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Tennessee court rules that Texas driver was entitled to coverage under his employer’s uninsured motorist policy

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By Kyle Roby, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Many people assume that making a claim on an uninsured motorist insurance policy is fairly straightforward. After all, the other driver either had insurance or didn’t have insurance, right?

Unfortunately, uninsured motorist cases can be just as contentious and adversarial as lawsuits that are litigated between injured parties and defendants who have insurance. Not only is the amount to which the injured party is entitled a common source of dispute, but also it is not unusual for there to be a disagreement about whether the uninsured motorist policy covered the accident in question.

In the case of Skarbrevik v. Estate of Caroline E. Brown, the plaintiff was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident with the decedent in November 2009 in Shelby County, Tennessee. The plaintiff argued that, at the time of the crash, the decedent was intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, speeding, and traveling in the wrong direction.

At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was driving an automobile that was owned by his wife, and he was “on the business of” his employer. The plaintiff filed suit against the decedent’s estate, seeking compensation for the serious injuries that he sustained in the wreck. Since the decedent was uninsured at the time of the accident, the plaintiff served a copy of the complaint on the insurance company that provided automobile insurance to his own employer, thereby making a claim for uninsured motorist coverage.

The insurance company asserted that its policy only covered vehicles that were owned by the plaintiff’s employer. Since the plaintiff was driving his wife’s car, the insurance company argued that there was no UM coverage. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff on the issue of coverage.

Proceedings on Appeal

On appeal to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the court affirmed. Although the insurance company argued that the vehicle in which the plaintiff was traveling was not a “covered auto” because it belonged to his wife rather than to his employer, the court found the plaintiff was within the class of persons who were insured because he was on company business. The court noted that the law of Texas (where the plaintiff resided and where his employer purchased its uninsured motorists insurance policy) mandated that an endorsement be interpreted in favor of coverage for the plaintiff.

For Help with a Car or Truck Accident Case

If you have been involved in a car accident or truck wreck, you need an attorney who can guide you through the process of pursuing maximum compensation for your injuries, whether from the defendant or from your own uninsured motorist carrier. To schedule an appointment with an experienced and knowledgeable car and truck accident lawyer who will be glad to talk to you about your case, call me, attorney Kyle Roby, at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley and schedule an appointment in our Bowling Green, Kentucky, offices. We accept accident cases in both Tennessee and Kentucky.

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