Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Roadside Accidents

By: Tom DeLattre

Underinsured/Uninsured

How many times have you seen a vehicle pulled over on the side of the road because of an accident or engine issue, with the occupants walking behind or alongside their vehicle?

If the driver of an underinsured/uninsured vehicle is distracted or driving carelessly, they could easily veer off the roadway and strike the occupant standing behind or near the vehicle. Does the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage apply? Believe it or not, it depends. After all, underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage applies when you are injured in a car accident and the at-fault driver does not carry any or carries too little bodily injury coverage to adequately compensate you for your injuries, losses and damages. Also remember that a typical auto or business auto insurance policy defines an insured individual as someone who is “occupying” the vehicle for purposes of underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.

In a recent Florida case, the driver of a crane type truck pulled off the roadway and was standing approximately 10’-30’ from his truck for nearly 30 minutes, observing the work being done by the crane operator. He was struck by a passing motorist who lost control of their vehicle.

The crane truck driver was injured and the at-fault driver did not carry any bodily injury coverage and, therefore, the crane truck driver sought uninsured motorist benefits under his company’s business auto policy.

The Florida Court ruled against the crane truck driver holding that, essentially, he was standing for too long a period behind his truck and too far away from the truck itself to be entitled to uninsured motorist coverage. The Court added that the crane truck driver was not “in, on, entering or alighting from his truck at the time of impact.” Due to both the space between him and his truck and the amount of time that elapsed outside of the vehicle, he was deemed ineligible to receive uninsured motorist benefits.

Although we recommend that everyone carry stacking underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage on their auto policy, there are certain restrictions that do apply and situations when this type of coverage will not apply. Obviously, this is a very narrow exception but an exception to remember nonetheless.

If you, a friend or a loved one are unfortunately injured as a result of an auto accident  or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Wieland, Hilado & DeLattre, P.A. at (407) 841-7699.  For additional resources, keep checking our blog, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more helpful hints and to always be informed about best practices in law.

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