- As A Matter Of First Impression, The Supreme Court Determined That Delaware's Motor Vehicle Law Requires An Insurer To Provide PIP Coverage Under A Delaware Policy For An Insured Who Is Insured As A Pedestrian In Delaware By A Delaware-Insured Car
- October 8, 2012 | Author: Joshua H. Romirowsky
- Law Firm: Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin - Philadelphia Office
As a matter of first impression, the Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's holding that Delaware's automobile insurance statute requires an insurer to provide personal injury protection coverage under a Delaware policy for an insured who is injured as a pedestrian in Delaware by a Delaware-insured car.
The plaintiff, Mohr, was struck by a car while he was a pedestrian in Delaware. The "striking car" was registered and insured in Delaware. Mohr recovered the minimum $15,000 coverage limit from the carrier that insured the striking car. Mohr sought to recover PIP coverage from the defendant, Progressive, which had sold an automobile insurance policy to Mohr's mother. Under the Progressive policy, Mohr's mother was the named insured and Mohr was insured as a member of his mother's household. Progressive denied Mohr's claim for coverage because the policy insured Mohr's mother and members of her household as pedestrians, but only where the insured pedestrian was struck by a car that was not insured in Delaware. Here, the striking car was insured in Delaware. Mohr sued Progressive seeking a determination that Progressive was required by statute to provide PIP coverage for his injuries, whether or not its insurance contract so provided.
The Supreme Court considered whether Delaware's automobile insurance statute, at 21 Del. C. §2118(a)(2)(e), requires an insurer to provide PIP coverage under a Delaware policy for an insured who is injured as a pedestrian in Delaware by a Delaware-insured car. The Court explained that, unlike subparagraphs (c) and (d) of §2118(a)(2), subparagraph (e) does not specify whether its coverage mandate applies to an insured pedestrian's insurance policy or to the striking car's insurance policy, or both. The Court determined that subparagraph (e) could reasonably be read to require that Delaware automobile insurance policies cover insured pedestrians who are injured in Delaware by "any motor vehicle." "Because subparagraph (e) is susceptible to two reasonable yet different interpretations, it is ambiguous." As such, the Court construed §2118(a)(2)(e) in a manner that best furthered the legislative purpose and public policy goals that underlie the enactment of Delaware's automobile insurance statutory scheme: full compensation of car accident victims and encouraging policy holders to purchase such protection, in the form of higher limits, for themselves and their household members.