APPEALS COURT CONCLUDES ATTORNEY’S FEES ARE RECOVERABLE IN UM/UIM CASES BROUGHT PURSUANT TO UDJA
Last week, the Court of Appeals, Fort Worth, concluded that attorney’s fees are recoverable in UM/UIM cases brought pursuant to the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act (“UDJA”). In Allstate County Mutual Ins. Co. v. Hill, No. 02-20-00174-CV, 2021 WL 2978746 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth, July 15, 2021), Hill brought suit against Allstate County Mutual Insurance Company (“Allstate”) to recover underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits, pursuant to the UDJA. Ultimately, the jury determined that Hill was entitled to damages in excess of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits. The jury also awarded $42,668.75 in reasonable and necessary attorney's fees and costs incurred by Hill.
On appeal, Allstate argued that the trial court erred in allowing an award for attorney's fees. The Court of Appeals quickly rejected this argument in light of the Texas Supreme Court's recent decision in Allstate Ins. Co. v. Irwin, No. 19-0885, 2021 WL 2021446, at *1, *6 (Tex. May 21, 2021), that use of the UDJA to establish entitlement to UM/UIM policy benefits is proper, and that trial courts have discretion under the UDJA to award reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees.