Texas Supreme Court rules golf cart accident not covered by district auto liability policy

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The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that injuries sustained in a golf cart at a school are not covered by an automobile liability policy held by the school district.

In Pharr–San Juan–Alamo Independent School District, v. Texas Political Subdivisions Property/Casualty Joint Self Insurance Fundthe court ruled in a case involving a dispute over whether a motor vehicle liability insurance policy obligates the insurer to defend and indemnify the insured against claims for damage resulting from an accident involving a golf cart.

The court ruled that the insurer had no obligation to defend the insured because a golf cart is not the same as a vehicle “designed for travel on public roads”, as stated in the policy , is not covered.

The school district has purchased auto liability insurance from the Texas Political Subdivisions Property/Casualty Joint Self Insurance Fund, which requires the fund to indemnify the district and pay for personal injury or property damage to which the auto applies. – insurance if these damages are “caused by an accident and result[s] possession, maintenance or use of a covered automobile.

Lorena Flores, acting on behalf of her minor daughter Alexis, sued the school district and its employee, Cristoval DeLaGarza, Jr., alleging that Alexis “was seriously injured after being ejected from a golf cart.”

The lawsuit alleged that DeLaGarza was “recklessly and negligently operating” the golf cart when “he suddenly, and without warning, spun the golf cart sharply, thereby throwing Alexis Flores out of the vehicle.”

The insurance fund refused to compensate the district because the policy did not provide coverage because a golf cart is not designed to travel on public roads and is therefore not a “car”, such as defined in the policy.

The fund sued for a declaratory judgment that it had no duty to defend the district, and the district filed a counterclaim for a declaratory judgment that the policy required the fund to defend and indemnify the district. school.

A trial court ruled that the policy required the fund to defend and indemnify the school district, and an appeals court reversed that decision.

The Supreme Court upheld the decision, noting that the fund “would be entitled to summary judgment on both the duty to defend and the duty to indemnify.”

However, the fund filed motions for summary judgment on both functions in the trial court and appealed the trial court’s denial of those motions, but the appeals court upheld.

“The Insurance Fund requests in its factum that this Court reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal and render a judgment in favor of the Insurance Fund, but we cannot grant this relief because the Insurance Fund does not ‘has not filed a petition for review before this Court,’ the ruling states.

The court sent the case back to the court of first instance.

Topics
Texas Auto Legislation

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