Virginia Supreme Court Addresses Scope of Auto Coverage in Road Work Collision Case

In Bratton v. Selective Insurance Co. of America, 290 Va. 314, 776 S.E.2d 775 (2015), the Virginia Supreme Court recently addressed the scope of coverage provided by an automobile insurance policy that afforded coverage to anyone “occupying” a “covered auto” under the policy.

The case arose from an incident in which a drunk driver crashed his vehicle into a road work site, killing a dump truck driver who had been working on the site.  Evidence showed that the dump truck driver had exited his truck and walked at least nine feet towards its rear prior to the crash.

In reversing the trial court, the Supreme Court held that the dump truck driver, in spite of having been fully outside of and no longer in contact with his truck at the time of the accident, was nonetheless still “getting out of” the vehicle at that time and therefore “occupying” a “covered auto” under his employer’s auto insurance policy, which covered the dump truck.

The Supreme Court further held that the dump truck driver was “using” a pickup truck that his employer had stationed at the front end of the work site as a safety vehicle with its emergency lights flashing.  The dump truck driver was therefore also “occupying” that “covered auto” under his employer’s policy.
A complete version of the opinion can be read here.

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