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Massachusetts Appeals Court Says “No UM Coverage” When Accident Victim Identified Alleged “Hit and Run Vehicle” and Vehicle Was Insured

When someone leaves the scene of a Massachusetts car accident that results in property damage or personal injuries, he or she can be subject to both a fine and possible imprisonment. A civil negligence case is also a possibility, if the person who was hurt or whose vehicle was damaged in the crash is able to ascertain the wrongdoer’s identity.

Such cases can be difficult, however, sometimes leading an injured person to seek compensation from his or her own insurance company. Unfortunately, even that is not a guaranteed form of recovery.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently decided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff was a man who was injured when the car in which he was riding (and which was being driven by his mother) was struck from behind while making a turn. The other vehicle left the scene of the accident, although the plaintiff’s mother was able to get its license plate number. The plaintiff first made a claim against the insurance company of the person to whom the license plate number was registered, but that company denied the claim.

The plaintiff then sought uninsured motorist (UM) benefits from the defendant insurer on the basis of a “hit and run” accident, but the defendant also denied the claim. The plaintiff then filed suit against the defendant, seeking arbitration of his UM claim. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed.

Decision of the Court

The appellate court affirmed. Although the plaintiff contended that he was entitled to UM benefits because he was a victim of a hit and run vehicle, and the operator of that vehicle had not been identified, the court disagreed. According to the court’s review of the situation at hand, the offending vehicle was properly characterized as an insured motor vehicle under the terms of the UM policy at issue.

In so holding, the court acknowledged that, throughout the litigation, the plaintiff had never wavered from his testimony that he had recorded the correct plate number and that, although the insurance company that covered the alleged hit and run automobile had denied liability, it had never denied that insurance coverage. Since the plaintiff had identified the responsible vehicle, and that vehicle was insured, the plaintiff was not entitled to UM coverage.

Seek Legal Advice About Your Cape Cod Injury Case

If you believe you have an uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance claim, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Many people make the mistake of thinking that their insurance company will be “on their side” because they have paid their premiums faithfully over the years. Unfortunately, more often than not, the insurance company treats the claim as adversarial in nature, leaving the injured person not only confused but also at a substantial disadvantage in terms of negotiating power and general knowledge of the claims process. The uninsured motorist accident attorneys at the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, can help. For a free consultation about your Hyannis, Plymouth, or other Cape Cod accident case, call us at 888-262-6664.

Related Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Law Requires Arbitration of UM/UIM Claims Unless Parties Agree to Settlement

Massachusetts Court of Appeals Affirms Defense Verdict in Unfair Settlement Practices Case, Noting Plaintiff’s History of Prior Accidents