August is here and it is literally sizzling in Texas this summer, with temperatures well over 100 degrees. I recently had an opportunity to escape the heat for a few days as I attended a Texas Association of Defense Counsel conference in Montana with Mike Shipman
, a TADC
Vice President. There we connected with other defense lawyers and learned about trends and recent developments in the defense practice. One takeaway from the meeting was that the Texas courts are finally back open for business! Slowly but surely the courts are trying to slim their dockets which grew bloated during the pandemic. Reports are that they are making a bit of progress, but getting enough jurors to respond for jury service is an ongoing concern. Claire Kimutis
and I recently tried a 2018 trucking case to verdict in Dallas County, and Doug Fletcher
and Kristi Kautz
just tried another case in Henderson County.
Perspective on PIP
Texas drivers are able, by law, to receive $2,500 in Person Injury Protection (“PIP”) Benefits coverage from insurers. PIP benefits provide coverage to the insured for reasonable
expenses for necessary
medical treatment incurred within 3 years of the subject incident and covers up to 80% of an insured’s loss of income. The Texas Insurance Code provides that PIP benefits shall be payable “without regard to the fault or non-fault of the named insured or the recipient in causing or contributing to the accident, and without regard to any collateral source of medical, hospital, or wage continuation benefits.” Mid-Century Ins. Co. of Texas v. Kidd,
997 S.W.2d 265, 268 (Tex. 1999). In laymen terms, PIP benefits are payable no matter who is at fault in causing the loss.
Also, these benefits are recoverable even if the insured had a medical benefits plan pay their bills.
Typically, policyholders can also pay more for higher coverage amounts of $5,000 to $10,000 for added financial protection. However, we are now seeing policies that provide up to $100,000 in PIP benefits per person covered by the policy. These high-value benefits are pushing the insured to treat with plaintiff-friendly medical providers which could exaggerate medical expenses. Consequently, the carrier and the insured are finding it difficult to agree on the reasonable value for necessary medical treatment, which are leading to lawsuits over PIP benefits. Similar to UIM cases, these matters place the carrier in the precarious of going against their own customers.
The insured are now filing suits alleging that carriers are failing to fulfill their contractual obligation to the insured contained in the policy under PIP benefits by not covering their medical damages and lost wages. The insured may allege the carrier of the following: bad faith under Texas Insurance Code §541.061(a)1; failing to make prompt payment in violation of Texas Insurance Code §1952.156; and violation of Texas Insurance §541 and §542. The alleged violation of Chapter 541 of the Texas Insurance Code is then tied to a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Act (“DTPA”).
If the insured is able to prove his/her allegations and the jury finds a violation of the Texas Insurance Code tied to a violation of the DPTA, and that the violation was knowing, the insured would be allowed to recover his/her economic damages times three, as well as their attorney’s fees. Additionally, the insured is entitled to recover attorney’s fees under their claim for a declaratory judgment. We are advising clients to consider these factors when valuing PIP benefits in these types of high-benefit policies.
30th Anniversary Celebration
at Lone Star Park!
Our firm celebrated it's 30th Anniversary on August 1st! We marked the occasion by enjoying a day at Lone Star Park with our team at Fletcher, Farley, Shipman & Salinas! We are thankful for our amazing crew that strive every day to deliver top-notch results for our clients.
We want to say a special thank each of you for being a special part of growing our firm and making us who we are today!
You won't want to miss
Fletcher Farley's Annual
Texas Law Update in Dallas!
Our seminar is free of charge and will include materials, continental breakfast, lunch and
continuing education hours approved through the Texas Department of Insurance
and the State Bar of Texas.
More details and registration information coming soon!
August 1st - 30 years
August 1st - 30 years
August 9th - 5 years
August 10th - 1 year
August 10th - 2 years
August 21st - 7 years
Thank you for being
an essential part of
If you would like more information or have questions, please contact:
Firm Managing Partner
Buffalo Chicken Dip
8 ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature
1/3 cup buffalo sauce
1/4 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
2 green onions , minced and divided
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the cream cheese with a fork then mix with the buffalo sauce and dressing until smooth. Mix in the shredded chicken and 1 1/2 cup cheese and half of the green onion. Transfer to 1 quart baking dish, top with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly. Serve hot with chips.