Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Don’t Be This Unlucky Trucker!

Truck drivers get paid for the time they spend behind the wheel.  But if you are a driver, don’t be in such a rush to get back to driving that you risk your health and your career.

Trucker loses due to dentist, Nevada Trucking Association, Nevada Trucking Lawyers, Mills & Associates, Nevada Trial Lawyer, Nevada Court System, Nevada Motor Transport Association, Nevada Appellate Lawyer 702-240-6060Take this truck driver for example.  The driver went to get some dental work done.  A drug dealing dentist anesthetized the driver’s mouth using street cocaine.  (You can see where this is going).  Shortly after visiting the dentist, the driver side-swiped a fire hydrant.  The truck’s owner sent the driver to a get a drug test. The test was positive.  The owner fired the driver from a union truck driving job based on the positive test for illegal drugs.

After the owner fired the driver, but before the dentist’s insurance was set to expire, the authorities arrested the dentist for drug trafficking and charged him with distribution of cocaine.  The dental board also received complaints that the dentist was using cocaine and was giving it to his patients.  The board even suspended the dentist’s license before the dentist’s insurance expired.  The dentist’s malpractice insurance company got word of all of these allegations of malfeasance while the policy was still valid.

Things went from bad to worse for this unlucky trucker.  When the driver sued the dentist for malpractice, his attorney didn’t know that the dentist’s malpractice insurance had expired just one day before lawsuit was filed.  Even though the trucker’s attorney had earlier sent a settlement demand to the dentist himself, the dentist didn’t even bother to tell his insurance company that he got it.

The trucker’s lawsuit went forward to trial.  The dentist didn’t show up.  The malpractice insurance didn’t show up either because it felt that the dentist‘s insurance had expired.  Ultimately, the trucker won a judgment in excess of $400,000 but the insurance company wouldn’t pay.

It wasn’t until after the malpractice trial that the trucker fought his insurance company.  The trucker hoped to force the insurance company to pay his judgment.

In the case of Physicians Ins. Co. v. Williams, 128 Nev. Adv. Op. 30, 279 P.3d 174 (2012), the trucker learned that the dentist had bought a low premium malpractice policy that would only be valid if the insurance company received notice of the claim while the policy was in effect.

The trucker’s attorneys did their best.  They argued that the notice to the dentists should have been enough to trigger the policy.  They argued that the insurance company knew enough about this dentist’s malfeasance while the policy was in effect to trigger the policy and make it pay the judgment.

The Nevada Supreme Court rejected the trucker’s arguments.  The Court explained that before the low premium policy would be triggered, the trucker or the dentist would have had to submit a report directly to the insurance company, identifying the incident that caused the injuries.  Just because the insurance company had general knowledge of the dentists bad acts during the coverage period, that was not enough trigger coverage.  .

The moral of this story is that truckers especially need to be careful about who they choose for medical care providers. Those decisions can impact not just your health but also your career.