A volunteer Fireman - and retired ironworker - recently settled a suit against his insurance provider for the wrongful denial of coverage of injuries; injuries the fireman suffered as a result of an accident in which he was struck by an underinsured motorist while directing traffic at the scene of a motorcycle accident
According to documents filed in the Court of Common Pleas, Lorain County, Ohio, the victim was responding to the scene of an accident as part of his volunteer on-call fireman duties in September, 2007. At the scene, he began placing safety flares and directing traffic in an effort to prevent traffic from encountering the accident scene. After approximately 45 to 55 minutes of directing traffic, the victim was struck by a motor vehicle and subsequently airlifted and transported to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, for treatment of his injuries.
As a result of the accident, the victim sustained severe injuries to his left ankle and required fusion surgery. According to the victim's expert report, he will permanently lose 50 percent of hindfoot motion and have an increased risk of developing arthritis in his surrounding joints for the remainder of his life.
Unfortunately for the victim, the vehicle that struck him was underinsured. Consequently, the victim then sought underinsured motorist benefits from his own insurance provider - which was initially denied by the insurance company.
According to motions filed with the court, the insurer denied coverage because they alleged the victim needed to be occupying a motor vehicle at the time of the injury in order to be covered under his policy, or, in the alternative, that the victim was "operating or occupying" a fire truck made available for his regular use at the time of the accident - which would fall under an explicit exclusion in the policy.
The victim responded in his motion that the policy language was quite broad, and absolutely did not require him to be occupying his personal vehicle or to actually be in a motor vehicle in order to have underinsured motorist coverage under his policy. Moreover, the victim denied he was ever occupying the fire truck at the time of the accident, let alone that the truck was available for his regular use.
Ultimately, the court determined that the victim was in fact entitled to underinsured motorist coverage under his policy as a matter of law and the case settled.