Arizona Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Drivers Injured or Killed by Uninsured and Underinsured Wrongdoers
PHOENIX – A decision by the Arizona Supreme Court in a class-action lawsuit significantly expanded the rights of Arizona drivers who hold uninsured and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage and were injured or killed by drivers who without enough insurance, say attorneys at leading automotive and consumer rights law firm Hagens Berman.
The decision, which the court filed on July 28, 2023, states injured drivers must be allowed to “stack” or combine UIM coverages if multiple vehicles are insured under a single insurance policy, unless the language of the policy meets certain strict requirements that many insurers violate. This means drivers injured or killed by uninsured or underinsured motorists may have claims for significantly more insurance benefits under Arizona law, in addition to what they might have already been paid by their insurers, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman’s Phoenix office.
As the court held, “Notwithstanding creative policy drafting intended to evade statutory requirements — including technical definitions of coverages and extensive limitation of liability clauses,” insurers must make more UIM benefits available to customers who insure multiple vehicles. The court also concluded that a single policy insuring multiple vehicles provides separate UIM coverages that can be claimed — in effect multiplying the amount of coverage by the number of insured vehicles.
“This decision represents total victory on a number of issues that are critically important to Arizona drivers,” said Rob Carey, partner and executive committee member at Hagens Berman and attorney who led the case against California State Automobile Association (CSAA), a AAA insurer. “If someone has multiple underinsured motorist coverages because the policyholder bought it for several cars, insurance companies must now let injured insureds recover under each of these policies, which increases available benefits in multiples, unless the insurer meets some very technical requirements that are often violated.”
Hagens Berman represented an Arizona woman whose mother was killed in an auto accident by an underinsured driver, in the April 2022 lawsuit against CSAA General Insurance Company. The plaintiff made a claim for UIM benefits under her own insurance policy, which provided $50,000 of UIM coverage. Her insurer paid $50,000 under this policy. The plaintiff then sought an additional $50,000 because her mother had purchased UIM coverage on a second vehicle.
The insurer disagreed that the plaintiff should be able to “stack” these coverages, so the plaintiff sued on behalf of all Arizona drivers in similar situations. Last year, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to rule on the key legal issues. This lawsuit was the first filed of nearly a dozen regarding this same issue, and the court’s decision will support relief for injured drivers around the state present and future, attorneys say.
“If you or your loved one is injured or killed in a car accident by an underinsured driver, you deserve to receive the maximum benefits owed under the law, and insurers can’t avoid this by claiming they partially complied with the law,” said Carey. “We are pleased with the court’s decision which holds insurance companies accountable to their customers.”
Attorneys say this case sets a precedent which will govern cases against other insurers on behalf of drivers. If you have collected benefits under a UIM policy from any of the following insurers, you may be owed more money, according to attorneys:
- CSAA General Insurance Company
- Liberty Mutual
- LM General
- American Family
- Economy Preferred
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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman is a global plaintiffs’ rights complex litigation law firm with a tenacious drive for achieving real results for those harmed by corporate negligence and fraud. Since its founding in 1993, the firm’s determination has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.