In a recent district court case in West Virginia, the court reached an opinion, which demonstrates the absolute importance of understanding the terms of your car insurance policy.
In the case, Lewis v. Likens, Dist. Court, SD W. Va. (2013), an elderly resident of an unlicensed nursing home facility was being driven by a volunteer of the home when the driver pulled out in front of a UPS tractor trailer, causing a collision that killed the resident.
The decedent’s daughter filed a lawsuit following the accident, alleging the volunteer’s liability for her wrongful death, and alleging that her own uninsured motorist policy should cover her mother, and that she sought to collect under that policy. She additionally sought a declaration that her mother resided primarily with her at the time of the collision, and that thus she would be covered by the terms of the policy.
The plaintiff’s insurance carrier, State Farm, filed a motion for summary judgment stating that State Farm insurance policy does provide uninsured motorist coverage for “resident relatives.” And that under the terms of the policy, a “resident relative” is a person who “resides primarily” with the policy’s first named insured.
Thus the court embarked on an analysis of whether or not the plaintiff’s deceased mother was a resident relative at the time of the collision. The court found that the term “resides primarily” is an unambiguous term, referring to the main residence of an individual.
The court found that there was no genuine issue of material fact regarding the fact that the decedent’s primary residence was as a resident of the unlicensed nursing home where she was living at the time of her death, and that a jury could not reasonably find otherwise.
Regarding an underlying Virginia state law that stated that a patient in a nursing home has the legal residence of that where they were prior to becoming a patient was not relevant for the purposes of this opinion.
Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, State Farm’s motion for summary judgment on this claim was granted.
It is worth noting that the reason the UPS driver was not named as a defendant in this suit is probably because the nursing home volunteer was likely to blame in causing the collision, and thus UPS was most likely not negligent or otherwise responsible for the tragic accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident in Maryland, contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC immediately. Our law firm offers many years of collective experience in advocating aggressively on behalf of individuals and families who have suffered due to personal injury or wrongful death as a result of a car accident. Contact us today in order to schedule your complimentary initial consultation, by calling 1-800-654-1949, or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms Judgment in Favor of Defendant in Maryland Contributory Negligence Case, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 18, 2013
Appeal Planned in $1 Million Judgment Stemming from Seeder-Planter Car Collision Personal Injury Lawsuit, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 11, 2013