Illinois Appellate Court Issues Ruling Regarding the Applicability of an Insurance Policy Intoxication Exclusion in Wrongful Death Car Accident Case

Rental cars offer an incredibly convenient way to travel when you are away from home on vacation or a business trip. There are specific issues that arise when it comes to liability and insurance for rental cars when accidents take place while a renter is behind the wheel. If you were involved in a car accident and one of the parties including yourself was renting a vehicle at the time of the accident, it is crucial for you to understand your rights. Our seasoned team of Chicago car accident lawyers is standing by to assist you.

Recently, an Illinois Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a case involving a rental car collision. A man rented a car with a policy that provided for supplemental liability protection but included an exclusion for situations where the man was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While driving the rental car, the man was involved in a crash that injured a woman and killed her husband. The man was convicted of driving under the influence of drugs.

The wife filed a personal injury action on behalf of herself and her late husband alleging that he was negligent in operating the rental car and that she sustained injuries and her husband died as a result. She also filed a complaint against the rental car company seeking a declaration that it provided coverage for her damages. The rental car company filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that it was not required to provide coverage due to the exclusion in the policy and the fact that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash.

The trial court denied the rental car company’s motion on the basis that the exclusion was against public policy and that the policy provided for $900,000 in additional coverage. The rental car company filed a timely appeal.

On review, the Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s finding that the exclusion should be invalidated on the basis that a contractual provision cannot be invalidated on the basis of public policy unless it is clearly contrary to the constitution, the statutes, or the decisions of the courts, or unless it is manifestly injurious to the public welfare. The court made an important distinction in this case noting that the rental car insurance policy provided excess insurance. State law requires motorists to have minimum liability insurance coverage regardless of fault. The law does not, however, require excess or supplemental liability insurance and there is no law prohibiting intoxication exclusions. Accordingly, the appellate court ruled that the rental car company should not be required to provide coverage based on the intoxication exclusion.

If you were injured in a car accident, the seasoned team of trial lawyers at Therman Law Offices prepared to help you determine the best way to secure the settlement or judgment that you deserve. We know that you probably have countless questions about the legal process and whether you have a viable claim. We offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and how we can assist you. Call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.