Injured Passenger Cannot Recover From Both Liability and Uninsured Motorist Insurance Provisions

coins_currency_investment_insurance-1024x683Automobile insurance policies can help compensate you if you are injured in a car accident. However, it is essential to be aware of potential policy exclusions that limit what you are entitled to recover. This is especially true with uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM”) insurance because an insurer is allowed to have exclusions, such as the exclusion of vehicles covered by the insurance policy. 

Easter McGee was riding in a car her nephew was driving. A wheel flew off, causing her nephew to crash the car into a tree, injuring McGee. Her nephew had liability and UM insurance through Allstate. Allstate paid McGee the liability policy limits. McGee released claims against her nephew but reserved her rights to pursue coverage under his UM policy. 

McGee subsequently filed a lawsuit against Allstate, claiming she was entitled to recover under the UM coverage because her damages exceeded the policy’s liability coverage limits.  Allstate filed a summary judgment motion, claiming McGee was not entitled to recover under the UM provisions because she had been injured in a one-car accident where the driver was at fault, and his liability insurance covered McGee. Further, the UM coverage excluded vehicles with liability coverage under the insurance policy. The trial court granted Allstate’s summary judgment motion. McGee appealed.

On appeal, McGee argued that the trial court erred in dismissing her claims for coverage under the UM provision because she had recovered under the same policy’s liability coverage. La. R.S. 22:1295(1)(a)(i) governs uninsured motorist coverage in Louisiana. McGee argued this statute entitled her to recover under the UM policy of the at-issue vehicle, although she had already recovered under its liability provision. 

The appellate court explained that prior court cases had held that the same UM insurance exclusion at-issue with McGee did not violate public policy by not allowing an injured passenger to recover under the liability and UM provisions. See Cannon v. Allstate Ins. Co. However, the situation might have been different if it was a multi-car accident, where the liability coverage applied to the host driver’s negligence and the UM coverage was based on the inadequate coverage of the other car’s driver.

McGee also argued the language of the insurance policy had an ambiguous definition of an uninsured vehicle because of the exclusion of vehicles insured by the policy, so it should be interpreted against Allstate. The appellate court rejected this argument, explaining an insurance company was entitled to provide general coverage and then have certain exclusions. The mere existence of exclusions, such as this policy’s exclusion of vehicles insured by the policy from the definition of an uninsured vehicle, did not make the policy ambiguous. Therefore, the trial court did not err in granting Allstate’s summary judgment motion and dismissing McGee’s claims.

As McGee learned here, policy exclusions in insurance policies can significantly affect the amount you can recover. A good lawyer can help you understand and navigate insurance exclusions to know what you are entitled to recover. 

Additional Sources: Easter McGee v. Allstate Ins. Co. and SafeCo Ins. Co. of Oregon

Article Written By Berniard Law Firm

Additional Berniard Law Firm Article on Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Uninsured Motorist Coverage Dispute with Service Chevrolet Cadillac in Lafayette, Louisiana

Can Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage be Applied To a Temporary Substitute Vehicle?

Contact Information