Federal Court in South Carolina Rules that Golf Cart Accident Was Not Covered Under Manufactured Home Insurance Policy – American Southern Home Insurance Company v. Goodale

Do you have insurance on your home? Do you know what it covers?

As a recent case shows, if you have homeowner’s liability insurance, you might think you are covered for more situations than you actually are. It’s always a good idea to review your policy from time to time so that you understand exactly what is – and is not – covered.

Facts of the Case

In American Southern Home Insurance Company v. Goodale, the plaintiff was an insurance company that filed a declaratory judgment action in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina at Columbia against its insured, the insured’s son, and a woman who was injured in a golf cart accident that allegedly occurred while the insured’s son was driving under the influence of alcohol. In a separation action, the injured woman sought compensatory damages for broken bones and other injuries suffered in the accident.

In this case, the insurance company asserted that it had no obligation to defend or indemnify the insured or his son in the lawsuit filed against them by the injured woman. Accordingly, the insurance company sought summary judgment.

Holding of the District Court

For the purposes of deciding the insurance company’s motion for summary judgment, the court accepted as true the facts of the woman’s complaint against the insured and his son, including her allegation that the insured was negligent in failing to properly secure the golf cart and that this negligence contributed to the accident. The court then reviewed the provisions of the manufactured home insurance policy at issue, paying special attention to exclusions for claims arising out of the ownership, entrustment, or failure to supervise others’ use of a motor vehicle. The court also noted that “motor vehicle” was defined by the policy as “any motorized land conveyance of any type” and that the policy specifically said that “a golf cart while used on a golf course for golfing purposes” was not a motor vehicle.

Since there was no dispute that the golf cart being used at the time of the accident at issue was not being used on a golf course for golfing purposes, the court found that the insured’s golf cart was a “motor vehicle” and thus excluded from coverage under the policy. The court also found that the insured’s failure to secure the golf cart fell within the policy exclusions and thus decided that the insurance company was entitled to summary judgment declaring that it had no duty to defend or indemnify the insured or his son regarding the lawsuit filed against them by the injured woman.

While the result in this case might seem harsh, it points to knowing the terms and conditions of your insurance contracts to insure the policyholder has the coverage desired.  It is foolhardy to pay insurance premiums for years without knowing what coverage and exclusion exist in the policy. The injured woman can still proceed with her lawsuit, but, without liability insurance coverage indemnifying the insured and his son, it is unlikely that she will ever receive fair compensation.

Get Help with Your Accident Case from an Experienced South Carolina Trial Lawyer

If you have questions concerning an accident, an experienced Spartanburg personal injury attorney at the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices is here to help. Call us at (864) 582-5118 for your free consultation. We are currently reviewing cases throughout South Carolina, including claims arising in and around Spartanburg and Greenville.

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