Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Iowa issued an opinion involving a multi-vehicle motorcycle accident that required the court to determine if two collisions separated by a few seconds should count as one “accident,” as defined in the at-fault party’s insurance policy. In the case, Hughes v. Farmers Auto Insurance Association, the court ultimately determined that the chain-reaction collisions should count as just one accident. Thus, all injured parties will be subject to the single per-accident limit of the at-fault party’s insurance policy.
The Facts of the Case
The original collision occurred when a semi-truck collided head-on with an SUV that was traveling the wrong way down the highway. After the initial collision, the semi-truck was pushed off to the shoulder of the road, and the destroyed SUV remained in the middle of the highway. Just a few moments later, a motorcyclist came down the highway and was unable to avoid a collision with the SUV’s wreckage. Sadly, the driver of the SUV was killed in the accident. The motorcyclist and the truck driver were both seriously injured as a result.
The motorcyclist and the truck driver both filed claims with the deceased driver’s insurance company, seeking compensation for their property damage as well as for their injuries. Prior to settling those claims, the two plaintiff parties asked the court to issue an order that the two collisions constituted two separate accidents under the SUV’s insurance policy.
Why the Question Is an Important One
Insurance policies have limits, or a maximum amount that the insurance company will pay out in the event of a claim. These limits are often two-fold, meaning that there is usually a per-person or per-vehicle limit, as well as a per-incident limit. The parties above were seeking a court order that the collisions in which they were involved constituted two separate accidents, which would allow each to seek up to the policy’s per-incident maximum. The per-incident limit in this case was $500,000.
The Court’s Decision
The court first noted that nowhere in the policy was the term “accident” defined, leaving the court to give the word meaning in this context. In doing so, the court looked at the policy language, which stated that the per-incident limit was in effect no matter how many vehicles were involved. It also considered the fact that the two collisions occurred just moments after each other, and they were caused by the same initial act of the SUV’s driver. Thus, the court determined that the two collisions were aptly described as a single multi-vehicle accident.
As a result, the two plaintiffs will be limited in their recovery to the $500,000 policy limit, should the claim result in a payout.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Maryland motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. It is important to remember that you will likely be forced to deal with at least one other insurance company, and the company may contest your claim or attempt to limit it. To make sure that you are treated fairly throughout the process, call one of the skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland motorcycle accident law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen at 410-654-3600 today.
More Blog Posts:
Consider the Facts Before Placing the Blame on a Motorcyclist for a Motorcycle Accident, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 5, 2016.
Garbage Truck Hits Bicyclist and Leaves the Scene, Driver Claims He Was Unaware of the Collision, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published March 25, 2016.