Acceptance of case evaluation results in dismissal of woman's underinsured motorist claim
Patricia Ann Craig was badly hurt in a car wreck. The at-fault driver and owner had purchased $100,000.00 of liability coverage, while Craig had covered herself with $300,000.00 of Underinsured Motorist Coverage through the Frankenmuth Insurance Company. She filed suit against the owner and driver, Geoffrey and Bradford Larson, and joined Frankenmuth as a defendant.
Frankenmuth demanded to be dismissed because Craig had not proved that her injuries and damages exceeded the at-fault's policy limits, and the Court dismissed the case without prejudice (meaning she could re-file it later).
The case was sent to Case Evaluation, where a compromise evaluation of $80,000.00 was recommended to the parties. Forced to choose between taking this reduced number but being safe from sanctions, or holding out for the entire policy, Craig accepted the evaluation and a judgment entered in her favor for that amount against the at-faults. Under her policy language the judgment determination in the suit against the at-faults was not binding on the UIM claim.
When Craig then appealed the dismissal of Frankenmuth and sought to pursue a more complete recovery, the court concluded that since she "settled" her claim (by accepting the case evaluation) without Frankenmuth's consent, she had waived her right to Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Under the terms of the policy, the insured's right to pursue UIM coverage was lost if the insured didn't have the written consent of the insurer to release the claim against the at-fault and the Court held that this language governed under the circumstances. The Court also concluded that Craig had also given up her right to appeal the initial dismissal of Frankenmuth when she "settled" the case against the at faults.