Indirect Physical Contact Of Autos

Fort Worth insurance lawyers need to be know this case. It is a 1972, Houston Court of Appeals [1st District] case styled, Latham v. Mountain States Mutual Casualty Company. Here is some of the relevant information.
This is an appeal from a summary judgment granted in a suit for damages brought under the uninsured motorist provisions of an insurance policy. The decisive question on this appeal concerns the proper interpretation of the ‘hit-and-run automobile’ coverage included in the uninsured motorist provisions of the policy.
Sarah Latham and Nora Carter, alleged that while their car was stopped in a line of traffic in obedience to the command of a police officer, a car immediately behind them was struck from the rear by a pick-up truck and propelled into their automobile. As a result of this collision they suffered personal injuries. The pick-up truck left the scene of the accident, and neither the driver nor the owner of the truck can be identified.
They allege that the pick-up truck was a hit-and-run vehicle which negligently caused them bodily injury; that such injuries arose out of physical contact (at least indirectly) of such pick-up truck with their vehicle; and that they are covered by Latham’s automobile insurance policy.
Part IV of this policy, designated ‘Family Protection Coverage,’ provides that the company will pay all sums which the insured shall be legally entitled to recover as damages from the owner or operator of an uninsured automobile because of bodily injury. It provides that the term ‘uninsured automobile’ means a ‘hit and run automobile.’
The paragraph of particular concern reads:
“hit and run automobile’ means an automobile which causes bodily injury to an insured arising out of physical contact of such automobile with the insured or with an automobile which the insured is occuping at the time of the accident provided (a) there cannot be ascertained the identity of either the operator or the owner of such hit and run automobile; (b) the insured or someone on his behalf shall have reported an accident within 24 hours to a police, peace or judicial officer or to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and shall have filed with the company within 30 days thereafter a statement under oath that the insured or his legal representative has a cause or causes of action arising out of such accident for damages abainst a person or persons whose identity is unascertainable and setting forth the facts in support thereof; and (c) at the company’s request the insured or his legal representative makes available for inspection the automobile which the insured was occupying at the time of the accident.’
The question of what constitutes ‘physical contact’ of one automobile with another was one of first impression in Texas at the time. The cases from other states in which the exact question has been presented hold that indirect contact satisfies the policy requirement. Where a car A strikes car B and propels it into car C, there is physical contact between Car A and Car C within the meaning of such a provision. This court agreed with this interpretation.
This case was a win for insureds as this is a relatively frequent occurrence on our roads.

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