The South Carolina Supreme Court overturned a lower appeals court’s ruling that found a woman injured in a car accident with her colleague behind the wheel was entitled to collect uninsured motorist benefits.
The Supreme Court, in a case decided in January but made public Thursday, ruled that plaintiff Stephany Connelly was not legally allowed to recover uninsured motorist benefits after she was injured in a car accident.
Mrs. Connelly was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her co-worker, Freya Trezona, when she was injured in an accident. The two were working at the time.
Because workers’ compensation benefits did not fully remedy her injuries, Connelly filed a claim for uninsured motorist benefits with insurance companies for herself and Trezona.
Both companies denied the claim and determined that the damages would be covered by comp.
Mrs. Connelly sued, seeking declaratory judgment that both insurers provide coverage. The parties challenged the language of the uninsured motorist statute involving “legally entitled to recover.”;
A trial judge and an appeals court both later determined that the language was ambiguous, allowing the lawsuit to proceed.
The Supreme Court reversed the lower decisions, finding the phrase unambiguous.
“Because the [comp] The law bars Connelly from ever being “legally entitled to recover” from Trezona under these facts, we reverse,” the court wrote.
Although the accident occurred during work hours, the two women were riding in a vehicle owned by Trezona and covered by her auto insurance.
Mrs. Connelly had his own auto insurance that included uninsured motorist coverage.