Georgia courts have been called upon to interpret any number of insurance policy claims arising from car accidents. All of the facts and circumstances of each case are integral to the determination of whether the plaintiff is entitled to a recovery, and if so, to what extent. Whether the claim is asserted under the allegedly negligent party’s automobile insurance policy or homeowner’s policy, the language of those agreements can be fairly tedious and complicated. And the proper reading and interpretation of those provisions can impact the ultimate damages award. Anyone who has been injured in a car accident is encouraged to contact an injury attorney from the Atlanta area who is highly experienced in handling car accident claims.
In a recent case, Sauls et al. v. Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co., (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), the court addressed whether a homeowner’s insurance policy provided coverage for wrongful death and personal injury claims arising from a car accident. Here, plaintiffs Debbie and Eric Sauls (the “plaintiffs”) brought an action against Todd and Justin McAllister, among others, for the wrongful death and personal injuries of their daughter, Cheyenne, who died in a car accident after leaving the McAllister’s home. Plaintiffs allege that the McAllisters furnished alcoholic beverages at their home to the driver of the car involved in the accident, as well as to their daughter, both minors.
Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”) filed a declaratory judgment action for a determination of its liability under a homeowner’s insurance policy. Allstate argued that the policy excludes coverage for bodily injury claims arising out of the use of any motor vehicle. Both Todd McAllister and his son Justin were named insureds under the policy. But the specific language of the Family Liability Protection section and the Guest Medical Protection section excludes coverage for bodily injury “arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use, occupancy, renting, loaning, entrusting, loading or unloading of any motor vehicle or trailer.” The trial court ruled that the plaintiffs’ claims for injuries arose out of the use of a motor vehicle and therefore, were excluded from coverage under the policy.
Plaintiffs contested this ruling, arguing that the McAllisters facilitated the alcohol consumption by minors and placed their daughter in a “situation of jeopardy.” Further, they claimed that although she was fatally injured in the car accident, her death added to the injuries she had already sustained at the McAllister home. The court of appeals rejected their arguments, relying on an earlier Georgia court opinion, with similar facts, and found that the policy did not cover damages for bodily injuries arising from the use of a motor vehicle.
Victims of car accidents can sustain a wide range of injuries, from minor cuts and scrapes to broken bones, head trauma and even death. Preventable accidents often involve some form of negligence such as speeding, intoxication, failure to yield, driver fatigue, texting or talking while driving, defective vehicles and other items. Under Georgia personal injury law, accident victims have access to legal recourse against negligent drivers.
If you have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another, you may be entitled to a recovery for your suffering and losses. Stephen M. Ozcomert has over 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases, representing individuals who have been injured as a result of another’s 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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