Unknown man driving stolen car hits woman, insurer won't pay

By David Yates | May 31, 2007

Christopher Kirchmer

Almost two years ago, an unknown man driving a stolen Mustang ran a stop sign and struck Ethelene Jean-Louis, permanently injuring her. The car thief was never apprehended.

Jean-Lousis' auto insurance provider, Progressive County Mutual Insurance Co., has refused to "adequately" compensate her. Seeking relief, she filed a lawsuit against Progressive with the Jefferson County District Court on May 30.

According to Jean-Louis' original petition, on June 12, 2005, she was in her car traveling westbound near the 700 block of Church Street in Beaumont when the unknown driver of the stolen 2001 Ford Mustang traveling southbound on Brandon Street ran the stop sign and suddenly struck the driver's side of her vehicle.

There were no police accident reports or documents attached to the plaintiff's petition.

As a result of the collision, Jean-Louis "was seriously and permanently injured," the suit said. "The collision and resulting injuries were proximately caused various acts of negligence…on the part of the unknown driver."

The suit says the mystery driver's acts of negligence include: operating the stolen vehicle at an excessive rate of speed under the circumstances and conditions; failing to control the speed of the vehicle; failing to timely apply the vehicle's brakes; failing to keep a proper look out; and failing to take proper evasive action.

"At the time of the accident, plaintiff was covered by an automobile insurance policy issued by Progressive (which included coverage for uninsured motorists)," the suit said. "Plaintiff alleges that, with regard to this accident, the driver of the stolen Mustang was an 'uninsured' motorist as that term is defined in the policy."

Jean-Louis is suing for past and future medical expenses, loss of earnings and earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and physical impairment. "In addition, plaintiff is entitled to costs of court as well as prejudgment and postjudgment interest for all elements of damages on which such interest is allowed by law," the suit said.

"Plaintiff would further show that she has complied with all term and conditions, required to recover benefits under the policy," the suit said. "By virtue of those facts, plaintiff is entitled to recover the full measure of the damages outlined in (the policy)."

To date, Progressive "has been unwilling to fully and adequately compensate Mrs. Jean-Louis under the policy, necessitating this suit," the suit said.

Jean-Louis is represented by Provost Umphrey attorney Christopher Kirchmer.

She is demanding a trial by jury.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial Court, will preside over the case.

Case No. B179-396

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