Reference no: EM131387383
Raymond Zukaitis was a physician practicing medicine in Douglas County, Nebraska. Aetna issued a policy of professional liability insurance to Zukaitis through its agent, the Ed Larsen Insurance Agency. The policy covered the period from August 31, 2008, through August of the following year. On August 7, 2010, Dr. Zukaitis received a written notification of a claim for malpractice that had occurred on September 27, 2008.
Dr. Zukaitis notified the Ed Larsen Insurance Agency immediately and forwarded the written claim to it. The claim was then mistakenly referred to St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, the company that currently insured Dr. Zukaitis. Apparently without notice to Dr. Zukaitis, the agency contract between Larsen and Aetna had been canceled on August 1, 2009, and St. Paul had replaced Aetna as the insurance carrier.
However, when St. Paul discovered it was not the carrier on the date of the alleged wrongdoing, it notified Aetna and withdrew from Dr. Zukaitis's defense. Aetna also refused to represent Dr. Zukaitis, contending that it was relieved of its obligation to Dr. Zukaitis because he had not notified Aetna immediately of the claim.
Dr. Zukaitis then secured his own attorney to defend against the malpractice claim and brought an action against Aetna to recover attorneys' fees and other expenses incurred in the defense. Should Dr. Zukaitis recover? Explain.