It is not uncommon for a driver to set off a chain of events that leads to a series of collisions. When multiple crashes arise during a single incident, it may be disputed whether they constitute one or more accidents for purposes of determining insurance coverage. Recently, a Florida court issued an opinion discussing the issue of determining how many discrete events occurred in a case in which the plaintiff and her insurer disagreed regarding the extent of underinsured motorist coverage available. If you were hurt in an accident caused by a driver without insurance, you might be owed significant damages from your insurance company, and you should meet with a trusted Florida car accident attorney regarding your rights.
The Subject Collision
It is reported that that the plaintiff was traveling on a Florida highway when she was struck by a pickup truck that was traveling next to her. The truck driver drove away after the crash. The plaintiff was then hit by a driver without insurance. She subsequently filed a lawsuit seeking uninsured motorist benefits from her insurance company, alleging she was involved in two accidents. The insurance company disagreed that two accidents happened, asserting that the incident constituted a single occurrence. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury ultimately found that there was only one occurrence. The plaintiff then appealed.
Accidents in the Context of Underinsured Motorist Insurance
On appeal, the court noted that the term accident in the context of insurance has been subject to multiple interpretations when the policy does not provide a definition. Generally, cases that define the term accident focus on whether an insured is liable for the harm. They typically define occurrences as accidents, which include a repeated or continuous exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.
The court explained that while no Florida case was directly on point, cases dealing with the issue of what constitutes an accident in other jurisdictions apply the cause theory. In other words, in absence of clear language to the contrary, an immediate injury-producing act and not the underlying tortious omission, constitutes an accident.
Thus, in determining if there were one or more accidents, a court will assess whether there was one uninterrupted proximate and continuing cause of all of the damages and injuries suffered. In the subject case, the court found that the issue of whether there were one or more accidents was properly presented to and resolved by the jury and affirmed the verdict.
Speak to a Skillful Florida Attorney
Many drivers operate their vehicles without insurance, and if they are involved in collisions, injured parties may have to turn to their insurance companies for compensation. If you were hurt in a crash caused by an uninsured motorist, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to determine your options for pursuing damages. Jarrett Blakeley is a skillful Florida attorney who has the knowledge and experience needed to help people injured in uninsured motorist accidents pursue the full amount of damages recoverable, and if he represents you, he will work diligently on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Blakeley at (800) 602-5000 or via the form online to set up a consultation.