The Virginia UM/UIM statute, Va. Code §38.2-2206, has yet again been amended by the legislature. SB1293 was signed into law by the Governor and became effective July 1, 2019. This bill clarifies the 2015 amendment to Virginia Code §38.2-2206, which allowed liability carriers to tender their limits and shift the duty to defend its insured to the UM/UIM carrier.
This bill solves several problems with the 2015 iteration of §38.2-2206. First, in Section K, it states that if a release explicitly indicates it is being executed pursuant to §38.2-2206, any release language inconsistent with the code section is void. This code update should encourage attorneys for the plaintiffs to sign a properly worded release.
Second, the amendment clarifies the nature of the relationship between the tortfeasor and the UIM carrier’s counsel. Subsection K plainly states there is no attorney-client relationship between the tortfeasor and UIM counsel unless the tortfeasor, UIM counsel, and UIM carrier explicitly agree such a relationship exists. That is helpful to counsel for the UIM carrier, as there were previously concerns about what could or could not be shared with the tortfeasor because of the lack of attorney-client privilege.
Third, at the end of Section L, the amendment clarifies the certified mailing option, stating that if the release is sent to the tortfeasor via certified mail return receipt requested, such mailing is deemed to have satisfied the signature requirements of Subsection L. This can streamline the process if the tortfeasor is unresponsive or cannot be located.
McCandlish Holton attorneys are well-versed on the current Va. Code §38.2-2206 and are happy to answer questions regarding how these amendments may impact you. Please contact, Directors Jim Snyder, or Lex Dunn for more information.