Is An Insurance Company Required To Defend Someone Who Caused A Personal Injury Accident?

by Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC on July 19, 2010

in NY Insurance Issues

Nearly all Buffalo personal injury attorneys have been involved in situations where an insurance company tried to deny coverage following a personal injury accident.  Sometimes this occurs early in a case, and the insurance company attempts to avoid involvement in the whole process.  Fortunately, New York State law addresses when an insurance company may refuse to defend an insured person in a personal injury lawsuit.

Whether an insurance company is required to defend an individual accused of causing a personal injury is determined by comparing the allegations in the complaint with the terms of the insurance agreement.  It does not matter if the insurance company believes the allegations to be untrue or frivolous, nor does it matter if it is ultimately determined that the defendant owes nothing.  If the allegations fall under the terms of the insurance contract, the insurance company must defend the insured person. 

Moreover, the New York State Court of Appeals has ruled that even if the allegations in the complaint do not fall under the insurance contract, but the insurance company has actual knowledge of facts establishing a reasonable possibility of coverage, it still must defend the insured person. 

Finally, any ambiguous language in an insurance policy must be interpreted in favor of the insured, not the insurance company.

If you have suffered a personal injury and have any questions regarding insurance coverage, please feel free to call my office at 716-542-5444.

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