Tuesday, August 31, 2010

That Hurts

I was recently notified of the UIM declaratory judgment/coverage action decision of Allstate v. Hymes, No. GD 10-000201 (Alleg. Co. July 22, 2010, O’Brien, J.), in which the Court addressed Allstate’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in a declaratory judgment action on the issue of whether or not the injured party was entitled to pursue a UIM claim. Under the facts of this case, the injured party was operating a motorcycle and was struck by the tortfeasor’s vehicle and sustained injuries when his body struck the tortfeasor’s windshield and then the pavement.

The question became whether the injured party suffered injuries in the accident “while in, on, getting into, or out of” his motorcycle in accordance with the terms of the UIM coverage under the injured party’s policy of insurance with Allstate. Under the facts of this case, if it was found that the injured party did sustain injuries while in, on, getting into, or out of his motorcycle, he would not be able to claim UIM benefits under the policy due to the application of the “household exclusion” in the policy.

The injured party attempted to argue that he was not “on” the motorcycle when he was actually injured. The injured party asserted that he was not injured until after he was ejected from the motorcycle and smashed into the windshield of the other vehicle and then hit the pavement.

The Court rejected this argument and accepted Allstate’s argument that it was unreasonable to read Allstate’s policy language in this regard as requiring the injured party to have actually be on the motorcycle at the moment the injuries occurred but not applying to any injuries sustained by the injured party after he was ejected from the motorcycle. The Court agreed that the accident clearly involved a continuous chain of events from the impact until the body came to rest.

As such, the Court agreed with Allstate that the clear and unambiguous language of the household exclusion applicable to that case barred the injured party’s UIM claim. As such, Allstate’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings was granted.

Anyone desiring a copy of this decision may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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