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Appeals court rules wrong state law applied in truck crash, but result is same

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A trial court erroneously applied Georgia law in a lawsuit brought by a truck driver injured in a collision in West Virginia, but correctly applied Indiana law yielded the same result, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The panel unanimously held that an Allen Superior judge erred when he applied Georgia law because the trucking company that employed the plaintiff was based there. In Derek Asklar and Pauline Asklar v. David Gilb, Paul Garrett Smith d/b/a P.H. One Trucking, Empire Fire and Marine Ins. Co., d/b/a Zurich; Travelers Ideminity Co. of America, 02A03-1204-CT-170, the panel agreed Indiana law applied because Derek Asklar was driving a truck registered and principally garaged here.

Asklar was driving a truck registered to Werner Trucking and was stopped at the bottom of an interstate exit ramp when his rig was struck by a driver for One Trucking. Asklar and several others were injured; Asklar has been unable to return to work as a result, the ruling said.

Asklar attempted to recover under Werner’s underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage with Empire, but the company had elected to maintain coverage of $75,000 rather than the required $5 million.  

Indiana law requires the amount of uninsured/underinsured coverage must be “at least equal to the limits of liability specified in the bodily injury liability provisions of an insured’s policy, unless such coverages have been rejected in writing by the insured.” The court ruled that Werner clearly had done so.

“We therefore find that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment to Empire and finding that its (uninsured/underinsured) coverage limit was $75,000,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the court.     
 

 

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