Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a plaintiff who was seriously injured when she was struck by a golf cart while walking on a pathway in a 55+ community. Although the case was filed in a Florida court, it presents a common issue that arises in Washington, D.C. personal injury cases when an insurance company rejects an accident victim’s claim. Ultimately, the court concluded that the insurance contract should be interpreted to cover the plaintiff’s claim.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was walking in the 55+ community where she lived when she was struck by a golf cart. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the collision and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the golf cart.
Unfortunately, as is too often the case, the at-fault driver did not carry sufficient insurance to cover the cost of the plaintiff’s injuries. However, the plaintiff carried an insurance policy of her own, which contained coverage for accidents involving underinsured motorist protection. Thus, the plaintiff filed a claim with her own insurance company, hoping to obtain the difference between the total costs she incurred and the amount she was provided by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
The plaintiff’s insurance company denied her claim, explaining that her underinsured motorist policy did not cover accidents involving “non-owned golf carts.” The insurance company pointed to the language of the policy, which explained that her liability coverage extended to accidents covering non-owned golf carts, but the underinsured motorist protection specifically excluded such coverage.
The court hearing the case resolved the case in favor of the plaintiff, holding that, under state law, an insurance company must offer underinsured motorist protection that is coextensive with the liability coverage obtained by the insured. Thus, if an insurance policy contains liability coverage for accidents involving non-owned golf carts, so too must it provide coverage if the accident involved an underinsured motorist.
Importantly, the case illustrates the concept that courts will not always enforce the literal meaning of an insurance policy, if the policy is contrary to the law. In such cases, courts may “read in” terms to make the contract compatible with state or federal laws.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Washington, D.C. car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawsuit. The dedicated team of personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers has extensive experience handling all types of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. personal injury cases. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation. There is no risk in calling, since you will not be billed for our services unless we can help you recover the compensation that you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Product Liability Plaintiff’s Case Dismissed Based on Unreliable Expert Testimony, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 16, 2018
Court Determines “Passive Retailer” May Still Be on the Hook for Dangerous Product, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 3, 2018