Is A Falling Object A Collision

Grand Prairie insurance attorneys might? run across this situation.
This is an opinion from the Dallas Court of Appeals that was issued in 1965. The style of the case is, Great American Insurance Co. v. Lane.
Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. Great American’s motion was overruled. Lane’s motion was sustained. This court agreed with the decision of the trial court.
The sole question in dispute in this proceeding is: Whether or not the policy of insurance issued by the Great American insured Lane against a loss to his truck as the result of a falling object,: towit a drag line bucket falling on said truck while said truck was being loaded.
In an affidavit in support of his motion for summary judgment Lane swore that in June 1964, he was employed to haul dirt from an excavation to the site of road construction on Highway 69. On July 6, 1964 one of Lane’s regularly employed drivers drove the truck here involved under a dragline being operated by one of the two contractors who had engaged Lane to do the hauling. The dragline had just taken about three yards of dirt into the bucket and was swinging over to unload the dirt into the truck when the dragline bucket came into collision with the truck, causing damage to the vehicle.
In its sworn answer to Lane’s affidavit Great American alleged that Lane’s loss was caused by ‘a falling object’ and is not covered under the policy purchased by Lane, who purchased only collision coverage. Great American attached a copy of a written statement made by Lane, in which statement Lane said that ‘a clevis broke on the drag line and dropped about 3 1/2 yards of dirt and the bucket onto the bed of the truck * * *.’
In short, the stipulations and the affidavits make it clear that the bucket was a part of a piece of machinery which was being used to load dirt into Lane’s truck; and that the bucket, while being swung into position over the truck, became detached from the rest of the machinery when the clevis broke and the bucket dropped upon the truck.
In its one point on appeal Great American asserts that the policy of insurance issued to Lane does not, by its terms, include coverage for damages resulting from ‘falling objects’.
The position of Great American in this case is that only the comprehensive provision of the policy includes loss from falling objects; and Lane, having been presented with a choice of the coverages available to him, elected not to take out comprehensive coverage, thus choosing not to purchase coverage against loss by falling objects. In support of this contention Great American relies mainly on the holding of a Texas Supreme Court opinion in an earlier case called the Boyer case.
This court did not believe that the Boyer case is in conflict with other cases or with their holding in this case. In fact the Boyer case refers to and ‘specifically reaffirmed’ the earlier cases. In Boyer the loss was unquestionably caused by windstorm. Loss by windstorm was expressly, specifically and separately named as a type of coverage in two different provisions of the policy. By thus segregating and defining windstorm loss the Insurance Commission intended, according to the Boyer opinion, to give the public a choice in purchasing insurance.
In this case loss by falling objects is not named as a specific, separate, segregated type of coverage, and as the court pointed out it is not named in the exclusions applicable to the collision coverage. This fact becomes important in view of the utterance of the Supreme Court in the another case reaffirming its holding in the earlier case and expressly stating that a limitation will not be added where none exists in the policy.
Whenever an insurance company denies coverage and cites policy language as the reason for the denial, it is important to have an experienced Insurance Law Attorney review the policy language and the facts of the case so as to be able to give a good opinion as to what steps, if any, should be taken next.