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Not Your Average UM/UIM Claim (NJ)

May 16, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In<em> <a href="">Wichot v. Allstate</a></em>, the New Jersey Appellate Court addressed the potentially broad application of UM/UIM coverage.  Specifically, in April 2012, Jeffrey A. Wichot was kidnapped at gunpoint by three individuals. He was driven around to different banks so he could withdraw money for the assailants. Throughout the incident they continuously threw Wichot against the car and pistol whipped him. Wichot was able to escape, but unfortunately he sustained physical injuries as well as PTSD.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">It was discovered that the assailants did not have car insurance, so Wichot filed an uninsured motorist (UM) claim against Allstate for psychological injuries. Allstate rejected his claim. It was later determined by a lower court that the gun, not the car, caused plaintiff’s PTSD and therefore Wichot did not have a proper claim.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">A state appeals court gave the case new life when it decided that the trial court must reconsider expert evidence that indicates the automobile played a significant role in the assault and therefore contributed to the PTSD. The panel concluded that whether there was a substantial nexus between the car and Wichot’s injuries was a disputed issue that needed to be decided before summary judgment could be granted.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This is not your standard car accident case, but the takeaway is clear, each incident is fact specific and it is possible with creative lawyering, insurance companies may be on the hook for more than the average car accident.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thank you to Marc Schauer for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="">Colleen E. Hayes</a> with any questions.</p>


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