“Arising Out Of”: How to sue a driver who doesn’t hit you

“All men by nature desire knowledge. ”

— Aristotle

Coverage before compensation. That’s the black letter law for insurance.

Let’s say you’re injured in a car accident. Before you are compensated for your injuries, there must be coverage under the auto policy. If there’s a collision, then likely there’s coverage. For example, rear-end collisions, sideswipe collisions, and pedestrian accidents are generally covered.

But what if a driver doesn’t hit you? What if a car speeds towards you and you jump out of the way and are injured in a fall? In that case, your lawyer needs to argue that the accident “arose out of” the ownership or use of the car.

Most auto policies contain a provision that states that the insurance company will compensate a person for bodily injury or property damage “arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use” of the car.

At a minimum, the phrase “arising out of” means that there must be some relationship between the car and the accident. California courts have understood that phrase in broad terms. At a minimum, there must be sufficient involvement between the car and the accident.

Here are examples from California cases where the court found that the accident did “arise out of” the ownership, maintenance, or use of the car:

  • Loss caused by drive-by shooting;
  • Loss caused by egg-throwing teenagers that injured pedestrian;
  • Loss caused by truck going off road because it was negligently loaded.

And here are counter-examples:

  • Sexual assault did not arise out of use of car;
  •  Dog bite from dog who jumped out of car did not arise out of use of car;
  • Road rage incident leading to death of driver did not arise out of use of car.

The point is that “arising out of” is a legal argument to be made by your lawyer against the insurance company. The phrase is purposefully imprecise in order to give the insurance company grounds for denying your claim. Don’t let the insurance company deny your claim.  Talk to a personal injury lawyer.

Questions? Contact Me for a free consultation.

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