When, because you are a thoughtful neighbor, you transport the elderly woman across the street to the grocery store, has it ever occurred to you that you might be putting yourself into a sticky legal situation? What if, in the event of an accident, your insurance carrier declared that you were using your vehicle as a taxi cab and refused to pay?
In this day of environmental concerns, we often take steps to cut down on our personal ‘carbon footprint.’ This effort could, for example, take the form of carpooling to and from work, or ferrying our own children and sometimes those who don’t belong to us to and from school or sports practice. Do these neighborly acts eradicate your insurance coverage? Perhaps.
From time to time a woman asked her neighbor for a ride to town. When the man provided that transportation, the woman was in the habit of paying for his gas to do so. On one of these occasions, as he was pulling into a parking spot, the person in the adjacent slot opened his car door, causing a collision. The man driving the woman to town sustained an injury to his neck as a result.
When his insurance refused to pay his uninsured motorist coverage, he sued his insurance carrier.
The insurance company maintained that the man was providing a public transportation or livery conveyance service at the time of the accident which excluded his coverage.
The trial court denied the insurance company’s motion for summary judgment. (Meaning the insurance company wanted the judge to dismiss the case, and the court refused to do so.) At this point the insurance company appealed.
The ensuing review by the appellate court systematically proved that the man was simply offering a friend an occasional ride to town and did not meet the law’s definition of a public or livery conveyance. (“Public” is defined as “of, relating to, or affecting all the people,” or “accessible to or shared by all members of the community.”)
We think this case demonstrates the lengths to which some insurance carriers will go to avoid paying a legitimate claim. Had this case gone differently, who knows how our lifestyles would change?
We all pay our insurance faithfully and the insurance companies, just as faithfully, accept our premiums. But when a claim occurs, some insurance companies can become quite faithless. Fortunately for this neighborly fellow, the law stood on the side of the plain and common language of the law.
It can be intimidating to go to court against a big and powerful company. You already know that insurance company lawyers spend all day, every day, finding ways NOT to pay claims. How can you face off with a giant and expect to win?
No matter how big the insurance company you face is, a really good personal injury lawyer can help you prevail in court. At The Millar Law Firm we spend all day, every day, finding ways to make faithless insurance companies do what they contracted with you to do. When the The Millar Law Firm legal team is in your corner, you’re on a level playing field.
Call us today for your free case evaluation. We’ll help you decide what course is best for you and your claim. Before you go to court, spend some time with us. You’ll be glad you did.