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So, I had a former client ask me to help him with a case he filed himself.  He filed the case in Small Claims Court for $1,500.00.  His daughter was driving his car, and was involved in a wreck which was not her fault.  The car was totaled.

Photos of Vehicles 5

Unfortunately, my client owed $3,000 more than the car was worth.  State Farm paid what they thought the value of the car was, and that left my client owing the finance company $3,000.  He didn’t think that was fair given the fact that the wreck was someone else’s fault, and he was forced to put more mileage on another car until he could afford a new one for his daughter.  So, he filed suit for $1,500.

The Defendant did not answer the complaint (when you sue the person at fault, you do NOT sue the insurance company – you cannot even mention they have insurance in court).  So, my client took a default judgment for $1,500 plus interest and costs – about $1,571.00.

When State Farm found out about the judgment, what did they do?  Appealed the case to Circuit Court and demanded a jury.  So, instead of paying the judgment, State Farm is wasting the Court’s time and, eventually, the jurors who will have to listen to this ridiculous case.

Now, recently, the Supreme Court of Alabama ruled that a person can recover for loss of use even if their car was totaled (Until recently, this was not the case).  But, State Farm is arguing that the case only applies to commercial vehicles.  You can read a blurb for yourselves and decide:

2012 ALW Loss of Use

The problem with State Farm’s opinion is that the Supreme Court SPECIFICALLY overruled several previous cases which did not involve commercial vehicles.

Not only does State Farm’s opinion not make sense, but they are also spending money on a case when they could just pay the judgement.  But, that is typical State Farm.  They don’t make rational economic decisions on their face.  They just make decisions which will help them line their pockets in the future.

What do you think?


  1. Gravatar for Ron Burdge

    Right out of law school back in 1978 an insurance company denied a client's $1,500 claim for a stolen vehicle. They lost at trial. Appealed. Lost at appeal. Went to Ohio Supreme Court. Lost again. Then paid the $1,500. I couldn't understand the economic sense of them fighting so long, so hard over $1,500. But I did when the firm's founder explained to my then-naive legal mind, "that's why they own all those tall buildings downtown." Your case reminds me that some things never change, Jon.

  2. Gravatar for Jon Lewis

    Thank you for the comments Ron. They never will change. Insurance was meant to help people avoid risk, not see how much money the insurance companies and executives can make. They have gotten way away from reasonableness and helping the customer/insured.

  3. Gravatar for Mike Bryant

    sounds like Ab needs a good faith law. Or a better one. Horrid treatment of the consumer.

  4. Gravatar for Jon Lewis

    No doubt Mike. Our bad faith law has been gutted, and we have no direct action statute. It's pathetic consumer protection.

Comments are closed.

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