All Georgia motorists are required to maintain a certain level of auto insurance in order to legally drive. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that anyone who causes a Georgia car accident is able to cover at least some of the the costs of medical and other expenses expenses for the accident victims. However, determining whether a person, vehicle, or accident is covered under an insurance policy is not always as straightforward as policyholders believe.
A recent case brought this difficulty to light after a plaintiff who was injured in an accident involving a horse-drawn carriage sought coverage for his medical expenses. Ultimately, the court’s opinion held that, although the accident victim’s uninsured motorist (UIM) policy was not implicated in the accident, the carriage driver’s policy may cover the plaintiff’s injuries.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was injured while a passenger on a horse-drawn carriage. At the time, the carriage had just finished participating in a Christmas parade. The driver of the carriage maintained a liability policy with the defendant insurance company. The plaintiff also maintained an unrelated policy with the defendant insurance company. The plaintiff’s policy contained an uninsured motorist provision covering the plaintiff in the event that an at-fault driver was uninsured.
The plaintiff filed a claim against the driver’s policy, as well as against his own UIM policy. Initially, the defendant insurance company denied both claims. The plaintiff and the driver then sought a judgment from the court that their respective policies would cover the plaintiff’s injuries.
The Driver’s Policy
The insurance company argued that there was an exclusion of coverage regarding accidents involving animals that occur during a “fair, charitable function, or similar type of event.” The insurance company argued that this accident fit within the exclusion because the Christmas parade was a “similar type of event” to a fair or charitable function. The court acknowledged that may be the case, but it held that it should be up to a jury to determine. Thus, the court sent the case forward for a trial on that issue.
The Plaintiff’s Policy
The insurance company argued that the plaintiff’s UIM policy did not cover the accident, based on the coverage language of the policy. Specifically, the language provided coverage for accidents involving “motor vehicles” and “trailers.” The insurance company argued that the horse-drawn carriage was neither a motor vehicle nor a trailer. The court agreed with the insurance company and denied the plaintiff’s claim that the accident was covered under his UIM policy.
As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiff may be entitled to compensation through the driver’s insurance policy, but not through his own policy. Additionally, although it is not mentioned in the opinion, the driver of the car that struck the carriage may have also been responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Georgia personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law have decades of experience helping victims and their families hold those responsible for their injuries financially accountable. We represent clients in Atlanta personal injury cases as well as cases across the state. To learn more, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation today.
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Georgia Court Issues Another Opinion Discussing the State’s Recreational-Use Statute, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, May 23, 2018.