In Trailer/Towed Vehicle Accidental Injury Case, The Separate Insurance on the Trailer Behind The Primary Vehicle May Provide Further Insurance Coverage
The question a personal injury lawyer must investigate is exactly how many possible insurance sources apply to provide full compensation for a client who suffers personal injury or a wrongful death, especially if any trailer was being towed and was involved-whether being used by the victim, or the negligent driver.
In a case I handled in the 90’s, my client was operating a tractor trailer unit and was in a collision with a car at a red light controlled intersection. The driver of the car was at fault and my client suffered a serious back injury. The driver of the car had a minimum type liability insurance policy. My client had no insurance on the tractor unit of his tractor-but he was operating a trailer under a lease for a different company, which was insured. The damage was to the cab or tractor of his semi-rig, so the question was: could we access under-insured motorist coverage on the trailer he was pulling which was not even damaged in the collision? According to the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia, the under-insured motorist insurance applicable to a towed trailer, involved in a collision, may be applicable in addition to other under-insured motorist coverage in this type of accident. The Court ruled a trailer is a vehicle being "used" at the time of the collision, and ruled that the trailer insurance was available coverage.
The Appeals court case above was Bray v. Ins. Co. of Pa, 917 F.2d 130 (4th Cir. 1990), and the same federal appeals court has applied this rule (a towed vehicle is a “used” vehicle, for purposes of a personal injury accident) in South Carolina (SC) and Virginia (VA) cases since this 1990 decision, and the rule likely applies in North Carolina (NC) and West Virginia (WV).
For a full and complete discussion of locating and investigating additional insurance on a trailer, whether liability or under-insured motorist coverage, please see the full and complete article I posted on this topic on our law firm website.