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Insurance – Auto – Demand Letter – Type of Check – Personal Injury Coverage

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//June 2, 2023

Insurance – Auto – Demand Letter – Type of Check – Personal Injury Coverage

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//June 2, 2023

Although defendant’s demand letter said she would only accept a cashier’s or certified bank check, she could not explain why the plaintiff-insurer’s check was unacceptable. Moreover, the demand was found in an ambiguous footnote: “Settlement funds must be paid by Cashier’s Checks or Certified Bank Checks (not drafts) issued by your insurance company.” Neither a cashier’s check nor a certified bank check is “issued by your insurance company.” Defendant could not articulate a logical reason supporting the argument that the form of the check was essential or material to the settlement, particularly within the context of her law firm’s byzantine demand letter.

We affirm the circuit court’s declaration that defendant entered into an enforceable settlement agreement with the plaintiff-insurer.

The demand letter also requested a release as to defendant’s bodily injury claim only. The demand letter obliquely referred to property damage, but it did not assert a property damage claim. In fact, defendant’s offer of compromise sought “a reasonable proposed Release that does not include indemnification or the release of property damage claims.” The parties reached no agreement as to any claim for the actual value of defendant’s lost property (which included only destroyed clothing and a cell phone, as defendant was a passenger on someone else’s motorcycle at the time of the accident with plaintiff’s insured).

Because the settlement was valid and enforceable, defendant is directed to sign the covenant not to execute upon receipt of the plaintiff-insurance company’s tender of a new $50,000 check, thus resolving any bodily injury claim arising from her accident with plaintiff’s insured.

Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Goodwin (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-019-23, 9 pp.) (Per Curiam) Appealed from Darlington County Circuit Court (Paul Burch, J.) Eric Marc Poulin, Lane Douglas Jefferies, Roy Willey and Angeline Larrivee for appellant; Alfred Johnston Cox and John Thomas Lay for respondent. South Carolina Court of Appeals (unpublished)

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