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Snow Christensen & Martineau Secures UIM Insurer Victory – Evidence of Existence of Uninsured Vehicle must be more than Speculative

In Nau v. Safeco Insurance Co. of Illinois, 2017 UT App 44 (Utah Ct. App. Mar. 7, 2017), Snow Christensen & Martineau secured affirmance of summary judgment in favor of uninsured vehicle insurer Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois. In Nau, the claimant lost control of his vehicle on a Utah highway and crashed into the median, suffering serious injuries. He claimed that the accident was caused by a piece of debris in the road left by an unidentified driver, and filed a claim with Safeco for uninsured motorist benefits. The claimant testified that his crash was caused by “a piece of rubber, a piece of concrete, or piece of carpet…something very hard.” The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Safeco which was affirmed by the Utah Court of Appeals. The appellate court found that the claimant’s testimony could not establish under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur that the debris left in the road was “likely” caused by the negligence of an unidentified motorist. The Court found that the claimant’s testimony only established that the debris in the road “possibly” could have been caused by the negligence of an unidentified motorist. Such a finding would have been based purely on speculation, thus creating an insufficient inference to defeat the insurer’s summary judgment motion.

Written by Richard A. Vazquez