Tragic Infant Death Apparently Caused by Florida Daycare Worker Was Excluded from Personal Auto Insurance Policy

In Bryant v. Windhaven Ins. Co., a Florida man purchased a personal automobile liability policy from an insurance company. After securing the policy, the man operated a van in the course of his employment with a daycare center. As part of his job duties, the man picked up children and drove them to the daycare center each day. Tragically, the driver apparently picked up an infant and forgot the child in the van in July 2011. The infant unfortunately passed away before he was discovered, strapped into his car seat seven hours later.

Following the child’s untimely death, his estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver, the daycare center, and the owner of the property where the daycare operated. In response to the case, the driver requested that his personal automobile insurer defend and indemnify him. The insurer responded by stating the policy did not apply to the daycare center’s van. According to the insurer, the man’s insurance policy explicitly excluded liability arising from any vehicle that was being used in the course of a driver’s employment and any vehicle other than that covered by the policy that was “furnished or available” for a driver’s regular use.

Next, the parties each filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the insurer’s motion with regard to the regular use policy exclusion. Despite this, the court refused to grant the insurance company’s motion related to the employment exclusion included in the man’s personal automobile policy. After that, the insurer filed an appeal with Florida’s Third District.

On appeal, the court stated the applicability of the automobile policy exclusions constituted a question of law. After examining the language of the policy, the appellate court stated the daycare van was regularly made available to the insured man and subject to the regular use policy exclusion. The court also stated the employment exclusion included in the man’s insurance policy applied to the wrongful death lawsuit because there was no dispute that the driver was employed by the daycare center and the child’s death was directly related to the man’s use of the van.

Since the fatal accident was specifically excluded from the terms of the driver’s personal automobile insurance policy, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the insurer and ruled the company was not required to defend and indemnify the driver.

If you were injured or lost a treasured loved one in a South Florida accident, you are advised to contact a hardworking wrongful death attorney to discuss your rights. To schedule a free confidential consultation with a caring Miami personal injury lawyer today, contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. online or call us at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

Bryant v. Windhaven Ins. Co., Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2015

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