Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an interesting opinion holding that an insurance company was liable for injuries sustained by a student who was about to board a school bus that the company insured. Interestingly, the girl was injured as a result of a collision with a third-party vehicle, and there were no allegations that the school bus was involved in any physical accident. However, since school buses are viewed differently from other vehicles, the court determined that liability was present under the facts presented.
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Buckley
In the case, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Buckley, the plaintiff was a young school girl waiting at the bus stop for the bus to take her to school. As the bus pulled up to her stop, the driver engaged the flashing lights, indicating that other motorists should stop. The bus driver then signaled for the girl to cross the road and board the bus. However, as she did so, another motorist disregarded the flashing lights and struck the girl, causing her serious injuries.
The girl’s family sought compensation for the girl’s injuries under the insurance policy that covered the bus. Specifically, the family filed a claim under the “personal injury protection” (PIP) coverage. PIP coverage, also known as “no-fault coverage,” is an add-on available to insurance policies that covers injuries to those involved in an accident regardless of fault.
The insurance company defending the lawsuit argued that the coverage was not available to the young girl because the bus – the only vehicle involved that was insured by the company – was not actually involved in the collision at all.
The Court’s Opinion
The court was careful in its analysis, noting that PIP coverage is subject to a wide range of claims not contemplated by the parties at the time the coverage is obtained. However, the court determined that school buses are different from other vehicles, and the nature of the relationship between the driver and the student gives rise to liability in some circumstances. This was one of those circumstances. Here, the bus driver signaled for the girl to board the bus, and it was only upon the driver’s signal that the girl was supposed to begin boarding. Thus, the girl was correct in relying on the driver’s signal. Since that reliance led to the unfortunate result of a collision with another vehicle, it was fair to say that the bus was “involved” in the accident.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Florida bus, truck, or car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have been put through. The skilled attorneys at the South Florida personal injury law firm of Cecere Santana have decades of experience handling these very claims and know what it takes to succeed on their clients’ behalf. Call 800-753-5529 to set up a free consultation with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Unexplained South Florida Accidents May Be the Result of Distracted Driving, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 3, 2016.
Topamax Birth Injury Case Results in $3 Million Verdict, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published June 9, 2016.