The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently held that a business auto liability policy covered an insured for a passenger’s injury and death allegedly resulting from the insured’s negligence in moving the passenger in a wheelchair into her home. Integon Nat’l Ins. Co. v. Helping Hands Specialized Transport, Inc., 2014 WL 1797471 (N.C. App. May 6, 2014).
The insured, a company providing handicapped accessible transportation services, was hired to transport an elderly patient from the hospital to her home. While one of the insured’s employees was pulling the patient’s wheelchair into the home, the patient suffered a gash on her leg, which allegedly led to her death several days later. The patient’s estate sued the insured, asserting that the patient’s death was the result of the insured’s negligence. Its auto liability insurer sought a declaration that its policy provided no coverage. The trial court ruled against the insurer, and the insurer appealed.
Affirming, the North Carolina Court of Appeals noted that, under North Carolina law, a motor vehicle liability insurance policy will generally provide coverage if any injury is caused by an activity that it necessarily or ordinarily associated with the use of an insured vehicle. The court was satisfied that there was a sufficient causal connection between the van’s use (transporting patients from the hospital to her home for palliative care) and the injury for the policy to provide coverage.