What Does the Small Print in Your North Carolina Car Insurance Policy Mean? Consult Vann v. Mercury

The legalese in car insurance policies can be very intimidating. And if you are denied benefits in your Carolina vehicle accident case, you may not understand why.

Having an experienced Carolina injury attorney can mean the difference between getting your insurance benefits and going medically untreated.
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A recent case out of New Jersey deals with questions arising from insurance policy exclusions. Vann v. Mercury Indemnity Company, No. A-4264-10T4 (N.J. Apr. 25, 2012). Richard Vann (plaintiff) worked as a truck driver for his father’s company named Vann Trucking. Vann Trucking owned three trucks which they used to attach and transport trailers. Plaintiff preferred using just one of the trucks for the three to five days a week that he was working with Vann Trucking.

Plaintiff had an automobile insurance policy with Mercury Indemnity Company (defendant) for the two personal passenger vehicles that he owned. Under this insurance policy, the defendant was to pay personal injury protection (PIP) benefits and med-pay benefits. Vann Trucking had a commercial policy with a different insurance company that did not offer PIP or med-pay benefits.

Plaintiff was driving the Vann Trucking truck he usually used when he decided to stop on a service road outside of Philadelphia. He had been traveling to pick up a trailer to hitch to his truck and transport. As the plaintiff was stopped in the truck, a train came and collided with the truck where plaintiff was. As a result of this train-truck accident, plaintiff sustained injuries to his head, neck, shoulders and back.

Because the plaintiff was unable to collect med-pay from the Vann Trucking commercial insurance policy, he decided to enter a claim with the defendant because it was his personal insurance carrier.

The defendant denied plaintiff med-pay benefits because of a provision in the policy called the “regular use” exclusion. Insurance policy exclusions are where insurance companies specify which circumstances would render the insured excluded from obtaining benefits.

A “regular use” exclusion was created by insurance companies to encourage people to purchase insurance for all vehicles they own and operate. These provisions were also created to protect insurance companies from having to pay for injuries sustained when those they insure are driving a vehicle for work and are injured.

The exclusion applicable to this case stipulated that the defendant would pay medical expense benefits where someone they insure suffers bodily injury in an accident with a vehicle they own. The part that excludes benefits states that where an insured is injured while using a vehicle customarily used, the defendant does not have to pay med-pay benefits.

Essentially, an insurance company will extend benefits to you where you are involved in an accident in a car you do not own, only when it is a rare occurrence for you to drive that vehicle.

The court in this case analyzed previous case law that dealt with this type of insurance exclusion provisions. In the past in New Jersey, courts have held that employees who are injured while driving a vehicle owned and insured by their employer, cannot seek med-pay benefits from their private insurance carrier. This is because these cases usually involved the insured customarily driving this work vehicle.

In order to be consistent with previous case law, this court entered summary judgment for the defendant. Plaintiff was unable to collect med-pay benefits as a result of this truck-train accident.

If you have been injured contact North Carolina injury attorneys at Lee Law Offices to schedule a free appointment today. Call 800-887-1965.

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