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Insurance Auto Cases Summarized By Accident Lawyer

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Insurance Auto and the related topic of vehicle accidents.  For more information about insurance see the pages on Wikipedia.

Insurance Auto-Cases

2015 Bratton v. Selective Insurance Co., 290 Va. 314, 776 S.E.2d 775.
Employee of a paving company who was driving a dump truck to a highway site at night got out of his truck and moved nine (9) feet to the rear of the truck and was then struck and killed by two (2) drunk drivers crashing into a highway work site. The employee was deemed to be occupying both the dump truck and also the nearby company pickup truck as a safety vehicle and therefore was entitled to coverage under both.

2015 Bartolomucci v. Federal Insurance Co., 289 Va. 361, 770 S.E.2d 451.
Lawyer on way to work driving his own personal vehicle is not covered by the law firm’s policy because he was not engaged in any income-producing activity nor was he engaged in any non-income producing activity that benefited the business. He was simply going to work.

2011 Farmers Ins. Exchange v. Enterprise Leasing Co., 281 Va. 612, 708 S.E.2d 852.
Self-insured rental car company may seek indemnity from renter. Renter’s insurer is required in this case to reimburse the rental car company for damages.

2004 Johnson v. Windsor Ins. Co., 268 Va. 197, 597 S.E.2d 31.
Negligent entrustment claim relating to automobile accident. Defendant had 100/300 policy. Carrier offered $100,000 on behalf of the permissive user. Plaintiff pursued negligent entrustment claim against co-defendant. Carrier refused to provide coverage as to that co-defendant. That was an error. Obligation to provide coverage to the negligent entrustment claim continued even though claim against permissive user had been settled for $100,000.

2003 Geico v. Moore, 266 Va. 155, 580 S.E.2d 823.
Auto accident case where plaintiff sought coverage under umbrella policy for claim against spouse who was driver of automobile. Omnibus Clause did not mandate coverage in this circumstance under umbrella policy since it was not a policy written upon any motor vehicle.

2003 USAA Cas. Ins. Co. v. Hertz Corp., 265 Va. 450, 578 S.E.2d 775.
Rental car company that maintains liability insurance coverage upon its rental fleet by self-insuring under provisions of Va. Code § 46.2-368 is required to provide primary liability to its customers on a motor vehicle rented in Virginia.

2000 Allstate Ins. Co. v. Atlanta Cas. Co., 260 Va. 148, 530 S.E.2d 161.
Insured signed and dated certificate of title to vehicle and delivered the certificate in blank along with car to her former boyfriend. Having done so, she satisfied statutory requirement for owner’s endorsement to transfer title and as such, she is no longer owner of vehicle for purposes of coverage.

2000 Virginia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Gile, 259 Va. 164, 524 S.E.2d 642.
Issue was whether teenager who lives with mother and mother’s male companion is foster child of that companion and therefore, insured under policy. In this case, teenager is not foster child of insured under this policy. Foster child refers to child who resides in household with named insured and has a relationship recognized by law with named insured.

1998 Jaynes v. Becker, 256 Va. 187, 501 S.E.2d 402.
Defendant driver was operating vehicle leased from Ford Motor Credit. Ford Motor Credit’s policy may apply to this accident but limitation of such coverage set forth in Va. Code § 38.2-2205 also applies and as such available coverage is only $25,000.00.

1997 Haislip v. Southern Heritage Ins. Co., 254 Va. 265, 492 S.E.2d 135.
Virginia Code § 38.2-2204 requires insurance carrier not only to provide $25,000.00 in coverage for permissive user, but also $25,000.00 in coverage for named insured who is guilty of negligent entrustment. As such, total payout by carrier could be $50,000.00 even though policy limits are $25,000.00.

1996 Stern v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 252 Va. 307, 477 S.E.2d 517.
Child was waiting at usual school bus stop when bus arrived. Child was two to three feet from east of center line of roadway and several feet from bus when struck by other vehicle. Issue was whether child was occupying school bus as that term is defined in auto policy. Since she was not getting in or getting on bus, she was not occupying bus as that term is used in policy and therefore no coverage.

1996 USAA Casualty Ins. Co. v. Hensley, 251 Va. 177, 465 S.E.2d 791.
Minor driver lived with grandmother in Virginia, went to school in Virginia, worked in Virginia and was visited by his parents who were residing in Saudi Arabia. In this instance, he was member of his grandmother’s household in Virginia and no longer member of mother’s household in Saudi Arabia.

1995 Travelers Ins. Co. v. LaClair, 250 Va. 368, 463 S.E.2d 461.
Deputy sheriff shot by assailant in other vehicle during course of traffic stop. Uninsured vehicle in this instance was not being used as vehicle. Use of vehicle does not contemplate its utilization as fortress, shield, or outpost from which to inflict intentional harm with firearm.

1995 Lumbermen’s Mut. Cas. Co. v. Keller, 249 Va. 458, 456 S.E.2d 525.
Insurance policy was clear in excluding coverage for injury to cattle. Only events that were covered were death or destruction of cattle.

1994 Providence Washington Ins. Co. v. Gheen, 247 Va. 73, 439 S.E.2d 333.
Issue was whether excess liability coverage applied to leased vehicle. Court held that coverage was applicable.

1994 Hall, Inc. v. Empire Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 248 Va. 307, 448 S.E.2d 633.
Automobile destroyed by fire while in possession of auto dealer. Policy only covered owned automobiles. As such no coverage.

1993 Phelps v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 245 Va. 1, 426 S.E.2d 484.
Issue was whether motorist was member of household of her mother along with her sister. Evidence was that both daughters had moved out of house to attend college, and that they did not intend to return to that household. Intent of parties in this case was critical, and since intent of children was not to return to mother’s household, they were deemed not to be members of that household.

1990 United Servs. Auto. Ass’n v. Travelers Indem. Co., 240 Va. 214, 396 S.E.2d 658.
Two auto policies applied. Issue was whether one policy was excess. Decision based solely on plain language of policy that one policy was excess.

1990 United States Fid. & Guar. Co. v. McGlothlin, 240 Va. 21, 392 S.E.2d 814.
Trailer not defined in policy. Definition from state code applied. No ambiguity in policy, therefore limitation on coverage applied.

1989 Magann Equip., Inc. v. Buffkin, 238 Va. 712, 385 S.E.2d 619.
Tractor-trailer accident. Both owner and interstate carrier had coverage which was found to be co-primary and prorated.

1988 GEICO v. Allstate, 235 Va. 542, 369 S.E.2d 181.
Estranged husband of insured not resident of wife’s household at time his auto involved in accident.

1986 Allstate Ins. Co. v. Patterson, 231 Va. 358, 344 S.E.2d 890.
Sporadic presence at family home of adult divorced son did not make him resident of household.

1984 State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Powell, 227 Va. 492, 318 S.E.2d 393.
Ownership, maintenance or use provisions in insurance auto liability policy were construed to exclude coverage where accident resulted from discharge by unknown causes of loaded firearm stored in gun rack permanently affixed to vehicle.

1983 USAA Cas. Ins. Co. v. Yaconiello, 226 Va. 423, 309 S.E.2d 324.
Insurance auto liability coverage was construed to extend to motor vehicles and thus to motorcycles even though policy covered expressly only automobiles and trailers. Term “automobile” is not broad enough to include “motorcycle.” Statute, however, is written in terms of motor vehicles and, as such, that language will be read into policy. In this case relative of named insured was struck by motorcycle while riding bicycle. USAA took position there was no coverage. Supreme Court held that in fact there was coverage because term “motorcycle” would be interpreted to be motor vehicle.

1982 Virginia Farm Bur. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 223 Va. 201, 288 S.E.2d 443.
When insured intends to keep vehicle insured under insurance auto liability policy, another vehicle subsequently acquired is not within replacement coverage.

1982 Utica Mut. Ins. Co. v. Travelers Indem. Co., 223 Va. 145, 286 S.E.2d 225.
Insurance auto liability policies certified under Safety Responsibility Act do not cover intentional acts by insured.

1981 Central Nat’l Ins. Co. v. Virginia Farm Bur. Mut. Ins. Co., 222 Va. 353, 282 S.E.2d 4.
Record was insufficient to determine whether “trail bike” was “automobile” or “midget automobile” excluded from insurance auto coverage.

1981 GEICO v. Erie Ins. Exch., 222 Va. 342, 282 S.E.2d 238.
“Non-owned automobile” was held not to include any automobile owned by named insured or by any of insured’s relatives residing in same household.

1976 Early Settlers Ins. Co. v. Jordan, 217 Va. 462, 229 S.E.2d 871.
No contact accident. Plaintiff swerved to avoid another vehicle, struck tree. Accident not covered under insurance auto policy covering other vehicle.

1976 Bankers & Shippers Ins. Co. v. Watson, 216 Va. 807, 224 S.E.2d 312.
Tractor trailer involved in accident. One policy applied to tractor, other policy to trailer. Held: both carriers equally liable.

1974 State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Manojlovic, 215 Va. 382, 209 S.E.2d 914.
Limitations on insurance auto coverage that arise by implication only do not prevail. Courts cannot supply lacking language; have duty to adopt construction which will effectuate coverage. Indemnity is ultimate objective of insurance. Coverage “through being struck by automobile” is not conditional upon physical contact between offending automobile and body of insured.

1974 Armstrong v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 215 Va. 333, 209 S.E.2d 903.
Auto specifically covered by insurance auto liability policy became disabled shortly after purchase in June and was towed to service station to be repaired by operator. Not error to hold that pickup truck involved in accident in October was not “temporary” substitute vehicle, and thus not covered under policy in question.

1972 Smith v. Stonewall Cas. Co., 212 Va. 765, 188 S.E.2d 82.
Vehicle that defendant used to drive to work was not public conveyance simply because he transported fellow employees for fee.

1971 Butler v. GEICO, 212 Va. 174, 183 S.E.2d 147.
Replacement auto not covered under insurance auto policy in this instance.

1969 Lackey v. Virginia Sur. Co., 209 Va. 713, 167 S.E.2d 131.
Insurance auto contract written and delivered in Florida. Plaintiff owned both vehicles in Virginia. Florida law controlling on issue of whether driver was “insured” under policy.

1969 United States Fid. & Guar. Co. v. Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co., 209 Va. 552, 165 S.E.2d 404.
Provisions of defendant’s insurance auto policy covering use of truck while “unloading” construed.

1968 St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co. v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 209 Va. 18, 161 S.E.2d 694.
Driver was son of named insured but was not living at home. Not error to enter summary judgment denying insurance auto coverage to son.

1968 Quesenberry v. Nichols & Erie, 208 Va. 667, 159 S.E.2d 655.
Issue of insurance auto coverage under auto policy. While policy will be liberally construed in favor of insured court will not write new contract.

1965 Bickel v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 206 Va. 419, 143 S.E.2d 903.
Recovery under collision portion of insurance auto policy was limited to repair cost and not diminution of fair market value. Likewise, plaintiff not entitled to reimbursement for loss of new car warranty nor rental expenses.

1965 State Farm Mut. v. Smith, 206 Va. 280, 142 S.E.2d 562.
Judgment plaintiff sued insurance company which had denied coverage as to judgment defendant. Question presented is whether judgment defendant was resident of same household as named insured and whether vehicle been furnished for her regular use. Both questions answered in negative.

1964 Stillwell v. Iowa Mut., 205 Va. 588, 139 S.E.2d 72.
Insurance auto policy excluding coverage for employee’s driving auto is valid.

1963 Celina Ins. Co. v. Cohen, 204 Va. 763, 133 S.E.2d 311.
Plaintiff’s insurance auto policy with Celina required notice to Celina upon purchase of new auto. Plaintiff never gave notice until five days after policy expired. Policy required that notice be given within policy period. Held: no coverage.

1962 Nationwide Ins. Co. v. Cole, 203 Va. 337, 124 S.E.2d 203.
Insurance auto policy does not necessarily follow vehicle when vehicle is transferred to new owner.

1952 Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. Mutual Sav. & Loan Co., 193 Va. 269, 68 S.E.2d 541.
Provision in insurance auto policy excluding coverage while automobile was encumbered, unless such encumbrance was described in policy, was not unreasonable or against public policy.


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Insurance Auto Cases Summarized By Accident Lawyer

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