Summary Judgment Granted for Insurer in Declaratory Judgment Action Arising from UIM Claim

Attorney Scott Ober successfully obtained summary judgment in a Declaratory Judgment action filed in Plymouth Superior Court arising from a denied claim for underinsured motorist benefits.

As a result of a motor vehicle accident, the plaintiff passenger alleged she sustained significant and permanent injuries including a femur fracture requiring surgery.  She claimed more than $100,000 in related medical bills.  The plaintiff settled with tortfeasor’s insurance carrier for the available policy limits of $20,000.  The plaintiff then advanced a claim for uninsured motorist benefits against her father’s insurance carrier.  When the plaintiff’s claim was denied by the defendant insurer, the plaintiff filed a Declaratory Judgment action against the insurer.

At the time of the accident, the plaintiff lived with her father who held a personal Massachusetts auto policy with the defendant insurance company.  The plaintiff claimed that she was entitled to underinsured motorist coverage under her father’s policy because her personal policy was illusory and that she was a “named insured” on her father’s policy.

Attorney Ober successfully argued that there was no underinsured coverage available under her father’s policy as the plaintiff was not named on the policy but instead merely a listed operator on the policy declarations.  Attorney Ober further successfully established that the plaintiff’s own auto insurance policy, which provided underinsured motorist coverage, precluded her from recovering under her father’s policy.  Relying on Attorney Ober’s argument and legal support establishing that other jurisdictions had minimum mandatory bodily injury limits that were lower than the plaintiff’s underinsured limits of $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident, the Court rejected the plaintiff’s argument that coverage under her own policy was illusory and warranted the trigger of coverage under her father’s policy with substantially higher UIM limits.

The court denied the plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant insurer.

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