Posted On: June 26, 2013 by The Berniard Law Firm

Summary Judgment Granted in Uninsured Motorist Dispute

Vehicle collisions are difficult in of themselves but when they involve an insurance dispute, they can be considerably daunting. One recent case involving an accident in dispute helps illustrate this further. In this case, Broussard and Brandy Oppenheimer live together with a child, but are unmarried. Broussard was driving Oppenheimer's vehicle when he was rear-ended by an uninsured driver. While the pair maintained unisured motorist coverage through their insurance policies, which is suppose to cover them in these types of situations. However, the insurance company saw otherwise.

Farm Bureau denied Broussard's request, stating that “the policy did not cover the accident in that Broussard was operating a vehicle that was not listed in the policy.” The insurer filed a motion of summary judgment on the issue of coverage, while Broussard filed a cross motion summary judgment to recover under his policy. The Appellate court cited Schroeder v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University to define summary judgment, which states that a motion for summary judgment should be granted “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact, and that mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”

The trial court reasoned that by allowing Farm Bureau “to exclude coverage would allow…a policy in derogation of La.R.S. 22:1295.” The statute explains that the policy should provide coverage to “an injured party while occupying and automobile not owned by said injured party.” Farm Bureau appealed the trial court’s decision to grant Michael Broussard’s motion for summary judgment. The granted motion for summary judgment declared Broussard was entitled to coverage under his uninsured motorist clause in his insurance policy.

To counter, Farm Bureau cited policy language claiming the insuring policy does not apply:

This insuring policy does not apply: (1) to any automobile owned by or furnished for the regular use to either the named insured or a member of the same household.
And;
This policy does not apply: (g) Under division 1 of coverage to bodily injury to the insured, his spouse or members of household sustained while in or entering into or alighting from an automobile owned by the insured, his spouse, or members of the household except the one described in the declarations.

The trial court and the Appellate court both agreed and affirmed that “policy language cannot change the requirements of the statute.” The law would allow the exclusion of coverage if involving a spouse or relative’s policies, but is not the situation here as Broussard and Oppenheimer are not married or related. Farm Bureau's attempt to push the limits of its restrictions were unsuccessful, however, resulting in the judgment in favor of Broussard.

If you have been in an accident or denied insurance coverage, contact the Berniard Law Firm. Our firm is well versed in insurance disputes and coverage reviews and one of our attorneys would be happy to assist you in your judicial pursuits.