Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Insurer in Policy Coverage Dispute Following a Fatal Car Crash

A common issue that arises after a motor vehicle accident is whether the parties involved in the accident have insurance policies that provide coverage for physical and property damage. In some situations, this is easy to determine but in others questions may arise regarding whether a policy’s coverage extends to a driver or victim. As seasoned Chicago personal injury lawyers we are ready to assist you with protecting your rights after a car accident. We will assist with all aspects of the matter including negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf.

A recent case explored the limits of coverage for an insurance policy in a one-car accident. The accident involved a non-owned, uninsured vehicle. The passenger of the accident died as a result of his injuries. The passenger would occasionally live rent-free with his father’s ex-wife at the time of the crash and had been living there for six months. The ex-wife never officially adopted the passenger.

The ex-wife had three insurance policies that provided uninsured motorist coverage in the amount of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. Two of the policies also provided coverage for medical expenses up to $10,000. The special administrator of the passenger’s estate asserted a claim for medical payment coverage and uninsured motorist benefits under the policies. The insurance company filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a statement that the decedent was not entitled to coverage benefits because he did not meet the definition of a “resident relative” under the policy provisions. He was not related to the insured by blood, marriage, or adoption on the date of the accident and did not primarily reside with her, according to their view.

The insurer moved for summary judgment and attached deposition testimony from the ex-wife in which she testified that she had never adopted the decedent and was not related to him by blood. She also testified that the decedent would come and go as he pleased and that he tended to stay with another relative more frequently and that he did not store belongings at her home. She also testified that she told the decedent that he could not live with her on a permanent basis. The lower court granted the motion for summary judgment and the representative of the decedent’s estate appealed.

On review, the appellate court reversed finding that genuine issues of fact existed regarding whether the decedent’s primary residence was with the ex-wife. Other evidence in the record suggested that a jury could reasonably conclude that her home was his primary residence, including the fact he kept a dog at her home, washed his clothes there, and that the ex-wife told her insurance agent that he had been living with her for five months.

If you were injured in a car accident and have questions about your right to insurance coverage, our Chicago personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to help you explore your rights and options. The legal process can be incredibly confusing and overwhelming, particularly after a traumatic and painful injury accident or sudden death. Therman Law Offices’ compassionate and responsive team of legal professionals is standing by to assist you. To schedule your appointment call us at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.