Insurance Coverage for Motorcycles
Whether it is warmer weather or increased fuel costs, more motorcycles are evident on America's roads and highways. There is a greater danger involved in riding a motorcycle than in driving a car. As a result, insurance companies treat motorcycles and their riders differently than automobiles and their passengers. Such treatment does not violate the constitutional right of equal protection under the law.
Underinsured motorist and uninsured motorist provisions in many auto insurance policies contain clauses that exclude coverage if the insured, without the consent of the insurer, makes a settlement with or obtains a judgment against an uninsured or underinsured motorist who is liable for the damages caused by an accident. These clauses, which are called consent to settle, consent to settlement, or consent to action clauses, are included in the policy because the interests of an insured, who may hope to obtain a quick settlement with an uninsured or underinsured motorist and may be less concerned about the size of the settlement, often differ from the interests of his or her insurer, which hopes to recover from the liable party every possible dollar of the amounts it is required to pay out under its policy.
A plaintiff in an automotive products liability action is generally required to prove that a motor vehicle as sold contained a defect in its design, in the way in which it was manufactured or assembled, or in the failure to warn of a risk inherent in its operation that created an unreasonable risk of death, personal injury, or property damage when the vehicle was used for its intended purpose and that the defect caused an accident or similar incident, such as a vehicle fire, that resulted in the loss or damage for which the plaintiff seeks to recover damages. Because proof of the existence of such conditions does not involve passing judgment on the conduct of the manufacturer, but merely on the status of the vehicle as sold, the plaintiff in such a case can ordinarily recover only his or her actual damages, which can include economic losses and damages for non-economic losses based on the jury's determination of the dollar value of the pain and suffering resulting from the accident. Sometimes, though, the manufacturer's conduct in dealing with the alleged vehicle defect becomes an issue in the case, and the plaintiff may then attempt to recover punitive damages in addition to the actual damages suffered.
Among its other duties, an automobile insurance company is required to act in good faith when dealing with an insurance claim. This duty to exercise good faith continues throughout the entire claim process. There is an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in every insurance contract.
When a lawsuit is filed against an automobile insurance company's insured for damages allegedly suffered by a claimant in an automobile accident with the insured, the insurance company has a duty to defend the insured. A part of the insurance company's duty can be the right to retain an attorney for the insured's defense and to pay that attorney's fee. Because the insurance company selects and pays the defense counsel, questions arise regarding who is the attorney's client and whether the attorney owes a duty to only the insured or to both the insured and the insurance company.