PA Court Sides with Allstate in Underinsured Motorist Case

A court in Pennsylvania has ruled that an exclusion in underinsured motorist coverage that applies to injuries that are incurred while riding a motorcycle is also applicable if the biker has been thrown from their vehicle.

Specifically, such coverage in an Allstate policy contained an exclusion for injuries that were received while operating a motorcycle and the court was asked what happened if the driver was thrown off the motorcycle and injured subsequently. Did the exclusion still apply?

The biker’s attorney argued that since the motorcyclist was not actually on the vehicle at the time of injury, the exclusion shouldn’t apply, but the court saw it differently. Instead, the court sided with Allstate in the lawsuit “Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company v. Hymes,” and, on September 13 issued the opinion that, “…recovery for underinsured benefits is properly excluded under the pertinent policy provision” because the injuries in question were a direct result of the biker being on his motorcycle even if he’d already been thrown off it at the time.

The case refers to a man who was driving his Harley in April 2009, and collided with a Chevrolet Malibu. The biker was seriously injured after being thrown from his motorcycle and into the windshield of the Malibu. He bounced off the car and was injured during that time. The driver of the Malibu was judged at-fault in the accident, but didn’t have enough liability insurance to cover the biker.

The biker, who didn’t have his own underinsured motorist insurance through GEICO, lived with his parents, and tried to use their insurance, through Allstate, to cover his injuries.

Allstate then denied the claim, because of a household exclusion in their policy.

The case involves Jacob Hymes who, in April 2009, was operating his 2005 Harley Davidson motorcycle when he collided with a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu operated by Robert Meyer. Hymes suffered serious injuries after being thrown from the motorcycle and into the windshield and onto the ground some 20 feet away from the point of impact, according to the court documents. Meyer, the driver of Chevrolet Malibu, was subsequently determined to be at fault for the accident but his liability insurance proved to be insufficient to fully compensate Hymes for the injuries he sustained.

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