Earlier this month, an appellate court in Maryland issued an opinion in a case involving two collisions that occurred a few seconds apart, requiring the court to determine if the two collisions should be considered a single accident under the insured’s policy. In the case, Hughes v. Farmers Auto Insurance Association, the court ultimately determined that the two separate collisions should properly be considered as a single accident.
According to the court’s written opinion, an SUV was traveling the wrong way down the highway when it collided with a large semi-truck. The collision was extremely forceful and pushed the semi-truck off to the shoulder of the road while leaving the SUV completely destroyed in the middle of the highway.
A few moments later, a motorcyclist came down that same stretch of highway and was unable to avoid a collision with the totaled SUV. As a result, a second collision occurred. The driver of the truck, as well as the motorcyclist, filed a negligence lawsuit against the SUV driver’s insurance company.
Prior to the case being settled, the two plaintiffs asked the court to issue a declaratory judgment that the two collisions constituted two separate accidents under the SUV driver’s insurance policy. The relevant portion of the policy provided for $500,000 for each accident. Thus, if successful, the truck driver and the motorcyclists would each be eligible to receive up to $500,000 in compensation for their injuries.
However, the court determined that the collisions were just a single accident, limiting the plaintiffs to a total of $500,000 between them. The court began by noting that nowhere in the insurance policy was the term “accident” defined. This left the court with the opportunity to define the term as it applied to this specific case.
The court considered the fact that the accidents occurred just a few seconds apart from each other and were caused by the same act – the SUV traveling down the wrong way on the highway. The court also looked to the language in the policy, which is a valid contract between the insurer and the insured, attempting to glean what that intention of the document was when the parties signed it. Since the language in the policy seemed to contemplate the possibility of several vehicles being involved in a single accident, the court held this counseled in favor of finding that the collisions were a single “accident” under the policy.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Multi-Vehicle Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of a car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As you can see, there are many issues in these cases, aside from who was at fault for the initial collision. A skilled attorney can be your best ally in seeking the compensation you deserve. Call Miller Legal Services at 770-284-3727 today to set up a free consultation with an experienced attorney who can help you evaluate the strength of your case. Calling is free, and we will not bill you unless we are able to ultimately help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Negligent Drivers Injured in Georgia Auto Accidents May Still be Entitled to Compensation, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2016.
Georgia Governing Law on Damages That a Plaintiff May Be Awarded in a Personal Injury Lawsuit, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 10, 2016.