Failure to pay uninsured driver claim leads to suit

Kelly Holleran Jun. 23, 2010, 2:43pm

A Jefferson County woman has filed suit against her insurance company, claiming she has not been able to recoup any money from damages she sustained in an automobile accident allegedly caused by an underinsured driver.

Lana Scully claims she was driving west on Gladys Avenue in Beaumont on June 24, 2008, and was stopped behind a vehicle turning left onto Edson Drive when Padmalochini Natarajan, who was also driving west on Gladys failed to control her speed and slammed into the rear of Scully's vehicle, forcing it into the vehicle in front of her.

"The investigating police officer cited Natarajan's failure to control speed and operating with driver inattention as the only causes for the wreck that injured Lana Scully," the suit filed June 16 in Jefferson County District Court states.

Because of the accident, Scully sustained permanent injuries, physical pain and mental anguish; incurred medical costs; and suffered physical impairment, according to the complaint.

At the time of the collision, Scully had an insurance policy through Mercury County Mutual Insurance Co. that was supposed to cover any damages Scully incurred in an accident with an underinsured driver. Mercury gave Scully permission to settle her claim with Natarajan on June 18, 2009, but later refused to pay Scully any insurance benefits associated with her policy, the complaint says.

In addition to Mercury, Scully names insurance adjuster Jason Budman as a defendant, saying both refused payment of her underinsured motorist claim. Scully alleges breach of contract, bad faith and unfair settlement practices against the defendants.

In her complaint, Scully is seeking actual, exemplary and punitive damages, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

David W. Starnes of Beaumont will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: B187-090.

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