Louisiana Appellate Court Reverses Finding in Favor of Plaintiff Injured by Employee Regularly Using Work Vehicle

In a case before the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal, the court addressed whether to uphold a car insurance policy provision limiting insurance coverage for non-insured vehicles that are “furnished for regular use.”  The purpose behind this limitation is to alleviate the burden on insurance companies to provide coverage for vehicles that are not insured under the policy.

file5221254779008 In this case, the court analyzed whether an employee’s use of an employer-owned car for work-related purposes fell under the policy exception.

Two vehicles were involved in an accident at the intersection of Highway 84 and Kings Highway in Mansfield, Louisiana.  At the time of the accident, Star Youngblood was working for Mansfield Drug Company, delivering prescription drugs. He was driving a 2007 Chevrolet pickup truck owned by the Mansfield Drug Company. Mr. Youngblood’s vehicle collided with the vehicle of Natasha Jones, resulting in her injuries.

Ms. Jones filed a lawsuit against Mr. Youngblood, Mansfield Drug Company, and their business car insurance, Republic Fire, and Casualty Insurance.  She then added Mr. Youngblood’s personal car insurer, Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance, and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, his uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance company.

Ms. Youngblood settled with all of the defendants except Farm Bureau, Mr. Youngblood’s personal car insurer. The matter went to trial, and it was stipulated that the 2007 Chevrolet pickup was insured for business automobile liability insurance, with a single limit liability coverage of $500,000.

Mr. Youngblood’s use of the 2007 pickup truck required that he receive special and specific permission from the owner on each occasion.  The trial court, therefore, held that the Farm Bureau insurance policy provided coverage in this matter in the amount of the policy limit of $25,000.  Defendant Farm Bureau appealed this judgment, arguing that the court erred in finding that their policy exclusion for non-owned vehicles furnished for regular use did not apply and that they were therefore required to provide coverage for the accident.

The appellate court turned to the policy, which stated that the agreement did not apply when a vehicle is furnished for regular use to the named insured.  Companies may limit their coverage, provided the limitation does not conflict with statutory provisions or public policy.

A “regular use” exclusion for non-owned vehicles is a common provision. The insurance company is relieved of the burden of insuring cars not listed in the policy that the insured regularly uses, without paying the premium.  If the vehicle is provided, supplied, or afforded to the individual according to routine or regular practice, it is “furnished for regular use.”

In this case, the issue was whether Mr. Youngblood was provided the 2007 truck for use in regular practice. Farm Bureau contended that Mr. Youngblood’s entire workday, eight and 10-hour shifts of delivering prescription drugs, consisted of the use of the truck.  Ms. Jones contended that the trial court found that Mr. Youngblood required specific permission to drive the truck, and it was therefore not furnished for regular use.

The court reviewed the facts, stating that Mr. Youngblood delivered prescriptions for 30 hours one week and 40 hours the next week, with 80% of his workday spent driving the 2007 truck.  He made 50-55 deliveries daily and did not ask for specific permission to make each delivery.

During his workday, Mr. Youngblood had “general authority of use” over the vehicle to perform his work duties. Since Mr. Youngblood used the truck, in the same manner, every workday each week, the court found that Mansfield Drug Company did not provide the truck on casual, random occasions.  The facts showed that Mr. Youngblood used the truck as a steady, or uniform, practice, or occurrence.  The appellate court concluded that the trial court erred in finding that the exclusionary clause in Mr. Youngblood’s Farm Bureau insurance policy did not apply.

The court reversed the judgment in favor of plaintiff Natasha Jones, rendering judgment in favor of Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance.

The personal injury attorneys at Lavis Law advocate on behalf of Louisiana car accident victims, pursuing compensation for their injuries.  If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to a negligent driver, contact our office for a free consultation. We can be reached by calling 866-558-9151 or using our online form.

More Blog Posts:

Louisiana Appellate Court Reviews “Bobtailing” Insurance Policy, Finds Underinsured Motorist Liability Coverage Affords Separate Coverage for Insured, Louisiana Injury Lawyer Blog

Louisiana Appeals Court Reverses Award in Favor of Defendant, Finding that Both Parties were Equally at Fault in Intersection Collision, Louisiana Injury Lawyer Blog

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