SUING THE “MAN OF STRAW”: WHY YOU NEED TO CHECK YOUR OWN CLIENT’S INSURANCE BEFORE GIVING UP ON A PERSONAL INJURY CASE
There was recently some comment, and quite a few readers, of a post on “suing the man of straw”. This was the second post ever on this site. There were comments on Twitter that people were surprised by the post and had clients it may apply to.
YOUR OWN INSURER WILL PAY YOU PERSONAL INJURY DAMAGES
The post, which is reproduced in full below, relates to the (surprisingly common) clause in many insurance policies which state that your own home insurer will pay you sums awarded for damages for personal injury if you have a judgment and it has not been paid. An example is below. This is from a Norwich Union policy. The post below refers to a similar clause in a Lloyds TSB policy.
SUING THE MAN OF STRAW
A perennial problem for litigators is the situation where a claimant has a good case but the Defendant is impecunious and uninsured. In many (but not all) motor claims the Motor Insurers Bureau will provide a practical remedy. In all other cases, however, the case often comes to an end.
IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU LOOK AT YOUR OWN CLIENT’S INSURANCE
However, before the file is archived, it is often worthwhile looking at your own client’s home insurance policy. Many policies have a section which will pay. For instance the Lloyds TSB home insurance policy contains a term which states that cover includes:
“Unrecovered damages and costs.
Damages and costs which you or your family cannot recover. If you have claimed against another party and have been awarded damages and taxed costs in any court in the British Isles for something would be covered under the Personal and employer’s liability section, as a result of anything you or your family do in the personal lives, and payment has not been received 3 months after the date of the accident.
“We will pay the outstanding amount up to £1,000,000 for:
– – accidental death, disease, illness or physical injury to you or your family;
– – accidental damage to property belonging to you or your family.
If you die this cover is transferred to your legal, personal representative provided the representative follows the terms and conditions of the policy as far as they possibly can.”
A VERY REAL AND USEFUL SOLUTION (AND IT HAS WORKED).
So there is a possibility of claiming of an unsatisfied judgment in respect of personal injury, damage to property or a fatal accident claim.
Clearly the precise terms of the policy have to be examined. These clauses are surprisingly common. I have been involved in a number of cases where the home insurance policies have paid out after I have asked the solicitors to check the client’s own policy. Note that, in the Lloyds’ case, the policy not only includes the policyholder but the policyholder’s “family”. It pays to ask in relation to family member’s policies and investigate precisely the scope of any insurance.”