Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Summary Judgment for Insured in Arbitration Demand Dispute

One of the biggest headaches that people face after a motor vehicle collision is negotiating with insurance companies and navigating their insurance policies. Not all policies are the same, and insurance companies often bury key language in legalese or at the end of the document. Knowing when you need to submit certain pieces of information or identifying key deadlines is critical. At Therman Law Offices, our team of Chicago car accident lawyers is standing by to help you make sense of your insurance policy and to ensure that you are treated fairly.

A recent appellate decision highlights the complications that can arise with insurance claims after a car accident. The plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle crash in 2007 with an uninsured driver. The plaintiff promptly notified her insurance company of the accident. She kept in contact with her assigned insurance representative and updated the representative about her medical treatment and missed work.

In 2009, the plaintiff demanded arbitration with her insurer but did not include the name of the arbitrator whom she intended to use. The insurer denied the request and filed a declaratory judgment action against the plaintiff, asking for a declaration that her demand for arbitration was untimely because it was not submitted within the two-year time period required in the policy. The plaintiff filed a counterclaim, seeking a declaratory judgment and requesting arbitration. This time, the plaintiff included the name of an arbitrator.

The parties then each filed a motion for summary judgment. The insurer reiterated its argument that the plaintiff failed to file an arbitration demand in a timely fashion based on the policy requirements. The plaintiff argued that a provision of the Illinois Insurance Code required the period for demanding arbitration to be tolled during the ongoing claims process.

The lower court denied the insurer’s motion and granted the plaintiff’s motion. It concluded that the relevant section of the Illinois Insurance Code tolled the period in which the plaintiff was required to demand arbitration because the insurer and the plaintiff were still in the middle of the claims process. The insurer appealed. On review, the appellate court agreed with the trial court. It looked at the intent behind the statutory language, which was designed to protect consumers in situations in which an insurance policy contains a time limit. According to the appellate court, the time period was tolled on the day that the insurer received the plaintiff’s completed Notice of Claim, Uninsured Motorist Coverage form.

If you were involved in a car accident, you probably have countless questions about your legal options and the best way to maximize the compensation that you require for your injuries and damages. At Therman Law Offices, we ensure that each client receives diligent and personalized legal counsel at every stage of the legal process, including investigation, gathering evidence, and ensuring that insurance companies don’t take advantage of you. Whether you were just involved in an accident, or you are embroiled in an ongoing claim, we are standing by to assist you. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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