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Massachusetts Court of Appeals Denies UIM Coverage to Unmarried Father of Policyholder’s Grandchild

To those injured in a Cape Cod car accident, the issue of whether or not a certain insurance company should provide coverage for an accident may seem like an “open and shut” case. Sometimes, this is true.

However, often it is not true. Many issues can arise in deciding whether coverage is available, and, ultimately, it is up to the courts to decide whether or not a particular insurance company has an obligation to pay a claim in a given case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case decided by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff was a man who was seriously injured in an automobile accident in 2014. At the time of the accident, the man was riding in a car owned and operated by another individual. The plaintiff entered into a settlement with the driver, who was at fault in the accident, for the full policy limits of her automobile liability insurance policy.

The plaintiff then sought underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage from the defendant insurance company under a policy issued to the mother and step-father of the woman with whom the plaintiff was cohabiting. He and the woman had a child together and the three of them resided with the woman’s mother and step-father at the time of the accident. The trial court granted summary judgment to the insurance company.

How the Court Resolved the Issues

The appellate court affirmed. While the insurance policy at issue did provide UIM coverage to any “household member” of the mother and step-father, the policy definition of the term “household member” included a provision that there had to be a relationship by blood, marriage, or adoption. The plaintiff’s claim for breach of contract and a declaratory judgment insisted that he was eligible for coverage under the policy, but the court disagreed on appeal.

Courts must construe the words of an insurance policy in their “usual and ordinary sense.” The court found that the term “related by blood” usually and ordinarily means a “genetic relationship between two persons asserted to be related.” There was no such relationship between the policyholders (the mother and step-father of the plaintiff’s partner) and the plaintiff here. The fact that the plaintiff and his partner’s mother shared a genetic relationship with the plaintiff’s child was not availing. In so holding, the court cited another case in which coverage was denied due to the lack of a common ancestor.

Talk to a Massachusetts Car Accident Attorney About Your Situation

Being involved in Cape Cod motor vehicle accident can be traumatic enough, without the added stress and worry of dealing with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If you have been hurt and need a lawyer who will fight for your right to receive fair compensation, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, at 888-262-6664. We’ll be glad to schedule an appointment for you to come into our Plymouth or Hyannis offices to discuss your case.

Related Blog Posts

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Massachusetts Court Rules Against Son Who Claimed to be an Insured Under UIM Policy of Mother Who Lived in Separate Apartment Unit