Miller v. Troyer, 2018-Ohio-3419 (August 27, 2018)

Ohio Appellate Court questions whether an Amish buggy can be an uninsured motor vehicle.

In a case involving a horse drawn buggy and a motorcycle, the Wayne County Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a decision granting summary judgment to the insurer, and found that the buggy was not an uninsured motor vehicle.

The case involved an accident where a motorcyclist was killed when the horse and buggy went left of center and caused the accident. The operator of the horse and buggy was uninsured, and the estate of the motorcyclist made a claim for uninsured motorist coverage. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurance company, finding that a horse-drawn buggy did not meet the definition of a motor vehicle for purposes of uninsured motorist coverage.

The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for further review by the trial court since neither side had addressed an issue that it thought was pertinent to the policy interpretation. The court noted that the policy had separate uninsured/underinsured endorsement, which defines an uninsured motor vehicle in relevant part as: “‘Uninsured Motor Vehicle’ means a land motor vehicle or trailer of any type: (a) to which no bodily injury liability bond or policy applies at the time of the accident.”

The general provisions in the policy define a motor vehicle as:

Motor Vehicle” means:

a. a self-propelled land or amphibious vehicle; or

b. any trailer or semi-trailer, which is being carried on, towed by or hitched for towing by a vehicle described in a. above.

* * *

Trailer” means a vehicle designed to be pulled by a:

a. Private passenger auto; or

b. Pickup or van.

However, a trailer does not include a mobile home or any vehicle used as an office, store display, residence or passenger conveyance.


The court then questioned whether the definition of motor vehicle and trailer found in the general provisions of the policy applied to the uninsured/underinsured endorsement since the terms “trailer” and “motor vehicle” were not typed in bold type in the uninsured/underinsured endorsement. In the policy, terms that are defined are typed in bold. Because this issue was not addressed by either side, the court reversed and remanded the matter to the trial court so that the parties could address the issue. 



Case Law Alerts, 4th Quarter, October 2018

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