Florida Court Grants Summary Judgment in Favor of Insurer in Motorcycle Crash Case: American Economy Ins. Co. v. Traylor/Wolfe Architects, Inc.

harley davidson morguefile efi21In American Economy Ins. Co. v. Traylor/Wolfe Architects, Inc., a man filed a personal injury lawsuit against an architect and his company following a motor vehicle accident. According to the man’s complaint, he was injured when the architect caused a collision by negligently driving his personal sport utility vehicle into the path of his motorcycle. In his complaint, the man alleged the architecture company was vicariously liable for the architect’s negligent behavior. The doctrine of vicarious liability allows an injured person to hold an employer financially responsible for the negligent acts of a worker if the worker was under the employer’s control at the time and the employee was acting within the scope of his or her work duties.

At the time of the accident, the architect’s company was insured by a business policy. After the lawsuit was filed, the architectural firm’s insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify the architect or his firm under the terms of the insurance policy. In a motion for summary judgment, a party to a lawsuit asks the court to rule in its favor because no genuine issue of material fact is in dispute and the party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. When a court considers such a motion, the facts of the case are normally viewed in the light that is most favorable to the non-moving party. The injured man opposed the insurance company’s motion, and the Middle District of Florida held a hearing on the matter.

According to the insurer, the architect was not operating the vehicle for a business purpose at the time of the motor vehicle wreck. While reviewing the insurer’s motion, the federal court examined the undisputed facts of the case in order to determine whether the architect was in fact operating his vehicle within the scope of his employment. Although the architect made a business trip to a mobile telephone store prior to the accident, the court found there was no evidence beyond the injured man’s speculation that the architect was using his vehicle for business purposes at the time the collision occurred. The court stated the two trips that the architect took on the day of the accident were separate. In addition, evidence offered to the court indicated the nature of the trip he was taking at the time of the crash was personal. Since the undisputed evidence demonstrated the architect was not operating his SUV within the scope of his employment with his company when he collided with the motorcycle rider, the Middle District of Florida granted the business insurer’s motion for summary judgment and held the insurance company had no duty to defend the architect or his firm.

Navigating the legal system following an unexpected accident can be confusing. If you were hurt as a result of another person’s negligence, you need an experienced South Florida personal injury lawyer on your side. To schedule a free confidential consultation with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, please contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. through our website or give us a call today at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

American Economy Ins. Co. v. Traylor/Wolfe Architects, Inc., Dist. Court, MD Florida 2014

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