Ore. Court Reverses Decision in Farmers Ins. Case

December 7, 2004

Oregon’s highest court has ruled against Farmers Insurance, saying the insurance company had no right to deduct the payouts an injured woman received from two other insurance sources.

In 1988, Terrel Ann Bergmann was injured in a car crash, after another driver failed to stop at a red light. She received $25,000 from the other driver’s insurance policy, as well as over $107,000 in workers’ compensation benefits. But because the total did not cover her damages – which she estimated topped $650,000 – she asked to receive the maximum $100,000 from her own Farmers underinsured motorist policy.

Farmers refused, saying state law allowed the company to deduct the other payouts she had received from the $100,000 it owed – bringing the total to nothing.

A Jackson County judge sided with Farmers and the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed that decision. But a divided Oregon Supreme Court reversed the appeals court decision by a 4-3 vote.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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