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How Far Will Insurance Companies Go To Avoid Paying Your Claim?

Published November 26, 2017 by Bruce Millar
How Far Will Insurance Companies Go To Avoid Paying Your Claim?

Teen in a Pickup Truck Accident

A 17 year old driver of a pickup truck is involved in an accident. The teenage driver and his passenger are both injured. Both the driver and passenger make claims under the driver’s insurance. A pretty common situation, right? We all expect our insurance companies to do the right thing and pay the claim. After all, insurance companies spend billions of dollars advertising they are “on your side” and are “your good neighbor.” Be careful! Do they mean it?

Imagine this nightmare scenario: Just before the accident the teenage driver had been living with his mother, his legal custodian, but had moved in with his father. Mom’s insurance company refused to pay because the Teen no longer lived with mom. Dad’s insurance company also refused to pay because the Teen was driving a “pickup truck,” arguing that under some ancient 1960’s case law a pickup-truck is not a private passenger vehicle covered by auto insurance… Huh?

Lower Court Ruling:

After both insurance companies refused to pay, it was up to a Court to decide what to do. The Lower Court decided there was no coverage at all, finding that the driver had permanently moved out of mom’s house – meaning that the Teen was no longer insured under her policy. Then, unfortunately having no choice but to apply some law that was written when pick-up trucks were usually only found on farms or construction sites, the Lower Court also found that there was no coverage for a pickup truck under dad’s policy.

No Insurance Coverage at all… Now What?

The driver and passenger appealed the ruling to the Georgia Court of Appeals. The case is Sanders v. Georgia Farm Bureau, and was decided in 1987.

In this case, the Court of Appeals agreed that mom’s policy did not cover the teen, because he had permanently moved out of her house with no plans to return.

But the Court of Appeals found that the idea that a pickup truck can never be a “private passenger vehicle” is outdated. After all, in today’s world many people use a pickup truck as their daily driver. Pickup trucks are everywhere and are no longer confined to farms and business use. The Court found that people may reasonably expect their automobile insurance company to cover a pickup truck accident if the truck is not being used for a business purpose.

The Court of Appeals then overturned the 1960’s case and sent the case back to the Lower Court for a Jury to decide whether, at the time of the accident, the Teen was using the pickup for private transportation or for commercial use. We don’t have a record of what happened when the case went back to the Lower Court, but assuming the Judge or Jury found that the Teen was not driving the pickup for a business purpose, the Teen was covered under Dad’s policy and Justice was done!

This case is a great example of how far (even going back to argue old outdated law) an insurance company may go to deny you the coverage you deserve. If you feel like an insurance company has wrongly denied your injury claim, talk to a lawyer now!

Connect With Or Firm

If you’re questioning if you have a case please connect with our law firm. We handle a wide variety of automobile injury accidents, including truck accidents. Do not walk away from an accident without the compensation that you deserve!

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above article is a factually-accurate case history of an actual previously litigated or settled Georgia case. The case was reported on in local media and/or legal reporting services and it was not handled by The Millar Law Firm. However, we think our current and prospective clients may find this information interesting and informative as the case is factually similar to cases our office routinely handles. Please be advised that The Millar Law Firm makes no guarantees your case will have a similar outcome, as past results and results of our firm or of other lawyers and law firms are not indicative of future performance.

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