A motorcyclist who was thrown backward onto the hood of a car driven by a motorist who failed to stop in time for a red light was not entitled to underinsured motorist coverage from the vehicle driver’s insurer.
It was an interesting argument made by the plaintiff in the case, as uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage is typically paid by an insurer to its own insured and/ or occupants of that vehicle. It can also be paid to bicyclists or pedestrians by the insurer of the car that struck them because they are not required to have insurance to use the road. In this case before the Alaska Supreme Court, plaintiff alleged he should be entitled to the driver’s UIM coverage as an “insured occupant” because he landed on the car after impact. The liability limits of the vehicle driver’s insurance did not cover the full extent of his damages, essentially rendering the car driver uninsured.
The vehicle driver’s insurer then sued the injured motorcyclist for a declaratory judgment, arguing UIM coverage was not available to him.
The motorcyclist responded, arguing the issue wasn’t ripe for the insurer’s declaratory judgment and thus the court didn’t have any subject matter jurisdiction. He filed a counterclaim seeking his own declaratory judgment in his favor that would assert the coverage was available to him. The trial court found that it did have subject matter jurisdiction, granted both summary judgment and declaratory judgment in favor of the insurer and dismissed the motorcyclist’s third-party claim. Continue reading →