OAI: Trailer-Crash Case Highlights Potential Complexity of Auto Insurance Claims

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At issue was whether an insurance policy stipulated that a truck and its attached trailer should be considered one entity, according to OnlineAutoInsurance.com.

When an uninsured trailer that's attached to an insured truck helps cause the truck to crash, can the passengers of the truck collect uninsured motorist (UM) benefits? That's a question recently posed to Florida's 5th District Court of Appeal in a case that underscores the potential complexity of car insurance claims, according to OnlineAutoInsurance.com.

The answer to that question, basically, is that it depends on the policy language. In this case--Trout v. Apicella (Case No. 5D10-2015)--the court ruled that the trailer should be considered a separate, uninsured auto and that one of the passengers should be able to collect UM benefits, according to court documents.

The case was brought to the appeals court by Ryan Trout, who had been riding in the truck with his uncle on the interstate when the uninsured trailer that neither of them owned began to sway and ultimately helped caused the car and trailer to go spinning out of control, according to court documents.

Court documents show the truck slammed into the guardrail, and Trout ended up being injured. He sought UM benefits through the Florida automobile insurance policy that was covering the truck.

UM coverage pays for the injuries of occupants of insured vehicles after a crash that was caused by the operator of a car with no coverage.

The main issue for the court to decide was whether the trailer, which helped cause the crash, constituted an uninsured auto, according to the opinion filed by the court.

The opinion showed GEICO originally argued that under its policy language the truck and the attached trailer were to be considered one vehicle and, because of that fact, the trailer was insured and could not be considered an uninsured vehicle. A lower court agreed with that argument and barred damage recoveries on those grounds.

But the 5th District Court of Appeals ruled, according to court documents, that the policy language stipulating this only applied to the liability portion of the policy, meaning the trailer should be considered its own entity for UM purposes.

That determination, combined with the court's discerning that the trailer was not covered under any insurance policy, led the court to reverse and remand part of the lower court's decision concerning whether the trailer was an "uninsured auto," according to the opinion filed on February 24.

Source: http://www.5dca.org/

For more on this and other coverage issues, head to http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/florida/ to get access to informative resources pages and an easy-to-use rate-comparison generator.

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Benjamin Zitney
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