Georgia Court Discusses Coverage Exceptions to Insurance Policies in Recent Car Accident Case

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia car accident case involving an insurance dispute between an injured motorist and his insurance company. The case required the court to determine if the accident was covered under the driver’s policy or whether it was subject to an exception for vehicles being operated for hire. Ultimately, the court concluded that the insurance company failed to establish that the plaintiff was operating his vehicle for hire, and it found in favor of the plaintiff.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a motorist who had occasionally provided an elderly woman with rides from her home into town. The normal arrangement was the plaintiff would pick the woman up at her house and take her to town, and in exchange she would pay him $7.

One day, the plaintiff was driving near the woman’s home when he saw her walking along the roadside. He pulled over and offered to give her a ride into town. The woman accepted, and although she had intended to pay him for the ride, she never did because the plaintiff was involved in a minor accident along the way.

Evidently, another driver opened the door to his vehicle into the plaintiff’s vehicle as the plaintiff passed by. The noise from the door striking the side of his car caused the plaintiff to jerk his head around suddenly to see what had occurred. This quick motion strained the plaintiff’s neck, and he filed a claim with his insurance company, seeking compensation for his injuries. The insurance company denied coverage, claiming that the plaintiff’s policy did not cover accidents in which the vehicle was being used as a “public or livery conveyance.” The term “public or livery conveyance” refers to when a driver is using their vehicle to transport either people or goods for money.

The Court’s Analysis

The court had to determine if the plaintiff was indeed operating his vehicle as a “public or livery conveyance” when the accident occurred. The insurance company pointed out that he had provided rides for the elderly woman in the past for compensation and that the woman had planned on paying him but for the accident. However, the court was not convinced by the insurance company’s argument. The court explained that in order to establish that the accident fit within the exception, the insurance company must prove that the plaintiff was offering his services to the general public. However, there was no evidence presented that the plaintiff offered rides to anyone besides the elderly woman. Thus, even though the plaintiff may have been operating his vehicle for hire, since it was not available to the public, the exception to coverage did not apply, and the insurance company should have covered the plaintiff’s claim.

Are You Involved in an Insurance Dispute?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Georgia car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, you will almost certainly have to deal with at least one insurance company along the way. The dedicated Georgia personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law are experienced in assisting victims and their families in taking on even the most difficult insurance companies. We have decades of experience handling Georgia car accident claims, and we know what it takes to be successful on behalf of our clients. Call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation today.

See More Posts:

Georgia Appellate Court Discusses How Conflicting Testimony Should Be Handled by Lower Courts, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, March 9, 2018.

Georgia Court Affirms Teacher’s Immunity in Recent Wrongful Death Lawsuit, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, March 14, 2017.