.
The jury will be deciding the issue of damages, if and only if ,they
disagree with the insurance companies 2 reasons for denying coverage. The
first reason is that no coverage exists based upon a claim that Healy was not
a Nevada resident on the date of loss.
( Florida law is well settled that a person can have more than one
The insurance company states that there was a material misrepresentation on
the insurance form. The insurance company did not know Healy was a resident
of mom's home in Nevada. The defendant has admitted the drunk caused the
Healywas 18 at the time of the accident. She was seriously injured and was in
a coma for approximately 4-5 days. After being transferred to the local
brain unit she was put through intensive neurological rehabilitation for and
discharged approximately 10 days later. Healy still experiences some
residual problems associated with her brain damage in that she has lost
spontaneous emotions and processes things slower. For instance, if you pass
Healy in the hall and smile she will not process this and return the smile
until you are further down the walkway. When you speak to her it is easy to
see that she has lost emotion. She has a relatively flat affect.
Healy's grades are well above average but it is taking her a lot longer to
get through school. This accident happened in January 1998 and she just
completed her AA degree at Valencia community college. She begins taking
classes at Brevard Community College the end of August to obtain her AS
degree in Crime Scene Technology. Even when she graduates she will face
problems with securing employment since evidence technicians are charged with
securing crime scenes in a dynamic situation. There is little to no hope of
her achieving her dream of FBI. The financial loss is great but not as
troubling as the personal loss.
She literally stays up for days in order to prepare for tests and is in a
program that lets her get students notes to assist her in class. The
vocational rehabilitation analysis shows that because of her brain injury and
lack of processing she is unlikely to be able to compete in her chosen
career. As the rehab expert stated she can't be placed in a situation where
split second decisions are needed when the choice you make could mean the
difference between life or death.
Healy's parents lived together in Florida until they were divorced in
approximately 1985. Heather's mom took both daughters and moved to Nevada
when Healy was only 11-12 years old where she remained exclusively for 5
years. Because the school environment wasn't the best (gangs) the parents
decided that Healy would complete high school in Orlando and start community
college in Florida as well.
Before the accident Healy was alledgedly planning on attending school at
Quantico, West Virginia after she received her AA from the local community
college with .hopes of joining the FBI. Healy was so focused on this career
she requested and obtain information about the various colleges while
attending high school in Florida.
During the school breaks , Christmas and summers, Healy would return to
Nevada where a bedroom was still maintained with clothing articles. She would
also worked at a local Wendys and included the Nevada address on the
A claim was brought against her mother's insurance carrier for their
15,000 and they denied the claim stating Healy was not covered under mom's
Nevada policy since she was living in Florida with her dad at the time of
the accident. (see above contentions)
Dad had insurance coverage but not enough to represent the damages she has.
Is Healy a dual resident?
Is Healy covered as a dual resident of both Florida and Nevada?
Is dual residency is common with college students?
Does it matter that she was staying with her dad in Florida while school is
in session ?
Mom's insurance company did not define the term A resident in its' policy
and does not acknowledge a dual residency
Problems for Healy :
1. Healy was living in Florida on the date of the accident and had her
checking acct as well as Florida drivers license. She wasn't of driving age
when she first moved down from Nevada.
2. She had been living with her dad in Florida for three years while school
was in session.
3 Dad paid for her car and insurance. Dad's insurance paid on this claim.
4 Mom paid for other daughters car insurance.
5.She is not listed as a named insured on the Nevada policy but for purposes
of UM you don't have to be.
6 The year before this happened she did not return to Nevada because she fell
in love and spent it with her then boyfriend.
7. She was not wearing her seatbelt. However, an eyewitness puts the drunk
inside her car right after the collision. A photograph shows where she may
have hit her head on the windshield.
8 The agent for mom's insurance company filled out the application over the
phone and checked off no student residing greater than 100 miles from home
and Heather's mom signed it.
Problems for Insurance Company: :
1 Heatly was planning on attending college in Virginia by virtue of the
mailings she received while attending high school in Florida. The dates on
the envelopes show that Healy was contemplating attending college elsewhere.
This is important in establishing that Dad's home was nothing more than a
2 Healy made several return trips to Nevada and would spend the entire summer
and Christmas holiday home in Nevada.
3 Healy considered Nevada her home.
4 There is a photograph of her bedroom in Nevada with her belongings still
5 Insurance company does not have any medical experts to refute the damages.
6 Divorce decree gave mom primary custody with mom in Nevada and shared
7 Ins. Company contended she was not in a covered auto but had to abandon
that claim since UM claims are not dependant upon being in a covered auto.
Well what do you think? who is right? who is wrong? why? If you think Healy
is owed money from the insurance company- how much are her damages (not
limited to 15,000.
Bad faith is when an insuirance company does not pay a claim when they should
have or could have. If you find they acted in bad faith there is no limit to
the insurance company's exposure. If they did not fight the claim they would
have paid a maximum of 15,000 which was the policy limits.
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