Joyride Fails to Bring Joy to Injured Passenger (NJ)
New Jersey motorist Sheavonra Adderly was involved in a one-car collision that caused injury to one of her passengers. That passenger sought coverage under the vehicle’s insurance policy issued by Liberty Mutual. However, Adderly was not the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident, and the policy excluded coverage if a person drives the covered vehicle without a reasonable belief that the insured gave them permission to do so.
The facts were stacked against the driver in this matter. The vehicle owner was adamant that Adderly drove the car without her consent. Additionally, Adderly admitted to an investigator that she was not given permission to operate the vehicle. Finally, Adderly’s own mother testified that her daughter did not have permission to use the vehicle, and she wanted to “strangle her” for taking the car.
The Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s denial of coverage for the accident, noting that coverage is not available to a vehicle or operator of a vehicle once they steal it. This case confirms that gathering the specific facts of a case is essential to proving whether or not a driver had permission to use a vehicle involved in an accident. Coverage may often turn on whether the court determines that a vehicle operator was a permissive user of a vehicle.
Please contact Heather Aquino with any questions.