2016 Tennessee Code
Title 56 - Insurance
Chapter 7 - Policies and Policyholders
Part 12 - Uninsured Motor Vehicle Coverage
§ 56-7-1206. Service of process -- Actions by insurers -- John Doe warrants -- Arbitration.

TN Code § 56-7-1206 (2016) What's This?

(a) Any insured intending to rely on the coverage required by this part shall, if any action is instituted against the owner and operator of an uninsured motor vehicle, serve a copy of the process upon the insurance company issuing the policy in the manner prescribed by law, as though the insurance company were a party defendant. The company shall thereafter have the right to file pleadings and take other action allowable by law in the name of the owner and operator of the uninsured motor vehicle or in its own name; provided, that nothing in this subsection (a) shall prevent the owner or operator from employing counsel of the owner's own choice; and provided, further, that the evidence of service upon the insurance carrier shall not be made a part of the record.

(b) If the owner or operator of any motor vehicle that causes bodily injury or property damage to a person insured under this part is unknown and if the insured satisfies all of the requirements of § 56-7-1201(e), should suit be instituted, the insured shall issue a John Doe warrant against the unknown owner or operator in order to come within the coverage of the owner's uninsured motorist policy. If the uninsured motorist's identity and whereabouts are discovered during the pendency of the proceeding, subsection (e) shall govern the proper course of action following the discovery.

(c) The uninsured motorist provision shall not require arbitration of any claim arising thereunder nor shall the insured be restricted or prevented in any manner from employing legal counsel or instituting legal proceedings.

(d) In the event that service of process against the uninsured motorist, which was issued to the motorist's last known address, is returned by the sheriff or other process server marked, "Not to be found in my county," or words to that effect, or if service of process is being made upon the secretary of state for a nonresident uninsured motorist and the registered notice to the last known address is returned without service on the uninsured motorist, the service of process against the uninsured motorist carrier, pursuant to this section, shall be sufficient for the court to require the insurer to proceed as if it is the only defendant in the case.

(e) In the event the uninsured motorist's whereabouts is discovered during the pendency of the proceedings, an alias process may issue against the uninsured motorist. In such a case, the uninsured motorist shall be allowed a reasonable time within which to plead to the original process, and then the case may proceed against the uninsured motorist as if the motorist was served with process in the first instance.

(f) Notwithstanding subsection (c), if a party or parties alleged to be liable for the bodily injury or death of the insured offers the limits of all liability insurance policies available to the party or parties in settlement of the insured's claim, the insured or the insured's personal representative may accept the offer, execute a full release of the party or parties on whose behalf the offer is made and preserve the right to seek additional compensation from the insured's uninsured motorist insurance carrier upon agreement of the insured or the insured's personal representative to submit the insured's uninsured motorist claim to binding arbitration of all issues of tort liability and damages, provided:

(1) (A) The offer must be for the sum of the limits of all liability insurance policies providing coverage to the party or parties on whose behalf the offer is made and in an aggregate amount that is less than the uninsured motorist coverage applicable to the bodily injury or death of the insured; or

(B) If, by payments to other injured parties, the limits of all liability insurance policies providing coverage to the party or parties on whose behalf the offer is made have been reduced to an amount that is less than the limits of the insured's uninsured motorist coverage, the offer must be for the total amount of coverage that remains available to the party or parties on whose behalf the offer is made; and

(2) If the settlement does not release all parties alleged to be liable to the insured, arbitration of the uninsured motorist claim shall not be conducted until the claims against all such other parties have been fully and finally disposed of by settlement, final judgment or otherwise.

(g) Parties proposing to accomplish a settlement pursuant to this section shall comply with the following requirements and conditions:

(1) Upon request, the insured or the insured's personal representative or attorney shall provide the liability insurance company or companies providing coverage to the party or parties to be released, the name and address of the insurance company or companies providing the insured with uninsured motorist coverage, the policy number or numbers and the limits of uninsured motorist coverage available to the insured;

(2) The liability insurance company or companies providing coverage to the party or parties to be released shall give written notice of the offer to the insured's uninsured motorist insurance carrier or its attorney, provide verification of the coverage upon request and confirm to the uninsured motorist insurance carrier or its attorney that the party or parties to be released will agree in writing to cooperate with the uninsured motorist insurance carrier in connection with the arbitration of the uninsured motorist claim; provided, that the uninsured motorist insurance carrier will agree to waive its subrogation rights against the party or parties to be released;

(3) The insured or the insured's personal representative or attorney shall give written notice to the uninsured motorist insurance carrier or its attorney of the insured's intent to accept the offer and agreement to submit the uninsured motorist claim to binding arbitration;

(4) After receipt of both of the notices referred to in subdivisions (g)(2) and (3), the uninsured motorist insurance carrier shall have thirty (30) days to give notice to its insured or the insured's personal representative or attorney and the liability insurance carrier or carriers or their attorneys that it consents to the settlement, that it will agree to binding arbitration of the insured's uninsured motorist claim and that it will waive its subrogation rights against the party or parties to be released in exchange for their written agreement to cooperate in connection with the arbitration;

(5) Upon receipt of the notice required by subdivision (g)(4), the insured may proceed to execute a release of the party or parties on whose behalf the offer was made and upon execution of the release, receive payment of the settlement proceeds; and

(6) The notices required by subdivisions (g)(2), (3) and (4) shall be given by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by some other method pursuant to which the sender receives written verification that the notice was received.

(h) (1) The arbitration provided for in this section shall be conducted pursuant to this section and pursuant to the Uniform Arbitration Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, part 3 and to title 29, chapter 5, parts 1 and 3.

(2) The arbitrator shall be selected by agreement of the parties. Notwithstanding § 29-5-304, if the parties are unable to agree, either party may request a judge of a court of record in the county in which the arbitration is pending to designate three (3) potential arbitrators. The parties shall then agree upon one (1) of the three (3) arbitrators so designated.

(3) Unless the parties agree otherwise, the arbitration will take place in the county in which the insured resides and the rules of evidence applicable to the state courts where the arbitration is conducted shall apply.

(4) The arbitrator shall not be informed as to the amount or amounts collected by the insured by way of settlement or judgment prior to the conclusion of the arbitration. Disclosure of the information prior to the conclusion of the arbitration will result in disqualification of the arbitrator.

(5) Coverage issues shall be decided by a court of competent jurisdiction. The arbitrator shall decide issues of tort liability and damages only. The arbitrator shall first decide issues of liability and the apportionment of fault and, if fault is found, the amount of damages sustained by the insured.

(6) If the arbitrator's award to the insured is less than or equal to the total amount collected by the insured by way of settlements or judgments plus the amount of any settlement offer made by the uninsured motorist carrier at least fifteen (15) days prior to the arbitration, the insured will pay the arbitrator's fee. In the event the arbitrator's award to the insured exceeds the total amount collected by the insured by way of settlements or judgments plus the amount of any settlement offer made by the uninsured motorist carrier at least fifteen (15) days prior to the arbitration, the uninsured motorist insurance carrier will pay the arbitrator's fee.

(i) The uninsured motorist insurance carrier shall be entitled to credit for the total amount of damages collected by the insured from all parties alleged to be liable for the bodily injury or death of the insured whether obtained by settlement or judgment and whether characterized as compensatory or punitive damages.

(j) Nothing contained in this section shall prohibit or preclude the uninsured motorist insurance carrier and the insured or the insured's personal representative from settling the insured's uninsured motorist claim at any time and upon terms and conditions acceptable to the parties.

(k) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section relating to binding arbitration, after receipt of both of the notices referred to in subdivisions (g)(2) and (3), the uninsured motorist insurance carrier, at its option, may elect to decline binding arbitration and preserve its subrogation rights; provided, that within thirty (30) days after receipt of both of the notices, it pays the insured the full amount of the offer made by the liability insurance company or companies providing coverage to the party or parties seeking the release. Acceptance of the amount by the insured shall not operate as a release of the liability insurance carrier's insureds, nor shall it prevent or preclude the insured from seeking additional compensation from the insured's uninsured motorist insurance carrier. Upon acceptance by the insured, the uninsured motorist insurance carrier shall be subrogated to the extent of its payment and further subrogated to the extent it is required to make further payments of compensatory damages under the uninsured motorist coverage of its policy. Upon final disposition of the case, the liability insurance carrier or carrier, shall reimburse the uninsured motorist insurance carrier in the amount of policy limits applicable to the defendant or defendants on whose behalf the offer was made or in the amount of the judgment rendered against the defendant or defendants, whichever is less. In the event the judgment is in favor of the defendant or defendants, the uninsured motorist insurance carrier shall not be entitled to reimbursement for any amounts paid its insured pursuant to this subsection (k). In the event the judgment exceeds the liability insurance coverage available to the defendant or defendants, the uninsured motorist insurance carrier shall be subrogated against the defendant or defendants to the extent of payments it is required to make in excess of the liability insurance coverage. The uninsured motorist insurance carrier shall be entitled to credit for the total amount of damages collected by the insured from all parties alleged to be liable for the bodily injury or death of the insured whether obtained by settlement or judgment and whether characterized as compensatory or punitive damages.

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