• UM: Guest Passengers Insured
  • March 5, 2013
  • Law Firm: Porteous Hainkel Johnson L.L.P. - New Orleans Office
  • The Louisiana Second Circuit recently held in Bernard v. Ellis, 2011-2377 (La. 07/02/12), ---So.3d ---, 2012 LEXIS 1956, where it held that permissive passengers of a vehicle are liability insureds and, therefore entitled to UM coverage under Imperial’s policy.

    Plaintiffs continued to assert that they were entitled to an award of penalties and attorney’s fees as the July 2009 amendment to La. R.S. 22:1282 strips Imperial of any good faith argument for its refusal to pay. The amendment to La. R.S. 22:1282 took effect after the accident in Bernard, but three months before the accident in Daniels. The amended version provides:

    No motor vehicle liability insurance policy nor any uninsured motorist coverage for bodily injury shall limit the coverage of, or the amount that can be recovered by, the named insured, or the spouse or other family member of the named insured, or express or implied permissive users, for whom the policy provides coverage, to any amount less that the highest policy limit provided in the policy for the respective coverage or potential recovery. (Emphasis added).

    The amendment to La. R.S. 22:1282 added the words “or express or implied permissive users.” However, the immediately following language “for whom the policy provides coverage” raised an issue as to whether the plaintiff’s under Imperial’s policy would be covered considering the policy language specifically narrowing the class of insureds. The appellate court reasoned that had the Supreme Court held that plaintiffs, as passengers, were not users of the vehicle, then arguably the language of La. R.S. 22:1282 would not have applied, because the plaintiffs would not have been statutorily or contractually entitled to coverage. Therefore the refusal to grant penalties and attorneys fees was proper. Daniels, 2013 La. App. Lexis 38, *5.