Kentucky Auto Accident Claimant Had Obligation to Submit to Pre-Suit Deposition Before Receiving Basic Reparations Benefits

by Mandy Hicks

Kentucky is a no-fault insurance state. This simply means that each party in a Kentucky auto accident case must first seek payment of medical expenses up to $10,000 from their own insurance companies through a claim for basic reparations benefits (also known as personal injury protection – or PIP – benefits). If a person sustains serious injuries, it is usually still possible to pursue compensation from the negligent motorist.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case appealed from the Jefferson Circuit Court, the insured motorist was a woman whose vehicle was struck from behind in a multi-car accident in May 2015. At the scene, the insured motorist did not report any injuries, but there was minor damage to her vehicle’s rear bumper. The insured motorist later sought chiropractic treatment for injuries she alleged resulted from the accident, submitting the bills to the insurance company for payment under her basic reparation benefits (BRB).

The insurance company did not pay the insured motorist’s medical expenses, instead filing a petition to compel the insured motorist to give a pre-litigation deposition. The insured motorist filed a counterclaim, alleging that the insurance company’s refusal to pay her medical expenses immediately was a violation of the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act. The circuit court found that the insurance company had shown good cause for its request for a deposition and ordered the insured motorist to comply within 30 days. It also dismissed the insured motorist’s counterclaim.

After the insured motorist’s deposition, the insurance company agreed to pay the medical expenses at issue, but the insured motorist refused to accept payment. Ultimately, the insured motorist’s counterclaim was dismissed, and she appealed.

The Appellate Court’s Ruling

On appeal, the Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed. The court first noted that the state supreme court had recently addressed the issue of whether BRB obligors are entitled to conduct an investigation prior to paying a claim. In that decision, the state’s highest court ruled that insurance companies are entitled to conduct a reasonable investigation to determine whether an insured is entitled to receive BRB benefits in a particular case. In fact, people seeking BRB can be required to submit to an examination under oath as a condition precedent to coverage.

Thus, the court found that the circuit court did not err in concluding that the insured motorist failed to provide reasonable proof of her claims until ordered to do so by the court. Since she had not provided the requisite proof to the insurance company, the insured motorist’s counterclaim against the plaintiff was not viable.

Contact an Experienced Kentucky Car Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, you need to talk to an attorney about your legal rights. Regardless of whether you are seeking compensation from a negligent motorist, making an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, or pursuing benefits under no-fault insurance coverage, it pays to speak to someone who can help you comply with both the procedural requirements of the law and the contractual requirements of any applicable insurance policies. English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP, in Bowling Green is here to help. Call us today at 270-781-6500, and we will be glad to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.

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