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Harding v. Town of Townshend

    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff sued for injuries caused by defects in Town of Townshend’s (Defendant’s) highway.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Money received from insurance does not offset an award of money damages from the tortfeasor.

    Facts. Plaintiff had received payment of $130.00 from an insurance policy that he purchased for $7.00. The court charged the jury that is should reduce the amount of recovery by the net proceeds of the insurance, $123.00.

    Issue. Is the amount received from insurance deducted from the amount of recovery received from the tortfeasor?

    Held. No. Judgment reversed. Defendant must fully compensate Plaintiff even though Plaintiff received money from his insurance company. The fact that Plaintiff received insurance money does not affect the amount of damages that he is owed by Defendant. The insurance policy is a collateral benefit. Plaintiff was the one who decided to obtain insurance, not Defendant. Defendant did not in any way contribute to an insurance payout. In this case, Defendant is responsible for making sure that its highways are safe. Defendant ought to make a complete payment to Plaintiff to compensate Plaintiff. If there is any connection or offset, it is the insurer, not Defendant who would receive a reduction in the amount of money paid to Plaintiff.

    Discussion. This case makes it clear that a tortfeasor is responsible for harm and damage suffered by Plaintiff. The tortfeasor will not be permitted to reduce the amount of money paid to Plaintiff because of insurance.


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