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Injured man who sued estate can only recover insurance policy limits

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A man who was injured in an auto accident with a woman who died the following year cannot recover any funds from her estate, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. But the trial court didn’t err in denying the estate’s motion to amend the jury award, because it is a valid judgment despite that the man can only recover funds available under the policy limits of the woman’s insurance policy.

Paige Winn and Michael Davis were in a car accident on Oct. 12, 2007. Winn died June 8, 2008, from causes unrelated to the accident. Davis asked for an estate to be opened and then filed a complaint on Sept. 25, 2009, claiming Winn negligently operated her car. He sought to recover for personal injuries and lost wages.

A jury awarded Davis $60,000, which the trial court entered into judgment. The estate sought to correct the judgment to say that Davis could not collect from the estate because he didn’t timely file his claim and that the recovery was limited under the amount available through Winn’s insurance liability policy. The trial court denied the estate’s motion.

The Court of Appeals found Davis’ claim against the estate was not timely filed within nine months of Winn’s death, as outlined in I.C. 29-1-14-1, so he cannot recover any money from the estate.

“However, pursuant to the clear language of Indiana Code section 29-1-14-1(f) and the Indiana Supreme Court’s holding in (Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance Co. v. Richie, 707 N.E.2d 992 (Ind. 1999)), Davis may recover the funds available under the limits of Winn’s insurance liability policy from Winn’s insurance carrier,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in John M. Mayer, Jr., as Special Administrator of the Estate of Paige R. Winn, Deceased v. Michael. W. Davis, 22A01-1212-CT-570.  

The appeals court declined to conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion to amend the judgment because the judgment is valid despite the fact that any portion of the judgment in excess of Winn’s insurance liability policy limits can’t be recovered from the estate.

“The Estate has pointed to no authority suggesting that a judgment is void merely because it is unenforceable, and we find none,” he wrote.

 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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