Insurance company may be held liable for damages in carjacking.
A New Jersey appeals court has found that a carjacking The criminal taking of a motor vehicle from its driver by force, violence, or intimidation.
The u.s. justice department categorizes the crime of carjacking as a "completed or attempted Robbery of a motor vehicle by a stranger victim can seek damages for pain and suffering under her auto insurance policy. (Grabowski v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 784 A.2d 754 (N.J. App. Div. 2001).)
Jennifer Grabowski was attacked by a carjacker and broke her leg when she was pushed or fell from the car during the struggle. Her insurance company, Liberty Mutual, paid her medical bills under the no-fault personal-injury section of her policy but said it wasn't liable for additional claims because she was injured in·jure
tr.v. in·jured, in·jur·ing, in·jures
1. To cause physical harm to; hurt.
2. To cause damage to; impair.
3. during the commission of a crime, which was not covered not covered Health care adjective Referring to a procedure, test or other health service to which a policy holder or insurance beneficiary is not entitled under the terms of the policy or payment system–eg, Medicare. Cf Covered. by the policy.
Grabowski argued that the carjacker was an uninsured motorist (UM), and her UM protection should cover her injury. However, Liberty Mutual refused to proceed with arbitration.
After a lower court sided with the insurance company, she appealed, asking the appeals court to declare that UM coverage did apply and to compel Compel - COMpute ParallEL Liberty to name an arbitrator arbitrator n. one who conducts an arbitration, and serves as a judge who conducts a "mini-trial," somewhat less formally than a court trial. In most cases the arbitraror is an attorney, either alone or as part of a panel. .
The court focused on who was operating the vehicle--Grabowski or the carjacker--when she was injured, and whether her injuries were caused by falling out of the vehicle or by an intentional in·ten·tion·al
1. Done deliberately; intended: an intentional slight. See Synonyms at voluntary.
2. Having to do with intention. criminal act.
It relied on its earlier decision in Longo v. Market Transition Facility (741 A.2d 149 (N.J. App. Div. 1999)), which found that when a person sustains injuries arising out of the operation of an otherwise insured vehicle under circumstances "amounting to theft or the like," the vehicle is uninsured, and the UM section of the automobile's insurance policy applies. Thus, the court concluded that Grabowski's carjacked vehicle was rendered uninsured.
Because the carjacker did not intend to harm her, her injuries were a "natural consequence" of his effort to gain control of the vehicle--in other words, the result of an accident.
In accordance with the wording of Liberty Mutual's insurance policy, Grabowski was entitled en·ti·tle
tr.v. en·ti·tled, en·ti·tling, en·ti·tles
1. To give a name or title to.
2. To furnish with a right or claim to something: to arbitration to determine the amount of reimbursement Reimbursement
Payment made to someone for out-of-pocket expenses has incurred. for her injury.
"The language was clearly in our favor, or at least ambiguous," said her attorney, Kenneth Andres Jr. of Haddonfield, New Jersey. "Filing an appeal seemed like the right thing to do."
He said the decision reflects an important social policy: "Carjacking in urban areas is a big concern to the driving public, and when people pay for uninsured motorist protection, they should be entitled to it."