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In Car Accident Case, Exclusion in Insurance Policy Fails to Comply With Georgia Law

crash-car-825017-mPeople injured in car accidents are often eligible to recover damages for their suffering and losses. Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding a case, including any negligence on behalf of other drivers involved, the plaintiff (or injured party) may seek a recovery under one or more insurance policy, including his or her own. While somewhat complicated, the Georgia Code governs many aspects of insurance liability coverage. If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to contact an experienced, local injury attorney, someone who is fully aware of the laws and legal procedures applicable to claims brought in and around the Atlanta area.

Determining whether one is covered under a particular insurance policy may not be a simple task. The language can be somewhat tedious and confusing, depending on a person’s familiarity with such agreements. Additionally, the policy must adhere to state requirements in order to be enforceable. In a recent case, Roberson v. 21st Century National Insurance Company (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the court of appeals reviewed the enforceability of a policy’s “Named Driver Exclusion Endorsement” with respect to a claim for uninsured motorist coverage (“UM”). Here, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident with another driver. He brought an action against that driver and the car’s owner.

At the time, plaintiff’s wife had a personal automobile insurance policy with 21st Century National Insurance Company (“21st Century”). That policy contained a section on UM coverage, namely that the company will pay certain damages that an insured is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle. The plaintiff served 21st Century under the policy’s UM provision, pursuant to Section 33-7-11 of Georgia Code. The policy included a “Named Driver Exclusion Endorsement,” which identified the plaintiff as an “Excluded Driver,” thereby excluding coverage for any claims arising from an accident that involved the plaintiff as the driver. Based on this clause, 21st Century filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff was not entitled to UM benefits because he was a named excluded driver. The plaintiff argued that the endorsement did not apply because he was not listed as a named excluded driver on the declaration page, and the state code and matters of public policy precluded application of the exclusion.

The court agreed with 21st Century, finding that the plaintiff was excluded from all coverage under that policy. The plaintiff appealed. The court of appeals reversed the decision and concluded that Section 33-7-11 of the Georgia Code requires a written rejection of UM coverage in order to sufficiently exclude the plaintiff. The court pointed out that under the statute, any insured named in the policy must reject the UM coverage in writing. Here, there was no evidence in the record of a rejection of UM coverage for the plaintiff. As a result of this decision, the plaintiff is now permitted to pursue a claim for UM benefits against 21st Century.

This case nicely illustrates the importance of thoroughly understanding the language of an insurance policy as it relates to a claim for injuries arising from a car accident. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important that you contact an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights to a recovery.

Stephen M. Ozcomert has over 20 years of experience handling car accident cases, representing individuals who have been injured as a result of negligent driving in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Call us today at (404)-370-1000 to schedule your free initial consultation, or you can reach us through our website.

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