Uninsured Motorists Insurance and Government Vehicles
After an automobile collision, many things can affect whether or not an injured person can recover his or her damages from the owner or driver of the vehicle that negligently caused his or her injuries. Among those factors is whether the vehicle was owned by a governmental entity, like a city or state. Often, governmental entities have immunity from suit by injured persons. In those cases, an injured person may seek to obtain insurance benefits under his or her insurance’s uninsured motorist provision. Because the injured person is unable to sue the governmental entity, the vehicle may be considered uninsured for purposes of the insurance policy.
Uninsured motorist coverage can be limited by an insurance company to exclude vehicles owned by governmental entities. Some state courts have upheld the validity of that exclusion, like South Carolina, Ohio, and Washington. Other state courts, like Georgia, and Rhode Island, have held the coverage limitation invalid. Many of those cases involved a review of the specific state uninsured motorists act in determining whether the limitation on uninsured motorist coverage was enforceable.
In pursuing an insurance claim, counsel for an injured person should examine: the immunity status of the governmental entity involved in the collision; the insurance policy of the injured person; the state’s uninsured motorists act; and current case law regarding the validity of any limitations in the insurance policy that would exclude liability for damages caused by a government-owned vehicle.