Arbitrator’s Award Precludes Plaintiff’s UIM Claim

The plaintiff brought an action for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits arising from injuries sustained in two motor vehicle accidents, the first occurring in March 2013 and the second in May 2014. As a result of the first accident, the plaintiff alleged she sustained a concussion, right ankle and back injuries. As a result of the second accident, the plaintiff alleged she sustained neck injuries and exacerbation of her ongoing back injuries.

As liability favored the plaintiff, she settled her claims for injuries with the driver’s insurer in a separate pending bodily injury suit which was being pursued at the same time she advanced the action against her own insurer for underinsured motorist benefits. Plaintiff counsel argued that the plaintiff continued to experience post-concussive syndrome and blurred vision as a result of the first accident, and significant back pain with lumbar disc protrusions as a result of the first and second motor vehicle accidents. Attorney Girouard, on behalf of the defendant insurer, disputed the nature and severity of plaintiff’s injuries and argued that her damages were not enough to trigger a UIM claim. The parties eventually agreed to submit the UIM claims to binding arbitration, but only on the condition that the arbitrator would not be advised of the underlying bodily injury limits ($50,000) and further that the arbitrator determine a gross award pertaining to both accident claims.

arbitrator ultimately determined that the total value of plaintiff’s injuries from both accidents totaled just over $43,000, plus 12% interest per annum for approximately 10 months of litigation. Thus, the total award did not exceed the $50,000 threshold required to trigger any contribution by the UIM carrier resulting in a net victory for Attorney Girouard’s client.