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Illinois Supreme Court again cites the plain language of a law to overturn lower court’s ruling

Friday, Dec 1, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* ABC 7 in January

Data show that 40% of all pedestrians struck last year in Chicago were victims of hit-and-run crashes.

The ABC7 I-Team talked to one victim who said her court battle is an insurance claim wake-up call, for both walkers and bike riders.

One local woman thought her auto insurance would cover her when she was struck by a hit and run driver. When that didn’t happen, she brought her battle to court. […]

But in court, Direct Auto Insurance Company said in order to file a claim for a payout under uninsured motorist coverage, the customer must have been inside an automobile at the time of the hit-and-run.

* The circuit court sided with the insurance company. The appellate court reversed that decision

The appellate court said it didn’t matter that Direct Auto’s policy states that coverage is available only to insureds who are injured while they are occupants of an insured vehicle.

“The terms of an insurance policy that conflict with a statute are void and unenforceable,” the majority opinion says. “Similarly, insurance policy terms cannot circumvent the underlying purpose of a statute in force at the time the policy is issued.”

* And yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court sided with the appellate court. Sun-Times

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that insured pedestrians or bicyclists struck by a hit-and-run or uninsured driver should be entitled to uninsured motorist coverage from their insurance companies.

The court said auto insurance companies whose policies include language requiring a person to be in an insured motor vehicle to qualify for uninsured motorist coverage are violating both the Illinois Insurance Code and public policy. […]

Attorneys for Direct Auto could not immediately be reached for comment.

* From the opinion

The plain language of section 143a of the Insurance Code makes clear that an insurance policy cannot be “renewed, delivered, or issued for delivery” in Illinois unless it provides coverage to “any person” for injuries “arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle.” A bicyclist injured by an uninsured motorist vehicle is a “person” who suffered injuries arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of “a motor vehicle.” Therefore, the injured person’s status as an occupant of a vehicle is irrelevant since the statute includes “any person” in the protected category.

* From the law firm which fought this case all the way to the top

“If you ride a bike in our streets, or are crossing the street, you can have the peace of mind knowing that if you are injured by a hit-and-run or uninsured driver, your insurance will cover you. And if they deny that claim, Disparti Law will be there to stand behind you for what is right,” continues Larry Disparti, Founder of Disparti Law Group.

       

6 Comments
  1. - Ron - In Texas - Friday, Dec 1, 23 @ 10:21 am:

    Legal language (for once) is pretty clear.

    Though it does mean the insurance company will recalculate its numbers on auto insurance, to now include payments to claims for when you are not even in your car (remember this is under/uninsured which is part of car insurance)…

    So it will cost more from this company for that policy, but hey, they legal wording is clear. gotta play by the rules.


  2. - Perrid - Friday, Dec 1, 23 @ 12:18 pm:

    Hm. I would not have read “arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle” to mean the ownership or use by the non-covered person qualifies, but I’m glad it does. I would think it means harm to the any person by the covered person’s ownership, maintenance, or use.

    Again, it’s much better than it means anyone’s use of a vehicle.


  3. - Jerry - Friday, Dec 1, 23 @ 12:26 pm:

    Paraphrasing the lawyer, and why bicyclists should also be required to carry insurance:


  4. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 1, 23 @ 12:29 pm:

    If you are crossing the street, you can have the peace of mind knowing that if you are injured by a bicyclist, their insurance will cover this.

    And if they deny that claim, ________ law firm will be there to stand behind you.

    Our for-profit, private insurance companies are well suited to price these policies.


  5. - Jerry - Friday, Dec 1, 23 @ 12:29 pm:

    12:39pm was me.


  6. - @misterjayem - Friday, Dec 1, 23 @ 1:48 pm:

    “why bicyclists should also be required to carry insurance”

    And if you’re a pedestrian who’s the victim of a hit and run but who doesn’t have auto insurance?

    Our for-profit, private insurance companies appear to be an insufficient solution.

    – MrJM


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