The Louisiana Supreme Court made a significant ruling regarding car insurance policies in a recent case.
The court decided that a man who was driving someone else’s car, with the owner’s express permission, was not covered when he got into a car accident. The owner of the car had asked him to go and get a tire fixed, but the driver was not covered for the trip despite having his own insurance and permission to drive the car.
This is because of unusual language included in the insurance policy at issue, which language was before our Supreme Court as a matter of first impression. Many are concerned that because of this decision, insurers will include similar language across their lines as policies renew.
Though the decision only directly affects the people in this case, this result changes established Louisiana law and defies most folks’ expectations. All Louisiana residents should be aware of this case in understanding the detrimental implications it has for uninsured motorists.
Our team at Pierce & Shows, a Baton Rouge-based firm, is here to guide you through the case and the court’s decision. We’re also here to help if something similar happens to you.
The Louisiana Uninsured Motorist Case
In this particular court case, two plaintiffs filed for damages after an accident where they were not at fault. The defendant was the driver of the other car, who was taking it to the shop for a flat tire repair. The defendant didn’t own the car, but had the owner’s consent to drive it as a favor for the owner.
The defendant, or driver at fault for the accident, had his own auto insurance and thought he was covered. He owned his own vehicles covered by insurance.
However, because the defendant did not own the vehicle involved in the accident, and because his own vehicles were in working order and he did not demonstrate any need to drive someone else’s car, his insurance company was held not liable for the damages incurred in the accident.
According to the court and the insurance company, the defendant’s policy covered only his own vehicles, and did not apply when he drove another vehicle. Thus, the court asserted that the defendant was an uninsured motorist at the time of the accident.
What are the Implications for Louisiana Residents?
This decision has drastic consequences not only for the defendant, but for anyone else who does a friend a favor or drives someone else’s vehicle. You could find yourself in the same position.
Although drivers may think they are protected by their own auto insurance, the insurance company has the power to revoke that protection in the policy language.
Justice Genovese, who dissented from the majority opinion along with two other Justices, suggested the insurance company took contractual freedom too far. Justice Genovese commented that it is “absurd” for someone to be uninsured without their knowledge.
How Could this Decision Affect You in Baton Rouge and Louisiana?
You might wonder how this decision could affect you. You might also think you are safely insured as long as you never offer to take a friend’s car to the shop.
However, in a dissenting opinion, Justice Hughes reminded the court that “we are constantly told to take the keys of a friend who has had too much to drink.”
To ensure the safety of our roads, we must not let people drive under the influence, but it is harder to protect our friends if insurance companies don’t protect us.
Other simple actions where your insurance company can leave you uninsured include moving the car of someone who blocked you in at a party or driving another family member’s car during a funeral procession.
Yet, even if you pay for an insurance policy, the company may leave you high and dry.
Contact Louisiana Attorneys Pierce & Shows
Pierce & Shows, based in Baton Rouge, has over 60 years of combined experience fighting for clients in personal injury cases. Our knowledgeable team follows the latest news of the Louisiana Supreme Court, so we can protect you from insurance companies in the case of an accident.
Contact our team today to understand your rights and preserve your protection in the case of an automobile accident.