Bronson Hospital wins battle with Assigned Claims Plan over identifying insurer
When a drunk driver involved in a single vehicle collision was delivered to its ER unconscious, Bronson Methodist Hospital provided him with 24 hours of care at a cost of $21,000.00. After he became conscious, no one asked Cody Esquivel for the name of his auto insurer; and by the time they got around to asking, they couldn't find him.
Bronson them filed a No Fault PIP claim with the Assigned Claims Facility, seeking to either identify Esquivel's insurer or to confirm that he was illegally driving a vehicle that he owned but had not insured. The Assigned Claims people refused to assign an insurer to assist in confirming coverage. When Bronson filed suit, the Assigned Claims Plan sought summary disposition and sanctions for filing a frivolous claim. The trial judge dismissed the case, awarding almost $5,000.00 in fees to Assigned Claims.
The Court of Appeals overturned this result, finding that the circuit judge "jumped the gun" in holding that the driver was "obviously uninsured" and that Bronson's attempt to identify an insurer was frivolous. It ruled that the Assigned Claims Plan should have assigned an insurer who would be under the duty to identify an insurer of higher priority or to respond with some form of confirmation of the driver-patient's uninsured status.