Liberty Mutual isn't forced to "do the right thing."
Michelle Collier was insured by Liberty Mutual when she suffered a neck injury. Ultimately, doctors diagnosed that she had suffered the herniation of several discs in her neck, superimposed on a Chiari malformation at the top of the spine, compounded by transverse myelitis. On that basis, Liberty Mutual sent Collier to their "Independent Medical Examiner," who concluded that Collier's multiple laminectomy was caused by her congenital condition and completely unrelated to her motor vehicle accident injury. Liberty stopped paying for any of her medical expenses.Collier eventually deteriorated to the point that she was confined to a wheelchair and required an attendant. She pursued an arbitration claim against Liberty and the arbitration panel ruled in her favor, ordering Liberty to pay $130,000.00 in medical expenses. Liberty Mutual subsequently stopped paying for benefits again, and Collier filed a lawsuit in 2008. The trial judge ruled that the question of causation had been decided against Liberty Mutual in the prior arbitration, and granted Collier summary disposition.
On appeal, Liberty Mutual persuaded the judges [including insurance stalwarts Henry Saad and Kirsten Frank Kelly] that causation for the current damages was an independent issue that required proof once again. The Court also ruled that since Collier had not yet become contractually obligated to perform accessibility modifications to her home, she could not join in her suit a claim to force Liberty Mutual to pay for those modifications.