Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Appellate Division discusses burdens of proof on PIP claim that was paid late

Francisco and Gloria Delasnueces were in an accident while in a car insured by Plymouth Rock. They received treatment from Kantorosinski Chiropractic. Plymouth Rock initially paid some of the bills and denied some. It later made a "business decision" to pay all the bills.

In Kantorosinski Chiropractic, Inc. v. Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp., 2011 WL 4529392 (Mass. App. Div.), the Massachusetts Appellate Division held that summary judgment cannot be granted to a PIP insurer on a claim that it delayed payment merely because the insurer asserts that the reason for eventual payment was a business decision. (The remaining issue, once the PIP claim has been paid, is the award of attorney's fees.)

The court then took note of evidence offered by Plymouth Rock that the damage to the insured vehicle was minor and that after an independent medical examination the doctor concluded that there was no objective findings to support the need for further treatment. That evidence was sufficient to shift the burden to Kantorosinski to show that there is a genuine issue for trial.

Kantorosinski met that burden with evidence that at the time the IME doctor opined that there was no further need for treatment, the insureds were still experiencing pain, which improved with additional treatment. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to overcome Plymouth Rock's motion for summary judgment.

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