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Cleveland Appeals Court Finds No UM/UIM Insurance Coverage for DOT Employee Under His Personal Business Insurance Policy

February 1, 2018

Cleveland car accidents can range in complexity from one driver suing another for simple negligence to a much more complicated case involving multiple parties and multiple theories of liability ( reasons why an Ohio driver might be at fault).

For example, if the victim of  an accident was on the job at the time, this might lead to a workers' compensation claim for the injured driver as well as  a claim against the other driver's  employer for what is known as  vicarious liability. If there was a chain collision, several drivers may be sued for failing to maintain an adequate lookout, or speeding, for example, and failing to stop in time to avoid the collision. Sometimes,  especially if there is a dispute regarding coverage or if there are multiple insurance companies covering one or more of the vehicles involved in the crash, or a dispute over coverage, the various parties' insurance carriers may also be brought into the litigation .

Facts of the Case

The Eighth Appellate District Court in Cleveland, Ohio (Cuyahoga County), recently decided a case in which the plaintiffs were two State Ohio Department of Transportation ( ODOT) workers who were allegedly injured when the defendant motorist struck their vehicle, which was parked along the right shoulder of I-90. Because of a dispute over whether some of the insurance policies, including the business auto insurance policy issued to an unrelated business also operated by of one of the injured workers, applied in this case, several insurance companies and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation were also named as defendants in the action,

The employer's  insurance company sought dismissal from the action on the ground that, since the worker was not in his personal vehicle, nor was he engaged in the business for which the policy was purchased, it was not liable for any uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage claims arising from the accident. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment to the insurance company. The injured worker appealed.

The Court's Decision

Although the plaintiff attempted to convince the appellate court that the trial court had made an error because the insurance policy at issue did not contain specific language stating that it only applied when the plaintiff was involved in a collision within the scope of his employment by his other business, the appellate court did not agree that the policy was "generic" such that it applied to any accident in which the plaintiff driver was involved.

According to the court, the plaintiff was not covered under the policy because, at the time of the accident, he was within the course and scope of his employment with ODOT (and was inside a truck owned by the department), which was in no way connected with the other business for which the policy was purchased.

Do You Need to Speak to a Helpful Ohio Car Crash Attorney?

Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a very traumatic experience, even when one's injuries are minor. When someone is seriously injured, or when a family loses a loved one due to a careless driver's actions, the healing process can take years. At the Cleveland car accident firm of Rubin Guttman & Associates, L.P.A., we approach each case with the utmost determination and perseverance, knowing that the litigation process may be difficult and lengthy but that it is necessary in order for the accident victim or victim's family to receive the monetary compensation they deserve.

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