What Is An Accident For Automobile Coverage?

People in Grand Prairie, Fort Worth, Mansfield, Grapevine, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Arlington, Kennedale, and other places in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas may find themselves in a situation where their automobile insurance carrier is refusing coverage based on the circumstances of the claim. Here are two examples where the auto insurance company were successful in their claim denial.
The first case was decided in 2001, by the Fort Worth Court of Appeals. The style of the case is, Collier v. Allstate County Mutual Insurance Company. Here are some of the relevant facts.
Amy Cook was insured under an automobile insurance policy issued by Allstate. Her fiance’, Ryan Collier, was driving Cook’s automobile one day when following an automobile driven by Amy Jeanine Dunn. While stopped at a red light, Collier got out of the car and began screaming and hitting Dunn’s automobile. Cook and the other passengers in her automobile allegedly encouraged Collier’s rampage. Dunn attempted to escape by going forward into the intersection, where her automobile collided with a third automobile. Dunn brought suit against Collier and Cook for negligently causing fear and negligently operating their vehicle.
Allstate sought a declaratory judgment that it had no duty to defend or indemnify either Cook or Collier. The trial court granted summary judgment to Allstate. Cook and Collier appealed.
This appeals courts affirmed the trial court. Focusing on the facts and not the legal theories in Dunn’s petition, the court found that Cook and Collier’s actions were voluntary and intentional and that “there was clearly ‘no accident.'” Because Cook’s policy covers auto accidents and not intentional conduct, the court finds no coverage and no duty to defend or indemnify. The insuring agreement contained in Cook’s policy states that “Allstate will pay damages for bodily or property damage for which any covered person becomes legally responsible because of auto accident.” Even assuming that Cook and Collier qualified as “covered persons” under Cook’s policy, their alleged liability fails to trigger coverage requiring a defense by Allstate because neither Cook’s or Collier’s alleged liability in this case arose from an “auto accident” resulting from their use of the covered vehicle.
The second case was decided by the Amarillo Court of Appeals in 1995. The style of the case is State Farm Mutual Insurance Company v. Peck. Here are some of the relevant facts of this case.
Peck’s dog bit Salazar while Salazar was a passenger in Peck’s automobile. Salazar sued Peck for personal injuries resulting from the dog bite. State Farm, Peck’s automobile insurer, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking determination that it had no duty to defend or indemnify Peck. Peck contends that because the auto policy in question does not define the term “auto accident,” the policy is ambiguous and should be construed to provide coverage.
In this court’s opinion, it stated that the term “auto accident” when given its ordinary and generally accepted meaning does not render the policy ambiguous. “Auto accident” generally refers to situations where one or more vehicles are involved in some type of collision or near collision with another vehicle, object, or person. Furthermore, the automobile must, in some manner, be involved in the accident. Here, the only nexus between the accident and the vehicle was the fact that Salazar was sitting in the vehicle at the time he was bitten. Accordingly, State Farm has no duty to defend or indemnify Peck in the action arising out of the dog bite.
These two cases serve as examples where the insured tried to get their automobile insurance company to provided a defense in a lawsuit and the courts supported the insurance company position that there was no coverage provided by the policy.