Second District Court of Appeal Reviews Scope of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

In State Farm v. Bailey (Case No. 2D15-3487), an appellate court reversed a ruling in favor of an injured motorist, ruling that the scope of the injured person’s employer’s UM (uninsured/underinsured) motorist coverage did not extend to the injured person. In this case, the injured man was working when the accident happened. The injured man was driving a flatbed vehicle with a crane attached, but he was standing 10 to 20 feet away from the truck, observing the operation of the crane, when the accident happened. The uninsured motorist struck the worker while he was monitoring the crane after losing control of the vehicle.

The injured worker filed suit against the employer’s auto insurer for uninsured motorist coverage. Both the injured worker and the insurer filed for summary judgment. The insurer argued that the injured man was not covered because he was not inside the insured vehicle.

The appellate court first tackled the question of who was considered insured under the employer’s policy. In the policy, an insured was defined as either the person named in the policy’s declarations, his or her spouse, their relatives, or any other person who was occupying the insured car within the scope of consent of the owner. The Business Named Insured Endorsement section of the policy defined an insured as the named party, any person using the car within the scope of consent, and any other person or organization liable for the use of the car. The appellate court found that the only way the injured worker would be insured under the policy was if the injured person fit the “occupied” section of the definition.

“Occupied” was defined in the policy as someone “in or upon, entering into or alighting from” the insured vehicle. The court looked at its decision in Above All Roofing, 924 So. 2d at 847, which found that the injured party in that case was not “occupying” a vehicle when the uninsured driver hit him while he was standing across the street from the vehicle. The court re-emphasized that a person can only fit the definition of “occupy” if she or he were at least touching or in close proximity to the insured vehicle at the time of the injury. The court, applying the reasoning in Above All Roofing, reversed the final judgment of the trial court and directed a summary judgment in favor of the insurer to be entered.

If you’ve been injured in an uninsured motorist accident, contact the South Florida car accident lawyers at Donaldson & Weston. We can help try to maximize the damages available to you if you’ve been hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. We represent people in Port St. Lucie, Stuart, Jupiter, West Palm Beach, and other cities in St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and Martin Counties. Call our office today at 772-266-5555 or 561-299-3999.

More Blog Posts:

Florida District Court of Appeal Reviews Drunk Driver Motorcycle Accident Case, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, August 4, 2016

Wrongful Death Appeal Discusses Statutory Requirements for Expert Witnesses in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, July 13, 2016