September 11, 2019
Law360 covered a recent Virginia Supreme Court victory for a McGuireWoods client who was awarded damages for serious injuries suffered in a 2013 auto accident.
In a unanimous Aug. 15 ruling, the court held that a motorist who was ordered to pay $1.5 million in damages could not have that amount offset by the $750,000 the injured driver received from her insurance company under an uninsured motorist policy. The ruling by the state’s highest court affirmed a trial judge’s decision not to reduce the award to McGuireWoods’ client, who suffered hip, shoulder and knee injuries when another vehicle struck her car.
Richmond partner Scott Oostdyk and associate Matthew Fender tried the case to the jury. Senior counsel Robert Loftin successfully argued the appeal.
The client's auto insurance policy included an uninsured motorist coverage provision. After suing the driver who struck her car, the client and the insurance company reached a $750,000 settlement to which the other motorist was not a party. The driver who struck the client’s car sought to have the $1.5 million award reduced by $750,000, arguing that the insurance company was a nominal defendant and liable for the client’s injuries. The Virginia Supreme Court disagreed, saying the insurer was liable only because of its contract with the client.
"We are pleased the Supreme Court of Virginia permitted drivers to keep the benefit of the [underinsured motorist] coverage they protectively purchase,” Oostdyk told Law360 for its Aug. 15 story. “This is a sound policy for a strong business state."