Washington Case Law Update: Court Holds That PIP Benefits Do Not Extend to School Bus Collision

 

Attorney Profile Case Update Template -2016 Kyle

Washington Case Law Update: Court Holds That PIP Benefits Do Not Extend to School Bus Collision

From the desk of Kyle D. Riley: Insurers are required to provide personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits if the insured sustains an injury in an accident that is within the scope of the insurance policy.  But where the policy covers bodily injuries sustained and caused by an automobile accident, will the insured be entitled to benefits for injuries sustained in a collision between two school buses? Read on to find out.

Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of injuries suffered during a collision between two school buses, the Washington Court of Appeals looked to the insurance policy and Washington statute, both of which defined an “automobile” as a motor vehicle designed to carry 10 passengers or less.  Because school buses are designed to carry more than 10 passengers, the court held that the insurer was not required to provide PIP benefits.  This case serves as an illustration of how courts review insurance policies and a reminder of the importance of a clearly written insurance policy with definitions.

Koren v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., No. 34723-1-III, Washington Court of Appeals Div. III (January 9, 2018)

Svetlana Koren’s (“Plaintiff”) minor son was injured in a collision between two school buses.  Following the accident, Plaintiff contacted her insurer, State Farm and Fire Casualty Company (“State Farm”), and filed a PIP claim on behalf of her son.  The insurance policy between Plaintiff and State Farm provided PIP benefits for “bodily injury sustained by [the] insured and caused by an automobile accident.” (emphasis added).  The policy defined an “automobile” as a “motor vehicle registered or designed for carrying ten passengers or less.” The term “automobile accident” was not defined.  State Farm denied the claim, because both school buses involved in the accident were designed to carry more than 10...

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