The Alabama Supreme Court, in a recent case, ruled that a default judgment entered against an uninsured driver isn’t binding against an uninsured motorist’s (UM) insurance carrier. The gist of the case was that an injured party filed suit against a driver who had no liability insurance. Progressive Specialty Insurance Company, the uninsured carrier, was notified by the Plaintiff and intervened in the case. The Plaintiff obtained a default judgment against the uninsured driver who hadn’t filed an answer to the Complaint. The Plaintiff tried to bind Progressive by the judgment.
The Supreme Court ruled that a Plaintiff’s claim for UM benefits is dependent upon a binding determination, on the UM insurance carrier. The Plaintiff in such a case has to prove the tortfeasor’s liability. The Court’s ruling makes it very clear that the UM carrier has the right to intervene and defend its own interests rather than having to rely upon the uninsured motorist to defend the carriers’ interests. The proper course of action for a Plaintiff in such cases is to prosecute his or her claims against the UM carrier and not try to use a default judgment against an uninsured motorist dependent to prove damages.
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