In September of 2013, the United States Court of Appeals of Kentucky heard a case involving a Louisville Personal Injury (UIM) Car Accident matter. The opinion is an unpublished opinion and should not be published. See Kentucky Statute RCP Rule 76.28(4) before citing. (See Ward v. Nationwide Assurance Co., 2013 WL 5051677 (Ky.App. 2013)). This case had to do with a Louisville Personal Injury (UIM) Car Accident with the central issue being that of whether Kentucky law applies to the insurance policy at issue by operation of the public-policy exception to Kentucky’s well-regarded and customary conflicts-of-law test. The court did find that the public-policy exception applied an in turn, Kentucky law. Id. This appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision. Id. The reasoning is as follows.
The Louisville Personal Injury (UIM) Car Accident occurred on August 5, 2009. The plaintiff was a Virginia resident who was involved in a car accident with a Kentucky resident in Jefferson County, Kentucky. The defendant was an intoxicated driver. The plaintiff had an insurance policy issued in Virginia with a UIM coverage in the amount of $25,000. Defendant had an insurance policy of $25,000. The defendant insurance company elected to waive its subrogation rights. Id. So, the Louisville Personal Injury (UIM) Car Accident attorney contacted the UIM carrier.
The plaintiff then demanded the UIM benefits. But, the insurance company denied the claim because it determined that the defendant was not an underinsured motorist. Id. Applying Virginia law, since the two policies were equal, the UIM did not come into play because the defendant was not considered an “underinsured motorist.”
The plaintiff then hired a Louisville Personal Injury (UIM) Car Accident attorney to sue. The plaintiff did not agree with his insurance company’s take on the law and so he sued to get what he thought he deserved. At the state court level, both sides filed motions and the insurance company won because the state court judge determined “that Virginia law applied pursuant to the “most significant relationship” test utilized by this Commonwealth in resolving contract-based conflicts-of-law issues.” Id.
Kentucky in a choice of law issue will apply the “most significant relationship test.” Id. In Kentucky, usually this test requires the Kentucky court to apply the law of the residence of the named insured which will determine the scope of coverage. Id. This would mean Virginia. But, the injured plaintiff’s attorney cited to a test that states “Kentucky courts have traditionally refused to apply the law of another state if that state’s law violates a public policy as declared by the Kentucky legislature or courts.” (cites omitted). The public policy of this Commonwealth is “to ensure that victims of motor vehicle accidents on Kentucky highways are fully compensated.” (cites omitted).
In Kentucky there used to be two views as to the issue of UIM endorsement and setoff. “Under the narrow view, the insured’s UIM coverage is always setoff or reduced by the tortfeasor’s liability limits. The purpose of the narrow view is to place the insured in the same financial condition that he would be in if the tortfeasor had liability limits equal to the insured’s own UIM limits. Under the broad view, UIM coverage is triggered when the insured’s damages exceed the tortfeasor’s liability limits, at which point the insured is entitled, if damages require it, to receive the full amount of the UIM policy. The public policy underlying the broad view is to provide full recovery to the injured party.” (cites omitted). Kentucky used to adhere to the narrow view, but in 1988 the Kentucky legislature eliminated the mandatory setoff language transforming KRS 304.39-120 into a representation of the broad view. Id. Thus, Virginia still follows the narrow view, but this court holds that Kentucky does not and does not have to. The public-policy exception to Kentucky’s traditional conflicts of law analysis is applicable under these circumstances. Id.
If you have been the subject of a Louisville Personal Injury (UIM) Car Accident case, please call and speak to a Louisville Personal Injury (UIM) Car Accident attorney at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (888-275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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