In a recent case, an insurance company brought an action in a New Mexico state court, the Second Judicial District Court, County of Bernalillo, seeking a declaration that its insured was not entitled to uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage for any injuries or other damages resulting from a 2015 car accident. The insured filed an answer and also asserted a counterclaim for personal injuries, to recover uninsured motorist benefits, for insurance bad faith and for violations of the Unfair Claims Practices Act.
People who have suffered personal injuries following a New Mexico car accident will often prefer to proceed with litigation in New Mexico state courts in the hopes of advancing a case past motion practice and towards trial. Insurance companies will often prefer to proceed in federal courts, where they hope to bring successful motions to dismiss or for summary judgment, and avoid trial. In this case, the insurance company filed a notice of removal, seeking to invoke the federal court’s jurisdiction and the insured driver successfully challenged the removal, resulting in the case being remanded to New Mexico state court.
The declaratory judgment by the insurance company and counterclaim by the insured driver arose from a four-car collision that occurred in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Allegedly a vehicle struck the car in front of it, causing a series of collisions until ultimately the insured’s car, which was the front vehicle in the chain, was struck from behind. The driver who caused the accident allegedly fled the scene and it was unknown whether that driver had liability insurance. The insured driver filed a claim under his insurance company policy for personal injuries and damages related to the collision, which his insurance company denied on the basis that he had rejected UM/UIM coverage.