Resident Relative for Uninsured Motorist Coverage

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals had occasion this month to consider the scope of what constitutes a resident relative for the purposes of uninsured motorist coverage in Mundey v. Erie Insurance Group.&nbsp In this case, a Prince George’s County man who had been living with his grandmother in Waldorf, Maryland (Charles County) for almost a year was found by the Maryland intermediate appellate court not to be resident relative of his parents who lived in Lusby, Marylandand therefore his parents’ uninsured motorist coverage with Erie Insurance could not be applied to his auto accident.

Apparently, the Plaintiff, who the Court noted was not a full-time student, lived with his grandparents for the 11 months preceding the auto accident. During that time, the Plaintiff visited his parents’ home approximately four to six times, spending the night on Thanksgiving and Christmas. On these holidays, Plaintiff slept on an extra bed in his younger brother’s room because his bedroom had been converted for other uses after he left. Erie Insurance’s accident lawyers argued that under these facts, the Plaintiff should not be deemed a resident relative and could not recover from Erie Insurance for his personal injuries from his auto accident under his parents’ uninsured motorist policy. Plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer, Waldorf attorney Michael J. Schreyer, contended that “resident,” as defined in Erie Insurance’s policy, limits the statutorily required uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and constitutes an impermissible exclusion from coverage, thus violating the public policy goals of Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 19-509.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals disagreed with Plaintiff’s attorney, ruling that Plaintiff was not a “resident” of his parents’ Lusby home as defined by their insurance contract with Erie Insurance. The court reasoned that according to the policy language,Plaintiff would be a resident only if he physically lived in his parents’ household, is under the age of 24, and attends school full-time. Writing for the court, Judge J. Frederick Sharer found that the”undisputed evidence before the court clearly established that appellant failed to meet either definition of ‘resident’ because he did not physically live in his parents’ home and did not attend college.”

While our Maryland motor vehicle collision attorneys would certainly prefer a different result, this decision would appear to be in line with the language of the Erie Insurance policy and Maryland law on who is a resident relative Our personal injury lawyers have a resident relative case pending in Baltimore County where we expect a very different result because, unlike this case, the injured party was a listed insured on the insurance policy. But in this case, it was more difficult to argue insurance coverage as a resident when the injured victim was clearly not a resident of the home in question.

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