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Appellate Court Invalidates Business Use Exclusion In Pennsylvania Car Accident Case

In Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sweeney, Nos. 11-4074 and 11-4180 (3d Cir. Aug. 2, 2012) the applicability of a "business use" exclusion in an insurance policy was addressed after an insured was injured while operating a vehicle. The insured was operating a rental vehicle which was supposed to be delivered to a customer the next day. However, he took the vehicle home for the night so he had the vehicle for his use. He was injured while operating the vehicle to go to the grocery store for a short trip.

The business use clause excluded coverage where bodily injury was "sustained while using" a non-owned motor vehicle in any kind of business . However, the insured argued that at the time of the accident he was using the rental vehicle for his own personal use which was a grocery store trip and not in any kind of business, so the exclusion was not applicable. The federal Circuit Court finds that "sustained while using" is a temporal restriction to the application of the exclusion and the fact that the vehicle was a rental vehicle to be delivered to a customer the next day is not dispositive. Additionally , the "intended use" and "regular use" exclusions were not applicable either since the purpose of the trip was short and the vehicle was not a "regular" use vehicle. The Circuit Court reverses the District Court's judgment in favor of enforcing the exclusion.

If you would like a copy of the opinion, feel free to contact Central Pennsylvania based Schmidt Kramer lawyer Scott Cooper who specializes in personal injury accidents and can answer any questions you may have about your rights after being injured in an accident.