Court Holds Horse-Drawn Carriage Accident Falls Outside UIM Policy Coverage

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raises an interesting issue confronting many Indiana car accident plaintiffs. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s insurance company was required to provide underinsured motorist coverage in an accident involving a horse-drawn carriage. Ultimately, the court took a close look at the insurance policy’s language before determining that the policy did not cover the accident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a horse-drawn carriage that had just finished participating in a Christmas parade. After the parade, and while on the way back to the plaintiff’s vehicle, the carriage was rear-ended by another vehicle. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the collision.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against several parties, but relevant to this discussion, a claim was filed against his own insurance policy under the policy’s underinsured motorist clause. That clause provided coverage for an accident involving “a land motor vehicle or trailer of any type” with inadequate insurance coverage. The policy also defined the term “trailer” as a vehicle that was designed to be pulled by a car, truck, or van.

The insurance company rejected the plaintiff’s claim, claiming that the horse-drawn carriage was neither a motor vehicle nor a trailer. Thus, the insurance company determined that this particular type of vehicle was excluded from coverage.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit, claiming that the carriage should be covered because the policy contains coverage for a “trailer of any type,” and the carriage was a type of trailer. The court, however, rejected the plaintiff’s argument, noting that the policy provided a definition of the term “trailer” that was inconsistent with the plaintiff’s argument that it would include the carriage.

The court explained that, pursuant to the plaintiff’s own testimony, the carriage was not able to be towed by a motor vehicle. In fact, it could only be towed by either a horse or a mule. Thus, the court explained that the horse-drawn carriage did not fit within the term “trailer” because it was not designed to be pulled by a car, van, or truck.

The court did, however, determine that the carriage operator’s insurance policy may provide coverage for the accident, and it sent the case back to the lower court to proceed toward trial on that issue.

Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Indiana car accident, you should reach out to one of the dedicated Indiana car accident attorneys at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse. At Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, we represent accident victims in Indiana in a wide range of personal injury cases. We pride ourselves on the unique form of client-centered representation we provide, and we take every effort to ensure that our clients are fully apprised of what is happening with their cases throughout the process. To learn more, call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation today.

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