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Pennsylvania Court: Motorcyclist Cannot Recover Under Parent’s Policy

A Pennsylvania court recently ruled that a common exclusion in underinsured motorist coverage applies to motorcyclists injured after being thrown off their bikes. The case is both interesting and important in its own right and an excellent illustration of how complicated insurance exclusions can be. For those seeking to recover under insurance policies following a motor vehicle accident or a motorcycle accident, understanding the concept of exclusions can be key to recovery.

The immediate case involved Jacob Hymes, who was driving his motorcycle when he collided with an automobile driven by Robert Meyer. Hymes was thrown from the motorcycle into Meyer’s windshield and became seriously injured. He ultimately landed on the ground 20 feet away from the point of impact.

It was determined that Meyer was at fault for the accident, but his liability insurance was insufficient to compensate Hymes for his injuries. Hymes did not purchase underinsured motorist coverage from his insurer, so he made a claim under his parents’ policy with Allstate.

Allstate denied Hymes’ claim, stating that its policy with Hymes’ parents contained a “household exclusion” which prevented Hymes from recovering under the policy. The exclusion disqualifies underinsured motorist coverage to anyone injured “while in, on, getting into or out of or when struck by a motor vehicle owned or leased by you or a resident relative which is not insured for underinsured motorist coverage under this [Allstate’s] policy.”

The Court’s Decision

Allstate filed a lawsuit asking that the court determine that the policy did not cover Hymes’ injuries. Hymes’ attorney made a novel argument asserting that the household exclusion did not apply. He argued that Hymes was not injured until he hit Meyer’s windshield, so at the time he was injured, he was not in, on, getting into or out of a motor vehicle, as the household exclusion required.

The court disagreed, saying that words of common usage in an insurance policy are to be interpreted in their natural, plain and ordinary sense. The court said that “recovery for underinsured benefits is properly excluded under the pertinent policy provision” because the injuries, though they may have taken place off the motorcycle, are still the direct result of the motorcyclist operating the vehicle.

Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Today

This case clearly illustrates that determining who or what is covered under insurance policies can be very complicated. Although insurance policies exclude certain people, events or injuries from coverage, many times there are exceptions to the exclusions. If you are involved in an accident, you may have options for receiving compensation under your insurance policy that you may not be aware of. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you through this process. Call the legal team at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC today at 215-569-8488 or contact us online. We represent injured victims in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.