N.J. Court: Underinsured Motorist Policy Covers Drive-by Shooting Victim

October 30, 2007

A woman injured by a bullet from a drive-by shooting is entitled to recover under her uninsured motorist coverage, even though she was not in her car at the time of the shooting, according to a New Jersey Appellate Division ruling.

Plaintiff Camie Livsey was severely injured by a drive-by shooter as she was getting into her car. Livsey claimed coverage under her uninsured motorist policy, arguing that it was triggered because the shooter was in a vehicle.

Uninsured motorist coverage typically provides benefits for damages from a hit-and-run driver or a driver without auto insurance.

Livsey’s insurance company denied coverage, and a lower court dismissed her case.

But the appellate judges, citing two New Jersey Supreme Court rulings, concluded there is no requirement that the vehicle “literally strike the insured” in order for a policyholder to receive benefits.

“[T]he automobile did more than provide a setting or an enhanced opportunity for the assault. In addition to allowing the assailant to be at the place of attack, it furnished the assailant with what he must have assumed would be both anonymity and a means of escape. The assailant would not likely have committed such an act of apparently random violence use of a car,” the judges wrote.

The case is Camie Livsey v. Mercury Insurance Group.

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