Appellate Court Reverses Judgment for Insurance Company in Georgia Personal Injury Case

Not all injuries caused by Georgia car accidents are covered by the injury victim’s automobile insurance policy. However, other insurance policies may offer coverage to people injured by a motor vehicle in certain circumstances. The Court of Appeals of Georgia recently ruled that a property owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy could be responsible for injuries caused to a woman who was injured in the owner’s driveway when she was run over by the homeowner’s truck.

The plaintiff was injured while she was looking at her friend’s truck in his driveway. She claimed to have inadvertently released the emergency brake while the vehicle was in neutral and was subsequently run over by the car, suffering substantial injuries. The woman pursued a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the truck, as well as the insurance company who provided his homeowner’s coverage, seeking damages to compensate her for the injuries she sustained from being run over.

Before trial, the defendant insurance company pursued a ruling from the court to determine that they could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because of specific exclusions relating to motor vehicles in the homeowner’s insurance coverage at issue. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, finding that because the injuries arose out of the “use” of a motor vehicle, that the policy exclusion applied and the plaintiff could not pursue a claim against the insurance company.

The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s ruling to the Court of Appeals of Georgia, arguing on appeal that the vehicle was not “in use” at the time of the accident, as the parties were merely inspecting it. Because the insurance policy at issue did not specifically define the term “in use,” the appellate court found that the insurance policy contract was ambiguous. Thus, the court applied general rules of contractual construction (which dictate that a vague agreement must be strictly construed against the drafter), as well as other rulings from similar cases, to determine that the vehicle was not “in use” at the time of the accident. As a result of the appellate finding, the trial court’s judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded to proceed toward a trial.

Although the plaintiff may be offered a settlement or have the opportunity to have their claim heard at a trial, the expense, delay, and hassle of pursuing the appeal may have been avoided had the proper legal arguments initially been made. A skilled and knowledgeable Georgia personal injury attorney can help injury victims obtain a settlement offer quickly, and avoid the trouble of an appeal to receive the compensation that they deserve.

Have You Been Injured?

If you or someone you know has been injured in a Georgia auto accident, you may have a claim for damages. The Atlanta personal injury and car accident lawyers with McAleer Law have the qualifications and experience needed to properly pursue your claim with as little delay and hassle as possible. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case. To learn more, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a no-obligation consultation today.