Massachusetts Appellate Court Explains Insurance Policy Coverage Rules Regarding Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Hit-and-Run Collisions

Car accidents are always stressful, but Boston hit and run collisions are particularly problematic. At the Law Offices of Michael O. Smith, we have assisted numerous motorists throughout Boston with understanding their legal rights and navigating the insurance claims process following a crash. We are ready to put our extensive experience to use for you to ensure that you receive the just outcome that you deserve.

In a recent case (Christian Cardona v. Encompass Insurance Company, No. 17-P-358), the plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his mother when the vehicle was struck from behind by another car, which then fled the scene. The mother followed the car as it fled the scene and the plaintiff was able to record the vehicle registration number. After reporting the accident, the plaintiff obtained the identity of the vehicle’s owner from the Registry of Motor Vehicles database. The plaintiff filed a claim for insurance benefits with the registered owner’s insurer. The insurance company denied the claim, indicating that its insured was not responsible for the crash and that the owner denied being involved in the accident.

The plaintiff then sought uninsured motorist benefits from the insurer that provided a policy for his mother’s vehicle, stating that because the other insurer denied the claim he was the victim of a hit and run accident. This insurer also denied the claim and the plaintiff filed an action compelling arbitration. The insurer filed a motion to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment and the plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. The reviewing court granted the insurer’s motion to dismiss and the plaintiff appealed.

On review, the court concluded that the motion was properly granted and that the plaintiff was not the victim of a hit and run accident because they were able to identify the vehicle involved in the crash and a corresponding auto insurance policy for that driver. Because an insurance policy existed that could be linked to the crash, the uninsured motorist provision of the plaintiff’s mother’s insurance policy was inapplicable.

In most policies, a crash involving a vehicle that flees the scene and which cannot be identified renders the victim eligible to file a hit and run claim. Here, because the offending vehicle was identified, the accident did not constitute a hit and run. Had the plaintiff been unable to record the registration number or had the registry indicated that the vehicle was not subject to an insurance policy at the time of the crash, it is likely that the court would have concluded that this was a hit and run accident that was eligible for uninsured motorist benefits.

We understand how stressful and inconvenient a car accident can be, especially if you are unable to identify the other party involved in the accident or where the other party lacks any auto insurance or insufficient auto insurance. To help you learn more about your legal rights and options, we provide a free consultation to discuss your situation and how our team can be of assistance. To get started call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.

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