Attorneys in South Bend, especially those that operate within the realm of tractor-trailer accidents, would be smart to read the recent case in Nebraska (Devese v. Transguard. Insurance Company of America). Insurance companies make their money from premiums received by customers, then investing that money and capitalizing on the returns. So, payments made to any claimants are not within the bottom line interests of any insurance company. In this case, that pertains to truckers, their estates, property damage, and any smaller cars involved with a tractor trailer accident.
We have seen similar cases to this in South Bend. For instance, in this case, Stephen O’Bryant, the trucker, was killed in an accident. He was driving while his commercial driver’s license was suspended at the time of the crash. The estate rep, Syliva Devese, filed a claim with the company, which was denied. She then sues Transguard on breach of contract and bad faith grounds. The trial fell in favor of the insurance company. However, the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed the verdict stating that there must be a connection between the breach and the loss.
Mr. O’Bryant worked independtly, but operated under one of Transguard’s group policies. The policy was not to include “any loss occurring while the Insured Person…is operating a vehicle without a valid (CDL)”. Mr. O’Bryant’s license was initially suspended due to unpaid auto accident judgments. Within two months, his life was taken in another trucking accident. The policies beneficiaries filed claim with Transguard who denied it based on the CDL component of the policy. Ms. Devease then sued Transguard demanding a known connection between the suspended license and the accident. As stated, the verdict fell in Transguard’s favor. When Ms. Devease submitted her appeal, the Nebraska Court of Appeals accepted the case based on a case that was overturned Omaha Sky Divers Parachute Club v. Ranger Ins.
In the appeal, Ms. Devease found that Omaha Sky Divers had been denied their claim in a plane crash accident. Initially, the court favored the insurance company and they were not demanded to demonstrated a link between a breach of medical fitness clause and the accident. The court overturned this with D & S realty v Markel Insurance company in finding that the insurance company and DID required demonstration of a connection between the breach of contract and the loss. Using this same component, the Nebraska Supreme Court stated that Transguard would have to honor the policy unless they could demonstrate a connection between the suspended license and the accident. Since, O’Bryant’s license was suspended due to non-payment of a judgment and not poor driving, no connection could be made. The Nebraska supreme court reversed the case and sent it back to trial court.
The Nebraska Supreme Court’s decision does not provide Ms. Devease the precise judgment she was seeking but required the lower courts to consider if Mr. O’Bryant’s CDL suspension was directly connected to the accident.
Attorney’s who argue such cases, especially in South Bend, should well be aware of each intricate detail and available outcome in tractor trailer cases. Considering that the South Bend area has several majoy highway system floating through it grounds, deploying the most effective attorney in your case is paramount to winning.