Auto Accident Articles

Cancellation of Auto Insurance for Nonpayment of Premiums

The mandatory nature of motor vehicle insurance in the United States means that the system under which cars and trucks are insured involves a three-part relationship among the vehicle owner or operator, the insurer, and the government of the state where the car or truck is located. The heart of the auto insurance business relationship, though, is the policy of insurance, a bilateral contract under which the insurer agrees to provide the requested insurance coverage on a vehicle and pay valid claims and the insured agrees that he or she will in return pay the premiums due under the policy. When an insured fails to make timely payment of the premiums or fails to pay them at all, the insurer's ultimate recourse is to cancel the policy for nonpayment of premiums.

Comparative Fault in Automotive Products Liability Cases

Tort law is the branch of the legal system that deals with cases in which an individual or other legally recognized entity, such as a corporation or governmental unit, seeks to recover damages from another person for a private injury or wrong not arising out of a contractual relationship. Tort actions are often based on the concept of negligence, which the law generally defines in such a context as the failure to meet the standard of care required to avoid subjecting another to unreasonable risk of injury. Under traditional tort law principles, if the plaintiff in such a case was found to have been guilty of what is called contributory negligence, which is generally defined as a failure to use due care that contributes to the plaintiff's own injury, the plaintiff would be barred from recovering any damages from the defendant. More recently, many courts have adopted a doctrine called comparative fault or comparative negligence in deciding such cases.

Manufacturer Defenses in Automotive Products Liability Cases

The basic elements of proof that a plaintiff has to establish in a products liability action against the manufacturer or seller of a motor vehicle are that the vehicle as sold contained a defect that created an unreasonable risk of death, personal injury, or property damage when the vehicle was put to its intended use and that the defect caused an accident or similar incident, such as a vehicle fire, that resulted in the loss or damage for which the plaintiff seeks to recover damages. Vehicle defects can include shortcomings in the design of a vehicle, mistakes in the manufacture of its component parts or in their assembly into a complete car or truck, and failure to warn the purchaser or operator of a risk inherent in the use and operation of the vehicle. Manufacturers have a number of defenses available to them in seeking to prevent a plaintiff from succeeding in an automotive products liability action.

Intentional Injury Exclusion in Auto Insurance

When a vehicle is involved in an automobile accident, the conduct of an insured may activate the automobile insurance policy's exclusion for intentional injury. Intentional injuries include suicide and assault, among other acts. Even though some states require automobile insurance companies to provide statutory minimum coverage, the companies may exclude coverage for intentional injuries. The intentional injury exclusion prohibits an insured, which caused an intentional injury to himself or herself or to another person, from recovering insurance benefits for that injury. This is a common exclusion in automobile insurance policies. Further, most no-fault statutes contain intentional injury exclusions.

Tort Liability of Owners/Operators of Private Motor Vehicles

While the owners and operators of private motor vehicles sometimes think of their possession of auto insurance as totally eliminating any potential tort liability on their parts, such owners and operators remain subject to the tort system to the extent that their insurance coverage does not encompass part or all of their legal liability for an incident that has caused personal injury or property damage to another person. Such a situation can arise, for example, where a court judgment reflecting injury or damage caused by an insured private vehicle owner or operator exceeds the limits of his or her policy, or where the insured's failure to provide required notice to an insurer or cooperate in the defense of a legal action causes the insurer to assert that it is not required to provide coverage for the loss under the policy.

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