Court Determines Good Samaritan Was “Occupying” Vehicle as She Provided Road-Side Assistance to Accident Victim

Insurance companies can be one of the biggest roadblocks to a Maryland car accident victim receiving the compensation they deserve. Earlier this month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued an interesting opinion in a car accident case involving the question of whether the plaintiff was “occupying” the insured vehicle at the time he was struck by a passing motorist. The court ultimately concluded that the plaintiff was occupying the vehicle and that the insurance company covering that vehicle should not have denied his claim.

Deployed Air BagThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the passenger in a car driver by her then-boyfriend. The two had just pulled up to a grocery store and were talking in the car before getting out to enter the store. As the two were talking, they heard two cars collide on an adjacent road.

The plaintiff got out of the car and approached the accident scene. As she walked behind one of the cars to get its license plate information, another vehicle came down the road, crashing into the two cars that were just involved in the accident. The plaintiff was injured as a result of this second accident.

The plaintiff filed a claim against the driver who caused the second accident; however, that driver had inadequate insurance to cover her injuries. The plaintiff then filed a claim against her then-boyfriend’s insurance company, the defendant in this case. The defendant insurance company denied the plaintiff’s claim, determining that she was not occupying the insured vehicle at the time she was injured. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit to compel the insurance company to cover her injuries, but the trial court agreed with the defendant insurance company that she was not “occupying” the vehicle at the time she was injured. The plaintiff appealed.

The Appellate Court Reverses, Finding the Plaintiff Was “Occupying” the Vehicle

On appeal, the case was reversed. The court noted that prior case-law laid out a multi-factor test to determine whether a plaintiff was considered to be “occupying” a vehicle. One of those factors was whether the plaintiff was “vehicle oriented,” a term the court admitted was confusing. In determining whether the plaintiff was “vehicle oriented,” the court noted that the plaintiff had not yet begun her trip into the grocery store, and she was inside the car at the time she heard the car accident.

The court was also persuaded by the fact that this case involved a Good Samaritan who was trying to help fellow motorists when the accident occurred. The court noted that the plaintiff was “unable to ignore the call of distress at the scene of the accident” because under state law, motorists who are able to provide assistance are required to do so in some circumstances.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, most car accident cases require that plaintiffs deal with at least one insurance company. Do not listen to an insurance company evaluator’s assessment of what your claim is worth; contact a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney who will work for you, rather than the insurance company. The dedicated attorneys at the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of combined experience representing clients in a wide range of car accident cases. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Court Determines Zip-Line Is Not a “Dangerous Condition,” Upholding Government Immunity in Recent Personal Injury Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 22, 2017.

Appellate Court Determines Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case Should Have Been Presented to the Jury, Maryland Accident Law Blog, July 10, 2017.

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