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ELPO wins major victory in Court of Appeals in car accident case

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

close-up-of-road-300x200Would you consider an ATV – an all-terrain vehicle – a motor vehicle? Kentucky law and some insurance companies do not – and that’s what the case we recently won for a client concluded, to the client’s benefit.

The client, Thomas Robertson, was driving an ATV on a public roadway in Metcalfe County. Stacy Morgan was driving a vehicle on the same road, and as she attempted to pass Robertson, he turned left, and she collided with his ATV.

Both were injured in the accident. Robertson did not have insurance, but Morgan did. Robertson, driving the ATV, sought Basic Reparations Benefits (BRBs) from the insurance company that insured Morgan’s vehicle. Under the terms of Morgan’s insurance, Robertson was considered to be a pedestrian, and pedestrians are entitled to basic reparations benefits.

Morgan’s insurance company, Westfield, denied Robertson’s claim. Our firm took the case to Metcalfe County Circuit Court on behalf of Robertson. The court ruled against Robertson, so we appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals reversed the decision and remanded the case back to Metcalfe County Circuit Court for further proceedings.

About Basic Reparation Benefits

Basic Reparations Benefits and Personal Injury Protection are the same names for similar benefits that are available through insurance. These benefits pay for medical care, lost wages and other costs that you may have following an accident.

Following an accident, you might file with your own insurance company for Basic Reparations Benefits if you were driving or riding in your own vehicle. If you were riding in someone else’s, or injured by someone else’s vehicle, you would file for Basic Reparations Benefits with their insurance company, as Robertson did here.

In this case, Morgan was insured by Westfield Insurance, and since Robertson did not have his own insurance that applied to the ATV, he filed a claim against Morgan’s insurance company.

Deciding whether or not he was a pedestrian mattered, since Westfield’s policy said it would only pay if the person injured was a pedestrian. Since ATVs were not included in the definition of motor vehicles in the policy, that meant Robertson was a pedestrian.

Dealing with insurance companies

Most people expect that when they pay their insurance premiums, their insurance companies will pay claims without much fuss. But that’s not often the case. In many cases that we see, insurance companies balk at paying even small claims, fighting with their own customers and inducing long battles. This is designed to wear customers out so they will give in and accept the low offer, and save the insurance company money.

You will be well-served to have an attorney examine your offer from an insurance company to be sure that what you’re being offered is fair.

If you’ve been involved in an accident, contact me, attorney Kyle Roby, at (270) 781-6500 or kroby@elpolaw.com. You may also fill out our contact form here. Our firm will be glad to provide a free consultation and review your case.