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No Coverage for ATV Accident Occurring on Public Road (PA)

November 10, 2016

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <a href="http://law.justia.com/cases/pennsylvania/superior-court/2016/2002-mda-2015.html"><em>O’Brien v. Ohio Casualty Insurance Company,</em></a> the Pennsylvania Superior court was called upon to determine whether an ATV accident occurred at the policy's definition of an “insured location.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This declaratory judgment action was filed following the filing of a personal injury claim against the O’Brien’s.  In the underlying case, plaintiff Charles Catania was at a party at the O’Briens’ home in Lake Ariel, PA. Catania was driving the O’Briens’ son’s ATV when he hit loose gravel and the ATV slid out of control. Catania suffered serious injuries as a result. The O’Briens then sought a declaratory judgment that their homeowners insurance would defend and indemnify them for Catania's lawsuit.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Although the policy excluded coverage for entrustment of a motor vehicle, the exclusion did not apply to an ATV owned by an insured and being used on an “insured location”.    The definition of insured location was broad and included "any premises used by you in connection with" their residence. Here, the specific location of the incident was on someone else's property off of a public road but the O’Brien’s argued, based on the definition of an “insured location” in the policy, that the road was “used in connection with the property,” and was therefore an insured location.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">However, the Court disagreed, citing to the trial court’s reasoning, which stated that the O'Briens did not repeatedly or customarily use the private property where Catania's occurred.  The O'Briens admitted to never having been at the precise location of the ATV accident. Additionally, Casey O'Brien admits to only riding his ATV on the road once or twice and further, the road was public.   Thus, although the ATV use may have begun on the O’Brien’s property, the ultimate accident was on a public road, and the Court affirmed the trial court’s decision.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Alexandra Perry for her contribution to the this post and please write to <a href="mailto: mbono@wcmlaw.com">Mike Bono</a> for more information.</p>

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