Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a written opinion in a Virginia car accident case discussing whether a third party’s insurance policy covered the plaintiffs’ accident. Ultimately, the court concluded that the insurance company was acting within its right to deny coverage and dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit, based on the fact that the vehicle the plaintiffs were operating was not a “covered auto” under the third party’s insurance policy.
The plaintiffs were independent contractors who agreed to deliver furniture for a local furniture company. However, since the plaintiffs did not have their own vehicle, the furniture company allowed the plaintiffs to deliver the furniture using a Penske truck that it had rented.
During the delivery, the plaintiffs pulled over, and one of the plaintiffs got out of the truck to check that the load of furniture was secure. At this time, another vehicle crashed into the truck, killing one plaintiff and seriously injuring the other.
The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who struck them, but that driver had only limited insurance coverage. Thus, the plaintiffs filed a claim with the furniture company’s insurance policy, under the underinsured motorist protection (UIM) clause.
The insurance company disputed liability, claiming that the rented truck was not named on the policy and therefore was not covered under the UIM clause.
The Court’s Decision
In determining whether the insurance company was required to cover the plaintiffs’ claim under the furniture company’s policy, the court first looked at the language of the policy. In so doing, the court noted that the policy had different coverage for different types of claims. For example, liability coverage extended to an accident involving “any auto.”
The UIM language, however, was phrased differently, limiting coverage to “any covered auto.” From here, the court agreed with the insurance company that coverage under the UIM clause was limited only to vehicles that were named on the insurance policy. Thus, since the truck was rented instead of owned by the furniture company, the vehicle was not considered a “covered auto” under the policy, and the insurance company did not have an obligation to approve the plaintiffs’ claim. As a result, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated injury attorneys at the law offices of Charles B. Roberts, P.C. have extensive experience handling all types of injury claims, including Virginia car accidents involving difficult or reluctant insurance companies. To learn more about how Attorney Roberts can help you seek the compensation you deserve, call 703-491-7070 to schedule a free consultation today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for any of our services unless we are able to assist you in recovering compensation for your injuries.
See More Blog Posts:
Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Product Liability Case After Finding Warnings Were Adequate, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, April 18, 2018.
Court Discusses the Doctrine of Imputed Negligence in Recent Car Accident Case, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, May 4, 2018.