Uninsured Motorist And Vehicles Available For Regular Use

Fort Worth insurance lawyers need to know how Texas insurance law applies when presented with a certain set of facts. As it relates to Uninsured Motorist coverage, a San Antonio Court of Appeals case is important to know. It is a 1990, opinion styled, Briones v. State Farm. Here is the relevant information from the case.
Briones appealed a take nothing summary judgment granted in his suit against State Farm seeking recovery on his family automobile insurance policy under the uninsured motorists clause, for bodily injuries suffered in a one vehicle automobile accident. In one point of error Briones contended that:
The Trial Court erred in granting State Farm’s Motion for Summary Judgment because there is a genuine issue as to material facts regarding the one remaining issue to be litigated by the parties, namely whether the tractor-trailer in which Briones was a passenger at the time of his bodily injuries was furnished or available for his regular use.
Briones was a passenger in the sleeping compartment of a tractor-trailer owned by his employer, Cervantes Trucking Co., which, at the time of the accident, was being driven by another employee of Cervantes Trucking, one Mr. Juan Barbosa. The accident occurred in Arizona and involved only the one vehicle in which Briones was riding. Neither the truck nor its driver was covered by liability insurance at the time of the accident. Briones sought to recover under the uninsured clause of his family automobile insurance policy.
In the trial court the parties stipulated to all evidence and specifically that the only portion of the insurance contract applicable was the uninsured motorist clause which reads:
Uninsured motor vehicle does not include any vehicle or equipment:
… owned by or furnished or available for the regular use of you or any family member.

The parties further stipulated:
The only question that will be litigated between us, whether it be by summary judgment or trial, will be whether the facts show that, at the time of the accident, the vehicle in which Mr. Briones was riding was one which was “furnished or available for the regular use of” Mr. Briones.
A review of the proof shows that Briones was an employee of Cervantes Trucking, the owner of the truck in question. His principal duty was to drive trucks assigned to him. He customarily used any one of the five vehicles owned by Cervantes, as and when assigned to him by Cervantes. He had driven the truck in question regularly for a period of four years, from 1981 to 1985. During the trip in question, as on other trips, Briones and his co-employee would take turns driving and sleeping.
The Texas Insurance Code mandates the inclusion of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in automobile liability insurance coverage.
The purpose of the statute as stated therein, is “the protection of persons insured thereunder who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured or underinsured motor vehicles….”
By purchasing this coverage along with basic liability coverage, the insured has expressed an intent not only to protect others from his or her own negligence but also to protect that person’s own family and guests from the negligence of others.
This court doubted whether most Texas motorists understand that the amount of the coverage for which they are paying is only recoverable depending upon the limits of the liability coverage carried by the negligent driver and the peculiar facts of the particular accident. Even if they did, the court believed this is not the coverage mandated by statute.
The court discussed and concluded that under the facts of this case and the uncontroverted evidence, that to deny Briones recovery under the uninsured motorist clause of his family policy would be to frustrate the intent of the legislature to provide protection for conscientious motorists from “financial loss caused by negligent financially irresponsible motorists” as is mandated by the inclusion of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in the Texas Insurance Code.