Uninsured drivers remain a major problem in the state of Georgia. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Insurance Research Council showed that in 2012 between nine and 11 percent of motorists in Georgia were uninsured. Legal woes that arise from accidents with those who are and become uninsured are at the center of a recent decision from the Court of Appeals of Georgia, Castellanos v. Travelers Home & Marine Insurance Company.
As you might not have expected, both drivers in Castellanos were insured at the time of the accident. The wreck at issue occurred in late September 2009 and was a result of the negligence of the defendant in this case. The plaintiff driver brought suit against the defendant driver and his insurance company, United Automobile Insurance Company, in the State Court of Gwinnett County and served Travelers Insurance, as his uninsured-motorist insurance carrier. United provided legal defense for the defendant, but the defendant did not cooperate in the suit and failed to even attend the trial. Following trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $7,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, and thereafter the plaintiff demanded payment from United. United, however, denied coverage, arguing that the defendant had not cooperated in the case, as was required by the terms of his insurance agreement, and thus United was entitled to deny him coverage.